Oh my what a nightmare of a day.
It started off with most of us being unable to get much sleep, if any at all. However, due to us being awake for dawn, we were treated to an incredible series of colours as the sun broke through the cloud near Mount Kilimanjaro.
Unfortunately, the sun proved to be only thing that was capable of breaking through the cloud barrier as when we attempted to land, our pilot aborted at the last second as he could not see the runway. A second attempt was similarly aborted as well. We were then informed that the flight was being redirected to Mombassa, where we would land, refuel and head back to Nairobi within the hour.
Again this proved to be unable to be completed as the plane developed issues that the airport mechanics were not qualified to repair. These delays then meant that the pilots were close to their maximum operating hours and Virgin decided to terminate the flight – but only after a few hours delay.
We were then shepherded to an arrivals hall, where the Virgin staff promptly disappeared. Only the Captain reappeared after another couple of hours waiting. He then explained that Virgins plan was to book hotels in Mombassa and then fly us out to Nairobi. As we had been expected at the Mara that morning and had already lost a days safari, this was unacceptable. Jackie, who had been awaiting our arrival at Nairobi was fantastic. She booked us onto a flight later that day to Nairobi. She also arranged to swap the days that we were at the lodge and those that we were in Nairobi. The consequence being that we will not have lost day of safari – something particularly important to Jeff and myself, although we would lose a day of Nairobi.
We finally cleared immigration and received our bags gone 1pm. We were due to land at 7:50am. We then passed through domestic security and ended up watching Man Utd vs Everton in an airport bar!
Finally we arrived at Nairobi airport at around 5.45 before transferring to our hotel. We’ve tried to make up for some of the disappointment this evening. We had a great meal and Jackie introduced us to her friend Chico, who seems really nice. I have to admit that I haven’t laughed so much in ages – even as we ran up a scary bar bill. So tomorrow it’s finally off to the Mara early in the morning. I find it hard to believe I’ve been in Kenya for a day and not used any camera except for on my phone.
It’s hard to sum up today. It’s been one of the worst for traveling I’ve yet encountered, but I still had an adventure. I was truly gutted at the thought of missing a whole days safari, which is why I’m so grateful to Jackie. Virgin however did not cover themselves with glory. They disappeared when we needed them and provided no assistance. We have not even been provided with number to call re refunds or compensation. It’s going to be a complete nightmare sorting out the insurance on this one.