Getting There, Tanzania: June 28-July 1, 2021
|Aboard our Qatar Flight segment bound for Doha|
Two months ago, Facebook friend Ali Khataw wrote that he was leading a Fair Trade Safaris' tour to Tanzania that would begin on July 1. Due to a cancellation, he had two places available for the tour. This opportunity caught us at a time when we were itchy to travel again. I hadn't been on a plane since our December 2019 flight to London in celebration of Dan's birthday. We said,"Yes!!!" We booked our airfare via Qatar Airlines (Sacramento-Seattle-Doha-Kilimanjaro). We obtained our Tanzania tourist visas via the internet. We were set.
All twelve of us going on this trip were vaccinated. The airline required masks except when eating or drinking champagne. Tanzania was open and required only a negative Covid PCR test performed not more than 72 hours before arrival in Tanzania. The CDC, the State Department, and WHO warned US Citizens avoid travel to Tanzania.
The 72-hour negative test requirement threatened to sabotage our plans, but we found a clinic a couple hours away that did tests on Sunday, June 27, and guaranteed same-day results.
On June 28, our 32nd anniversary, we began our journey to Tanzania. Champagne, wonderful food, and a bed in Qatar's Q-Suite Business Class made traveling on our anniversary a lovely celebration. Qatar even gives you pajamas to wear on these long-haul flights. This segment was 14 hours.
|Qatar's video photo of our two lay-flat seats|
In Doha, Qatar, we had an 8-hour layover so we stayed in the airport hotel to lessen our exposure to others. Masks were required in the airport and, in fact, only Qatari citizens were allowed into the country. We met up with four other Tanzania travelers (Shadia and Omar; Salva and Farhan) as we boarded our final leg to Tanzania.
|Meeting up with Shadia, Salva, Farhan, and Omar|
It took a bit to get into the airport because passports were checked and temperatures were taken. Then we were passed on to the window where we paid for rapid Covid tests ($25) and another area where the actual test was done. We got our results in 1 minute. The evidence of our negative Covid PCR tests performed 72 hours before arrival was of no significance to anyone. Despite having an advance VISA, we had to fill out the same form that we had submitted online weeks ago. Immigration done, we were free to claim our luggage and move to the outside of the airport.
|Arriving in Arusha (Kilimanjaro airport) at 7:40 am|
Once all six of us were outside the airport, a Fair Trade Safaris' driver delivered us to The African Tulip Hotel. After almost 40 hours in travel status, the hotel was an oasis of cool calm. We were led to a hand washing station and then offered a drink of cool juice. The remaining travelers arrived later in the day.
July 1, still a little jet-lagged, we met all our fellow travelers the next morning. Our day's exploration began with a visit to the SOS Children's Village Arusha. Fair Trade Safaris has had a practice of visiting this children's village to meet children and staff. The Village employs several women who act as "house mothers" for each dorm. Several of these house mothers have been employed for 20 years and are about to retire. The dorms are mixed gender with girls in one dorm bedroom and boys in another. The house mother cooks for the children and is really a surrogate mother. When the children age out at around 18, they are still welcomed back when the university is closed during vacation days.
|Children from Dorm 9|
A local market was just getting underway as we left the children's village. At Dan's urging, we stopped to stroll around looking for photo opportunities. We do love markets with all the beautiful colors and interesting people.
|The scornful eye--Busted|
Before leaving Arusha, Joseph one of the drivers, took us back to a shop that caught my eye on our first day in Arusha.
July 1 is my birthday, and Nahid (Ali's wife and the tour's own house mother) and Dan conspired to make me remember it. After dinner, the hotel staff singing and clapping delivered a beautiful little birthday cake to our table.
|67th birthday in Arusha, Tanzania|
Tomorrow, the photo safari begins with a drive to Tarangiri National Park where elephants are plentiful.
Fair Trade Safaris - A Socially Responsible Luxury Travel Agency
The African Tulip Hotel - welcoming staff, wonderful rooms, and good food