Ok I am cheating here a bit as technically day one was yesterday when I set out on the marathon haul that was the journey here. Having arrived at Heathrow T4 late afternoon with dark grey clouds and splashes of rain/sleet it was time to check in. A little known fact, if one of your bags ways less than a few kgs it’s classified as fragile, depute being carbon fibre tripods. So checking in my bags went down to the fragile loading bay and off they went. See you in quite a few hours.
Having flown from T5 last time the queues to get through passport control were negligible and within 10 minutes I was duty free side. Time for quick look round the shops, Dixons first to see about getting a memory card just in case the two I had failed. As they were a tad expensive I didn’t bother but I had to smile seeing a 64GB card for nearly £600… blinking heck.
Time for a quick latte and wait for the plane to arrive. We were due to take of at 7pm but as I was to find out on more than one occasion the Kenya Airways flights never seem to run on time. Indeed the plane had only just arrived at 7 so I watched as they offloaded all the baggage from its trip into the UK. Exciting times. Finally boarded at 8 and we are off. I managed to get my favourite seat 31A but because it was already dark there isn’t much to see, save for the coast of the UK. The meal was surprisingly good, a beef stew with potatoes that wouldn’t have been out of place at a good restaurant and because we were last to get our meal, and hence no choice in the beef, two bottles of a nice South African red. I didn’t sleep much and the in-seat entertainment was broken in my chair so I listened to the iPhone most of the way.
As dawn broke just in front of the wing I could see what I think was Mt. Kenya silhouetted in the deepest orange you have ever seen, fading to a light blue. Sadly I couldn’t get a shot as the wing was in the way but boy did it look beautiful.
We landed at Nairobi airport at about 7am and my connecting flight was at 8. If only. It had been delayed till 10am. Oh well I walked down to gate 3 in what seemed like a sauna, checked in and went through security only to be told minutes later the plane was again delayed until 10am and would be going from gate 8. Odd because that’s when I thought it was due to go but checkin was now at 9am. Of course 9am came and went and by 9:30 it was time to find out what was happening. So off I pop to the Kenya Airways desk to be told the plane had been further delayed until 11 and checkin would start in 10 minutes. Off back to gate 8 and wait and wait and nothing. Back to the Kenya Airways desk and this time I’m told we are back at gate 3. I suggest they Tannoy the other passengers but suspect they won’t so back to gate 8 to let them know and then off to gate 3 which reminds me of a cold war holding room. No toilets and no refreshments, your only option is to escape the Stalinesque confines of gate 3 and be prepared for a full body on return, with water you cannot take into the gate with you.
We eventually hit the skies at 11am and it’s just a short 50 minute hop to Tanzania. With barely a cloud in the sky you can see how african this place is. Mt Kilimanjaro is on the right, sadly I am sitting on the left but I manage to get a shot thorough the window of the very kind people opposite me and with s bit of zooming the new Sony DX does an excellent job of capturing the snowy peaks of Kilimanjaro. We are down and into passport control, who seem to train at the same melancholy academy as their counterparts all over the world, not even a “Welcome to Tanzania…”
Baggage reclaim is fast and my “fragile” load has made it, unharmed. It’s off out into what feels like a sauna within a sauna which I’m told by my driver is quite cold really. Have a great journey to the Arusha Hotel with couple who are off somewhere I forget the name of but we swap stories of tablets and malaria, lions and deep looks – the lions that is. We wish each other well and they continue their journey while I meet my Kuoni rep.
Itinerary sorted, not that I though there was much choice, and it’s time for a shower and look around the hotel. What I can say about the Arusha Hotel is that it’s ok. Having seen the website and read about the amazing gardens I was expecting more but was sadly disappointed. They also dropped a star when I was followed with the pretence of being provided information only to be asked for a “gift”. Now that really pisses me off, I will tip if you have provided something I think is worthwhile but a “I don’t understand you…” repeated several times and they faded away. The evening meal was nothing to write home about but not bad. A quick beer and it’s back to watch telly and check out the free wifi. God I love free, good wifi.
It’s currently 3am local time and my body clock still thinks its midnight so I cannot sleep but am ready to get up at 6am anyway for day two.