Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda

January 2003

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The highlights of this trip were the natural wonders of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda.
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  1. Jan 6: Kenya, Nairobi (Kenya visa $20, YMCA $15)
  2. Jan 7: Nairobi (Uganda visa $30, Rwanda visa $40, Orchid Hotel $9)
  3. Jan 8: Akamba bus to Kampala (14 hours, $14) crossing the equator (Mukwano Guesthouse $8)
  4. Jan 9: Kampala (Masala Chaat House restaurant ++)
  5. Jan 10: Kampala-Nyendo (2hrs) - Kalangala (3 hrs with ferry) in Ssese Islands of Lake Victoria (Hornbill Campsite $12)
  6. Jan 11: Kalangala-Masaka to Kabale (4 hrs, Sky Blue Motel $5) and Lake Bunyanyi (private car $9)
  7. Jan 12: Kabale-Kigali (2 hrs, $4) and Kigali (Hotel Gloria $12, restaurant City Center)
  8. Jan 13: Kigali
  9. Jan 14: Kigali-Rusumo ($4), border crossing to Tanzania (Visa $20), taxi border-Ngare ($8)
  10. Jan 15: Ngare-Mwanza (10hrs, overcrowded, +Lake Hotel $8)
  11. Jan 16: Mwanza (fly to Arusha $100 with Precision Air MO, TH and FR)
  12. Jan 17: Mwanza-Arusha by plane ($100, YMCA $9)
  13. Jan 18: +Manyara Lake ($260 3-day camping safari, elephants, gyraffes)
  14. Jan 19: +++Ngorongoro Crater (lions, leopard, elephants, zebras, etc)
  15. Jan 20: ++Serengeti Plains (gyraffes, cheetas, hyenas, zebras, impalas, gazelles)
  16. Jan 20: Arusha (Kitundu guesthouse $8)
  17. Jan 21: Arusha-Dar (Kilombesi bus station out of town, $15, 12 hours, Hotel Econolodge $12)
  18. Jan 22: Ferry Dar-Zanzibar ($35, 2hrs 15', Hotel Coco de Mer $15)
  19. Jan 23: Ferry Zanzibar-Dar ($35, 2hrs 15', Hotel Econolodge $12)
  20. Jan 24: Scandinavia bus Dar-Nairobi ($30, 14 hours, bus terminal in the bad part of town of Nairobi, Hotel Midway Central $10)
  21. Jan 25: Nairobi (Hotel Embassy $12)
  22. Jan 26: Nairobi (Hotel Embassy $12)
  23. Jan 27: Taxi to airport ($9)
  24. Worth seeing in Kenya: Lamu, village on the sea
  25. Worth seeing in Tanzania: Lake Natron
  26. Rwanda: Parc Nacional des Volcans (gorillas)
  27. Tanzania: Mt Kilimanjaro (6 days)
  28. Lake Manyara
  29. Serengeti National Park (zebras, Masai tribes)
  30. Ngorongoro Crater
  31. Zanzibar
  32. Uganda Lake Victoria
  33. Lake Bunyenyi

Notes (2003)

