A QUICK NOTE ABOUT MY ACCOMMODATION IN MOSHI
I have to admit I was worried about what my accommodation in Moshi was going to be like. Now, when I was younger I stayed at hostels and other ultra-budget places, but these days I want a bit more comfort. While I am willing to pay slightly more for that comfort, cost is still always a consideration. A friend of mine had been to Moshi earlier in the year, traveling with a large American tour operator, and the accommodation they provided for her was pretty horrible. My trip was organized by a local tour operator and on a budget. I was worried.
As it turns out, Kilimanjaro Wonders Hotel was a wonderful place to stay. The hotel is fairly new and modern. It sits on a quiet street inside a gated compound. The rooms are spacious and clean. The restaurant serves decent food – although you do have to wait a very, very long time for your order. Be prepared to wait about an hour for anything more complicated than a sandwich. The breakfast is a buffet with bacon and eggs cooked to order. There is a bar that is open late and plays non-stop music videos of local artists.
The staff are also very friendly and responsive. When I first got to my room I discovered that the air-conditioner was not working and the mini-fridge could not be plugged in as it was not located next to a plug. Both issues were fixed within minutes of them being reported.
That being said, power outages are common in Moshi, and there is nothing anyone can do when they happen. My dedication to taking the stairs instead of the lift was rewarded when the power went out seconds after I started down the stairs. Imagine if I had been in the lift!
MOSHI TO ARUSHA
Today was the first day of my five-day safari! I met up with my friend who had just finished climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and we were picked up by our driver.
Our itinerary: Day 1 – Lake Manyara, Day 2/3/4 – Serengeti, Day 5 – Ngorongoro Crater
We were booked on a group tour and the plan was for us to pick up a few other people in Moshi and Arusha. Our group would be large today for Lake Manyara and then would split into two smaller groups for the remainder of our safari. Praise, the owner of Nyange Adventures, has a talent for logistics. He combines people of different itineraries and different accommodation types seamlessly. This makes it possible to have the prices of a group tour with the customization options of a private tour.
We were stopped by police at a checkpoint while driving between Moshi and Arusha. You see lots of these on the road between the two cities. Generally, documents are shown, small talk is made, and we are back on our way. This time was different. We sat on the side of the road for close to half an hour while lengthy, heated discussions took place between our driver and the checkpoint officials. Finally we got underway again, our driver very unhappy.
With a population of over 700,000, Arusha is a much bigger place than Moshi. Its hectic streets and large plazas further emphasize this point. We stopped in one of these plaza parking areas to pick up a few more people and stock up our vehicle.
While the vehicle was being loaded, I chatted with our guide, Rashidi, who had just joined us. Much to my surprise, Rashidi mentioned that we would be heading to Tarangeri National Park next. This was not part of my itinerary and I did not want to go to there. I spent a lot of time researching the various parks in Tanzania and I knew that Tarangeri would not provide a unique environment. Lake Manyara was a completely different type of environment and famous for its large bird populations. I told our guide that I had booked for Lake Manyara and was absolutely not interested in going to Tarangeri. Sometimes you need to be forceful to get what you want.
To Rashidi’s credit, once everyone was loaded into the vehicle, he started recommending that we go to Lake Manyara instead of Tarangeri, explaining why he thought it might be better. He asked the group what they thought. It was then that I learned that the others on my safari knew very little about the different parks and were happy to take any advice from our expert guide. By voicing my opinion and clearly setting my expectations, I had set myself as the one Rashidi needed to please. He deferred to my opinions the rest of the trip while still listening to any desires expressed by the others in the group.