Friday, May 4, 2018

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 3 - Day 1 (Getting there)

Early morning flight from Malta to Istanbul, which, with relatives from 18 team members and also a nice attendance from local press, was far from quiet, but ultimately that was the point to raise more money for the cause.

We then had a layover at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, which is not a bad place to spend around 4 hours, with a good selection of restaurants & cafes and a variety of duty free 'temptations'.

Our next flight was to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, were we arrived at about 4am (Tanzania time). Here we had our visas checked and a word of warning is to be ready to wait - it does take some time and we were a bit unlucky of merging in with another two flights. Also it is important to check which type of visa you require and if you need to do it before or if it can be obtained there and then at the airport (in fact for Maltese citizens we found that it can be done at the airport itself).

After the visa check point, we simply got our bags from the baggage claim and although we had another flight we had to walk out of the airport, only to re-enter from another door a few meters away. Here you are greeted with a full security check with x-ray machines and all before actually entering the departures lounge. Important to note that if you need to buy water or to smoke, this can only be done outside of the departures lounge and it takes a lot of convincing for the guys to let you out again (which is understandable for security reasons). So here we had another 2 hours or so of waiting and top tip is "use your mosquito repellent" - they are everywhere!

Dar es Salaam Departures Lounge
At around 6am we checked in for our flight to Kilimanjaro. The upstairs area at the gates of the airport is actually quite pleasant with a nice small cafe and a tiny souvenir shop. After some time waiting and well deserved coffees, we went for our Precision Airlines flight. It was my first time flying on a propellor aircraft so honestly was looking forward to the experience. The 48 seater ATR 42-500 is not a small plane, but I was lucky enough having a clear view of the propellors from my window. To sum it up, it was actually a very pleasant flight, with amazing friendly local crew.

Waiting at the Departure Gates - Dar es Salaam Airport

Our aircraft to Kilimanjaro
After a relatively short flight, we arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport, which reminded me a lot of the "old" Maltese airport. Here baggage claim and moving out of the airport was amazingly fast (or maybe I was too tired to bother) and here we met our drivers from Marangu Hotel, who with the help of some porters and brute force, sorted all our gear on the top of two Isuzu vans waiting in the car park.  And then the long long, (did I mention it was long) drive started!! The actual travel distance if checked on google maps is of 1:50hrs but it takes nearly double the time due to the speed checks the Police enforces on the main road and I assure you, there will be a lot of checks indeed!

Kilimanjaro Airport

Loading the vans for the trip to Marangu

Finally we arrived at Marangu Hotel, which is a very nice and welcoming complex of bungalow style rooms, with beautiful green gardens and an amazing bar (yes that was important!!). Also wifi was available, which was a good thing to reach out back home after all that travel time. From here the day was mainly allocating the rooms, sorting our gear and getting aquatinted with the hotel grounds, relaxing a bit.

Gear Sorting 

Relaxing :)

Marangu Hotel Gardens

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