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Tanzania

Cycle Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro Crater

Activity
Cycle
Duration
n/a days
Grade
Grade 2

About the challenge

We ride approx. 370km during this challenge from Kilimanjaro then through bush land and savannah, finishing at Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area – often named the eighth Wonder of the World. En route we circle the foot of Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in the world, and ride the Rift Valley Escarpment. This will be a tough challenge along a mixture of good tarmac roads and rough dirt tracks, taking us over rolling bush-covered hills and through vibrant towns and villages, with a chance to experience true Masai culture. We celebrate our achievements with a day’s safari in Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, home to an incredible diversity of species including lion, leopard, elephant and rhino. This exciting ride will be a truly memorable journey through the best that East Africa has to offer.

The itinerary

Day 1: Fly London to Kilimanjaro

Day 2: Arrive Moshi, Tanzania

On arrival we transfer to our hotel and spend the rest of our time exploring and preparing our bikes for the cycling adventure ahead of us. Night hotel.

Day 3: Moshi – Lake Chala 
Cycle approx 60km

A short transfer takes us through the busy streets of Moshi and we start our first day’s ride on quieter roads. Moshi lies to the south of Kilimanjaro, and we will have views of Africa’s highest free-standing mountain for much of the day as we ride east, starting to circle it. Today is a relatively short day of cycling, designed to give us time to acclimatise to the roads and the heat, and prepare our minds for the coming days. We head east through rolling savannah towards the Kenyan border and Lake Chala, a beautiful crater lake fed by underground streams from Kilimanjaro. Its steep-sided crater walls are covered in lush vegetation, and there are great views of jagged Mawenzi, one of Kilimanjaro’s peaks. If you have the energy you can walk along some of the forest trails. Look out for magnificent birds of prey; you may also see baboons and black and white colobus monkeys. Night camp.

Day 4: Lake Chala – Kamwanga
Cycle approx 78km

After our first night in the bush we take down our tents, have breakfast and head north, riding roughly parallel to the Kenyan border and around the eastern edge of Kilimanjaro, towards the Masai village of Kamwanga. Our route takes us along reasonable tarmac roads, with some dirt roads and tracks. Our route is varied, taking us through the Rongai Forest, home to agile black and while colobus monkeys, and more open landscapes, with bush and grassland stretching for miles around; we’ll be able to see into Kenya. We’ll see many Masai walking and grazing their cattle and sheep and pass through several towns and villages along the route; it’s fun to stop and bargain for some fresh fruit or drinks at the many diverse market stalls. Then it’s on to our basic but very scenic bush camp near the Masai village of Kamwanga. Night camp.

Day 5: Kamwanga – Boma Ng’Ombe
Cycle approx 90 km (9km tarmac; 81km dirt road)

Leaving Kamwanga, the tarmac ends and dirt tracks begin. The route now undulates through Masai farmland where we gain a wonderful insight into the daily life of the local tribes. We are heading south now, to complete our circuit of Kilimanjaro, and the mighty mountain now rises on our left-hand-side. As we continue along to the town of Ol Molog with green fields on either side of us, the volcanic peak of Mt Meru comes into view. We continue south and eventually rejoin the tarmac, beginning a gentle descent towards the town of BomaNg’Ombe, which links Moshi and Arusha. Night camp.

Day 6: Kisongo – Lake Manyara         
Cycle approx 102 km          

This morning we have a short transfer from Boma through the very busy town of Arusha to Kisongo, the starting point of today’s ride. From Kisongo the terrain is mostly flat as the road cuts through the gently rolling hills covered in scrub and bush. We cycle to Makuyuni junction, where we will stop for a revitalising lunch. We continue on the much- improved smooth road towards Lake Manyara – a constant but gradual rise through savannah grassland, all the way to our campsite in Mto wa Mbu. As we get closer to Mto wa Mbu we will be able to see Lake Manyara and the lush forest in the distance across the plain. Our first view as we approach Lake Manyara National Park is spectacular: to the east the Rift Valley escarpment looms up on the horizon forming an impressive backdrop to the lake. On arriving in this small but bustling village with its many playful monkeys and storks in the trees, we make our way to our campsite at Migunga. Night camp.

