Kilimanjaro must be one of very few mountains in the world that has its own airport. Kilimanjaro Airport is an international terminus that is very modestly sized and humbly appointed, but it daily sees the arrival of the KLM 747 and hundreds of foreign tourists who flock to this region to take in the wonders of the Tanzania Northern Circuit.
The Airport is a very pretty little fixture. It is well maintained, which is a bit of a rarity in Africa, and decorated by rows of brilliant red Flamboyant trees that, during the most austere and dry periods of the year, burst forth in brilliant flower and add electric color to the streets and towns of this region.
Tanzania has a very streamlined and sophisticated tourist industry. Upon arrival customs and immigration procedures are usually carried out quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Unless you are a Tanzanian, or indeed a member of the local SADC economic community, then your first stop will usually be the visa desk. For visa information prior to your travels check your local embassy. This involves a quick change of currency and a stamp in your passport. From there you moved to immigration, a quick examination of your visa, another stamp and it is out to baggage collection.
Problems at the airport customs desk are very rare. Tanzanians want you in the country not out, and they do what they can to make sure you feel welcome. Once in the arrivals hall – a very small area jam packed with people – your safari operator will meet you and you will be ushered out into the bright sunshine, and under the spreading flamboyant trees, to lines of Land Cruiser safari vehicles or mini-busses that efficiently disperse visitors to various lodges and hotels either in Moshi or Arusha, the two principal jump off points.
Kilimanjaro International Airport is situated more or less equidistant from Arusha and Moshi. At a junction on the main road a right turn will take you to Moshi, and the flanks of Kilimanjaro where you will usually begin your climb, and a right turn to Arusha from where most of the safari trips begin. It is 50 miles either way, and the standard taxi rate is US$50 for a trip to either one.
Kilimanjaro Airport is a very pleasant introduction to a very pleasant country. Departures are no less trouble free. Tanzanians rely very heavily on their tourist industry, and from the ground up go out of their way to make visitors feel welcome.