My previous post I gave a summary of the awesome safari we did last month. My next few posts will be more detailed reviews of the places we stayed and the parks we visited. This first one is on Arusha, Tanzania and the Rivertrees Country Inn.
We landed at Kilimanjaro International Airport about 1 pm on Day 1. We were exhausted as we’d left our house in Cairo 11 pm the previous night. Kids slept a little on the plane, but it was only a 4 hour or so flight to Addis, so it wasn’t a full night’s sleep by any stretch of the imagination! Our guide (who doubled as our driver) met us at the airport and brought us to our jeep.
The jeep had seating for 6-7 passengers (6 in the back and an additional one could sit next to the driver). Each seat was a bucket seat at the window with a central aisle. Between the last two seats was a small cooler fridge and in the back space for luggage. We had windows that slid open at each seat, so each passenger could determine whether to open or close. Seats had a large pocket on the back and a cup holder. We brought DS2’s carseat and installed in in a back seat. It wasn’t a perfect install–only a lap belt that didn’t tighten super well and no back latch abilities. But it worked for us!
We drove about 40 minutes from the airport to Rivertrees. You reach Rivertrees prior to reaching Arusha itself. The Inn is set among many trees and has a large creek/little river flowing along one side. There is plenty of space to run around and a chance to see monkeys up in the trees.
We got checked in right away. Our room was ready, but my mom and her friend’s room (we’ll call them L and R) took about an hour to get ready. At least they had our porch to hang out on and wifi!
Each room was an individual little house with a porch, large bedroom, and bathroom. The bedroom had a large bed and then a single bed as we requested triples (though both kids slept in our room, it made more sense for pricing). DS slept in our bed and had plenty of space. DD had her own bed. Both beds had mosquito netting around them. The room had plenty of floor space for all our stuff!
The bathroom had a shower, tub, toilet, and sink with lots of counter space. They provided bath gel and shampoo. Power was on 24 hours and wifi reached our rooms. There were a few mosquitoes, but not too many (we visited in October, this could change depending on the season).
Dinner started at 7 pm and the half board menu offered two entree choices, plus soup, salad, and dessert. If you didn’t have dinner included in your stay, there was a large a la carte menu available. It is on their website.The kids were allowed to pick from the kid menu instead. The kids had a choice from cheeseburger with french fries, pork sausage with mashed potatoes, pasta with tomato sauce, and chicken fingers with spinach and rice. They picked the chicken fingers and we subbed the spinach and rice for the french fries.
Most people chose to eat outside for dinner on tables scattered around. There was also seating inside–roof and floor, though no walls. My kids enjoyed running around and looking at the amazing stars while waiting for dinner.
The next morning for breakfast we enjoyed a buffet with fruit, various breads, cold cuts, cheese, eggs made-to-order, and bacon. Then we headed off for a briefing at the Arusha Coffee Lodge (1 hour drive) and were on our way to Lake Manyara National Park (about 2.5 additional hours). The drive was on paved roads and while there was some traffic going through Arusha itself, most of the drive was at a steady and good speed. We saw our first animal sighting (aside from the monkeys at the Inn) on the side of the road–giraffes!
Arusha on the Return
When we visited at our last park, Tarangire, we went back through Arusha to get to the airport. The drive from Tarangire was 1 hour from our camp to the park entrance, then 2 hours to the Cultural Heritage Center where we ate boxed lunch and shopped. From there it was about 1.75 hours to the airport. There was a lot of driving that last day!
The Cultural Heritage Center is a great spot for shopping and worth doing all your souvenir shopping at. It has multiple stores and categories and everything was marked with prices. You can buy tanzanite there if interested in gems and jewelry (warning: tanzanite is not cheap–less than diamonds but more than many stones). There is everything from little $1 souvenirs great for kids all the way to items worth many thousands of dollars. We did not have enough time there, so I suggest allotting plenty of time to shop and eat. From Gibbs Farm the drive would have been about 2 hours, not 3 like we had.
The Kilimanjaro International Airport is not very big. We flew Ethiopian Airlines and their computer system shut down right before check in. So we had to wait over an hour for check in to start and then they did it manually! We were glad we were first! The airport had a few shops, a convenience store, and I think a restaurant (but we ate lunch ahead of time). There is baggage scanning and security upon entering the airport (electronics out). After check in, we had to go through exit immigration that took a long time (not the line, but the verifying all 6 passports and visas and exit forms took a while). Then there was carry-on security and scanning before reaching the gate.