Venture off the beaten track on a two-wheeled trip across Tanzania

Brimming with mighty predators and birds, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater are must-visits for any Tanzania trip, but safaris are only the beginning. This unique cycling adventure has you cruising down Great Rift Valley escarpments, strolling through farm villages, roasting and grinding your own coffee, drifting off to sleep among nocturnal creatures, experiencing the culture of the Maasai people, pedalling far off the beaten track to trails where no cars go, and of course sipping sundowners at sunset. With a support vehicle at every step of the journey, take your time to discover Tanzania on two wheels.

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Start
Arusha, Tanzania
Finish
Arusha, Tanzania
Country
Tanzania
Style
Basix
Theme
Cycling
Code
YTXC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 16
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Cycling is the perfect way to enjoy the incredible landscapes of Tanzania. When the going gets tough, ride in the support vehicle, and when it’s time to see wildlife, swap the bike for a jeep or truck

  • Kick off your adventure with that cornerstone of all cycling adventures – coffee. Roast, grind and taste your own in the village of Tengeru

  • The Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater are two of Africa’s very best wildlife arenas. Fall asleep surrounded by creatures of the African plains and take a safari in search of the rare black rhino

  • Venture to the weird and the wonderful – the far-out Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano, Hemingway’s beloved Lake Manyara and the flamingo-dotted, deep-pink chameleon that is Lake Natron

  • Cycle where tourists rarely go, across the remote, barely-charted plains of Lengai in the realm of misty volcanic peaks

  • Enjoy the long and winding descent into the stunning Great Rift Valley, barely pedalling a single stroke

Is this trip right for you?

  • To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.

  • The cycling distances are mostly short, but the roads can be rough, terrain of Tanzania can be hilly and the climate warm, so you'll need to be reasonably fit. Keep in mind the support vehicle will be on hand if you need a break.

  • Riding is done along both sealed and unsealed roads, but there are no special technical skills needed. Some practice at home is a great idea, however, especially for downhill sections.

  • There’s the possibility of a few hiccups along the way – a puncture here and there maybe – but there’s no doubt this is an incredibly rewarding adventure.

  • The weather in this region varies seasonally. Be prepared to get sweaty, and for the occasional cold day and night, which may require a change of plans. It's all part of the adventure!

  • As this trip includes participatory camping you will be expected to help put up/take down your own tent on camping days, as well as assist in cooking/cleaning duties - it's all part of the fun of camping in Africa!

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2017 to 16 December 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Jambo! Welcome to Tanzania. Today there are no activities planned until your important group meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Should you require a transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), Arusha Airport (ARK) or a shuttle to Nairobi at the end of the trip, this can be arranged locally. Please speak to your leader about this at the welcome meeting. Take a stroll to acquaint yourself with the town which, at 1,300 m above sea level, enjoys a temperate year-round climate.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the group meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're 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 these details to provide to your leader.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Departing Arusha early, climb aboard your support vehicle and head east, stopping along the way to enjoy a walking tour through the village of Tengeru. Here you will get a close look at local farm life. You'll also learn how to roast and grind that staple of all good cycling escapades – coffee. Once the roasting and grinding is done, taste the results of your hard work. After this unique coffee stop, continue to Usa River before heading north. From here you'll jump onto your bike for the first time and cycle north (approximately 3 hours; 30 km), in the shadow of Mt Meru, through Arusha National Park. Arrive at your overnight destination, the Mkuru Training Camp, located in the foothills of Mount Meru. This small, low-impact community 'camp' is dedicated to research, education and training for the promotion of good practices in natural resources management. 

Tonight you will stay in a dorm room with shared facilities.

Riding distance - approx. 30kms
Accommodation
  • Dorm rooms with shared facilities (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Arusha National Park Entry
  • Tengeru - Local family farm visit and community walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Enjoy a fairly flat and level ride on unsealed road before hitting the tarmac and heading north (on the road that connects Kenya to Tanzania) to Longido (approximately 3.5 hours; 65 km). Once you meet the main road – which has surprisingly little traffic – you can enjoy a gentle mostly downhill ride for the remaining 40 km to Longido itself. Longido is located on the outskirts of the Mount Longido Forest Reserve. Here you will interact with the famous Maasai people for the first time. Any cultural experience with the Masaai is a colourful affair and one you will remember for a long time. Those with some energy left can take an optional short hike along one of the many walking trails on Mount Longido.

