Last Saturday was a big day. A big day because the Urban Village girl was going for a trip outside the country. Huge,isn’t it?
It all started during the week,Wednesday to be exact.I went online to look for my next travel destination. As I browsed Facebook and Instagram, I stumbled upon Expeditions Maasai Safaris which had detailed and inviting attractions of numerous regions within East Africa, what was equally intriguing was their ability in capturing their clients attention by openly citing all travel costs without any hidden charges.
Cost of the safari: Kes. 5500.(approx.USD 56) This was inclusive of;
- Transport To and Fro Nairobi
- Bed and breakfast
- Tour around Arusha City and her attractions
- Free photography.
As you would agree,these prices are just as much if not a couple more hundreds shy what one would ordinarily pay for two kilograms of beef (Nyama Choma)and four beers at Olepolos in Nairobi, a drive down to Naivasha town for a Sunday brunch at crayfish,or put simply these entire trip is an equivalent of two Jameson bottles at any Nairobi Pub. So definitely it was a good bargain for an out of the country treat.
I was instantly sold to the idea of getting on board for this exciting venture scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
I have gone for a number of organized safaris but one thing that stood out in this particular one, was the phenomenal customer service from the organizers.We were in luck to have Lawrence and Pancras-the able,patient and very knowledgeable gentlemen as our event organizers.From their luxurious 44 seater shuttles,each with a freezer,enough leg room between every seat ,clean and fresh scented interior to the absolutely beautiful ballads serenading us from the stereo which was twice or thrice interrupted by Lawrence’s voice as he made announcements about this and that…
These two were without a doubt the true definition of servant leadership.Their dedication in ensuring their 85 clients who booked for this road trip were comfortable and cared for was steady from commencement to conclusion of the trip.
Expeditions Maasai Safaris has a global reach.On this morning their clients travelling from Uganda to Nairobi for the Arusha expedition caused us a fourth five minute delay as we waited for them to arrive,We were initially scheduled to leave at 6.45 am but only managed to set off at around 7:30 am.
We soon hit Mombasa road, then Kajiado County which had a bevy of herds of goats,sheep, and the zebu breed of cattle-a favorite of the Maasai community living in this area. By now giggles of laughter could be heard inside the shuttle as people were getting better acquainted with one another,before too long we were in Namanga the boarder town which I would later learn was about three hours from Nairobi but the comfortable interior,steady and professional driver had me fooled it was under an hour’s journey.
Our first stop was Kajiado town for breakfast and a short break.
We arrived at the border at around noon. Like most border formalities the procedure here included having ones passport stamped for entry and the yellow fever certificate verified too.
It’s advisable to have all these documents prior to travel, but in the event that you don’t, the Namanga border makes provision for a yellow fever vaccination at USD 10.00 in their screening clinic.
One of my favorite things to do while travelling has always been interacting with the locals and learning a few words from the natives, this was to continue in the Arusha trip.I spotted a jovial looking Masai woman who quickly and gleefully greeted me and I responded with a smile from ear to ear because of her warm demeanor or so I thought. She then began selling her ornaments to me but I was hesitant as I had intended to make my purchase from a variety of markets inside Arusha instead.
She purported that it was fine by her if I didn’t have money or if I didn’t want to buy as she was simply giving me a bracelets for free and that the next time I visited the border I would buy from her.What a treat I thought! I was in luck! This was angelic.I quickly obliged almost grabbing them out of her hand but I feigned calmness and allowed her to place the bracelets in mine then I announced my thank you,almost kissing and bear hugging her out of excitement.
My happy dance was however short lived, as no sooner had I crossed the border than her ‘next time’ reached.She stood in front of me as I walked out of the border office trying to sort my papers out, smiling even broadly than the first time with both her palms stretched out expectantly,just not for her goods back but for funds instead.She had a more stern smile now,her eyes seemed to yell ‘GIVE ME MONEY YOU WOMAN!’ but in her mother tongue.I was left no choice but to purchase from her after her brilliant performance and for outwitting me.I was also a tad scared I must confess, that she would stab my liver or my pancreas or my heart or all three at once with a long spear and then jump out of view to an unknown hut in the woods while ululating had I not paid up (I have a wild imagination!)
