At the start of my trip I was certainly worried: due to KLM'c clever computing I had little more than one hour to switch planes and terminals at Amsterdam. Now one hour is a lot of time (for Amsterdam) if your initial flight lands on time - but there is hardly any safety buffer if it does not. Actually, I was not so much worried about me not making it on time but rather about my luggage: a year and a half ago we landed in Jo'burg with our bags left behind in Frankfurt and it was certainly an ordeal to get them transferred to us. And that was between Jo'burg and Kruger, not between JRO and Ndutu...
Anyway, things did work out well enough until I had passed customs and immigration at JRO - in fact, at NBO I thought I saw my bag right next to the plane. However, at JRO some of us had to wait...and wait...and wait...but no bags. One woman was complaining that she was supposed to run a marathon the following day but how could she do that, with her running shoes in the main luggage? With big sighs and lots of curses we formed a line behing the missing baggage counter. Needless to say, the woman behind it had absolutely no clue at all, she certainly did not know where our bags were. She muttered something like "You'll have to wait until tomorrow" although Precision Air had at least one more flight from NBO to JRO later in the day. Anyway, while some had already left the airport the missing bags finally and miraculously appeared. Marathon Lady was happy and so was I.
For a number of (good) reasons I had opted for ground transportation between the various destinations of my trip. Outside the arrival building my driver for the day was already waiting. Me, myself, the bags and I jumped into the landcruiser and off we went. After an intermediate stop at Arusha to pay to the boss, to have a quick launch and to buy a local SIM card we continued to the NCA.
Rhino Lodge was recommended to me by a few other travellers. Yes, it does not have the fancy Rim View and yes, it is a bit further away from the ascent road. However, I minded neither: the room was certainly bigger than the one I had in 2009 at the Wildlife Lodge and Rhino Lodge certainly felt more intimate and cozy than the latter. Also, it was a lot cheaper than the other options.
Later that night my driver returned to Arusha and I met Hamisi, who had come over from Ndutu Lodge and was going to be my driver and guide for the next 11 days.
Now I know pretty everybody here stresses how important a top notch guide is for the success of a safari. Well, with Hamisi I could not help but notice that he did not know why black rhinos are called black rhinos and why white rhinos are called white rhinos. He neither knew the difference between small spotted genets and large spotted genets although these creatures are to be seen each and every night in the dining room of Ndutu Lodge. I know he never acquired any guiding certificate. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he never went to a regualr school, either. However, in hindsight I could not have hoped for a "better" guide than him - in the end it all comes down to how you define "good" guiding.