Day 7: Lake Manyara – Ngorongoro Crater Gate
Cycle approx 41km

After breakfast, and a good rest, we start our final day’s cycling towards our finishing point at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Almost immediately after we leave camp we have a steep climb up the Rift Valley escarpment; from the top we have an amazing view of Lake Manyara National Park lying below us, the lake glistening in the sunlight and the flat open Masai steppe stretching away into the distance. From here we continue climbing gently all the way to Karatu Town and then to the Ngorongoro Park Gate itself. As we climb and get closer to the extinct volcano and vast caldera, the landscape becomes much richer with lots of farmed plots and dense forest with many species of birds and wildlife. We finish our cycling challenge at the Park Gate amongst baboons! Here we load our bikes in the support vehicles and transfer to our lodge perched on the edge of the caldera – a wonderful place to celebrate the end of this amazing bike challenge!T he lodge is located on the crater rim 2200m above sea level but we have access to a proper bed, shower, toilet and even a beer! It can be very cold and foggy during the evenings and mornings. There are some animals found here, such as bush pigs, hyenas, zebras, and buffaloes, so please keep a look out! Celebration meal. Night lodge. (Dinner not included)

Day 8: Ngorongoro Crater Safari – Arusha

After a good breakfast, we drive to Ngorongoro Crater for our safari, excited at the chance of seeing the ‘Big Five’. Ngorongoro Crater is widely considered to be one of the natural wonders of the world. 12 miles wide, 2000 feet deep and covering an area of 102 square miles, it is the largest intact volcanic crater on earth and home to a spectacular concentration of wildlife. We have a picnic lunch at the crater floor (beware of black kites snatching your lunch). Our game drive will be around the crater floor with a chance of seeing large herds of buffalo and wildebeest, zebra, hartebeest, elephant, hippo, lions, and possibly the endangered black rhino. After the game drive we leave the National Park and drive back to our hotel near Moshi, for our final night in Africa. Night hotel. (Dinner not included)

Day 9: Depart Kilimanjaro

After a free morning we make our way back to the airport for our afternoon flight back to the UK. (Lunch not included)

Day 10: Arrive UK

Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate 

Detailed information

What's Included?

All accommodation is included as well as all flights and transport; camping equipment (except sleeping bag and sleeping mat); all meals except three, and entrance to any sites visited as part of the itinerary. A bike is also included. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders/mechanics and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of guides, cooks and drivers.

What's Excluded?

It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline (capped at £200 by Discover Adventure), three meals as specified, tips for local crew, or international departure tax. It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.

Flight Information

Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Ethiopian airlines however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.

Accommodation

We camp for four nights in two-man tents; our campsites range from permanent tented camps with facilities to basic bush-camps. Hotels are also on a twin-share basis; they are comfortable and clean with private facilities. Please do not expect hotels to be the same as a tourist hotel in the UK – they may be better in some ways and more basic in others!

Food

All food is included when camping. The food is great and there is plenty of it. Three meals as detailed in the itinerary are not included.

Dietary Requirements

Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.

Trip Support

Discover Adventure Crew

Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.

All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size) –who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.

Local Support Crew

Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers and cooks do not always speak English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your ride. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far less than an average wage at home.

Luggage

Support vehicles are with the group all the time, wherever possible. All luggage, spares, food, water and camping equipment is carried by them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening. If you wish to take your own bike, it can be transported on flights in bike bags or – a much cheaper option – cardboard bike boxes: ask your local bike shop if they have any. Please be aware the airline is likely to charge you to transport your bike on the flight.

Trip Safety

Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit, and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.

Preparing for the challenge

Cycling Information

Terrain

Distances vary from 41 – 102km per day. Cycling is predominantly on tarmac roads with some dirt track. The cycling is varied, with some days predominantly flat and others with long gradual climbs. Although the off-road cycling is non-technical, we recommend you have some experience of cycling on dirt tracks so you know what to expect. We are travelling through remote areas and weather may have an impact on road conditions. Traffic is usually light and we will cycle at our own pace, but when we pass through a large town we go through as a group. We will always take safety into consideration and reserve the right to change the itinerary on that basis.We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.

Bikes

We will be using 21-speed mountain bikes fitted with semi slick tyres. If you are unsure whether to take your own bike or use one of ours please just contact us. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.

Weather

Temperatures can vary widely, though generally it should be warm and sunny, and can get very hot at times. Rain is always a possibility and it may be blustery. Cold winds are common when high up on the mountains.

Clothing & Equipment

We are travelling through remote regions where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

Fitness Levels

Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-riders will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.

Passport & Visa 

A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after departure from Tanzania. Most nationalities, including UK citizens, require a visa for entry into Tanzania. This can currently be purchased on arrival at the airport for $50. We will send you more information about visas nearer to departure. Other nationalities should check their own entry requirements.

Vaccincations

We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. A Yellow Fever certificate is necessary if arriving from an infected country (being in transit at an airport for less than 12 hours doesn’t count).  There is a risk of malaria, so check for the most up-to-date advice. You should always check with your GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.

Cultural Differences

For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow cyclists and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you! Our experienced tour leaders and local crew will help bridge the cultural gap; take advantage of their knowledge so you can come away with an understanding of a new culture as well as the achievement of completing a challenging cycle ride.

Worldwide Sustainable Tourism

Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. 

Discover Adventure Projects

We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s project in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.

Carbon Offsetting

We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conservation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.