Mt Kilimanjaro & Serengeti Adventure
Day 1 Moshi
Following your arrival in Moshi, make your way to the hotel. A pre-departure group meeting with your mountain guide is scheduled for the early evening. Situated in the heart of a major coffee growing region, Moshi is an attractive small town of about 150,000 people and it lies at the base of Kilimanjaro. Despite the teasing proximity of snow-capped Kilimanjaro, Moshi is not the cool highland settlement you might expect. Instead, lying at an altitude of 810 meters, it has a surprisingly humid, sticky climate, reminiscent of the coast. Moshi means smoke in Swahili, but the origin of this name is something of a mystery.
Day 2 Machame Gate to Machame Camp (1B,1L,1D)
Hiking Time: 6-7 hrs Total Distance: 18km Starting Altitude: 1490m Final Altitude: 2980m Habitat: Montane (rain) Forest After breakfast, we drive approximately 1 hour drive to the village of Machame. Depending on the condition of the road, it may be possible to drive 3km further from the village to the Machame gate of the Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park (1815m). After registering at the gate office, you start your ascent and enter the lush rain forest. Here, you will listen to the sounds of many exotic birds, and may even see monkeys such as the black & white colobus - these monkeys are black with a long ‘cape’ of white hair and a flowing white tail. Most of today’s day is spent in the gorgeous and fascinating forested slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, most of which is considered to be rainforest zone. It is very possible that we will see some rain today, or that at least the trail will be moist and soggy, and possibly muddy. We cover a lot of distance today, though the gradient is gradual. We climb the lower slopes of the mountain, ending at the Machame Campsite, just beyond the rain forest and within the fascinating heath-land.
Day 3 Machame Camp to Shira 2(1B,1L,1D)
Hiking Time: 6-7 hrs Total Distance: 9km Starting Altitude: 2980m Final Altitude: 3840m Habitat: Moorland Rise early and climb steeply through the heath land of savannah, and trees such as Giant Heather and Erica. You will reach a gentler ascent through the lower alpine moorland, which is notable for beautiful wild alpine flowers and the unique giant lobelia and giant groundsel (senecio kilimanjari) plants. If its a clear day, you will have direct views of Kibo, the peak and ultimate goal of your adventure. After a short lunch and rest, traverse across the Shira plateau west towards a river gorge, and finally you will reach the Shira campsite. The night at this exposed camp will even be colder than the previous night, with temperatures dropping to well below freezing.
Day 4 Shira 2 to Barranco Camp (1B,1L,1D)
Hiking Time: 7-8 hrs Total Distance: 15km Starting Altitude: 3840m Final Altitude: 3950m (via 4630m) Habitat: Montane Semi-Desert Today we turn east and continue to climb “pole pole” (slowly, slowly) through increasingly rocky and barren terrain. We have lunch and ascend the rocky scree path to the Lava Tower (4630m). The trek now starts to become more difficult, as the trail steepens, and most hikers start to feel the affects of the altitude, such as weakness and lack of breathe. From the Lava Tower, we descend steeply for 2 hours down more than 600m into the Great Barranco Valley. This descent affords fantastic views and some great photo opportunities of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. You will also feel here the clear benefits of this acclimatization day as we lose altitude down to the camp. Barranco Camp is set on a col (flat area) enclosed on three sides by the Breach Walls, and the Kibo massif itself. Hanging glaciers glint in the sunshine above, amidst the eerie landscape of plants such as the giant groundsels, and the uniquely endemic Giant Lobelia. This is definitely the toughest day so far, but incredibly beautiful.
Day 5 Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp (1B,1L,1D)
Hiking Time: 7-8 hrs Total Distance: 13km Starting Altitude: 3950m Final Altitude: 4550m Habitat: Alpine Desert Today we tackle the Great Barranco Wall – an imposing face above your camp. A steady climb up the eastern wall takes us just below the Heim Glacier, where we may have some awesome views of Kilimanjaro. Our trail continues down into the Karanga Valley, and then joins up with the Mweka route – our descent trail. In this valley, your porters will stop to collect water, as there will be none further up. Here the temperature will grow colder as we follow the trail climbing through this empty and dry landscape up to Barafu Camp.
The two peaks Kibo and Mawenzi can been seen from our camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for "ice", and the camping area is on a ridge in an narrow and exposed flat area. Here there are ever-present gale winds that come off the mountain peaks. In preparation for your final ascent the same night, you will familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark, and prepare your equipment and thermal clothing for the summit attempt. Sleep may be difficult, but you will lie down after dinner to rest for the 1345m final ascent.
