Date: September 2015
Location: Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Specifics: Lemosho route (inc Moir Huts)
Video: Separate videos for each day – see at the end of the diary entry
Websites: as listed below
Flights: Ethiopian Airways – book elsewhere!
Hotel in Arusha: Milimani Lodge (arranged by Kandoo)
Hotel in Moshi: Bristol Cottages (arranged by Kandoo)
Saturday 5th/ Sunday 6th September
While we booked the Kilimanjaro trek through Kandoo Adventures (amazing company – take a look), the flights were left down to us to purchase. We thought we had found a good deal so flew to Tanzania with Ethiopian Airlines – something I would NEVER do again, and certainly wouldn’t recommend them to anyone. Take my advise – spend the extra money and go for another airline! First problem we came across was seat allocation. Even though we chose our seats on the plane when booking directly with the company, we found the plane they were using was different, meaning seat layout was now different so we had someone sat with with us and the seat location wasn’t in the ‘correct’ place. The food was ok I guess, we had chilli con carnie for the main and a orange and cranberry cake for pudding. The staff were friendly enough, but the plane itself was quite dirty, one of our TVs didn’t work and generally everything seems a bit ‘squashed’ and dated on there.
The plane from Addis Ababa was even worse. We found out that the flight had been massively overbooked. As we line up at the gate ready to board, everyone begins to get a bit fidgety (will they/ wont they get on the plane) only for a big ‘roar’ to be let out when we get moved to another gate. Panic ensues – people are pushing and shouting at each other and when finally in the ‘cattle pens’ notice that half the people in front of us were being ushered to one side (here we can only assume they had to catch a different flight)
Everyone was fed up, angry, confused as you would be and once we were on board realised that yet again the plane used was different from the one/ layout we had chosen our seats on when we booked. Not that it would have mattered as the cabin crew were seating people in whatever seats they fancied. As we got to our seats the window seat we had booked already had someone sat in it that was adamant they were not moving – not what you want when you pick specific seats after months and months of research to get the best view of Kilimanjaro as we come in to land! Cabin crew helping to sort the situation would have been good, however they just stood there smiling! No help offered at all! However, knowing the chaos back in the terminal at this stage we were just thankful to be on a plane and were eventually placed in the very last row of the plane with an isle seat. The very same person that had taken one of our seats (and his family) had numerous carry on bags that were HUGE! Cue another issue – no room in the overhead lockers… Cabin crew told the person the bag had be placed in the hold as 1, there was no room and 2, it was way too big – argument ensues between person and cabin crew. Eventual outcome is a cabin crew member trying to push and shove this huge bag with everything she has behind the chair, that my husband is sitting in, causing it to jolt while he is still sat in it! Eventually rammed in there his chair is now leaning slightly forward and therefore quite uncomfortable to be sitting there! There was no “can I just try to fit this bag in here?” or “do you mind” just pure brute force!
So with everyone now sat in a seat at least – on rolls the next problem – plane has been fuelled incorrectly. So we are now sat on the plane while they ‘fix’ whatever they need to – couple of hours later we finally take off. Food is served and when they get to us at the back, there is no food! Great! They manage to scrounge a vegetable ravioli from somewhere that we have to share.
Coming in to land we had partial views of Kilimanjaro form the window of the plane and I remember thinking to myself “oh my goodness, its huge!” Somehow the realisation that we would be climbing it still hadn’t set in. From the tarmac of the runway the plane pulled up close to some doors where there were security standing there. As we were coming from Ethiopia (a yellow fever hotspot) we were asked by security where we had originally come from. Replying “London” they let us through without issue. We had read that some experienced issues with getting into Tanzania even though Ethiopia was a only a transit point. We didn’t want any problems when we landed so before we left we paid to have our yellow fever vaccination as a precaution. Visas paid for and obtained, our luggage was already waiting for us in arrivals.
From here we made our way to the exit to find our Kandoo guide, Felix. Arriving late with all the issues Ethiopian Airways had, he didn’t seem fed up and didn’t rush us – instead just welcomed us with the biggest smile and helped us with our bags to the car. He drove us to Milimani Lodge where we would stay the night as it was closer to Arusha National Park (where we would do a day safari the next day – separate post here). Milimani Lodge is just off the main road in a fairly quiet location. We were shown to our room which was a nice size and comfortably furnished.
We sorted our bags and had a short rest before we headed downstairs for dinner. The Lodge has an amazing view of Mt Meru from its little courtyard, which had seating, perfect for a warm evening. Steak was on the menu which we both ordered and was promptly served. Honestly, the steak was incredible, probably one of the best steaks I have ever eaten in my life. Perfectly cooked, the steak melted in the mouth and was highly appreciated after the many hours of travelling we had just done. Fed and watered we relaxed back in our chairs a short while before heading upstairs to our room.
Monday 7th September
Our trip for the day to Arusha National Park is a separate entry here.
After the safari we were driven to our next accommodation – Bristol Cottages in Moshi. This place is like a little haven compared to the surrounding area. With its little garden area it doesn’t feel like you are in Africa. After checking in we were shown to our room. A fairly basic double room which offered basic facilities. It’s fair to say this place is nice for a night or 2 but if you are looking for more then basic you need to be looking elsewhere. The hotel suffers with quote a few power outages, and we found that when this happens the limited menu the restaurant offers gets even more limited! We were able to order a chicken curry and chicken and chips which took a while to come