Trip to Kilimanjaro - September 2003
A review of Marangu hotel

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I stayed at the Marangu hotel for a few nights in connection with climbing Kilimanjaro in September/October 2003. When I arrived at Kilimanjaro International airport I had already been in touch with the hotel and arranged for a pick-up. The hotel is located about 1 hour and 15 minutes away from the airport.

The cottage that we stayed in at Marangu hotelThe hotel is a former farm and it was built in the early 1900s. The hotel consists of several cottages and buildings and they were not that impressive at first sight. Some of the buildings looked a bit old and “worn out”. I shared a room with a friend and the room itself is OK. In the room we found a couple of beds that were a bit too hard for my likings, the room were not really well lit and I had trouble reading at night. Room at Marangu hotelIn the room there were no air condition but the windows had mosquito nets so we could keep them open all night. Apart from that there was a little wardrobe with some hangers, a little desk and a bench. There was no TV or mini bar in the room. The bathroom had tiled floor and walls and had a bath tub that also worked as the shower (combined with a shower curtain). It was not always easy to get hot water and sometimes the water had to run for a few minutes before it started warming up. But on the plus side the water comes from a private spring :-). There were not any extras to be found apart from a couple of little soap bars.

View of the garden at Marangu hotelBoth breakfast and dinner was included in our package by the way. For breakfast it was possible to start with some fruit or corn flakes. And after this I got a plate with egg (prepared in different ways according to your desire), sausage, bacon, and toast and served with tea or coffee. Dinner was a already prepared menu and it normally started with soup. From there it moved on to a starter, then to the main course and from there to dessert and cheese/crackers. It was normally a pretty filling meal and it was possible to take as much as one wanted. It was very tasty and it was really home cooking style food. And you don’t find many hotels were someone walks through the garden and rings a bell when dinner is ready to be served :-) You can also have lunch at the hotel of course and it was pretty cheap…for 500 Tanzanian shillings you can get a portion of fries, 1500 shillings will give you a portion of fries and an omelet.

View to Mawenzi on a nice dayThe hotel also features a big and wonderful garden. It seems like everything blooms here from the smallest bushes to the biggest trees. Around the garden chairs and tables can be found so it is possible to have a cold drink outside in the shadow of a tree (remember that the equatorial sun can be strong!). How about having an ice cold Kilimanjaro lager or a Kibo gold while have a great view of both Kibo and Mawenzi on clear days :-) The bar is open all day more or less and for 1200 shillings you can get ½ liter of cold beer. It is also possible to borrow a croquet set and play on the lawn. We had great fun doing this…some of the pages in the rules manual was missing so we had to invent some rules. The big garden is also home to quite a number of birds. I’m not a bird lover but some of the birds were impressive in color and sound. In hotel information booklet in the room I even found a list of all the birds that could be seen in the area.

Pool area at Marangu hotelApart from this you can find a couple of souvenir shops located next to the reception. And if you want to cool down a bit it possible to jump into a pool. We tried it out and the water was refreshing :-) I’m used to taking a swim in cool water so I didn’t mind…but I guess some might say it was a bit cold. There is a laundry service at the hotel and I was very tempted to use it because everything was dirty after the trip on Kilimanjaro. But everything is air dried and there were not enough time to do this. But let me assure you: your boots will need a good scrubbing after trekking on Kilimanjaro :-)

But the best thing about the hotel was the hotel owners and staff. They were all so kind and so friendly and kept saying “good luck” and “don’t worry” before we set out on our Kilimanjaro climb. They all seemed to play for the same team and they were very serious about their business at tour guides on the mountain.

I have quoted the prices in shillings on this page but I also have to mention that it is possible to use US dollars when you pay in the bar and the restaurant. And you can change currency in the reception.

Conclusion
I have no problem recommending the Marangu hotel as a tour guide when it comes to trekking on Kilimanjaro. The hotel may have a pretty basic standard compared to western standards but the staff makes you feel like you’re at home with their friendly attitude and their smiles. They seem to care for each and every guest and that makes the stay special.

If you want more information about the hotel please check out the hotel homepage on http://www.maranguhotel.com.
 

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