Soaring above the rippling tea plantations and low hills of northeastern Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340') is Africa’s highest peak. Follow the less-traveled Lemosho-Crater Route up the western slope, hiking eight days through the spectacular landscapes of five temperate zones. On this once-in-a-lifetime trek, take in extraordinary views extending hundreds of miles and experience sunrise from the roof of Africa. Then continue the adventure on safari in some of East Africa’s most legendary landscapes. Visit with Maasai villagers, and witness the extraordinary wildlife of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport, and drive into Arusha National Park to our private deluxe camp situated at the base of Mount Meru, a 14,980-foot volcano. The camp is at an elevation of about 6,200 feet, which will help our acclimatization.
Gather for an orientation, check your equipment, and set out on a warm-up hike along the lush slopes of Mount Meru, the fifth-highest peak in Africa. Keep your eye out for the distinctive black-and-white colobus monkey of the region, as well as bushbuck, duiker, buffalo, giraffe, rare birds, and if we’re lucky, elephant and leopard. (1-2 hours optional hiking, 2 miles)
A short drive brings us to the edge of Kilimanjaro’s montane forests, where our trek begins. The trail winds up through mossy jungle where colobus monkeys dangle from branches. Walking alongside local naturalists, we’ll learn about the plants and animals that inhabit this ecosystem. Our camp will be set up when we arrive, with refreshments ready for us in the dining tent. (Altitude: 7,000'-9,500', 3-6 hours hiking)
Each day begins with morning tea and hot water delivered to your tent by our guides. After breakfast, our hike continues through the forest before crossing into the subalpine hagenia zone. We’ll take our time, soaking in the spectacular scenery while acclimating to the altitude. (Altitude: 11,300', 6-8 hours hiking)
Trek across the Shira Plateau, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and then follow the trail up the western slope of the Kibo Massif. Here in the upper heath zone, the snowy summit looms above our camp, glowing in the late-afternoon light. (Altitude: 13,100', 4-6 hours hiking)
Continue along the massif today, hiking slowly into the alpine zone, where rocks and scree harbor only the hardiest lichens and grasses. Camp at the base of Lava Tower, a volcanic plug that juts 300 feet into the air. (Altitude: 14,300', 5-7 hours hiking)
Spend a few hours hiking to the foot of the Western Breach and make camp near Arrow Glacier at 15,700 feet. Then relax at camp and take in extraordinary views of the sunset high above the clouds. (Altitude: 15,700', 2-3 hours hiking)
Set out on one of the most challenging parts of the trek: the Western Breach, a steep wall of rock that rises to the lip of the crater. Inside the inner crater, venture to the edge of the ash pit and explore the magnificent glacier and its natural ice sculptures. Then move to our camp, set high on the crater floor. (Altitude: 18,500', 7-10 hours hiking)
Rise with the sun and head for the summit, climbing 1,000 feet and arriving by 9:00 a.m. From our lofty perch 19,340 feet above Africa, take in the magnificent sweep of sky and peaks. We’ll savor the moment, then descend steeply via the Mweka Route. Stop for lunch and time to rest at Barafu, before continuing to our camp where a well-earned feast awaits. (Summit: Altitude: 19,340', 9-12 hours hiking)
Hike into the rain forest and down to the Mweka Gate, a rapid descent of 4,500 feet. Drive back to Arusha for a celebratory dinner. (3-5 hours hiking)
Travel into the highlands above the Ngorongoro Crater and hike to a Maasai village. Then descend into the Ngorongoro Crater for a spectacular day on safari, spotting lions, endangered black rhinos, leopards, and much more. Visit Olduvai Gorge, where Louis and Mary Leakey discovered early human fossils on a National Geographic–funded excavation. Then head into the vast Serengeti Plains and experience the legendary landscapes and wildlife of one of East Africa’s greatest treasures.
Drive to Arusha or take an optional flight. Enjoy a final dinner together before transferring to the airport for our return flights.