African Safari – Nairobi, Kenya to Arusha, Tanzania
After some of the gravel roads that we had encountered in the Masai Mara region of Kenya, the highway to Arusha was a real blessing. Although there was some highway construction still underway, necessitating detours onto rather rough parallel temporary roads, the highway was generally well paved and without much traffic so we made good time.
As we traveled along, I jokingly said to the driver that what I really wanted to see was some camels and presto! – camels appeared.
Of course, we were still passing through pastoral farm lands and slowing down for the odd herd of cattle was obligatory.
Right on schedule, a curio shop (with washrooms) appeared on the horizon and our wishes were granted – more carvings to look through in search of just the right souvenir! This souvenir shop had a nice yard with plenty of flowering trees and shrubs so as soon as I had looked through the carvings, I was off into the yard with my camera.
It was amazing how many buses and vans could fit into the small parking lot in front of the curio shop. It was equally amazing to see them all getting back out of the parking lot through the same gate!
Our next stop was the Tanzania border with a stop first at the Kenyan offices to get checked out of Kenya and then a stop at the Tanzanian office to get checked into Tanzania. No photography allowed at the border crossing points so you will have to take my word for it. It was an interesting scene with an intermixing beehive of people on foot, commercial trucks, safari vans and people selling bead work, more rolled up paintings and bags of cashews.
NOTE: For those following this blog and thinking of going to Tanzania, please note that the Tanzanian government officials at border entry points will not accept US$ older than specific dates (apparently due to counterfeiting issues). Our GAP brochure said that US$ older than 1999 would not be accepted. The Tanzanian government documents and website had updated that info to say that bills older than 2003 would not be accepted. Luckily everyone in our group had enough ‘new’ money to pay for the necessary visas but Tanzanian officials were firm in their position and would not accept ‘old’ bills and this did cause us some delay until enough ‘new’ bills were produced. I was surprised to learn that paying for my visa at the border would cost me $50 whereas Graeme and I had paid $75 each to get it from the Tanzanian High Commission in Ottawa. The rate for US citizens was $100. In preparing for the trip, I had come across middlemen quoting rates as high as $150 plus a significant service charge so “TRAVELER BEWARE” as rates and policies do change and middlemen aren’t normally required. See the Tanzanian site here for official details of their entrance and visa policies: Tanzania visa
With border crossing formalities out of the way it was straight down the road, past Mount Meru, and into Arusha, Tanzania.