Day 1 Moshi
Following your arrival in Moshi, you 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 Marangu Gate to Mandara Hut (1B,1L,1D)
Hiking Time: 5-6 hrs Total Distance: 12km Starting Altitude: 1980m Final Altitude: 2743m Habitat: Montane forest After breakfast and a short briefing from the guide, transfer to the gates of Kilimanjaro National Park (it is a 45-minute drive from Moshi to the Marangu Gate). Upon registering with park authorities, begin the four-hour walk to the Mandara encampment. Pass through a thick rainforest zone, where there is a high chance of rain in the afternoon. Spend the night at Mandara Hut (2,743 m), an attractive collection of buildings. Bathrooms are available with running water. Most days the hiking will begin early in the morning. You will hike for about 5 to 6 hours each day. The guides will take you at a moderate pace, so as to allow you time to acclimatize the altitude changes. Your guides will continually repeat the words, “pole pole” (po-ly, po-ly), which means “go slowly” in Swahili. The lower terrain is gorgeous and fascinating, as we will pass through a thick rainforest zone, stopping at the Mandara Hut. Over the next two days you will continue to your ascent to the saddle of Kilimanjaro. From up here the views are vast and beautiful. As the camps have limited activities, you should take advantage of your time on the hikes to take in all the scenery and great views.
Day 3-4 Mandara Hut to Horombo Hut/Kibo Hut (2B,2L,2D)
Hiking Time: 6 hrs Total Distance: 15km Starting Altitude: 2700m Final Altitude: 3720m Habitat: Moorland Continue the ascent through the temerate forest zone for a short time, before reaching the heather and moorland zone at roughly 3,000 m (approximately a six-hour walk). Enjoy stunning views of the mountain peaks at this altitude. Spend the night at Horombo Hut (3,720 m), which lies in a valley surrounded by giant lobelia and groundsel, flora which are characteristic of this semi-alpine zone. Bathrooms are available with running water.
Day 5 Kibo Hut to Kilimanjaro Summit/Horombo Hut (1B,1L,1D)
Hiking Time: 6 hrs Total Distance: 15km Starting Altitude: 3720m Final Altitude: 4703m Habitat: Alpine Desert Continue today past the final watering point, and ascend onto the saddle of Kilimanjaro between the peaks of Kibo and Mwenzi. Notice the vegetation thinning out and enter the desert-like alpine zone (approximately 4,000m) and, after crossing the saddle, Kibo peak comes into view. The saddle is an alpine desert that resembles a lunar landscape. Be careful to notice signs of altitude sickness. This seven-hour walk will be taken at a slow pace. Spend the night at Kibo Hut (4,703 m), a comfortable stone construction (no running water at Kibo Hut). This semi-desert zone receives an annual rainfall of under 250 mm; the ground often freezes at night, but the temperature soars to above 30 degrees Celsius by day. Few plants other than lichens and grasses survive in these conditions.
Day 6 Descend Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate to Moshi (1B,1L)
Hiking Time: 14 hrs Total Distance: 27km Starting Altitude: 4700m Final Altitude: 3720m (via 5895m) Habitat: Stone Scree and ice capped summit The best time to climb is during the night as it is marginally easier to climb the scree slope to Gillman’s Point on the crater rim when it is frozen. This 5km ascent typically takes six hours, so you need to get going around midnight to stand a chance of reaching the summit in time to catch the sunrise. From Gillman’s Point it is a further two-hour round trip along the crater’s edge to Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa.
Day 7 Arusha (1B)
From the summit, it is a roughly seven-hour descent with a break at Kibo Hut to Horombo Hut, where you will spend your last night on the mountain. The final day’s descent from Horombo to Marangu generally takes 7-8 hrs, so you should arrive in Marangu in the mid-afternoon where you will receive your well-earned certificate. This evening you will spend the night in the town of Moshi for a well deserved bed rest.
