Day 2 of our journey to Kilimanjaro – Sept 28, 2013

I arrive on time in Amsterdam and I look forward to meeting up with Jim. Shortly after arriving at the gate, i met up with Jim and we line up to go through gate security. I am happy as things are running very smoothly and on time. Just need to connect up with Sian and Mumbi in Arusha.

Our KLM flight is a little over 8 hours however flies by and is extremely pleasant. Unfortunately Jim and I were unable to get seats together. Luckily the person in the seat next to me was a delightful lady from southern Texas and we managed to fill the time quite easily, chatting about everything and anything. Before we knew it our flight was on African soil!

Jim and I managed to get off the flight fairly quickly and headed directly to the short line up to get our Tanzanian visas. We had both decided to get them here rather than send our passports to the Ottawa consulate. For me I was curious on the procedure and the timing. It was efficient, inexpensive and for future reference photos are not necessary – they use a webcam!

Once through immigration, all of our bags arrived intact thankfully and we made our way out into the throngs of people. By this time the sun is long set and it is very dark so can feel intimidating with so many guides, porters, and taxi drivers all vying for your attention. Thankfully I spotted the Natural Trekking sign and quickly introduced myself to Frank, our driver. Sian had arrived shortly before us and within an hour of landing we were on our way to the Snow Crest Hotel.

The Snow Crest is a new hotel on the outskirts of Arusha and is very nice. It takes us no time to check-in and we all agree it is time for dinner. We can’t believe we are hungry but we are. We were lucky that the dining room was still open and had a nice meal with celebratory drinks for our safe arrival!

We are missing you Tanya and toasted to your speedy recovery. Originally Tanya was booked to be with us, however she had a very misfortunate fall and broke her lower leg just above the ankle. Needless to say we were all devastated that she is not going to be with us! She may not be with us in person but she will be with us in spirit!

Tanya, How is the battle with Abercrombie and Kent coming along? Have you made any headway? Tanya and Sian booked a safari with the ‘top of the line’ tour operator Abercrombie and Kent. When Tanya broke her ankle, she called the tour operator to cancel and was told that it was totally non-refundable – this is very standard in the travel industry.

Tanya understood this policy however asked if she could get a credit, a least a partial one, so that she could take the tour next year. The company was very unsympathetic and refused any refund.

The maddening part is that the next day Sian called Abercrombie to ensure her portion of the tour was intact. The agent she spoke to said ‘oh didn’t you receive a call? As there was only the two of you and one has cancelled, we have decided to cancel the tour.’ This happened one day before Sian is departing Canada so she is horrified and was told she would likely not get a full refund! To make a long story short, Sian believes she is getting a full refund, however the lack of professionalism and lack of customer service this ‘exclusive’ tour operator has displayed is disgusting. Any of you reading this that are thinking of taking a first class trip with Abercrombie and Kent, you may want to reconsider your decision!

Thankfully Mumbi secured an extra room on our safari (for a third of the cost no less!) and Sian will be safely with us and not stranded.

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