Jambo! Welcome to Tanzania. Today there are no activities planned until your important group meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Should you require a transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), Arusha Airport (ARK) or a shuttle to Nairobi at the end of the trip, this can be arranged locally. Please speak to your leader about this at the welcome meeting. Take a stroll to acquaint yourself with the town which, at 1,300 m above sea level, enjoys a temperate year-round climate. Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the group meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Departing Arusha early, climb aboard your support vehicle and head east, stopping along the way to enjoy a walking tour through the village of Tengeru. Here you will get a close look at local farm life. You'll also learn how to roast and grind that staple of all good cycling escapades – coffee. Once the roasting and grinding is done, taste the results of your hard work. After this unique coffee stop, continue to Usa River before heading north. From here you'll jump onto your bike for the first time and cycle north (approximately 3 hours; 30 km), in the shadow of Mt Meru, through Arusha National Park. Arrive at your overnight destination, the Mkuru Training Camp, located in the foothills of Mount Meru. This small, low-impact community 'camp' is dedicated to research, education and training for the promotion of good practices in natural resources management. Tonight you will stay in a dorm room with shared facilities. Riding distance - approx. 30kms
Enjoy a fairly flat and level ride on unsealed road before hitting the tarmac and heading north (on the road that connects Kenya to Tanzania) to Longido (approximately 3.5 hours; 65 km). Once you meet the main road – which has surprisingly little traffic – you can enjoy a gentle mostly downhill ride for the remaining 40 km to Longido itself. Longido is located on the outskirts of the Mount Longido Forest Reserve. Here you will interact with the famous Maasai people for the first time. Any cultural experience with the Masaai is a colourful affair and one you will remember for a long time. Those with some energy left can take an optional short hike along one of the many walking trails on Mount Longido. Riding distance - approx. 65kms
Today is something unique – you'll brave the unpaved roads which cut west across from Longido to Lengai. These aren’t roads you’ll find on Google Maps, and they're often in poor condition, so you'll be praising your front suspension. The amazing views and car-free environment, however, make it worth the effort. The amount of cycling today will very much depend on the conditions – given the roads, there will be an estimated mix of cycling and driving. The aim is to cycle about 40 kilometres (approximately 3 hours) of this 95-kilometre journey. What won’t change is the scenery, as you travel across dry open plains with the Kerimasi, Gelai and Kitumbeine mountains in the distance and closer by seven remarkable volcanos, the jewel being the spectacular and active Ol Doinyo Lengai, (Mountain of God' in the Maasai language). Close to your remote campsite is the shallow, salty Lake Natron. Often coloured bright pink or deep red due to algae, it is a mecca for the breeding 'lesser' flamingo. Reaching temperatures above 40°C and with a similar acidity to ammonia, this is not a place to swim, but the view is certainly an interesting one. Riding distance - approx. 40kms
Get as active or as relaxed as you like today. Take the bike and ride to the nearby Saitoti River to cool off in the natural plunge pools. Visiting Lake Nartron is also a great option; it's located around 15 kilometres from your camp. Serious adventures can opt to climb Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano (2,878 m), which means a very early start (midnight) and the aim is to enjoy sunrise views. While it requires no technical skills or equipment, the climb itself is long and steep, with large section of scree, and it does get cold in the early mornings. The key is to take the mountain slowly – you will hear the cries of 'pole pole' (slowly slowly) on a regular basis as your guide leads you up the mountain. While it is a hard climb, the sunrise views from the top are truly superb, and you'll be one of the only climbers there. Note: This climb is not included as part of the itinerary and additional costs apply - these costs vary depending on the number of people participating in the climb. Riding distance - None
Today is a long day as you leave Natron behind and climb the valley walls to the Rift Valley escarpment. First you will cycle a relatively flat section (approximately 40 km), with great views of Lake Natron itself. Here you'll climb aboard your vehicle and inch your way up the incline, gaining over a kilometre of elevation over this next section (approximately 50 km). There will of course be stops so you can take in the views and hopefully snap a picture of the unique Lake Natron one last time. The drive today follows the boundaries of the Serengeti National Park all the way up to Wasso, your destination for this evening. Riding distance - approx. 40kms
