How To Beat The Overpriced Taxis To The Airport

There seems to be some kind of racket in Arusha where all taxis charge $50 to the airport.  I am no fan of taxis at the best of times and even less so when I think I am getting ripped off.  Now for most people, your safari company will pick you up at the airport (maybe with additional charge so ask) but most people also stick around Arusha for a day or so afterwards to sightsee on their own.  When you are ready to leave, if you ask your hotel to call a taxi, it will cost $50.  Taxis on the street may be more willing to bargain but they do tend to jack up the prices for foreigners going to the airport.  Some of the domestic carriers do have shuttles but we were on Ethiopian Airlines that didn’t have a shuttle.

You don’t have to put up with these rates, here’s how to get 2 people to the airport for around $10.  Here’s the basic route using L’Oasis Lodge (highly recommend) as a starting point.

Arusha to airportStep 1 – Lodge to main road.  For L’Oasis, this is about 10 minute walk down a dirt road to the main road.

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Step 2 – You will see a bus station and usually several people waiting for buses.  Mini-buses will pull up and the conductor will shout the destination.  When you hear “Moshi, Moshi, Moshi”, hop in.  The fare is around 3000-4000 Tanzanian Shillings, about $2.50 USD.  The mini-bus will be crowded and if you have heavy luggage (which you really shouldn’t) you may want to pay for extra seats.  It will take around an hour to the junction.  Tell the conductor you are hopping out at the airport junction road.  You won’t be the only one, though you will probably be the only foreigner.

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Step 3 – At the junction, taxis will be waiting and approach you.  We paid 10,000 TZS, around $5 USD.  Since we had plenty of time, we had lunch in a cafe and I decided to get my hair braided while my husband got a shave.

IMG_7315 IMG_7316 IMG_7317But there’s your transport from Arusha to the airport for around $10 USD!

Jardine’s AKA Red-fronted Parrot (Poicephalus gulielmi)

The Red-fronted Parrot (Poicephalus gulielmi), also known as the Jardine’s parrot, is a medium-sized mainly green parrot endemic across wide areas of Africa. It has three subspecies. The extent and shade of the red or orange plumage on its head, thighs, and bend of wings vary depending on the subspecies.

These two photos are a juvenile Jardine’s Parrot at Birds of Eden.

IMG_3446 IMG_3443Although I saw a Jardine’s zoom by at Arusha NP I didn’t get a photo of an adult so I will fall back on the Wikipedia one.

JardinesThey have a huge range across Africa in separated areas but many of these would be difficult for a tourist to access.  The best places are Arusha NP in Tanzania and Kakum NP in Ghana.



World Parrot Trust




IBC has a clip of some parrots in Ghana. I came up blank for a video on YouTube of WILD Jardine’s Parrots although there was a lot of captive bird clips.


Lodge Review: L’Oasis, Arusha, Tanzania

Everyone who is headed out for a safari in the northern Tanzania parks will be at least passing trough Arusha and most likely staying a day or two.  L’Oasis is located in a quiet area on the outskirts of town and a short walk from a main road where you can get public transport.

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Sadly Henry the Crested Crane was killed by a neighborhood dog last year.  I had really been looking forward to seeing him as he liked to hang around the swimming pool.


The staff are very friendly and helpful.  In the right, you can see a small library if you are looking for a book to pass the time.  The power went out several times while we were there (the whole town, not just the lodge) so it was nice to have books!  The internet is strongest near the reception but we had the nearest bungalow which also picked up the wifi signal.


They have a small souvenir stall.  That painting of the Superb Starling came home with us and is now in our living room!


This is a dining room/bar/lounge area where you can just relax or order something from the menu which will be brought up to you.  The hamburgers were delicious!

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Here’s the pool by day and by night.

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The bungalows are really cute!   I loved the African decor and the towel animal!

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The ensuite


Breakfast is included in most room rates and offers a good selection of eggs, fruit, bread and jam.  The artwork on the wall was really nice.

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A few birds hang out, probably more but we left really early so didn’t have time to see more birds at the lodge.  Mostly little Weaverbirds and Bulbuls.

IMG_7119 IMG_7120 IMG_7121You can book either through their website or try if you have a good click-through portal.  Sometimes is cheaper.  You pay at check out and they do take credit cards when the power is on.  If the power supply is dodgy, best to pay the night before if you need to use a credit card.

This is a fantastic little eco-lodge very convenient to town if you need to go there (we didn’t but you might).  It has real African character and we really enjoyed our stay!

Arusha National Park – A Day Trip

Arusha National Park is often bypassed in favour of the larger parks like Serengeti & Ngorongoro but it is well worth a visit whether you are a birder or not.  For one thing, the views of Mt Kilimanjaro are amazing from here!  Thoughout this post, you will see several angles of Kilimanjaro taken from different locations as the photos are posted in chronological order.

I asked Fortes whom I had booked the car/driver package with but they wanted to charge the same amount for a day trip as they did for the multi-day trip which had included allowances for the driver’s food and accommodation.  I thought I could get a better price so I rang a few places from the hotel and finally booked a different car/driver for the day.  One annoyance for me as an Australian is that tour operators kept quoting in USD even though I would have to withdraw cash Tanzanian Shillings from the ATM from my Aussie bank account.

An easy 40-minute drive from Arusha. Approximately 60 km (35 miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The lakes, forest and Ngurdoto Crater can all be visited in the course of a half-day outing at the beginning or end of an extended northern safari.

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After you enter the park, you will see the reception where you pay the fees.  They take Visa & Mastercards.

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The jeep and the contact details as per their logo.

