Day 1 - Nairobi
Jambo! Welcome to Kenya. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for this, consider arriving a day early so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting. If you arrive early, perhaps head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum or the highly recommended Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed in an outdoor village.
Notes: Petty theft is common in Nairobi. As a general rule, the safest place for your valuables is on your person in a neck wallet or money belt, though your hotel room or reception may have a safe in which to store things. If you do decide to go exploring, make sure you get local advice on where it is and isn't safe to walk – particularly for later in the day. Be careful not to leave bags unattended on chairs or floors when in bars or restaurants. Without being paranoid, appearing vigilant is a great deterrence to would-be thieves. Also, make scans of important travel documents and email them to yourself – this will save you hours of paperwork if anything does happen.
Day 2 - Kisii
Board your safari truck and travel west (approximately 8–9 hours). Today’s destination is near the hilltop town of Kisii, which will be the last chance to stock up on supplies before heading into Tanzania. Crossing the incredibly scenic Great Rift Valley on your way to the tea-growing highlands is a fantastic introduction to the landscapes of Kenya. You will pass through the ancient homeland of the Maasai. Keep a look out for these tall, graceful tribesmen dressed in distinctive scarlet robes as they tend to their prized herds of cattle. The roads on the way are pretty rough, but there will be chances to stop and stretch your legs, including a picnic lunch in the town of Narok. You will be accommodated in either very simple shared rooms (with bedding provided) or in a camp which will be set up for the night. There is no WiFi available at the camp.
Day 3 - Lake Victoria
Travel towards the Kenya-Tanzania border and to the shores of Lake Victoria (approximately 7–8 hours). This is not only Africa's largest lake – it's the largest tropical lake in the world. Its shores are shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. There are plenty of activities to choose from while you're here. You might like to hire a bicycle and explore the lake's surrounds (you'll need to bring your own helmet if you want to wear one). Or you can visit an African marketplace for a chance to interact with the people of Musoma. You can also simply chill out lakeside with a cold drink. Make the most of the ATM and local market to stock up for your next three days of adventuring in the wilderness. You will camp on the shores of the lake tonight, at one of its least visited campgrounds, on the outskirts of a small town called Musoma. Depending on availability, you might be able to upgrade to a room. No WiFi is available, however.
Day 4 - Serengeti National Park
Travel from Lake Victoria to the gate of Serengeti National Park on a smooth road (approximately 3 hours) and enjoy a picnic lunch at the entrance to the park. Enter the Serengeti and take a game drive en route to your campsite. The wide open plains of the Serengeti – green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season – are home to thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators. Flat and rolling, with long grass and acacia trees, these plains get their name from the Maasai word Siringet – 'The place where the land moves on forever'. Your campsite is right in the action, within the park itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep. There are no upgrades or WiFi available here.
Day 5 - Serengeti National Park
Start the day with a game drive at dawn. You will head out while the animals are at their most active, then head back to camp for brunch at around 11 am. After spending the warmer part of the day relaxing, as the animals do, depart again at dusk for another adventure through the wild. You'll return in time for dinner. There's also the option of a balloon ride over the park today. If you have pre-booked this activity (please see the 'Important Notes' section) you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site. After a safety briefing, you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a five-star bush breakfast, then be returned to your camp.
Notes: The balloon ride is offered as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a place. If you would rather wait and try to get a better price by booking this locally on the ground, you are welcome to, but keep in mind that this is a popular activity and places are limited.
Day 6 - Ngorongoro Crater
Enjoy a game drive on your way out of the park today. After lunch you will enter the Ngorongoro Conservation area. Your destination today is the rim of the crater (approximately 3 hours). Your campsite overlooks jagged volcanic peaks and rolling grasslands thousands of feet below – you can be sure that there are few campsites in the world with a better view than this! The campsite has flush toilets and hot showers available, but no WiFi or optional upgrades. It can get very cold on the crater rim, particularly during the winter months (June to August) when temperatures drop below zero. Even in the summer months it can be surprisingly chilly at night, so be sure to bring some warm clothes.
Notes: You will notice some Maasai villages in the region of the Ngorongoro crater offering a cultural experience. Intrepid recommends avoiding these villages, as they can impact negatively on the Maasai culture and travellers' perceptions of it by selling an artificial experience.
