…via road from Nairobi
The ritual when it comes to places I am visiting, is that I have to get as much online reviews from other travelers as possible before setting out. But on this occasion, I did not find it necessary. Duncan’s word was final.(I trusted his judgement when he took us to Summit Mt.Kenya, and it turned out just fine. I couldn’t doubt this one.)
Getting to Salinero Millie Lodge from Nairobi
To get to Salinero Millie Lodge in Machame,you leave Nairobi using Mombasa road,branch to Kitengela; Kajiado, then straight to Namanga; the Kenya-Tanzania border. After clearance at the border the next town is Arusha followed by Moshi which is the destination. However just before getting to Moshi town there is a stop at the Machame Road Junction that is just a few Kilometers to Moshi Town Center. The whole trip takes about six hours,depending on the time taken at the border clearance.
Tahmeed the bus
I got in touch with my host from Salinero Hotels who advised that I travel with Dar Express(A bus company that plies the Nairobi-Dar Route). However when I went to book, the first bus company I saw was Tahmeed and well, I did the complete opposite. Besides, I was once told that Tahmeed buses were comfy,modern and just like Dar Express they also use the same route.
Check-in time at the bus station was 5:30am and departure was 6:00 am, I was impressed with how they kept time because by 6:10am we had already left the city center. The bus stood out for a number of reasons: It had functional air conditioners, enough leg room,its reclining seats almost promised a flat back,the inside was spotless, adjacent seats were made to give passengers sufficient space because the design was that of tiny private compartments. Their entertainment was on point as well, each passenger had a small screen at the front all supplied with movies,music and games.
Apart from a few security checks along the way and a burst tyre, the trip to Moshi was smooth. It took us three hours to get to Namanga.
Long queues and two annoying Maasai herdsboys at the Namanga border point
One of the most frustrating experience during my trip was being cleared to enter Tanzania in Namanga. At the time, more than ten bus companies had arrived and released their passengers for clearance. It took a whole one and a half hours before I could be attended to.
Just when the lady who was right in front of me went to the counter, two Maasai herdsboys boldly and unapologetically came right in front of me and forcefully refused to line up like the rest of us. I tried talking to them and explained to them that the least they could have done is ask politely but they couldn’t hear any of that. When I discovered I was fighting a losing battle, I kept my cool and waited patiently for another 25 minutes, immediately after they were served,the officer in charge decided to take a short break. Yep!
Scenic Namanga-Arusha-Moshi route.
After the hiatus, the journey towards Moshi kicked off smoothly. The air was cooler and purer;maybe the hilly country side made it better.The green rolling hills, the low hanging clouds that hugged the series of mountains along the way, the healthy cows, sheep and goats that grazed cheerfully, clusters of the Maasai Manyatas, livestock markets, dry pebbled riverbeds of seasonal rivers and happy country men made the ride lively all the way.
No communication,unsure of my exact stop
The reason my host recommended Dar-Express was because they knew the exact time the bus would be passing the Machame Road junction where we were meant to alight and they could also track and see where we were along the way. I did not remember to buy a local SIM card and that meant trouble. I made many trips to the conductor just to remind him to stop at that junction. I kept reminding him because at some point I felt like he just wasn’t paying attention to what I was saying. Surprisingly when we got the junction, he called out. When we got out of the bus, one taxi driver came to us to ask for business, but I told him I needed to speak to my host to get more info first. He was kind enough to lend me his phone.
He was so keen on my conversation that by the time I was handing back his phone, he told me that he saw the hotel van at the junction, and even one of the staff asked him whether he had seen us. We headed to a kiosk, ordered for soda and decided to wait patiently to be picked in about twenty minutes as agreed.
Pick up by a jovial staff
In less than the stated 20 minutes, two gentlemen came straight into the kiosk where were waiting from. One wore a white half sleeved shirt, beautifully branded with the words Salinero Hotels, the other wore the warmest smile I have ever seen. They introduced themselves as Moses and Mudi. They explained how they’ve eager to meet us since noon. They showed us to the hotel’s Land cruiser.
Just like that, I felt an instant connection and true to my own persuasion, we become family. I didn’t understand the magic, but hey, it happened! From the Junction, we started our 20km stretch to the lodge…