Travel to Africa and experience the Serengeti and Kilimanjaro

Travel to Africa and experience some of Kenya and Tanzania's most famous natural wonders on this Active trip for those with a passion for the outdoors. The vast Serengeti plains evoke a sense of wonder and deep respect for the animal kingdom, while the imposing peaks of Mt Kilimanjaro inspire awe and rouse a spirit of adventure. Safari through the savanna in search of stealthy predators and try to spot other game in the gigantic Ngorongoro Crater. Rise to the challenge and conquer Africa's highest peak on a difficult trek to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. This is a trip that will reward those with an appetite for excitement and an appreciation for nature – get ready for thrills, challenges and discovery on this amazing trip to Africa!

Start
Nairobi, Kenya
Finish
Marangu, Tanzania
Countries
Tanzania
Themes
Overland, Walking & Trekking, Wildlife
Code
YGOMC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 1 Max 22
Carbon offset
702kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Hike through surreal hanging moss forests and moonscapes
  • Spot monkeys hiding in tropical rainforest
  • Experience an incredible African sunrise from Mt Kilimanjaro
  • Tackle the trek to the peak by lamplight
  • Shop for local sculptures and textiles at a bustling Musoma market
  • Spot iconic wildlife in the African Serengeti
  • Conquer Africa's highest peak
  • Camp high above the Ngorongoro Crater

Itinerary

Jambo! Welcome to Kenya.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Nairobi - which takes its name from a Maasai phrase Enkare Nyrobi meaning 'place of cool waters' - has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. There are plenty of good bars and restaurants, while markets and shops have most things you could want or need, as well as various arts and crafts from the region.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
If you arrive early, you can head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum (author of Out of Africa) or Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed in an outdoor village.
While brazen crime is thankfully fairly uncommon in Nairobi, petty theft unfortunately is not and recently arrived visitors to the capital can often make for tempting targets. Your trip leader will verse you in a few worthwhile precautions at the welcome meeting, but if you are arriving early please heed a few simple safeguards.

As a general rule, the safest place for your valuables is on your person in a neck wallet or money belt, though your hotel room or reception may have safes in which it would be advisable to store things if you're wanting to head out. If you do decide to go exploring, make sure you get local advice on where it is and isn't safe to walk - particularly when it's getting on in the day. Thieves and pickpockets have also been known to operate in bars and restaurants, so don't let up keeping your wits about you once you're inside somewhere. Don't leave day packs or handbags unattended on chairs or the floor. There's no need to be paranoid, but appearing vigilant is a great deterrence to would-be thieves. Finally, make colour scans of any important travel documents before you leave and email them to yourself: in the event that you are the unlucky victim of a theft, this will save you hours of police, embassy and travel insurance hassles.
Board our safari truck and travel west. Crossing the incredibly scenic Great Rift Valley on the way to the tea-growing highlands is a fantastic introduction to the beautiful landscapes of Kenya. Pass through the ancient homeland of the Maasai, keeping a look out for these tall, graceful tribesmen dressed in distinctive scarlet robes tending to their prized herds of cattle.

Stop for a picnic lunch after the town of Narok.

Today’s destination is near the hilltop town of Kisii, our last chance to stock up on supplies before heading into Tanzania. Today's drive will take about 8-9 hours (310 km) and the roads are pretty rough.
You will either be accommodated in very simple shared rooms (bedding provided) or we will set up camp for the night. There is no WiFi available at the camp.
Travel towards the Kenya-Tanzania border and the shores of Lake Victoria (250 km, approx 7-8 hrs).
Lake Victoria is Africa's biggest lake and the world's biggest tropical lake. Its shores are shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
There are plenty of activities to choose from around Lake Victoria. You may wish to hire bicycles for a fascinating local experience from handlebar height, visit an African market place for a chance to interact with the people of Musoma or you may prefer to just chill out with a cold lakeside drink.
Please note that helmets are not provided on the optional bike excursion. Please bring a helmet from home if you wish to wear one during this activity.
Spend the night camping on the shores of the lake - at one of its least visited campgrounds on the outskirts of a small town called Musoma. Depending on availability there may be an upgrade to room available tonight, however, there is no WiFi at the camp. Musoma town has an ATM and market to stock up before your 3 days of wilderness.
Cover the 100 km from Lake Victoria to the gate of Serengeti National Park on a smooth road before enjoying a picnic lunch at the entrance to the park.