Day 7 - Meserani
A gigantic, perfectly intact volcanic crater, Ngorongoro is home to some 30,000 animals. Among these are endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round, and the photo opportunities here are unrivalled. You'll drive out of the crater and head to Mto Wa Mbu for a look around town and craft market before continuing to your campsite (approximately 5–6 hours). A small village community that's off the tourist trail, Mto Wa Mbu is a fascinating snapshot of small-town African life. Your campsite is in Meserani, on the outskirts of Arusha, and has flush toilets and showers. Upgrades to rooms are possible, depending on availability, but there is no WiFi.
Day 8 - Marangu
Bidding farewell to your truck and crew, this morning we make our way back to Arusha where will catch an afternoon shuttle bus from Arusha to the Kibo Hotel in the foothills (1,300 m/4,500 ft) of Mt Kilimanjaro (approx 4 hours). This section of the trip is unaccompanied by a leader.The shuttle departs from the Impala hotel at 2pm which will give you some time to relax or explore Arusha town. In the early evening there is a full briefing and kit inspection by an experienced Kilimanjaro climber. This will take place before dinner. Your insurance details and next of kin information will also be collected.
Day 9 - Mandara Hut
Today you will hike from Kibo Hotel to Mandara Hut, a distance of 8 kilometres (approximately 3–5 hours). First you will meet your guides and porters after breakfast. Each person will have a personal porter, and there are extra porters for camping equipment and food. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Marangu Gate at the entrance of the Mt Kilimanjaro National Park (1,860 m). We will register as a group, which can take some time, depending on how busy it is. From here it is a long but easy walk through dense rainforest to the first mountain hut. In the forest you will find many species of brightly coloured birds and different types of monkeys. We'll walk through giant heather on our way to Mandara Hut (2,725 m) where we will stop for the night. From here you might choose to take an optional walk to the nearby Maundi Crater. If the skies are clear, take in excellent views of the nearby town of Moshi far below.
Day 10 - Horombo Hut
Your second day on the mountain involves another long hike over a slightly steeper stretch. The total distance from Mandara to Horombo Huts is 12 km (approximately 5–7 hours). Today you will see the rainforest give way to open and rolling alpine meadows dotted with giant heather trees. Once out of the forest canopy, the twin snow-tipped peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi lie directly ahead. These are two of the three great cones of Kilimanjaro (the other being Shira). During the day's walk we will traverse several ravines before reaching the hut, which is set in a rocky valley. There is time to enjoy a wide variety of vegetation and changing landscapes on the way to Horombo Hut (3,780 m). We will spend the night here at the hut.
Day 11 - Kibo Hut / Uhuru Peak
Today we walk the 10 kilometres or so from Horombo to Kibo Hut (approximately 5–7 hours). As the journey progresses, you will notice the landscape gradually becoming more rugged and rocky, and the air noticeably thinner. To adhere to this, we will adjust our walking speed and pace ourselves. Marvel at giant groundsels and lobelias while you travel across the sparse moorland. Skirting Mawenzi Peak, arrive at the stark lunar landscape of the Saddle. Reaching Kibo Hut in afternoon (4,740 m), take the opportunity to have an early night.
Day 12 - Uhuru Peak / Horombo Hut
Your guides will wake you up at 11 pm and hot tea will be served. Prepare for the last leg of the trek – to the summit. The distance from Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak is 6 km (approximately 6–8 hours), and the descent to Horombo will be approximately the same amount of time. The trek begins beneath the stars as we zigzag our way up a large scree slope, guided only by torch light, to reach Gilman's Point (5,685 m). With some luck, we'll arrive in time for breathtaking views of the sun rising behind Mawenzi Peak. This is the stretch that most people find the hardest, and you should be prepared for a very cold morning. The dramatic spectacle of the sun rising over the ice fields of the crater will make the early start worthwhile. For those who still have the energy, it's a further walk (approximately 2 hours) along the rim of the crater to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m), the highest point in Africa. From here there are amazing views of the crater, ice fields and plains below. After photos and time to catch your breath, descend back to Horombo Hut for a well-earned rest.
Day 13 - Marangu
Continue your descent through alpine meadows and rainforest to the park gate. The distance from Horombo to Marangu Gate is 20 kilometres (approximately 5–6 hours). Here your transport awaits and you will return to the Kibo Hotel for a relaxing shower – a real treat after the physical exertions of the last few days! Over a celebratory meal we can relive and share our experiences of the past five days on the mountain.
Day 14 - Marangu
You are free to depart at any time on the final day of your trip. A transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport or a shuttle to Nairobi can be arranged locally. Please speak to your leader about this at the welcome meeting.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money