Kilimanjaro Foothills Walk: Walk on the Wild Side

Summary

This cultural walking safari takes you to two different yet equally classic Tanzania landscapes in some of the most alluring parts of East Africa, as authentic as during the age of exploration of Burton, Speke, and Livingstone. The first circuit is along the verdant lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, where the lush mountain forest intersperses with centuries-old Chagga villages and their intensive system of coffee and banana farms. The second walking segment is in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, in the heart of Tanzania’s famous safari circuit. In this dry and sparse landscape a Maasai guides you through his homeland, part of a multi-use preserve for wildlife and human use. You walk into the Empakaai Crater and finish at desolate Lake Natron, the largest breeding area of flamingos in Africa. While these adventure walks take you far off the beaten path tread by tourists in LandRovers, we include two days to see the great wildlife of Tanzania, on a driving safari in Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.

On the Kilimanjaro section we walk approximately 12 kilometers per day. The village paths are steep and can be slippery in sections. Our Chagga mountain guides lead you while a support vehicle with chef and crew prepares camp. On the Ngorongoro section we walk more than 20 kilometers per day. The land is open and the sun can be harsh. A local Maasai guide joins your SENE guide and chef, while the gear is carried by donkeys.

Brief Itinerary

Total:  13 DayS / 12 NightS

Day 1:  Arrival / Mbahe Village
Arrival and transfer to SENE’s Mbahe Village farm cottages at 1900m on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.
Drive time from Kilimanjaro Airport: 2 hours
Overnight: Mbahe Farm Cottages

Day 2:  Mbahe to Kidia
On our first day hiking, the path is long but easy, perfect for a start and letting us enjoy the landscape. We reach several superb viewpoints overlooking Moshi Town and up toward the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, which emerges as we leave Mbahe Village.
Approx. distance: 14km
Overnight: Fumyuhu School Camp

Day 3:  Kidia to Tema
The trail proceeds through more colorful mountain villages, past coffee and maize farms and rivers where you can refresh in the cool and crystal clear water. We pass Kidia village, the site of the first European settlement in the Kilimanjaro region.
Approx. distance: 12km
Overnight: Tema School Camp

Day 4:  Tema to Wondo
This hiking day pass through a dramatic landscape of high ridges and deep valleys, all covered by tropical rain forest, where we may spot blue monkeys hanging in the trees.  At the end of the day, we will inhale the sweet smell of the eucalyptus trees that create a natural border between the National Park and villages.
Approx. distance: 10km
Overnight: Kilimanjaro View Camp

Day 5:  Wondo to Mweka
Today we alternate passing through villages and back into the forest, crossing many rivers on wooden bridges or jumping from rock to rock. We encounter the traditional irrigation channels, used by local farmers for more than 100 years to grow coffee, bananas and many other fruits and vegetables.
Approx. distance: 10km
Overnight: Mtuy Farm Camp.

Day 6:  Mweka to Kibosho
As we pass through the farms and forests, you will hear from your SENE guide about his own knowledge of the mountain on which he grew up. Tonight we stay at the Kibosho Luxury Resort, nestled within natural vegetation, the grounds are rich with birds and butterflies visiting the abundant flowers.
Approx. distance: 13km
Overnight: Kibosho Luxury Resort

Day 7:  Kibosho to Machame
On our last mountain hiking day, we continue along the trails used by villagers to access their fields from the village. Overnight at Kaliwa Lodge, set amongst the exotic tropical mountain vegetation and the old eucalyptus, banana and coffee trees.
Approx. distance: 17km
Overnight: Kaliwa Lodge

Day 8:  Lake Manyara
Today begins the wildlife safari. We drive to Lake Manyara National Park, a small gem nestled below the 1,000 foot western wall of the Great Rift Valley escarpment.  Picnic lunch and afternoon game drive.
Drive time to Lake Manyara: 2.5 hours
Overnight: Ngorongoro Farm House Lodge

Day 9:  Ngorongoro Conservation Area
In the morning drive into the Ngorongoro Crater, often referred to as “Africa’s Eden.”  The crater’s 100 square miles is home to almost 30,000 animals, creating a density and diversity of wildlife unseen anywhere else in Africa.  In the afternoon, ascend to the rim on the northeast side, through the Maasai Village of Irkeepusi and to the edge of Olmoti Crater and the Nanokanoka wilderness camp.
Overnight: Nanokanoka Campsite

Day 10:  Nanokanoka to Empakaai Crater
First day of the 3-day Maasai-guided trek through the Conservation Area to Lake Natron.  Camping gear and provisions will be carried by donkeys, the traditional hauler for the Maasai. Cross the Embulbul Depression to the Empakaai Crater, following the crater rim counter-clockwise to the campsite on the northeast rim. The rim is heavily forested and buffalo, monkey, and antelope may be seen.
Approx. distance: 25km
Overnight: Empakaai Camp

Day 11:  Empakaai Crater to Nairobi Village
Morning hike to explore the Empakaai crater, where there is a small soda lake often brimming with flamingoes. Lunch at camp before the short hike to Nairobi Village on the edge of the Conservation Area.
Approx. distance: 7 km (not including crater hike)
Overnight: Nairobi Village Camp

Day 12:  Lake Natron
The hike heads north through grassy hills before descending off the escarpment and its lush vegetation to scrubland and eventually to the dry flat plain surrounding Lake Natron.  Ol Doinyo Lengai (“Mountain of God”) will be in constant view. Overnight in a comfortable tented camp with full beds and hot showers.
Approx. distance: 24 km
Overnight: Lake Natron Halisi Camp

Day 13:  Arusha / Departure
Morning to explore the area with a walk along the lake shore or up the Ngare Sero Gorge to the nearby freshwater waterfall where you can swim, cool off, and relax. After lunch at camp, return to Arusha Town and to Kilimanjaro International Airport or your onward destination.

Walk on the Wild Side

Prices 2018

US $3,395   if 5+ people
US $3,595   if 4 people
US $3,950   if 3 people
US $4,850   if 2 people
Per Person, Double Occupancy (Single Supplement US$300)

Includes:

  • All accommodations for 13 days/12 nights
  • All meals for 13 days/12 nights
  • Services of hiking guide and camp crew
  • All camping and dining equipment (excluding sleeping bag)
  • Portable private toilet with bio-degradable waste system (Cleanwaste®) at all camps
  • Transfers to/from Kilimanjaro International Airport, Moshi, Arusha
  • All drinks at Mbahe
  • Filtered water (by Katadyn Expedition® filter) and coffee, teas, cocoa
  • Private safari for your group
  • Services of a professional English-speaking guide on safari
  • Park fees and unlimited mileage on safari in 4WD safari vehicle with pop-top, bottled drinking water

Does Not Include

Tips and gratuities to leaders, guides, crew, or other staff; additional accommodations and meals made necessary by airline schedule changes, inability to complete the walk, or other factors; pre‐trip expenses such as immunizations, travel insurance, passports, and visas; international airfare; airport departure taxes; and any expenses of a personal nature such as souvenirs and laundry.

Photo Credits: Tim Leinbach, Nathalie Pigache