Best Safari tours from Kilimanjaro
Best Safari Tours from Kilimanjaro
A northern Tanzania safari should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. The Serengeti National Park’s Great Migration is one of the most amazing wildlife spectacles in the world, whilst safari on the Ngorongoro Crater floor of the extinct volcano at Ngorongoro is a game viewing environment that has no equal.
Towering above it all is Kilimanjaro, the worlds highest freestanding mountain and arguably Africa’s toughest challenge. Away from the tourist hotspots, quieter parks such as Tarangire National Park offers superb for game viewing yet often overlooked to their more famous neighbours. The Rift Valley Lakes of Eyasi and Natron are the home of Hadzabe tribes and the breeding grounds for the largest flocks of flamingo on earth. For many people, a Northern Tanzanian safari is the very best safari of all.
Tanzania’s northern safari circuit is the most celebrated safari area in Africa. Home to the world-famous Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, and the lesser known parks of Lake Manyara and Tarangire, the sheer concentration of Africa’s big game in this area is phenomenal.
Most itineraries to this region are designed around the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, with the Serengeti’s Wildebeest Migration and immense predator concentrations as the main attraction, not to mention the Ngorongoro’s big five experience. The area is also home to a variety of different cultures including the Maasai and the Hadzabe, as well as being one of the most scenically striking and diverse parts of the continent.
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These tours are arranged by Serengeti TRIPS – which organize tours to all Tanzania National Parks & Holidays in Zanzibar
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How to get to Kilimanjaro
To reach the mountain you need to first land at Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO). The map below shows the airport in relation to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. Situated South-West of the park, Kilimanjaro Airport is located roughly equal distance between Arusha and Moshi. Moshi is roughly 45 minutes drive away from the airport and most trekkers will spend the night there before continuing on to the mountain.
It is possible to fly into Arusha Airport, however, it’s simply a small domestic airport that receives internal flights and a couple of connecting flights from Kenya. This is only an option if you are planning on taking a direct flight into Nairobi or Addis Ababa.
Kilimanjaro Attractions / What to do
Location: Just north of Moshi
Duration: 45 minutes of hiking each way
Difficulty: Medium (there are steep sections and you’ll get sweaty!)
Cost: $65 per person (includes English-speaking guide, packed lunch and bottled water)
Materuni Waterfall is a spectacular 90 m waterfall in the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro. A short but taxing hike along a forested footpath brings you to the base of the waterfall, where the water collects in a beautifully clear little pool that’s safe to swim.
Our loyal client Lucy took this lovely pic on her hike to Materuni Waterfall
During the hike there and back you pass through coffee and banana farms, as well as traverse streams and small footbridges. Keep your eyes open for monkeys, duikers, birds and other small creatures.
This is a perfect half-day outing, and we recommend picnicking at the waterfall.
The hike to Materuni Waterfall is a gorgeous 45-min walk through beautiful terrain
Location: Just north of Moshi
Duration: Around 2 hr
Cost: Varies, but often offered as a combo with a guided Materuni Waterfall hike – we’re happy to arrange either option for you
The lower slopes of Kilimanjaro are a fertile farming area thanks to meltwater from its arctic summit. The coffee farmers here are famous for their 100% arabica coffee, which has a fresh flavour and smooth texture. Tours of the coffee farms are a popular post-Kilimanjaro activity – understandably, as having an expertly brewed cappuccino or americano after a week of roughing it on the mountain is just perfection!
Inspecting the coffee beans on a farm on the lower slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro
What a tour involves
A coffee farm tour includes being shown around the farm to learn how the coffee is grown and harvested. Actually harvesting of the beans take place between July and September. If you’re there between October and November, you’ll get to see the coffee bushes in bloom, with the flowers giving off a jasmine-like fragrance. Next, you’re shown the roasting and grinding process. Often, you can take part in the process so that you can enjoy a freshly brewed coffee near the end using the beans you processed!
Lucy took this pic of her group on a coffee tour
Meet the Chagga
At some farms employees accompany the coffee roasting process with traditional singing and dancing. It’s a wonderful experience to be exposed to the traditions of the Chagga people, a distinct and thriving people group who have lived for centuries along the southern and eastern slopes of Kilimanjaro, among other areas.
Support the local coffee industry
These farm tours help to support the Kilimanjaro coffee industry, with most of the farms being smallholdings. If you don’t have time to visit one, we highly recommend at least picking up a bag of arabica beans as the perfect souvenir of your visit to the Kilimanjaro region. 🙂
The Kilimanjaro coffee farm tours help to support the local farmers – and always end with tasty, freshly brewed arabica coffee being served!
Location: Chemka Hot Springs Campsite, 1 hr drive southwest of Moshi
Duration: Full day
Cost: $95 per person (includes private guide, entrance fee, packed lunch and bottled water)
Swimming in the Kikuletwa Hot Spring is definitely one of the best things to do in Kilimanjaro region – and certainly the most relaxing! The hot spring (also known as Chemka Hot Springs for the nearby campsite) is encircled by trees, giving you a sense of being tucked away from the world and its demands.