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Before heading off, you can use the toilet and check out the information boards.

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I am not going to be able to find all these birds in my 800 page book, especially when the LBJs are so similar, not to mention female birds whose partners are more colourful.  I’ll do my best!


Little Bee-eaters

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There is a museum with some taxidermied displays of birds.

IMG_7149 IMG_7150 IMG_7151 IMG_7153 IMG_7155 IMG_7156Baboons


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Colobus Monkeys – the flagship species of ANP.

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Collared Sunbird

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The driver takes a break while we chill out at the lookout point.

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Paradise flycatcher IMG_7206

Blue Monkey


Little Bee-eater

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1000’s of Flamingoes

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African Hoopoe

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Picnic area

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Heuglin’s Masked Weaver


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I wasn’t happy when a school bus full of noisy kids showed up.

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Siesta time!

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Common Bulbul

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Collared Sunbirds

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Somewhere around here was where the Jardine’s Parrot shot out of a tree overhead and disappeared into the dense forest.  I tried a Hail Mary shot but failed to get him.

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Back To Arusha

The drive back to Arusha was anti-climatic.  The driver tried to steer us to shop at a couple stalls but we already had enough stuff and I knew he was angling for a commission from certain stalls.


A pink church

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Trumpeter Hornbill


Cultural Hertitage Centre back in Arusha


A mosque in Arusha


Interesting pub!


Heading to our hotel on the back roads

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Having some time to kill, I got my hair braided in one French braid.


Ina got a shave.


Visiting Tarangire National Park – Part 1

Many visitors to Tanzania bypass Tarangire National Park in favour of the more dramatic Ngorongoro Crater and the iconic Serengeti.  But for the birder, Tarangire is a must!  Since there are so many photos, this part will take us up to lunch time, the 2nd part will cover the afternoon and early evening.  I have identified what I can, still missing a few so will get back to them – or help me out in the comments!

This is the entrance gate nearest to Whistling Thorn Camp.


Mind the rules!

IMG_6437Fees are paid on a 24 hour basis so you want to spend the full day in the park to maximize your wildlife sightings.  If you are staying at a lodge inside the park, you will pay the fee for each 24 hour period you are there.  These fees were valid from July 2013 – June 2015.  Keep an eye on the website to see the new prices taking effect after July 2015.

TZ Park fees - Tarangire, ArushaAmazing baobab trees are everywhere!


Some delicate little Cordon-bleu Waxbills

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Yellow-collared Lovebirds foraging


Curious vervet monkey






Dik dik


Waterbuck – these guys crack me up as they look like they sat on a freshly painted toilet!

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Mixed flocks foraging – plenty to go around

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A pair of African Orange-bellied Parrots aka Red-bellied Parrots

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This is where we saw them

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Tanzanian Hornbill

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White-headed Buffalo-weaver

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Blue-cheeked Bee-eater


Lilac-breasted Roller


Vervet monkey family


Picnic ground where we had breakfast

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More Red-bellied Parrots

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Dik dik

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Poachers tree – they used to hide in here and capture wildlife




Little Bee-eaters

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Black backed Jackal


Egyptian Goose


Marabou Stork

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White-headed Buffalo-weaver

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Little Bee-eater






Lilac-breasted Rollers

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Banded Mongoose


No shortage of monkeys trying to rob the tourists at the lunch stop – Matete Picnic Spot!

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Skilled thieves

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During lunch one of the other drivers told our driver where to find these lions.  It’s nice how they all share information like that!

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Welcome To Arusha, Then Off To Tarangire

Our birding adventure started as most people’s do – at the Kilimanjaro Airport.  Our driver-guide, Jonas from Fortes Car Hire was there waiting for us.

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The ATMs just outside the airport didn’t like my Aussie debit card so that meant we had one extra thing to do in Arusha – find a bank!  Jonas ended up taking us to Barclays which happily accepted my card.  Cash in hand, we were ready to go!


The first bird we saw in Tanzania was right outside the airport – a Superb Starling.  He was the first of many we would see on this trip.


There are lots of small markets like this in Arusha.

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Arusha clock tower


Now why would this billboard catch my eye?


Jonas took us to the Fortes office where I paid the cash for the car/driver hire package.  We also paid the park fees to Fortes as they would then pay the entry for the car, Jonas (Tanzanian) and us (foreigners) at each park entrance.  After finding the main office of Ndutu Safari Lodge closed, I called the lodge to confirm they accepted credit cards and was reassured they did.  Having obtained cash for spending money at the Barclay’s ATM, it was time to hit the road.  Below you can see the route from Kilimanjaro Airport to Arusha, then to Tarangire NP.

Northern Tanzania

During the 2 hour trip to the Tarangire outskirts, we saw a few Masai markets.

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Superb Starling in a thorny tree.


Not sure about this one but he’s giving us a very suspicious look!


This was the turn-off to Whistling Thorn Camp.  It’s about 10 minutes from the main road down bumpy dirt roads.  I was glad to get there before dark so we had an hour or so to check out the camp birds – which you will see in the next post!


What It’s Really Like To Travel In Tanzania

Since I am an even worse videographer than photographer, I thought I would share this video posted on YouTube by Rigdon Currie.  He and his family visit several of the same places we did in northern Tanzania with Rockjumper Birding Tours and they spent more time in each place.  He got some great footage that really shows what it’s like to travel in the African bush.  They even got to do a hot-air balloon ride – I’m so jealous!  As for the birds, I’m sure they got more than we did but they stayed longer.  I did see a lot of familiar birds though so I think we did OK too!  So jealous of the leopards!