I’m very excited to share with you all the details of my Africa (Kenya/Tanzania) trip, and hopefully it helps you plan your own trip, encourages you to visit these places, or at the very least teaches you about another culture in another part of the world. I loved my Africa experience. To catch you up on my trip, check out all my Africa posts:
Africa I: Planning Logistics + Budgets + Immunizations + Clothing/Gear + Getting There
Africa II: Kenya Stop1, Baby Elephants
Africa III: Kenya Giraffes, Karen Blixen and Artcaffe
Africa IV: Arriving in Moshi + The Good Hope School
Africa V: Kilimanjaro Details
Africa VI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 1
Africa VII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 2
Africa VIII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 3
Africa IX: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 4
Africa X: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 5
Africa XI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 6 and 7
Last I left off, Erica and I finished climbing Kilimanjaro with Zara Tours and we were back at the Springlands Hotel. We had an additional rest day here, which was a godsend. I ended up getting pretty ill that night and I needed that extra day to rest and feel better for the second part of my African visit: meeting up with Nomad Tours for our 10 safari!!
Meeting up with Nomad Tours:
That next morning we took a special ” shuttle van” toward Arusha. Really it was a taxi cab that we ended up sharing with another hotel guest, to another taxi cab in the center of Moshi who then took Erica and I to Arusha where the fellow hotel guest was taking another taxi to Niarobi. It was interesting to see this is the way to get between Moshi and Kenya if you didn’t fly into the local airport. The cab driver dropped us directly at the Ndoro Lodge where we were meeting up with Nomad Tours and I think it cost like $15 USD each? Worth it.
The tour that I signed up for with Nomad is the Serengeti & Zanzibar 10 Day Trek South. The group technically met in Nairobi where they spent the day driving to Arusha, Tanzania. Since Moshi (where we were) is the town next to Arusha, it made more sense to meet the group at the first hotel in Arusha, rather than travel back to Kenya only to spend the day driving back to Tanzania. This was easy enough to coordinate with Nomad Tours and another couple in the group also met up with the group in this way.
I should also note that Nomad offers different levels of accommodation. Since Erica and I are doing this on a budget we signed up for the “camping” package. It also makes it more of an adventure! This means that we camped in tents (provided by Nomad Tours) and we had to bring along a sleeping bag and pillow. We alway had access to showers and bathrooms as well. The other option is “accommodation” which means a more typical hotel room, but it is a more expensive package.
Another great thing about this tour with Nomad is that this 10 day tour is just one portion of a longer trek. I was doing 10 days of the trek, but Erica was continuing on with the tour for a total of 30 days. This means that if I want I can save up for another trip I can literally pickup with the tour right where I left off and still get to see the same things Erica is seeing now. This also means there is turnover within the tour group as people finish their time and leave, and new people come in for another portion of the trek.
For my 10 day portion of the tour, we were a group of 18 with 2 guides. All of the other guests were from Europe and everyone was over 18. Erica and I were the only Americans. There was a German couple on their honeymoon (in their early 30’s), a father and son from Croatia (in their 40’s and 60’s?), an aunt with her college-aged nieces from Amsterdam, just to give you a sense of the wide age range of all the guests. This was not a party tour of 21 year olds (thank god!).
Above is Tommy! Each of the Nomad trucks is named after a deceased musician, and we got Tommy. You can see the truck is huge and has tons of compartments for all the gear. Within the truck are lockers and every guest gets 1 (so bring a lock!), comfy seats, and the seating is elevated so you san see above other vehicles which makes the drive more enjoyable. You can also probably guess that this large vehicle stands out on the road, so everywhere we went kids would wave to us. It was adorable.
Above and the next few photos are all the Ndoro Lodge just outside of Arusha where we spent night 1 and night 5 of the tour. Above is the restaurant portion, and below are the hotel rooms for the guests with the accommodation level travel package.
The campers (aka me) slept through this gate in a beautiful open courtyard. The tents aren’t out in the courtyard photo above, but I’ll have photos later of our tents. You can see to the left is a clothing line which is great for cleaning and drying clothes, which was very handy when we stayed here night 5 after visiting the Serengeti.
Once I was finally feeling better I could finally enjoy a post-Kilimanjaro beer! What better beer to order than a Kilimanjaro beer! The restaurant/bar at the Ndoro Lodge had all sorts of drinks, and our meals were prepared by our Nomad Tour guides (Norman and Servius) and included in the price of the tour.
The next morning we drove to the Meserani Snake Park and Maasai Cultural Museum as we made our way out to the Serengeti to start our safari! These photos are from our Tommy truck, which is why they are blurry, but I wanted to give you a sense of the landscape around Arusha. ***One thing to note- be careful when taking pictures from the van, as police have road blocks all over Tanzania and even if you accidentally take a photo of a police officer you will be fined a lot of money.
***WARNING- the following photos are very scary and have already given me nightmares***
The Snake Park is very scary for this girl. The only thing scarier than heights are snakes! Part of me considered not going in, but I think my imagination would have made it worse. It’s like I needed to go in just to see that these snakes were locked up, and thankfully most of them were.
Oh dear lord, just so many nightmares about this place. I think I was the only person in the group who was afraid of snakes. There was a portion of the tour where they let you hold little snakes, which of course I didn’t participate in, but everyone in the group seemed to really enjoy it. I personally would rather take a nap in the crocodile pit than hold a snake.
The nice thing about the snake park is that there were other orphaned animals too. We got to see several large turtles (above).
Look at this cutie above. She had been rejected by her tribe (they had a sign explaining it) so being here is better for her health. I heard other people saying that she could slap high-fives! So adorable.
Here are a few of the larger crocodiles.
Do you see that little crocodile hiding in the water?
After the Snake Park, we walked over to the Maasai Cultural Museum. The tour was lead by a Maasai Warrior (not pictured), and was filled with these life-sized dioramas.
This is the portion of the museum all about circumcision. It was disturbing.
There’s a portion of the museum dedicated to the clothing and how each outfit represents something different within the tribe. For example boys wear different colors and patterns after they are circumcised at 15 years old.
The museum exits into a women’s market. Each of these huts (and there are many more un-pictured) is a stall with different jewelry and craft items for sale. I avoided taking pictures of the women selling them, as I was trying to be sensitive to the culture.
Up next, we make our trek through the Ngorongoro Crater on to the Serengeti where by sunset we have our first game drive! Spoiler- we see lions!