Arrive at Kilimanjaro airport in the morning and transfer to Arusha and Ilboru Safari Lodge, where there is time to relax, swim, take lunch and leave your Kilimanjaro climb equipment prior to setting off on the safari in the middle of the afternoon. We overnight at a lodge within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Those not flying with the group need to meet at Ilboru Safari Lodge by 11.00 hrs, or at the airport when the group land)
After breakfast we leave the lodge and will be down on the crater floor gameviewing within 30 minutes. The Crater is a wonderful opportunity 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. Heading out after lunch we drive down onto the Serengeti Plains. In late January and February the herds of wildebeest are usually in this region and proves a remarkable spectacle with animals foaling whilst moving slowly and grazing in the southern plains of the Serengeti.
We have a full day in Serengeti National Park. Much of the day is spent game viewing in the vast plains that are broken only by stands of acacia trees and the occasional kopje. There are excellent opportunities for game viewing around the nearby Seronera River, with crocodiles and hippos in the pools and large lion prides in the area. Our camp is excellently situated, so you have good chances of catching the migration in late summer when the wildebeest are often in the western Serengeti. We stay a second night in the permanent camp.
We drive into the Seronera region gameviewing on the way, and take a morning flight back to Arusha airport. The luggage you left in Arusha on the first day will already be waiting for you on the vehicle. We transfer from the airport on the 2 hour journey to the hotel in Marangu at the base of Kilimanjaro.
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 leave the mountain crew to return to our hotel in Marangu by mid-afternoon for a well-earned rest and a much needed shower and beer! Approx 5-6 hours walking.
This morning we transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport and fly to Zanzibar, on arrival we transfer to our beach resort called Fumba Beach Lodge on the south west coast of Zanzibar, arriving in the afternoon. 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 13 - 14
Free days at Fumba. There is a snorkelling and diving centre on site, so both can be easily arranged and is 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 highly recommended. During the excursion there is a very good chance to see the resident dolphins in Menai Bay. Alternatively you could simply relax by the swimming pool.
After a relaxed morning we leave the beach to go to Stone Town, in time for lunch and an afternoon of exploration. Discover Stone Town, with its twisting, narrow streets, some beautiful old houses, the infamous former slave market, and some good possibilities for buying souvenirs. Another option is a spice tour; much of inland Zanzibar is dominated by the production of exotic spices and we can visit several farms with a professional guide, with the chance to taste and buy. A celebration dinner can be taken in one of the excellent local restaurants, enjoying the finely spiced food.
The morning is free to relax or explore, or even just grab those last minute souvenirs before an early afternoon transfer to Zanzibar Airport for our flight back to UK. Those not flying back with the group leave us after breakfast in Stone Town.