She quickly put the money in her torso and agreed for one picture as she had to dash back and perform this same ritual to yet another unsuspecting lover of freebies.
The entry point took us about two hours considering the large number of travelers who were being cleared for entry.
After this rather tedious bit. our journey into Tanzania started slightly after 2:00 pm. We were instantly met by lush green pasture and vast land bearing deep green gentle sloppy rolling hills that were picture perfect.
The green countryside was well explained by the heavy rainfall that pounded and the numerous rivers that snaked from the hills and raced below bridges as they drained into dams and bigger rivers.
We arrived in Arusha town at around 4:00 pm.To my delight,the pictorials on the pamphlets were exactly the same as the rooms we were staying in.Nothing missing.Nothing added.
Most Swahili speaking people are known for their politeness and a laid back persona ,I made a quick dash to try catch a glimpse of what the evenings in Arusha and her people were like. Arusha is not only clean, but a quite and orderly town, which was a breath of fresh air from my most African towns where disorder was the norm.
The people here were friendlier and soft spoken.They also used more courteous words than we did back home,there wasn’t traffic on their roads either.Where was this place and who were these people?I thought to myself.Sigh!
I made my way back to the hotel just in time for dinner and shindig planned for later that night. Club D was the venue chosen for us set some 30 minutes drive from the hotel we were checked in. The most interesting thing about this club was the fact that it was built on its own piece of land and had a garden extension for outdoor parties. The club whispered elegance and class right from the entrance as guests were welcomed with with a red carpet entrance. The ambiance inside the club gushed of sophistication, starting from the white lounges, to the glassy floor tiles, the numerous counters and state of the art fans. The dance floor was big enough to house more than a couple hundred revelers.So Sublime.
Outside the club was another live performance event taking place and the melodious voice of the guest artist could be heard singing Asa‘s Jailer,the fun was genuine, the food was sumptuous and the drinks were flowing.It was good times.
Lawrence and Pancras,still on top of their game began the second day by waking up some of the hungover-ed lads so they don’t run behind schedule. The sweet aroma of fried eggs and mushrooms filled the air at the breakfast buffet, a choice of African and English breakfast were in the offing.
We checked out of the hotel soon after breakfast leaving behind extremely friendly staff with free and very fast WiFi.
The magnificent Arusha Cultural Heritage Center was our first stop, a well thought out architectural masterpiece.It’s one of a kind.
There were amazing sculptures that told the Tanzania story, from their culture,family life and polygamy etc as below:
Arusha is a very culture rich town.
Our next stop was Lake Duluti. A small crater lake that lies about ten kilometers from Arusha town. It’s a serene location for picnics, a good place to have a quiet reflection time.
Before too long it was a little after midday,how time flies when you’re having fun!
We were now at the Naura springs hotel. The plan was to take a dip at this magnificent modern hotel and the chilly weather wasn’t going to stop us either!
The poolside was absolutely breathtaking!
I would recommend this place only a zillion times,beautiful can’t even begin to describe it.
After my breaststrokes,freestyle and butterfly strokes (still working on my very lame breaststroke) it was time to vacate this gigantic piece of beauty and begin our journey back to Nairobi,departure planned for 3 pm.
A pensive mood engulfed the bus as we left the hotel. Probably because of how quickly time had flown, or maybe the loud heavy rain and thunder that was pounding the bus, or perhaps the plain sadness that comes at the realization that an awesome trip had just come to an end.I wondered.
If ever there was a perfect definition of value for money, then The Arusha Road Trip by Expeditions Maasai Safari would be a great example for this phrase. I look to book my next many safaris with them.
Stay adventurous and lets meet in their next Safari.
You can contact them through their Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/ExpeditionsMaasaiSafaris or like their page Expeditions Maasai Safaris.
or check out their website : http://www.expeditions.co.ke/
You can also follow Pancras on instagram at @pancras_expedition and Lawrence at @lawrence_Safaris respectively.
Alternatively you can call them on +254 731 521 789.