Day 8 Manyara National Park (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 65 km Estimated Travel Time: 1.5 hrs The morning is at 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. Arusha is the gateway to Tanzania's safari areas. 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. Arusha officially became a city on the 1st of July 2006. The primary industry of the region is agriculture with large vegetable producers sending high-quality produce to Europe. The city and its environs are also spotted with large coffee plantations, adding to the area’s charm. Though in recent years, due to the coffee crisis, many local farmers have been badly hit, and now subsistence farming is the most common source of livelihood. Arusha owes its name from the local Wa-arusha people who resided here for hundreds of years, and is historically and politically significant city within East Africa. In 1961 the official documents ceding independence to Tanzania were signed by the United Kingdom in Arusha. Six years later the Arusha Declaration of Self Reliance in Tanzania was signed. On the 4th of August 1993 the Arusha Accords were signed by representatives of competing factions in the civil war in neighbouring Rwanda. After the Rwandan genocide, the UN Security Council decided by its Resolution 955 of 8 November 1994 that Arusha should host the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The establishment of the tribunal with its employees has influenced the local economy of Arusha.
Day 9-10 Serengeti National Park (2B,2L,2D)
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 cultural walk 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 a traditional lunch in the village, the afternoon will be spent 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.
Day 11-12 Ngorongoro Conservation Area/Arusha (2B,2L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 220 km Estimated Travel Time: 5-6 hrs Today marks an early start as we visit Eleyo Masai village before continuing on to the Serengeti, one of Africa's premier game parks. The 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 area where you will be staying and game viewing is in the central Serengeti 'Seronera' area, which lies in the southeast of the National Park. Because of the sheer size of the National Park other areas will not be accessible during your stay. 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 4, 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 10. You will miss the morning game drive with the group, but you will have a much better view from above.
Day 13-14 Zanzibar/Stone Town (2B)
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 and say your goodbyes to those not continuing on to Zanzibar before departing the next day. 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 15-16 Zanzibar/Kendwa (2B)
After breakfast you will be transferred to Kilimanjaro International Airport to board your plane to Zanzibar. Upon arrival in Zanzibar, you will be met at the airport by our local representative and transferred to your hotel in Stone Town. Please note during your stay in Stone Town you will not be accompanied by a tour leader as this section of the trip is independent. Relax, or explore Stone Town at your own leisure, and enjoy the culture and nightlife that it has to offer. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stone Town is a captivating labyrinth of narrow streets and winding alleyways. Lose yourself in the buzz of the markets, delight your senses in the bustling bazaars, and check out the many mosques and grand Arab residences. You can spend hours just wandering the alleys and squares, drinking potent coffee from pavement vendors, or buying local snacks, such as sesame bread, from scores of tiny cafes. Optional activities include tours of the ruins of the Sultan's Palace, a tour of the Jozani Forest, or a city tour. Our local representative will brief you on these activities, among others, and is at hand to assist with the inquiries and bookings. Zanzibar, 'the spice island,' has an extremely interesting history and culture as it was the centre of the slave and spice trades in the 1800s. Zanzibar is one of the most fascinating places in East Africa, despite a heavy increase in tourism since the early 1990s. Thanks to an ambitious and far-reaching preservation programme funded by UNESCO and the Aga Khan Foundation, many famous old buildings have been restored, or are in the process of being renovated.
Day 17 Zanzibar (1B)
Journey to the northwesten beach of Kendwa and make a fantastic stop en route, as no visit to Zanzibar would be complete without a visit to the spice plantations. Delight your senses during this included guided tour, and learn about the assortment of spices such as cloves, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, breadfruit, jackfruit, vanilla and lemongrass, and their various uses. It was the wonderful spice plantations that brought the beginnings of Zanzibar’s infamous slave trade dating back to the 1840’s. Day 16 is yours to enjoy the peaceful surroundings of Kendwa and neighbouring Nungwi. Relax on the beautiful white sandy beaches, soaking up the African sun, or maybe a little snorkeling or scuba diving in the crystal clear waters is just for you. You may also stroll down to Nungwi, the centre of Zanzibar’s traditional dhow-building industry and the beach capital of Zanzibar. Your time here will be simply magical!