The next 150 km is completed through the Serengeti and the driving will be slow as we game drive our way to the campsite.
The wide, open plains of the Serengeti - green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season, and home to thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators - are perhaps the quintessential image of Africa. Flat and rolling with long grasses and dotted with acacia trees, the plains get their name from the Maasai word Siringet - 'the place where the land moves on forever'.
Our campsite is within the Serengeti itself so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep. No upgrades or WiFi are available tonight.
Today we awaken at dawn to begin our game drive. We will head out while the animals are at their most active and head back to camp for brunch around 11am. After spending the warmer part of the day relaxing (just like the animals do) we head out again for our dusk game drive, returning in time for another delicious camp dinner.
For an unforgettable experience, you might like to do an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Serengeti. As the balloon only holds 16 people, places are limited and it is recommended you book this activity in advance. Please inquire when booking your trip to secure this optional activity.

If you have pre-booked this activity, you'll be picked up and driven to the launch site where you receive a safety briefing from your pilot. You'll then float over the Serengeti as the sun comes up gaining an overview of the immensity of the Serengeti, seeing the abundance of wildlife in their early morning activity and sometimes descending to tree height for amazing wildlife photography opportunities. Upon landing, you'll be treated to a five-star bush breakfast before being returned to your truck and leader.
Please note that we offer this activity as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a spot in a balloon. If you choose to wait and book this activity locally on the ground you may get a better price. However this is a popular activity and places are limited. It is at your own discretion if you wish to pre-book this service with us or try and book it locally while you are on your trip.
Game drive out of the park and enter Ngorongoro Conservation area after lunch. Our destination today is the Ngorongoro Crater rim ( 80km, approx 3hrs ).
Responsible Travel Note -
You will notice some Masai villages in the region of the Ngorongoro crater. While it is of course fascinating to visit different cultures, past experience has shown that these villages exist primarily as businesses. You will be charged an entry fee of USD20 and the Masai will try very hard to sell souvenirs to you. While many clients still enjoy the experience, others have found it artificial and uncomfortable. We would very much prefer that Intrepid clients choose to bypass this activity as we feel it negatively impacts the Masai culture and your perception of this culture.
Our campsite on the rim of the crater overlooks jagged volcanic peaks and rolling grasslands thousands of feet below - you can be sure that there are few campsites in the world with a better view than this. The campsite also has flush toilets and hot/cold shower. However there is no option to upgrade to a room and there is no WiFi available.
It can get very cold on the crater rim, particularly during the winter months of June to August where temperatures drop below zero. Even in the summer months it can be surprisingly chilly at night so bring a jacket and come prepared.
A huge, perfectly intact volcanic crater, Ngorongoro is home to some 30,000 animals including endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round and the photographic opportunities here are unrivalled.
Drive out of the crater and head to Mto Wa Mbu for a look around the town and craft market before continuing on to our campsite (140 km, approx 5-6 hrs).
A small village community, Mto Wa Mbu offers an excellent way to get a close-up look at life in an African town away from the main tourist trail.
Our campsite is in Meserani, on the outskirts of Arusha, and has flush toilets and showers. Depending on availability an upgrade to a room may be an option. There is no WiFi available at the campsite.
Bidding farewell to your truck and crew, this morning we make our way back to Arusha where will catch an afternoon shuttle bus from Arusha to the Kibo Hotel in the foothills (1,300 m/4,500 ft) of Mt Kilimanjaro. (approx 4 hours). This section of the trip is unaccompanied by a leader.

The shuttle departs from the Impala hotel at 2pm which will give you some time to relax or explore Arusha town.

Located in the heart of Marangu and just a short walk from the village’s bustling market, and shops (including some excellent coffee shops brewing locally grown coffee), Kibo Hotel is Marangu’s most iconic building and one of the most historic buildings in the whole of Northern Tanzania. It is also located within very close proximity of beautiful waterfalls and ancient Chagga caves, used originally to hide cattle from attack from invading Maasai tribes.

Originally founded in 1886 by a German family in partnership with the then Chagga Chief Marealle, the building was originally intended as a base for Kilimanjaro expeditions and in fact played host to Hans Meyer and his crew who, in 1889, led the first successful expedition to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Still owned by the current Chagga Chief and his family, the building retains many of its original features and the walls in public areas are covered in historic antique maps of Tanzania and of the Mountain, as well as photos of famous past guests – including ex-US President Jimmy Carter, who stayed at the hotel before and after a successful Kilimanjaro climb in 1988. With its beautiful landscaped gardens, lawns and views of the lush Marangu forests, it really is an ideal place to take in the history of this incredible area of the world, as well as to unwind after a strenuous Kilimanjaro climb.
Please make sure you are at Kibo Hotel for an early evening briefing and kit inspection in preparation for the start of our trek.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!

Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.

During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:

http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
We meet our guides and porters after breakfast. Each person has a personal porter and there are extra porters for camping equipment and food. Please read your trip notes for further information about your guides and porters.

It takes just 15 minutes to get to Marangu Gate (1,860 m/6,000 ft) at the entrance of the Mt Kilimanjaro National Park. We have to register as a group which can take a little bit of time depending on how busy things are. From here it is a long but easy walk through dense rainforest to the first mountain hut.

In the forest there are many species of brightly coloured birds and different types of monkeys can be seen and heard. We walk through giant heather on our way to Mandara Hut (2,725 m/9,000 ft) where we stop for the night. From here an optional walk to nearby Maundi Crater can be undertaken. If the skies are clear, there may be excellent views of the nearby town of Moshi far below.

The distance from Kibo Hotel to Mandara Hut is 8 km (approximately 3-5 hours).
Our second day on the mountain involves another long hike over a slightly steeper stretch. The rainforest gives way to open and rolling alpine meadows dotted with giant heather trees. Once out of the forest canopy, the twin snow-tipped peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi lie directly ahead.

During the day's walk we traverse several ravines before reaching the hut, which is set in a rocky valley. As we walk there is time to enjoy a wide variety of vegetation and changing landscapes on the way to Horombo Hut (3,780 m/12,000 ft), where we spend the night.

The distance from Mandara to Horombo Huts is 12 km (approximately 5-7 hours).
The landscape becomes progressively more rugged and rocky and the air noticeably thinner today so we slow our pace accordingly. We pass giant groundsels and lobelias while travelling across the sparse moorland.

Skirting Mawenzi Peak, we arrive at the stark lunar landscape of the Saddle. Reaching Kibo Hut in afternoon (4,740m/15,450ft), we take the opportunity to have an early night.

The distance from Horombo to Kibo Hut is 10km (approximately 5-7 hours).
At 11pm we are woken by our guides and hot tea is served before we begin the last leg of our trek to the summit.

The trek begins beneath the stars as we zigzag our way up a large scree slope guided only by torch light to reach Gilman's Point (5,685 m). Hopefully we'll arrive in time to see breathtaking views of the sun rising behind Mawenzi Peak. This is the stretch that most people find the hardest, and you should be prepared for a very cold morning. However, the dramatic spectacle of the sun rising over the ice fields of the crater will make the early start totally worthwhile.

For those who still have the will and the energy, it is a further two hours along the rim of the crater to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m), the highest point in Africa. From this peak, there are unforgettable views of the crater, the ice fields and the vast and distant East African plains below.

After photos and time to catch our breath we descend back to Horombo Hut for a well-earned rest.

The distance from Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak is 6 km (approximately 6-8 hours), and the descent to Horombo takes approximately the same amount of time.
Today we continue our descent through alpine meadows and rainforest to the park gate. The distance from Horombo to Marangu Gate is 20 km (approximately 5-6 hours).

Here transport awaits and we return to the Kibo Hotel for a relaxing shower - a real treat after the physical exertions of the last few days. Over a celebratory meal we can relive and share our experiences of the past five days on the mountain.
You are free to depart at any time on the final day of your trip.
Transfers to Kilimanjaro Airport or a shuttle to Nairobi can be arranged locally. Please speak to your leader at the welcome meeting.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
13 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 12 dinners
Transport
4x4 Safari Vehicle, Overland vehicle, Minibus
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nights), Camping (with facilities) (3 nights), Cottage (1 night), Hotel (3 nights), Mountain hut (4 nights)
Included activities
  • Musoma - Market visit
  • Kisii - Soapstone carving cooperative
  • Serengeti - Game drive
  • Mto Wa Mbu - Market Visit
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game drive
  • Fully catered trek including National Park entrance fees, climbing fee, mountain huts & rescue services (5 days)
  • Services of highly experienced guides and porters

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For information about altitude sickness click here


Important notes

1. This is a combination trip. Please see trip notes (Important notes) for more details.
2. A single supplement is available on this trip. The supplement does not apply to nights 9-12.
3. The cabins on the climb will be 4-12 person share.
4. Passenger Self Assessment Form required for this trip.
5. Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude.
6. Please make sure you arrange your flights in order to arrive at Kibo hotel before 4pm on Day 1 in order to attend the very important pre-climb briefing and information session that is usually held before dinner.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Serengeti & Kilimanjaro trips score an average of 4.8 out of 5 based on 10 reviews in the last year.

Serengeti & Kilimanjaro , February 2016

Serengeti & Kilimanjaro , September 2015