Leave Wasso behind and head to the Serengeti National Park (approximately 3 hours; 130 kilometres). Enter the park and swap from a two-wheeled machine to a four-wheeled one. Your afternoon game drive by overland vehicle puts you in the realm of some of Africa's mightiest predators. The rolling grasslands of the Serengeti, dotted with acacias, are perhaps the quintessential image of Africa. Game viewing in the Serengeti is amazing and as you camp out at night, don't be surprised to hear lions in the distance as you recount your wildlife sightings from the day. In normal circumstances, you can expect to see four out of the 'Big Five' game during your stay (rhinos are elusive). Your campsite is basic, but it's within the park itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal creatures as you drift off to sleep. Riding distance - None
Rise early, around sunrise, for a game drive, followed by a second game drive in the afternoon. Between the two drives you can relax, just like the animals do, during this hotter part of the day. Enjoy a hearty meal during this break, and perhaps take a siesta. Depending on wildlife movements and opportunities for sightings, however, the drive may continue through lunch and last all day. In this case, you will return to the lodge in the late afternoon. For an unforgettable experience this morning, you might like to take an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Serengeti. Please enquire when booking your trip to secure this optional activity. It's up to you whether you would like to try for a better price locally on the ground, but this runs the risk of missing out, as places are limited. Riding distance - None
In the morning, we head out of the Serengeti (perhaps visiting on the way Simba Kopjes, an outcrop of rocks favoured by lions and cheetahs who can often be seen basking in the morning sun) and make our way to the legendary Ngorongoro Crater (approximately 4 hours) to take in this amazing destination on a 4x4 game drive. This is one of Africa's real natural treasures, often touted as a vast Garden of Eden. Within this crater lies every type of ecosystem, including riverine forests, open plains, freshwater and alkaline lakes. The scenery is spectacular as you descend almost 600 metres down to the crater floor. You are bound to see a variety of incredible wildlife here, and it's your best chance to spot the endangered black rhinoceros. We take lunch by the freshwater lake fed by the Ngoitokitok Spring, an area inhabited by hippopotamus, elephants, lions, and many others. After our game drive we head back up the crater walls to the National Park gate where we get back on our bikes for the undulating 15km (approx.1hr) ride to our campsite in the small town of Karatu, our home for the night. Riding distance - approx. 15kms (undulating)
It's time to jump back on your bike for the hilly ride from Karatu to our accommodation that sits literally on the very edge of the Rift Valley escarpment, offering breathtaking views over the town of Mto wa Mbu and the massive Lake Manyara. While today’s ride seems short at only 25kms the constant uphill and downhill will definitely test your fitness and bike skills. There are several downhill sections over 3km long where the only effort required will be in controlling your speed. If you'd rather not ride today, you are free to ride in the support vehicle instead. As well as the stunning view (both sunset and sunrise are pretty special) we spend the next 2 nights in an 'African Igloo' - a beehive shaped adobe building renowned for being eco-friendly. While the structure is basic, and we have shared facilities, this is a truly unique experience. Ride distance - approx. 25kms
This morning you will ride the fast descent of the Rift Valley escarpment to the small town of Mto Wa Mbu, located on the northern shores of Lake Manyara, once described by Ernest Hemingway as the 'loveliest I have seen in Africa'. Leaving the tarmac behind we ride through the small villages and plantations before emerging out onto the smooth lake flood plains where we continue our ride to the very edge of the lake. If we are lucky we will spot flamingos or even ride alongside wildebeests and gazelle. Leaving the lake behind we ride back through Mto Wa Mbu and on to the dusty tracks that take us to a traditional Masaai village. Located between towering hills and with awesome view of the surrounding plains this is an ideal place to enjoy lunch with our local friends. After lunch we drive (or cycle if you want to!) back up the escarpment to overnight at Panorama Safari Camp. Total riding distance 30-35kms
Today is our last one on our bicycles. We first explore the Lake Manyara National Park on a final game drive (vehicle). Surrounded by the towering ridges of the Rift Valley escarpment, the lake is bordered by lush forest and, if you’re lucky, you may even spot the famous Lake Manyara tree-climbing lions, as well as elephants, baboons, and over 400 recorded species of birds. After lunch we climb back onto our bikes and cycle the smooth and relatively traffic-free tarmac road to the Makuyuni junction then as the traffic starts to get busy again we reboard our vehicle for the drive back to Arusha. We arrive back into Arusha with plenty of time to get cleaned up before enjoying an optional final night dinner with our fellow cyclists. Riding distance – approx. 40kms Included Activities Lake Manyara game drive
You are free to depart at any time on the final day of your trip. A transfer to Kilimanjaro or Arusha airport or a shuttle to Nairobi can be arranged locally. Please speak to your leader about this at the welcome meeting.