Riding distance - approx. 65kms
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today is something unique – you'll brave the unpaved roads which cut west across from Longido to Lengai. These aren’t roads you’ll find on Google Maps, and they're often in poor condition, so you'll be praising your front suspension. The amazing views and car-free environment, however, make it worth the effort. The amount of cycling today will very much depend on the conditions – given the roads, there will be an estimated mix of cycling and driving. The aim is to cycle about 40 kilometres (approximately 3 hours) of this 95-kilometre journey. What won’t change is the scenery, as you travel across dry open plains with the Kerimasi, Gelai and Kitumbeine mountains in the distance and closer by seven remarkable volcanos, the jewel being the spectacular and active Ol Doinyo Lengai, (Mountain of God' in the Maasai language). Close to your remote campsite is the shallow, salty Lake Natron. Often coloured bright pink or deep red due to algae, it is a mecca for the breeding 'lesser' flamingo. Reaching temperatures above 40°C and with a similar acidity to ammonia, this is not a place to swim, but the view is certainly an interesting one.

Riding distance - approx. 40kms
Accommodation
  • Camping (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Get as active or as relaxed as you like today. Take the bike and ride to the nearby Saitoti River to cool off in the natural plunge pools. Visiting Lake Nartron is also a great option; it's located around 15 kilometres from your camp. Serious adventures can choose to climb Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano (2,878 m), which means a very early start (midnight) and the aim is to enjoy sunrise views. While it requires no technical skills or equipment, the climb itself is long and steep, with large section of scree, and it does get cold in the early mornings. The key is to take the mountain slowly – you will hear the cries of 'pole pole' (slowly slowly) on a regular basis as your guide leads you up the mountain. While it is a hard climb, the sunrise views from the top are truly superb, and you'll be one of the only climbers there.

Riding distance - None
Accommodation
  • Camping (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today is a long day as you leave Natron behind and climb the valley walls to the Rift Valley escarpment. First you will cycle a relatively flat section (approximately 40 km), with great views of Lake Natron itself. Here you'll climb aboard your vehicle and inch your way up the incline, gaining over a kilometre of elevation over this next section (approximately 50 km). There will of course be stops so you can take in the views and hopefully snap a picture of the unique Lake Natron one last time. The drive today follows the boundaries of the Serengeti National Park all the way up to Wasso, your destination for this evening.

Riding distance - approx. 40kms
Accommodation
  • Camping (basic) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Leave Wasso behind and head to the Serengeti National Park (approximately 3 hours; 130 kilometres). Enter the park and swap from a two-wheeled machine to a four-wheeled one. Your afternoon game drive by overland vehicle puts you in the realm of some of Africa's mightiest predators. The rolling grasslands of the Serengeti, dotted with acacias, are perhaps the quintessential image of Africa. Game viewing in the Serengeti is amazing and as you camp out at night, don't be surprised to hear lions in the distance as you recount your wildlife sightings from the day. In normal circumstances, you can expect to see four out of the 'Big Five' game during your stay (rhinos are elusive). Your campsite is basic, but it's within the park itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal creatures as you drift off to sleep.

Riding distance - None
Accommodation
  • Campsite (basic) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Game drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Rise early, around sunrise, for a game drive, followed by a second game drive in the afternoon. Between the two drives you can relax, just like the animals do, during this hotter part of the day. Enjoy a hearty meal during this break, and perhaps take a siesta. Depending on wildlife movements and opportunities for sightings, however, the drive may continue through lunch and last all day. In this case, you will return to the lodge in the late afternoon. For an unforgettable experience this morning, you might like to take an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Serengeti. Please enquire when booking your trip to secure this optional activity. It's up to you whether you would like to try for a better price locally on the ground, but this runs the risk of missing out, as places are limited.

