After a four-day break in Nairobi, Kenya after my Masai Mara & Gorillas Tour with Nomad Adventure Tours, it was time to set off again on 21 more days of African adventures. It was only my third week in Africa, and I had already crossed off a number of bucket list items – such as gorilla trekking, see the Great Migration, and witness a lion kill- and knew I had a lot more items to be crossed off in the following three weeks of my East Africa Tour.
The morning started just like the first morning of both my Cape Town to Vic Falls Tour and my Masai Mara & Gorillas Tour – an early wakeup call, and breakfast in the hotel before meeting up with my Nomad Adventure Tours East Africa Tour guide, Nyika, and driver, Sandile. While having breakfast I had the opportunity to meet a few of the people I would be traveling with on the East Africa Tour – Michel & Nicholas, two brothers from Belgium; Dirk and Milan, a father-and-son team from Germany; my high school friend Giancarlo; and Ros, an older and adventurous Australian woman traveling on her own.
Since this was my third time on tour with Nomad Adventure Tours, I knew the drill – bring your stuff to the truck early to ensure you get enough space for your gear and the first pick of the seats. While we waited for everyone on the registered list to make it to the truck we took the time to fill out the ever-important waivers and contact sheets – something that only takes a few minutes per person, so eventually most of us who were on time ended up just chit chatting and hanging out.
“You know my blog?” I asked, feeling slightly like an online celebrity for about 2 seconds.
“Yes! When I started planning my trip about a year ago, I started looking up things about Nomad and found your blog and have followed you since.”
I couldn’t help but feel a bit chuffed with myself, and I knew that that was going to be the beginning of a great friendship.
Finally at around 8:30 we got going –an hour and a half after our scheduled departure time. Unfortunately some of the accommodated guests on the East Africa Tour had their pre-departure accommodations at the Jacaranda Hotel across town, so their taxis were caught up in the horrendous Nairobi traffic, something I learned all about on the final day of my Masai Mara & Gorillas Tour.
We finally got going and Sandile fought through the Nairobi traffic to get us to the closest border post that would take us into Tanzania. By the time we pulled up to the small, dark border post, it was about 10:30. As we stepped off the truck we were inundated with locals dressed up in their best Masai clothes trying to sell us souvenirs – everything from wooden sculptures of African animals, to beaded bracelets.
Fending off the pushy salespeople, I focused on filling out my immigrations form to exit the country- providing all the usual information – my name, occupation, passport details, vehicle details of Junior (the Nomad Adventure Tours overland truck), and details of where I was going. It took a good fifteen minutes before I found myself at the front of the line and getting myself a lovely new stamp to add to my passport’s collection. I quickly made my way back to the truck, hell-bent on not making eye contact or stopping for any of the locals because I truly didn’t want anything they were selling.
Once everyone was all-aboard, we made the quick 3-minute drive across the border to the Tanzanian border post. Again, we all hopped off, filled out our forms, and our passports received their new stamps. Since the truck usually takes a lot longer to get through the border (as officials need to check all the papers), Nyika asked if I could show people to the currency exchange building around the corner. We all spent the next hour or so changing our Kenyan shillings and American dollars (or Euros) to Tanzanian shillings and then waiting by Junior before Sandile and Nyika got the ‘all clear’.
It was past noon by the time that the all clear was eventually given by the border officials. A few kilometers down the road, Sandile pulled off and we set up our lunch – the standard sandwiches, salad and fruit. That day it was bananas. Since I was still in the routine of being on tour – I quickly helped Nyika set up lunch – preparing the vegetables for the sandwiches and salad, while a few others set up the lunch table and chairs.
All in all, the stop was about an hour, and we were back on the road- en route to Arusha – our overnight stop for our first day of the tour. The next few hours were spent bobbing along the pothole riddled roads, gazing out the window at the ever-changing landscape, and chatting.
We had a quick stop in at the Shop Rite grocery store in Arusha to stock up on snacks and alcohol for our trip into the Serengeti the following day. Once everyone had acquired their snacking rations, we made our way to the Ndoro lodge and campsite for the night.
Upon our arrival the weather decided that it was a good time to rain lightly on us – just enough to make things good and interesting for when it was time to put up tents for the first time. Thankfully there were only 4 tents, as only 8 of the 16 Nomad Adventure Tours clients were going to be camping.
I did what I could to teach Giancarlo tips and tricks for getting the tent up in 5min or less. Truly- it’s not that difficult. And before we knew it our ‘home’ for the night was all set up. While some decided to take advantage of the showers, I returned to the truck and helped Nyika with dinner – what was to be a tummy-warming chicken stew with rice.
We ate dinner late – around 8:00pm – and took advantage of all sitting down together in one place. For those who didn’t get the chance to meet everyone, it was the prime opportunity to get to meet the rest of the East Africa Tour family – those we would be spending 24/7 with for the following 21 days. Once the introductions were done –I turned into bed for the evening –knowing full well that the next 4 days would be absolutely exhausting as my Nomad Adventure Tours group would be making our way into the world famous Serengeti National Park.
Click HERE to read the next chapter of my adventure on my East Africa Tour with Nomad Adventure Tours.
**DISCLAIMER: While Nomad Adventure Tours asked me to partake in this tour and did provide me with a discounted tour price, all expressed thoughts, opinions and experiences remain my own.**
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