Arrive at Kilimanjaro airport in the morning and transfer to our lodge adjacent to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (approx 3 hour drive).Those not flying with the group need to meet at the airport when the group flight arrives or be at Kia Lodge one hour before the group flight arrives.
After breakfast we leave the lodge and head to Manyara National Park. A scenic gem, we drive through lush jungle and stop near the lakeshore at Manyara which teems with birdlife. Over 400 species have been recorded here.There are also a surprising number of other large mammals and we hope to spot one of the elusive tree-climbing lions. We return to our lodge adjacent to the conservation area.
We leave the lodge after breakfast and drive into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. After climbing up the outer flanks of The Crater we drive along the rim before descending onto the Crater floor. Here there are countless opportunities to see animals in close proximity; the Crater floor is home to vast herds of game, including the rare black rhino, and we will be unlucky not to see all the large plains animals. In the late afternoon we head to our lodge in Arusha. Equipment not needed on the climb can be left at the lodge.
After completing the necessary registration formalities, we transfer by road to Nale Moru (1,950m) to begin our climb on this unspoilt wilderness route. The first day is only a half-day walk on a small path that winds through farmland and pine plantations. It is a consistent but gentle climb through attractive forest that shelters a variety of wildlife. We reach our first overnight stop by late afternoon at the edge of the moorland zone (2,600m). Approx 3-4 hours walking.
The morning walk is a steady ascent up to the 'Second Cave' (3,450m) with superb views of the Eastern icefields on the rim of Kibo, the youngest and highest of the three volcanoes that form the entire mountain. After lunch, we leave the main trail and strike out across the moorland on a smaller path towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi, the second of Kilimanjaro's volcanoes. Our campsite, which we reach in late afternoon, is in a sheltered valley near Kikelewa Caves (3,600m). Approx 6-7 hours walking.
A steep climb up grassy slopes is rewarded by superb panoramas of the Kenyan plains to the north. We leave vegetation behind close to Mawenzi Tarn (4,330m), spectacularly situated in a cirque beneath the towering cliffs of Mawenzi. The afternoon will be free to rest or to explore the surrounding area as an aid to acclimatisation. Approx 3-4 hours walking.
We leave our attractive campsite to cross the lunar desert of the 'Saddle' between Mawenzi and Kibo to reach Kibo campsite (4,700m) at the bottom of the Kibo Crater wall by early afternoon. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent before a very early night! Approx 5-6 hours walking.
We will start the final, and by far the steepest and most demanding, part of the climb by torchlight at around midnight. We plod very slowly in darkness and cold on a switchback trail through loose volcanic scree to reach the Crater rim at Gillman's Point (5,685 m). We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the three hour round trip along the snow-covered rim to the true summit of Uhuru Peak (5,895m), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Kibo Hut (4,700m) is surprisingly fast and, after some refreshments and rest, we continue descending to reach our final campsite at Horombo (3,720m). This is an extremely long and hard day, with between 11 and 15 hours walking at high altitude.
A sustained descent with wide views across the moorland takes us into the lovely forest around Mandara (2,700m), the first stopping place on the Marangu route. The trail continues through semi-tropical vegetation to the National Park gate at Marangu (1,830m). We transfer to Arusha for a well-earned rest and a much needed shower and beer! Approx 5-6 hours walking.
This morning we transfer to nearby Arusha Airport for an early flight to Zanzibar. On arrival we transfer to Fumba Beach Lodge on the south west coast of Zanzibar, arriving mid morning. The rooms are very comfortable and the cuisine is excellent. There are no other tourist developments in this area and the lodge is very peaceful. The rest of the day is free to relax on the beach, or by the pool. The beach is a tidal beach, so at low tide the surf is nearly 2 km out with a long stretch of shallow waters full of shells, starfish and crabs, while at high tide it's easy to go swimming. It's also possible to get a massage in the spa to fully relax.
Day 11 - 12
Two free days at Fumba where there is a snorkelling and diving centre on site. These activities can be easily arranged and are a wonderful way to experience the underwater world with its array of multicoloured fish. A day excursion with snorkelling, sunbathing and a picnic lunch on a secluded island is also highly recommended. During the excursion there is a very good chance to see the resident dolphins in Menai Bay. Alternatively a day trip to Stone Town can be arranged. Stone Town, with its twisting, narrow streets and beautiful old houses is perfect for exploring and there are also plenty of opportunities for purchasing handicrafts and souvenirs.
After a relaxed morning we head to the airport for our overnight flight to London.Please note if you are flying from Zanzibar with Kenya Airways or Precision Air (a subsidiary of Kenya Airways) you will be required to pay departure tax at Zanzibar Airport in cash (currently USD48). Please remember to set aside this amount.