Day 6 Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Camp (1B,1L,1D)
Hiking Time: 7 hrs to summit, 7-8hrs descent Total Distance: 7km to summit, 23km descent Starting Altitude: 4550m Summit Altitude: 5895m – Uhuru Peak Final Altitude: 3100m Habitat: Stone Scree, ice capped summit, Alpine desert Today you will be woken at approximately in time to leave camp by around 12am, and after a warm drink and a light snack, you will begin the most difficult though most rewarding day of the trek – your hike up to the top of Africa. Climbing through the dark, you will ascend northwest on rough scree passing between the Rebmann and Tarzel glaciers. After approximately 6 hours of slow but strenuous hiking, you will reach the rim of the main crater, Stella Point, at 5685m. It is here where you will be rewarded with a breath-taking sunrise (weather permitting), which we enjoy while taking a short rest. From Stella Point the trail is normally snow-covered, and every step of the 3 hour ascent to Uhuru peak is challenging. At 5895m, Uhuru, which means “freedom” in Swahili, is the highest point in Africa. Take a few minutes to appreciate your accomplishment, as this is day to remember for the rest of your life! The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions; the temperatures range from just below freezing at midnight, to between -12 C to -23 C just before dawn. We start back down the same trail, and descend back to Barafu camp. Here you will have a well earned but short rest and collect the rest of your gear. We then head down the rock and scree path into the moorland zone, reaching the forest, and eventually arriving at Mweka hut in the late afternoon. Today is the longest, and the most mentally and physically challenging of the trek. But a day that will stay with you forever, as you conquered the heights of Kilimanjaro.
Day 7 Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate to Moshi (1B,1L)
Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs Total Distance: 12km Starting Altitude: 3100m Final Altitude: 1980m Habitat: Montane Rain Forest At a much lower altitude than the last few mornings, today you will wake up full of oxygen and ready to descend the short hike to the Mweka Gate. Enjoy the forest on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and upon arrival at the Mweka gate, successful hikers will receive their summit certificates (gold for Uhuru Peale, Green for Stella point). From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village for lunch, normally a muddy 1 hour hike. Upon arrival to Moshi in the afternoon, relax, or have that much-deserved shower and congratulatory beverage.
Days 8-9 Arusha/Lake Manyara National Park (2B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 65 km Estimated Travel Time: 1.5 hrs The early morning is at your leisure. By mid-morning you will be transferred to the picturesque town of Arusha which sits at the foot of rugged Mount Meru, at 4.556m, the fifth highest mountain in Africa. En route you will stop at the Moshi Women’s Cooperative, a project supported by Planeterra and G Adventures. Women and girls are often the first to be excluded from educational programs in Tanzania, with most girls being pulled out of school by Grade 3 to help out around the home. Our ground partners provide free adult business education for women in Moshi, and Planeterra and G Adventures have rented a cooperative space to allow these students to practice their academic skills and save income to start their own business. Feel free to peruse around the shop and speak to the mamas that run the cooperative. At this point you may be joined by other G Adventures travellers who have started their safari trip in Kenya. A group meeting with your tour leader for this safari portion of your trip is scheduled for the early evening. Please look for information from your tour leader on the hotel bulletin board regarding the time of this meeting. Arusha, also known as Tanzania’s “safari capital”, is undoubtedly the most important center in northen Tanzania. With many protected national parks, reserves, and mountains nearby (on a clear day, it may be possible to see Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance), Arusha is a modern town, and with its markets, services, and fine location, it is a great base for your safari trip. Approximate Distance: 130 km Estimated Travel Time: 2-3 hrs After breakfast, we make our way to Lake Manyara National Park and take part in a village tour to learn a little about what a typical village in the area is like. The village - Mto wa Mbu, whose name means "mosquito river," has over 18,000 inhabitants from 120 tribes. This two hour tour will take you from the village's local market through several different farms, local huts, and artisan shops, and back to the market, giving you the opportunity to get a true glimpse of northern Tanzanian culture!! After lunch in the village spend the afternoon touring and viewing wildlife in the park. This area is truly stunning, as the western wall of the Rift Valley escarpment provides a backdrop for your search of the park's phenomenal birdlife, tree-climbing lions, elephants, giraffes, and hippos. The afternoon is spent game viewing along the main road that winds for several kilometers through a cool, lush, mature groundwater forest dominated by large fichus trees and a tangle of green epiphytes. The name Manyara is derived from the Masai word “Emanyara”, which is a Euphorbia species of plant that is found around a family homestead in the area. The lake itself is a shallow, alkaline lake stretching 50km at the base of the sheer 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment. This forms part of the national park that covers an area on roughly 330km sq. Lake Manyara National Park is home to the giant fig trees, acacia woodlands, mahogany trees and grassy flood plains. The contrasts of this area are simply breathtaking, with the open plains, huge escarpment, central soda lake, dense woodlands, and distance volcanic peaks coming together in an area best described by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. Animals such as blue monkeys, hippo, impala, elephant, wildebeest, buffalo, warthog, and giraffe all roam the park’s territory. The park is also home to legendary tree-climbing lions, and also has small populations of leopard. Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s bird life, with over 400 species having been recorded within the parks boundaries. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large water birds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.
