So the day has come and it’s time to say goodbye to the Serengeti for now – what an incredible 12 days!
We drove Dunia to Seronera, on the way seeing a lovely bull elephant a little way from the road, lots of giraffe, a snoozy pride of lion in the grass, a very cheeky baby baboon and a wave to the hippo as we drove past their pool.
Then check in for 10:30am Coastal flight Seronera to Kilimanjaro, go through security, 20 minute wait in lounge and onto the half-full 12-seater flight. We flew straight to Kilimanjaro, a little over a one hour flight with the rest of the passengers continuing to Arusha.
My next flight on Precision Air to DAR had been rescheduled to 6:55pm so rather than 6 hours twiddling my thumbs in the check-in area I hopped in a taxi to KIA lodge which is only 5 minutes away. I hadn’t visited this lodge before so took this as a perfect time to check it out. Sadly deserted with no guests at the moment the staff were very pleased to see me and show me around.
The lodge comprises around 30 basic but clean guest cottages scattered through rather lush and beautiful gardens of jacaranda, bougainvillea and franjipani with a shady bar area and an elevated attractive pool area (with view of Kilimanjaro on a clear day). It is possible to book a day-room or also there are shower-only rooms by the pool that are available at a small fee for showering and changing before a flight.
A solid local lodge in a very convenient location for Kilimanjaro airport – no frills but definately worth a mention.
I passed several hours in the bar area on my laptop with intermittent wifi, couple of cokes and a coffee before the same taxi returned for me to head back to airport.
Quick check-in* then through to the departure lounge (via security) and a cold Savanna cider and some friendly banter with the barman
*The Precision flight JRO – DAR was booked as part of the international ticket with Qatar and in the past it would have been possible to check-in at this stage for the entire journey, with bags tagged all the way home -but now because of the Covid-check requirements Precision (and other domestic airlines) will not check-in for the international portions as the test certificate checks etc. must be done by Qatar/KLM before the international flight.
Precision flight (via Zanzibar) departed on time and landed in DAR around 8:45pm at the domestic terminal. Through luggage security check and then an 8-minute walk with luggage trolley along well-lit level pavement to the brand-new Terminal 3 was no problem.
- Go to the Stationary Kiosk within the terminal (next to the mini-supermaket) to print out your test certificate. Happiness (yes that’s her name) can pull your certificate up on the portal with your passport number and print direct from her computer $2/copy (her smiles are free)
- Near the check-in area there is a Ministry of Health representative at a desk by itself (with an armed guard next to her) – take your certificate there and she looks it up online and then will stamp and sign it.**
- Pre-check desk before actual line for check-in verifies you have all the documents necessary – for me travelling to US – passport – eticket - green card/visa – Covid certificate – US entry declaration form
- Check-in – all documents are checked again by the airline agent, bags tagged and magical boarding pass issued.
- Upstairs to immigration check – fill in departure card – give to immigration with passport.
- Security check – unload all laptops, liquids etc.
- Relax and wait for flight to be called.
** I asked the Ministry of Health rep about the process at Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar airports and she said there were MOH reps there also to stamp and sign certificates.The rest of the journey is a blur of airline meals, zombie-naps, some more productive office-in-the-sky activity and a movie or two. The flight DAR – DOHA went smoothly then 2 hours in Doha and on to the 16 hr flight DOH - DFW. All flights on time, smooth and easy.
There were no covid-certificate checks on entry to US that I saw but there was an announcement instructing arrivals to have certificate ready in case of random checks. Also was never asked for the entry declaration form....
Then out into the Texas sun and humidity to be met by my very own biggest monkey and a hug and a smile worth coming home for.