Depart London, overnight flight to Kilimanjaro.
There will be a trip briefing this afternoon/evening. Please bring with you your passport and insurance details, and your air ticket details. The briefing will cover all aspects of your trip and will include the distribution of any hired equipment you have booked.
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 local staff to return to our hotel in Arusha by mid-afternoon for a well-earned rest and a much needed shower and beer! Approx 5-6 hours walking.
We drive from Arusha in the morning to Tarangire National Park (a distance of about 120 km.) in our 4WD vehicles, and spend most of the day game viewing. We will hopefully see large herds of elephants along the river, a wide variety of habitat, and have time to enjoy the strange beauty of the baobab tree. Legend has it that a displeased God turned them upside down at the time of Creation! A short transfer brings us to our overnight accommodation, attractively set within an acacia forest close to the foot of the Great Rift Valley.
We leave early in the morning with a picnic lunch to get as much time as possible in Ngorongoro Crater. Driving up the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, with excellent views over Lake Manyara, we continue to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The Crater is a magnificent natural bowl and the game viewing inside it is fantastic; big cats, the plain animals, elephants, buffalos, hippos and the rare black rhinos. After a full day of game viewing, we return to our comfortable camp to enjoy the unique sounds of the African bush.
After an early breakfast we leave our 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. In the afternoon we leave the national park and drive through Arusha and continue on to Kilimanjaro Airport for those on group flights.