Trip difficulty: moderate
Length: 24 days
Season: Sep-Apr
  • Pictures of Kenya
  • Pictures of Tanzania
  • Pictures of Uganda
  • Pictures of Rwanda
  • Safety: people in rural areas tend to be friendly and honest, whereas pickpockets and even mugging are spreading in big cities (particularly Nairobi). Beware of anyone in Nairobi asking for money for whatever humanitarian project. Beware of self-appointed money changers in the streets of Dar (the better the exchange rate, the more likely they will rip you off)
  • Mosquitoes: there are virtually no mosquitoes around Lake Victoria, in Uganda, Rwanda and even northern Tanzania because of the altitude
  • Hotels are surprisingly clean (very clean) even in remote areas
  • Transportation: everything takes a lot longer than one expects, whether it's a ferry, a bus or a plane
  • Annoyances: chronic invasion of privacy by people who want to find out how to make money on you and won't leave you alone
  • 4 days safari in Masaai Mara (270 kms from Nairobi, bordering on Serengeti in Tanzania) $300
  • Best for hotels in Nairobi are the alleys off Mundi Mbindu St, a few blocks from Kenyatta Rd. They are as cheap as downtown, but the area is much safer.
  • Mt Kenya 5199m is second to Kilimanjaro and easy to reach from Nairobi
  • From Nairobi (Norfolk hotel) to Moshi or Arusha (Mt Meru hotel) and viceversa there are several daily shuttle buses (8am-12pm, $15=25), besides the local buses (cheap but slow) and shared taxis (near River Road in Nairobi)
  • Tanzania has two rain seasons: from mid-March through June, and from November to early January. The warmest months are December to March.
  • The best time to visit the Serengeti is from January to March
  • Recommendated vaccinations for Tanzania: yellow fever, malaria, hepatitis A, cholera
  • The hike to the top of the Kilimanjaro is possible most of the year, except in the rainy season, and best is Nov-Jan. The most popular hike to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro follows the Marangu route. This is a long slow hike at very high altitude. Usually, it takes five days during which you hike 8, 10, 13, 25 and 24 kms for a grand total of 80 kms. Climbing packages include: transport from Moshi or Arusha to the national park, national park fees, guide, porter and food. The cost ranges from $700 to $1,200. Tips are usually $2 a day for each guide and porter. Sometimes guides ask for tips also for porters who showed up at the last minute of the downhill hike. Temperatures near the top are sub-freezing and winds can be very strong. Windbreaker, warm clothes, hat, sunglasses, sunblock are essential. Most people do not spend more than a minute at the top because of the extreme cold and the altitude.
  • Best months to climb the Kilimanjaro are January, February, September, October, but it can be done also in July, August, November, December.
  • The rainiest months are March to June. Most months of the year have few rainy days.
  • The Kilimanjaro is made up of three volcanoes: Kibo (5,895 meters), Mawenzi (5,149 meters) and Shira (3,962 meters).
  • Tanzania parks: Arusha National Park (32kms from Arusha), Manyara Lake Park (2 hours from Arusha, on the way to Ngorongoro), Ngorongoro Crater (best place to see all the mammals, 180kms and 3 hours from Arusha), Tarangire (120 kms from Arusha), Serengeti (most famous, 3 million mammals, 5 hours from Arusha), Mikumi Park (300 kms from Dar), Selous Reserve (Jun-Feb), Ruaha Park
  • Safaris are all-inclusive but drivers and porters expect a tip of $4-5 per day per person (so it is in your interest that there is only one driver-guide-porter)
  • Contrary to what all agencies tell you, you can easily visit Ngorongoro and Serengeti in two long days: drive to Ngorongoro, sleep, visit Ngorongoro (5 hours is plenty), drive to Serengeti, sleep, visit Serengeti (4 hours or so) and drive back. If you only have one day, spend it at Ngorongoro: there are few animals that you can see in Serengeti and not in Ngorongoro.
  • When choosing partners for safaris, keep in mind that most tourists in Tanzania are cigarette-addicted Europeans, who *will* smoke even in the savannah
  • A few agencies (notably Fourways) organize safaris to Serengeti and Ngorongoro from Mwanza, dropping the passengers in Arusha, but it is more expensive than from Arusha and much harder to find company ($500 for transportation)
  • Olduvai Gorge (fossils of early hominids) is on the way to Serengeti
  • Last ferry from Dar to Zanzibar is at 16:15 (there are flights from Dar to Zanzibar that are slightly more expensive than the ferry and the last one leaves at 18:00)
  • The fabled Stone Town of Zanzibar is rather dilapidated. If you don't like beaches, there is little to do in Zanzibar, and it's very expensive to get there.
  • Uganda is experiencing an economic miracle
  • Rwanda is rebuilding at stunning speed and has become one of the safest countries in Africa (except the border with Congo)
  • Murchinson Falls Park in Uganda $90 (Nile, gyraffes, hippos, rarely lions)
  • Visiting the gorillas in Uganda costs $275 at the Bwindi Park (where the visit is likely to be successful) and $175 at the Mgahinga Park (where the visit is likely to be unsuccessful)
  • Visiting the gorillas in Rwanda at the Parc des Volcans costs $250 for one hour (not including lodging and transportation to Rehengeri) and flash photography is not allowed
  • From Kigali to Bujumbura (Burundi) the bus company Belvedere (2000 Rwandan Francs) is the fastest. A Burundi visa for 3 days is $20 at the border. Severian Fathers (Italian missionaries) run a guesthouse near the cathedral. Bujumbura to Congo is still dangerous.
    • GORP on Kilimajaro
    • Tanzania map
    • Visit UGanda
    • Tanzania Tourist Board
    • Gianfranco Prini's suggestions:
      • Harare, Lusaka, Kapiri-Mposhi (dove cambi treno per prendere la TaZaRa), Mpika-Shiwa Ngandu (magione anglo-toscana nel bel mezzo del nulla, fondata da un colonnello inglese negli anni '20), Kasanka (bellissimo parco gestito da una fondazione inglese), Samfya (sul lago Bangweulu), Mansa, valle del Luapula (etno-agriculturalmente bellissima), Nchelenge (sul lago Mweru), costa zambiana del lago Tanganika (ti devo necessariamente dare qualche "dritta" di dettaglio per questa zona), nave fino a Kigoma (vicino c'e' Ujiji, dove Stanley ha ritrovato Livingstone), treno fino a Dar, costa fino a Mtwara (colonie swahili di Kilwa), ferry per attraversare il Rovuma, Ilha de Ibo, Ilha de Mocambique, Nampula, Cuamba (in treno: viaggio etno-paesaggisticamente stupendo), Lichinga (anche qui ti devo dare qualche "dritta" di dettaglio), mirco-riserva di Mansa (esemplare, sul lago Niassa), Cobue', nave fino a Nkhata Bay, Tete, Harare). Viaggiare da Kasanka al Tanganika via Mansa-Mweru e' problematico da Nchelenge in poi se non hai un mezzo tuo: puoi eventualmente tagliare questa parte, facendo Lusaka, Kapiri-Mposhi, Kasanka, Mpika, Shiwa-Ngandu, Mpulungu e costa sud del Tanganika come prima. Se vuoi anche tagliare il Tanganika, dalla zona di Shiwa puoi comunque prendere la TaZaRa per Dar, ma ti perdi un'area molto interessante (caso mai puoi supplire col Rukwa).
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