East Africa Day 16 – Ngorongoro to Nairobi

I had to be up at 06:30 due to having to be out of the hotel by 08:00 so we could drive back to Arusha and Kilimanjaro airport. On the way we stopped at a souvenir shop for 40 minutes where I bought a wooden elephant. It should have been 35USD, but haggled down to about 25USD. Not a massive saving, but it’s the lowest I could get to. We’d been told previously that when haggling you should start off at about a third of the starting price and work up from there.

Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge

We arrived at a hotel in Arusha for lunch at 12:30. It wasn’t bad, but we kept getting asked if we wanted drinks on average every 5 minutes. The other group didn’t turn up for another 15 minutes which wasn’t helpful for them as they had to be on there way to the airport by 13:30. Over lunch one of the Somak managers met us and gave us pieces of paper detailing onward flights.

Ours didn’t contain all the information and she wasn’t much help in explaining it either. Apparently we could just show them this paper for Kilimanjaro airport and that would get us to Nairobi – no details on what would happen in Nairobi initially. After some time she decided we’d be able to show them this slip of paper in Nairobi International Airport to get our tickets for the flight to London Heathrow. This did however mean we couldn’t reserve seats on the plane, and that we’d need to collect baggage and then check it back in.

We then had to sit around the hotel we’d eaten at until 16:00 so that we wouldn’t be arriving too early at Arusha airport. It did make sense as the lobby in the hotel was quite a comfortable place to sit and read. Whilst in the lobby the friend I’d been travelling with was able to get Wi-Fi so using his tablet we were able to reserve the seats on the second flight to try and get some good seats. At this time we each booked a window seat on different rows where the two adjacent seats were free – this was in hope that they’d remain free so that we could sleep across them during the flight.

The Kilimanjaro International Airport is a 45 minute drive from Arusha. When we got there we were told we were too early but they let us go through anyway and the check-in only took around 5 minutes. The security desk did tell us that we were too early and seemed confused at first, but eventually let us through to what passed as the departure lounge.

For the next two hours we sat in the airport reading whilst waiting for our flight to be called. When the time came to board the plane we were directed outside but not actually told where to go. There were only two planes that could be seen, so as one of them was only a 4-seater it was pretty obvious which one we needed to head to.

The plane a few minutes earlier than scheduled even though it was a full flight, and landed in Nairobi International Airport 50 minutes later. Yet again we had to fill in an immigration card for arriving in Kenya, and then just 45 minutes later after collecting luggage we had to fill in the same card for the departure when checking in. At this time though my friend moved both of our rows of seats as his row had since had someone book a seat on it. In hindsight, if he’d only moved his own then I’d have had a much better flight home.

After getting through the security there wasn’t a great deal to do other than wait. As my friend was hungry we ended up sitting in a restaurant at one end of the airport so he could get some food. The flight finally started boarding at around 23:20 and didn’t take long to get ready as within 30 minutes we’d kicked back off the tarmac for the long flight home.

Sure enough I had a row of three seats to myself, but due to the arm rests not lifting up for this row and my seat not being able to recline it meant I couldn’t get much sleep on this journey. I did try sleeping on the floor in front of my seat but they weren’t too happy about that. By the time we landed back in London I was incredibly tired and still had the onward journey to Leicester.

It had been an impressive fortnight in which I’d seen more wildlife than I could have expected, with many closer encounters than I expected too. We’d seen landscapes like no other and met cultures so different to our own. Like all trips that had come before, our African adventure had come to an end.

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