Zanzibar-Arusha by Cessna 208
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Zanzibar-Arusha by Cessna 208

This report is part of my adventures on the dreamy islands, sandy beaches and Cessna Caravans of East Africa.

Taking place in Tanzania, this flight took me fr om Stone Town, capital of the Zanzibar archipelago, to the Arusha Airport, which should not be confused with Kilimanjaro International Airport. Flight number REG-1011 operated by Regional Air Services. Plane is a Cessna 208. Departure from Zanzibar (Abeid Amani Karume International Airport) at 2:45 PM local time. Arrival at Arusha Airport at 4:40 PM local time.

Preliminary Information
- Regional Air Services (RAS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Kenya, and essentially serves to connect the wilderness preserves of the North Circuit.
- It doesn't have an IATA code, at least not that I managed to discover.
- The price for one adult ticket was $208 (160 Euro), or $92 (71 Euro) for East Africans (EAC)
- Total travel distance: 265 miles

1. Pre-Flight

The airport had no waiting area worthy of the name, but rather an open-sided extension next to the registration stands.

With a reusable laminated boarding pass in my pocket, I quickly passed through security.

Despite its international status, the airport was basic in the extreme. A brand new terminal, built by a Chinese company, is scheduled to open next year.

The small waiting room contained several boutiques, souvenir shops and food vendors, all rather overpriced compared to the cost of the tickets and the prices in the city.

The place was rather disorganized, so you had to be on your toes so as not to miss the boarding announcement.

About 15 minutes before the scheduled departure, a staff member announced that it was time to board.

The terminal.
Zanzibar airport

On the right is the single desk which handles all domestic flights from multiple airlines.
Zanzibar airport

150,000 Tanzanian shillings = about 92 USD (71 Euro).

Representatives from some of the local airlines: a Tropical Air Let 410 and an Air Excel plane.
Zanzibar airport

Precision Air, the biggest Tanzanian airline.
ATR 72 Precision Air

International visitors: Ethiopian Airlines.
Boeing 757-200 Ethiopian Airlines

and Oman Air:
Boeing 737 Oman Air

Local landscape art: "SMILE, UR IN (squiggle)…!"
Zanzibar airport

The waiting room is pretty full.
Zanzibar airport

2. The Flight

While the outgoing flight costs the full fare, the return flight costs only 92 USD (71 Euro). I think it's clear why.

The pilot, Hussein, upon seeing me taking pictures of everything, offered for me to sit in the copilot's seat. However, while this opportunity was very generous and unique, I politely declined because my view out the window would be severely lim ited.

Boarding is finished.
Cessna 208 of Regional Air Services

He's flying solo today.
Cessna 208 of Regional Air Services

Terminals, the new (under construction) and the old.
Zanzibar airport

Takeoff was 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Aerial view of the terminal.
Zanzibar airport

...and of a nearby suburb.
View of Zanzibar

The west coast:
View of Zanzibar

Soviet-inspired architecture?
View of Zanzibar

Stone Town, towards the north of the island.
View of Zanzibar

Interesting, a French container ship, based on its name and the name of its operator (CMA CGM La Tour).
View of Zanzibar

Most touristy part of the city
View of Zanzibar

The rest of the flight was calm and smooth.
Zanzibar-Arusha flight

The cabin. What's that blue thing back there?
Cessna 208 of Regional Air Services

No difficult choices here...

The in-flight meal. I wonder what the airline gourmets think of this one?

Always good to have one of these handy.

From time to time the pilot would spice things up with information on tourist spots.
"Ndege" means bird and/or plane in Kiswahili.

The official price (taxes add about $90).

A small tour of the cockpit.
Cessna 208 of Regional Air Services

The GPS of the C208.
Cessna 208 of Regional Air Services

After 2 hours of flight and a rapid descent, the pressure change seems to have compressed my water bottle (is this even possible?). The wheels touched solid ground at 4:35 PM.

Arusha, and its business district in the background.
View of Arusha

The runway has been in the process of expansion for 4 years now, with no end in sight.
Arusha airport

Repressurization after the rapid descent?

Our plane 5H-RES in Arusha.
Cessna 208 of Regional Air Services

3. Arrival

Arusha serves primarily turboprop planes, the majority of them C208 Caravans.

The terminal.
Arusha airport

The arrival lounge.
Arusha airport

The security staff.
Arusha airport

The arrival lounge from the outside.
Arusha airport

As a parting gift, here are 2 more photos:

Mount Meru, 14977 ft (4565 m)
Mount Meru

The majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, 19340 ft (5895 m)
Mount Kilimanjaro

3. Conclusions

If I had had to pay the higher "mzungu" (foreigner) fare, the grades would probably have been a shade lower (or I might not have taken the flight at all).

Punctuality: 20/20. We took off ahead of schedule.
Comfort: 15/20. The cabin was well maintained and the seats were comfortable, the cabin of a small plane is always more pleasant.
Personnel: 11/20. The pilot's offer was exceptionally kind, and his few comments were informative.
Meals: 8/20. Memorable for their simplicity.

Thank you for reading.

Vote for review:

Regional Air Services

Cessna Caravan

Arusha Airport

Zanzibar Abeid Amani Karume International Airport

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