Trip Start Nov 18, 2002
157Trip End Ongoing
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We boarded the Scandinavian Bus company 'Princess class' coach to Arusha. It wasn't as 'Princess' as one would have expected but it was clean and comfortable all the same. The A/C was working too which is always a bonus when usually you have to travel on dusty roads with the windows open! We did get to have 2 seats each as the bus wasn't full either!
The whole journey took an 'arse numbing' 11 hours. However, we were served various drinks of tea/coffee and bottles of coke/fanta throughout the longggggggggg journey. And we stopped for 20 minutes for lunch half way up. They even played a video or 2 of some sort of random extra low budget dodgy African, 'no story but loads of fighting' film. Needless to say the ipod came out and that was the last we watched or heard of them!!
We arrived in Arusha to only what can be descried as a flock of vultures. As we are now in Africa that is the only way to describe the touts, scammers, taxi drivers and general hanger-ons who flock round any tourists arriving at the central bus stations.
We had got chatting with 2 Dutch girls and a guy from America on our un-eventful journey and on arrival at the bus station we all headed off 'on masse' (ignoring the vultures) to Arusha Backpackers. There, we dumped our bags in the room and went up to the roof top restaurant were we got even more well acquainted with each other with the help of a few Mt Kilimanjaro beers. The girls (medical students in their last year) were making their way slowly to work in a Tanzanian hospital for the next 3 months and Henry from New York was a Law student who was going to be working on 2 cases at the United Nations International Tribunal for Rwanda. As you can imagine this made for some interesting conversations that evening.
The next day we ventured out into the busy 'vulture' town of Arusha. As the Lonely Planet advised....'Arusha is the worst place in Tanzania for street touts and slick tour operators who prey on the gullibility of the newly arrived travellers .......' Hence our nick name for them 'vultures' LP are so right, for once!
You just couldn't walk anywhere without 2 or 3 of them trying to strike up conversation saying they had a 'safari going tomorrow, we need 2 more people to make up the group, very cheap blar blar.' Polite 'no thank you's' just wasn't going to work with these guys so we assumed the 'sunglasses on, don't make any eye contact, head down, say nothing, and quick stride it' towards the tour companies we had had recommended to us by fellow travellers. But first we did do the sensible thing of visiting the Tourist Information Centre who were able to advise us if these such companies were 'currently' licensed. Apparently there are some well dodgy so called tour operators who rip people off or keep the price very cheap needless to say they don't have enough food to feed you, their trucks break down half way through or numerous times throughout the safari and its been known that the driver/guides demand more money from you (in the middle of nowhere) while you are on your way to safari. We wanted to avoid this at all costs! So doing your homework and paying that little bit more for quality is so worth it. Well, you will read about it when we have finished! That's if we get to finish!!!
We made it to 4 different companies in the end, all were offering 5 day 4 night safari tours and each one around the same price. We choose (in the end) to go on a tour for just us 2 and not in a group. It meant having a whole Toyota Landcruiser for us, when usually it could take up to another 4 people! Also, we wanted to stay in Wildlife Lodges and not do the 'camping thing' as we had heard from fellow travellers (who had recently been) that it was really cold at night. We also wanted to leave Arusha as soon as possible. There was no other reason to stay except to find a company and book a safari. Hence the million vultures hanging around here.
We paid up the money met with our driver/guide Salhim and arranged to leave tomorrow (Sunday 25th May) We are really excited, Safari here we come......