October 23rd-25th 2010
October 30th 2010 (night)
Arusha is the city where most people launch their northern circuit safaris from. After taking a 10-hour bus from Dar, I stayed a few nights because the Tanzanian Tourist Board doesn’t open until Monday. The TTB has a blacklist of safari companies which have cheated people in the past and I wanted to take a look at that list first before signing up for any safaris. There are around 300 registered safari companies in Arusha so shopping for a tour company requires a little legwork. That Monday, I was approached by a couple of touts on the street whose jobs are to lead foreigners like myself to companies who probably pay them a commission if we sign up for a safari.
I decided to go with one of them to visit a few companies. Most companies are spread out location-wise so there was a bit of walking involved. I only visited 3-4 before getting fed up as they all offer roughly the same packages at almost similar prices-per-day but it all comes down to who is most reliable. I went on the internet to read reviews and found unfavorable reviews for each of them. Nobody was cheated out of their money, it’s just that some companies will offer better prices than their competitors but end up cutting corners here and there, leading to unsatisfied clients. Anyway, I guess no safaris are perfect, especially budget safaris.
I went with a company called ‘Victoria Expeditions’. I was told that there were going to be 4 others joining my group (2 Slovenians, 1 Dutch, and 1 Korean). The bigger the group, the better rates offered, supposedly. My tour was scheduled to leave the next day, which was what I wanted. After paying for my safari, I relaxed the rest of the day.
Not much in the town itself. It’s cool and drizzly in the mornings. The place I was staying at had a TV where I could catch a few weekend soccer games and international news. BTW, I used to think Al-Jazeera was an Arab-based network that mostly covered news in the Arab world but I’ve come to learn that it’s international and their English news is excellent, on par with BBC.