After approximately 29 hours of travel I arrived at Kilimanjaro around 9pm. The airport was shockingly small (or so I thought before I had been to the bush “airports” in the area). It did make customs easy to navigate.
I had been a little wary about waiting until arrival to get my visa, but the process was really simple. I waited in line for about 15-20 minutes and handed over the $100usd and that was it. Then I had to show my passport and get finger printed. It was probably the easiest customs process I’ve encountered, (even though I do find fault with a country that charges a $100 cover.) My one complaint was that no one wanted to see my super expensive yellow fever card. Seriously, I threw it at every official and no one cared. $345 wasted! (except for not having yellow fever).
After a quick and painless airport experience, and a less quick and painless first time driving on the left side of the road (I’m using the term “road” pretty loosely here), I made it to Arusha just in time to be up all night before my 7am flight to Ndutu. Reverse jet-lag maybe? I guess that’s the downside to plane naps.
Anyway, 7am came quickly and then I discovered the Arusha airport that made Kilimajaro almost seem like a real airport.
This “airport” was little more than string of shacks housing several airline offices and a coffee shop. There, of course, was also a security shack which had a metal detector, and an x-ray machine from a hundred years ago.
I boarded the tiniest scariest plane I’ve ever been on and flew out into the Serengeti.
I must have been at least a little nervous because I think it’s the only flight I’ve ever been awake on, but it really wasn’t bad at all. And it was totally worth it because at the end of all of that I was at Ndutu Safari Lodge.
This was our room… too cute.
It also has a main lodge with a bar and restaurant overlooking the Serengeti.
At night guests sit around the fire out back sipping gin and tonic and these little guys come and beg for food.
That’s a Dik Dik, the most adorable antelope in the world.
We arrived at the lodge early enough to grab breakfast before going out on a game drive.
I still maintain that baked beans are not a breakfast food.
Of course, the whole reason for going is the game drives. My first game drive was amazing. Within the first 20 minutes we saw two cheetahs eating a baby wildebeest. I was there during the annual migration, so I saw every wildebeest in the world.
Photos can probably say it best, so here’s a selection of the amazing things I saw in my first day in Africa (and a few from the morning after).
This guy was my favorite
…this guy was also my favorite.
We were fortunate enough to have the manager of the lodge driving us around.
Unfortunately, photos don’t do it justice, but literally gazillions of wildebeest everywhere (all the tiny black dots in the background)
We even attempted a bumpy safari vehicle sundowner.
Insider tip: if you’re not getting out of the vehicle, red wine is a bad choice.
Nature is simultaneously gross and fascinating.