Riding distance - None
Accommodation
  • Camping (basic) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Game drive
Optional Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Balloon Ride (from price) - USD546
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
In the morning, we head out of the Serengeti (perhaps visiting on the way Simba Kopjes, an outcrop of rocks favoured by lions and cheetahs who can often be seen basking in the morning sun) and make our way to the legendary Ngorongoro Crater (approximately 4 hours) to take in this amazing destination on a 4x4 game drive. This is one of Africa's real natural treasures, often touted as a vast Garden of Eden. Within this crater lies every type of ecosystem, including riverine forests, open plains, freshwater and alkaline lakes. The scenery is spectacular as you descend almost 600 metres down to the crater floor. You are bound to see a variety of incredible wildlife here, and it's your best chance to spot the endangered black rhinoceros.

We take lunch by the freshwater lake fed by the Ngoitokitok Spring, an area inhabited by hippopotamus, elephants, lions, and many others. After our game drive we head back up the crater walls to the National Park gate where we get back on our bikes for the undulating 15km (approx.1hr) ride to our campsite in the small town of Karatu, our home for the night.

Riding distance - approx. 15kms (undulating)
Accommodation
  • Camping (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
It's time to jump back on your bike for the hilly ride from Karatu to our accommodation that sits literally on the very edge of the Rift Valley escarpment, offering breathtaking views over the town of Mto wa Mbu and the massive Lake Manyara. While today’s ride seems short at only 25kms the constant uphill and downhill will definitely test your fitness and bike skills. There are several downhill sections over 3km long where the only effort required will be in controlling your speed. If you'd rather not ride today, you are free to ride in the support vehicle instead.

As well as the stunning view (both sunset and sunrise are pretty special) we stay in very unique accommodation, the beehive shaped bungalows called African Igloos.

Ride distance - approx. 25kms
Accommodation
  • African Igloo (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mto Wa Mbu - Village walk & market visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning you will ride the fast descent of the Rift Valley escarpment to the small town of Mto Wa Mbu, located on the northern shores of Lake Manyara, once described by Ernest Hemingway as the 'loveliest I have seen in Africa'.

Leaving the tarmac behind we ride through the small villages and plantations before emerging out onto the smooth lake flood plains where we continue our ride to the very edge of the lake. If we are lucky we will spot flamingos or even ride alongside wildebeests and gazelle.

Leaving the lake behind we ride back through Mto Wa Mbu and on to the dusty tracks that take us to a traditional Masaai village. Located between towering hills and with awesome view of the surrounding plains this is an ideal place to enjoy lunch with our local friends.

After lunch we drive (or cycle if you want to!) back up the escarpment to overnight at Panorama Safari Camp.

Total riding distance 30-35kms
Accommodation
  • African Igloo (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Manyara - Game drive
  • Masai village visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today is our last one on our bicycles. We first explore the Lake Manyara National Park on a final game drive (vehicle). Surrounded by the towering ridges of the Rift Valley escarpment, the lake is bordered by lush forest and, if you’re lucky, you may even spot the famous Lake Manyara tree-climbing lions, as well as elephants, baboons, and over 400 recorded species of birds.

After lunch we climb back onto our bikes and cycle the smooth and relatively traffic-free tarmac road to the Makuyuni junction then as the traffic starts to get busy again we reboard our vehicle for the drive back to Arusha.

We arrive back into Arusha with plenty of time to get cleaned up before enjoying an optional final night dinner with our fellow cyclists.

Riding distance – approx. 40kms

Included Activities
Lake Manyara game drive
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
You are free to depart at any time on the final day of your trip. A transfer to Kilimanjaro or Arusha airport or a shuttle to Nairobi can be arranged locally. Please speak to your leader about this at the welcome meeting.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 10 dinners

Transport

Bicycle, Support vehicle, Overland vehicle, Jeep

Accommodation

Camping (6 nights), Hotel (2 nights), African Igloo (2 Nights), Dormitory with shared facilities (1 night), Guesthouse (1 night)

Included activities

  • Arusha National Park Entry
  • Tengeru - Local family farm visit and community walk
  • Serengeti National Park - Game drive
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game Drive
  • Mto Wa Mbu - Village walk & market visit
  • Lake Manyara - Game drive
  • Masai village visit

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.
2. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitable sized bike.
3. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

Reviews

Our Cycle Tanzania trips score an average of 4.91 out of 5 based on 33 reviews in the last year.

Cycle Tanzania, August 2017

Maura Paterson

Cycle Tanzania, September 2017

Karen Jones