Days 10-11 Serengeti National Park (2B,2L,2D)
Travel through the Rift Valley and visit a Masai village to learn about the fascinating Masai people. Visit the Planeterra-supported Clean Cookstove project and meet the local women engineers who have installed clean cookstoves throughout these communities. Experience the impact of what cooking over an open fire is like before witnessing the transformation that occurs when a clean cookstove is installed. Learning about this project is paired with information about the day to day lives of the famous Masai people. As we drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and on to the Serengeti National Park, en route you will begin to experience the sheer vastness of this territory, and you will marvel at the multitude of animal and bird life while cruising through this acacia-spotted savannah. On day 10, after an early rise we enjoy an early morning game drive, returning for a hearty lunch followed by a brief but well-deserved rest. Continue your search for the "Big 5" - lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino - while taking in the vastness of the Serengeti plains. The Serengeti National Park is to Tanzania what the Masai Mara Game Reserve is to Kenya, though with an area of 14,763 sq km, it is actually over 7 times as large! The Serengeti, which derives its name from the Masai for “endless plain”, is the jewel of Tanzania’s protected areas, together with the Masai Mara and the Ngorongoro Conservation area it protects the most varied and greatest collection of wildlife on earth. With the Big Five, the Small Five and the extensive amounts of wildlife, this region offers arguably the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the world. That said, with its vast size and varied terrain, game viewing is only one aspect of the Serengeti - the scenery is simply breathtaking. The Masai people arrived into the Serengeti plains in the 17th century, displacing the Datoga pastoralists who had previously lived there. They lived an undisturbed, nomadic life in the region for hundred of years, until the first westerner, American Stewart Edward White, passed through in 1913. He recorded the plains in the chronicles of a journey that began in Nairobi, Kenya. What he wrote still applies today: “... We walked for miles over burnt out country... Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked 2 miles more and found myself in paradise” . There is no bad time to visit the Serengeti as every season has its own special highlight – even the rainy season has the daily thunder and lightening to look forward to. Changing seasons and light patterns form the most beautiful backdrop to view Africa’s majestic and incredible wildlife. It has more than 1.6 million herbivores and thousands of predators. Blue Wildebeests, gazelles, zebras and buffalos are the animals most commonly found in the region. This area is most famous for the migration that takes place every year; in october over a million herbivores travel toward the southern plains, crossing the Mara River from the hills to the north. They continue west across the Serengeti, and then north once again, crossing the Mara River, after the rains around April, and often totals more than 800km. This phenomenon is sometimes also called the Circular Migration. Over 250,000 wildebeest alone will die along the journey from Tanzania to Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. Note: If you have pre-booked a Serengeti Balloon Safari Theme Pack, your flight be early in the morning of Day 11. You will miss the morning game drive with the group, but you will have a much better view from above. Approximate Distance: 220 km Estimated Travel Time: 5-6 hrs
Days 12-13 Ngorongoro Conservation Area/Arusha (2B,2L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 360 km Estimated Travel Time: 8 hrs Before leaving the Serengeti, enjoy one last morning game drive to see the animal kingdom come to life in this incredible expanse of grassland savannah. You will return and break camp, and journey to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, famous for Africa's best game viewing. The views from the Ngorongoro Crater rim are stunning, and there is an ever-present abundance of wildlife, due to the permanent water supply on the crater floor. You will arrive at your campsite at the crater rim in the late afternoon. The following morning After breakfast we embark on a half-day crater tour. The rich pasture and permanent water of the Crater floor supports a resident population of more than 20,000 to 25,000 large mammals. They are not confined by the crater walls, and can leave freely; they stay because conditions are favourable. Since most of the crater floor is grassland, grazing animals predominate: zebra, gazelles, buffalo, eland, and warthogs. The swamp and forest provide additional resources for hippos, some of Tanzania's last remaining black rhinos, giant-tusked elephants, waterbucks, reedbucks and bushbucks, baboons and vervet monkeys. All these animals in turn support large predators such as lion and leopard, and scavengers such as hyena and jackals. After this fabulous experience within the crater, we have to leave the wildlife behind us and start heading back to Arusha, where you can enjoy the last safari evening with your travel companions. The 8,300 km² Ngorongoro Conservation Area is named after its central feature, the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, and arguably its most spectacular natural arena. Ngorongoro Crater has often been described as one of the wonders of the world, not only because of its inherent geological significance, but also because it serves a quite extraordinary natural sanctuary for some of Africa’s most dense population of large mammals. The Ngorongoro was part of the original Serengeti National Park proclaimed in 1951, but it was made a separate conservation area in 1956 so that the Masai could graze their cattle there. The Ngorongoro Crater became a World Heritage Site in 1978. Land in the conservation area is unique to Tanzania as it provides protection for the wildlife whilst allowing human habitation. The landscape is made up of a blend of volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and mountain forests, where the wildlife is extensive. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the Great Rift Valley, which also prevents animal migration in these directions. The annual ungulate migration passes through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with wildebeest and zebra moving south into the area in December and moving north in June. The area has healthy resident populations of most species of wildlife.
Day 14 Arusha (1B)
Depart Arusha at any time.