Kikuletwa Hot Spring is the perfect relaxing activity after climbing Mt Kilimanjaro! | Image by BrixL
A relaxing oasis
The hot springs is the perfect post-Kilimanjaro activity, in our opinion. All that’s required of you is to slide your weary body into the warm water and …. nothing else. 😉 You can chat with your friends and neighbours, enjoy the birdlife hopping about in the fig trees around you, and let the fingerlings (small fish) nibble the dead skin off of your feet. When you feel revitalised, swing out on the tree rope and see how many expressive shapes you can make with your body as you drop into the water!
There are also food stalls at the hot spring selling delicious hot meals and snacks, so really you can just rock up and stay as long as you want.
The perfect day outing starts with walking to Materuni Waterfall, then going on a coffee plantation tour, and finally relaxing in Kikuletwa Hot Spring!
Swing out over the waters of the spring? Yes please!!
Duration: Half a day
Cost: Around $30 per person for an English-speaking guide
Moshi, the capital of Kilimanjaro region, is a 40 km drive from Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO). As the gateway to Kilimanjaro National Park, it’s a natural stopover destination for climbers. We always advise our guests to arrive at least a day before the start of their Kilimanjaro climb. This way, if there’s an unforeseen delay like a late flight, your climbing schedule isn’t jeopardised.
If you do find yourself with some time to kill in Moshi, either before or after your climb, we definitely suggest exploring this pretty little city and its many gems. Even if it’s just finding your way to a coffee shop or restaurant so you can drop into a chair and gaze with heroic eyes at the mountain you just conquered.
Aerial view of Moshi showing how green and pretty it is
Coffee shops and restaurants
Moshi has some fantastic eateries catering to the tastes of both its local and international customers. While popping into an unknown eatery that you spot and like the look of can lead to a great find, not everyone likes to leave things to chance. If that’s you, we recommend the following establishments as having great settings and ambience and offering the best service, food and drinks:
- The Coffee Shop on Hill Street is arguably the best café in Moshi. It serves (most importantly) the region’s famous arabica coffee, as well as various other hot and cold drinks, and lots of tasty snacks, including local favourites.
- Aroma Coffee House on Boma Road is a stylishly decorated refuge that serves tasty meals and snacks, including vegetarian options.
- Honey Badger Lodge in Sranga, 6 km east of Moshi, is a very popular restaurant and outdoor bar that serves Tanzanian cuisine as well as stone-baked pizzas.
- Indoitaliano Restaurant on New Street is a fantastic evening option (though latecomers might not get a seat). Sit on the verandah, which is rimmed by leafy pot plants, and choose between Indian or Italian cuisine!
Moshi and Kilimanjaro
Local crafts and produce
If you’re looking to take home some local art, jewellery, crafts, coffee beans or other souvenirs, you’ll find options all over Moshi. There are so many that are worth a visit, it’s hard to pick just a few to recommend! But here are some of the establishments that we think you’ll appreciate:
- The Central Market (open seven days a week) is the busiest and most interesting of Moshi’s various offerings. We recommend taking a leisurely explore through the warren of alleyways. You’ll find locally produced gems like spices, coffee beans and teas sold alongside cheap Chinese imports. This is the working heart of Moshi. Traditional herbalists can also been seen selling their wares.
- Our Heritage crafts shop inside of The Coffee Shop on Hill Street which sells, among other things, coffee beans, teas, cheeses, jams and honeys. Much of the produce is produced locally and supports various community initiatives.
- Shah Industries on Karakana Street is a crafts workshop in an old flour mill that sells highly creative leatherwork pieces and other artworks. Many of the employees have disabilities and the workshop provides them an income.
- Mama Africa Gift Shop in Selous Street is a fantastic and colourful little shop offering a variety of locally made handicrafts and artworks, including dresses, paintings, Khanga and Kitenge materials, carvings, bags and jewellery. It supports several wonderful initiatives, such as Jiendeleze Women Group, Tumaini for Africa and Tuleeni Orphanage.
Moshi is best explored on foot, powered by some of the fantastic local arabica coffee!
Location: 10 km northeast of Moshi
Duration: 7 hr for the hike, 6-9 hr for the mountain bike trip
Cost: Around $60 for hiking tour and $90 for riding tour (bikes provided) – add extra for transport
Fancy mountain biking or hiking in pristine forest near the base of Mt Kilimanjaro? Rau Eco & Cultural Tourism is a community-based youth tourism enterprise that always impresses visitors. They offer well-organised mountain biking and hiking day trips through the underground water forest of Rau.
Mountain biking in Rau Forest lets you see lots of this beautiful reserve
Highlights of both the biking and walking tour include:
- Exploring the rice paddies and learning about the daily life of rice farmers
- Passing through local villages like Mnono and Mabogini village (naturally you wander further on the bike trip than on the hiking trip)
- Seeing black and white colobus monkeys and blue monkeys up close
- Visit an African teak tree believed to be 196 years old that’s a sacred site of prayer among locals
- Witnessing the many different water birds that love this catchment forest
- Tasting local banana beer
- Enjoying a delicious cooked lunch (a vegetarian option is available)
- Planting a seedling as part of the enterprise’s “one trip – one tree” initiative
The lilac-breasted roller is a native of northern Tanzania
This is a wonderful opportunity for those wishing to support the local community and explore a lesser-visited part of the Kilimanjaro region.
The “one trip – one tree” initiative means you’ll leave Tanzania knowing your tree is growing and helping to fight climate change.
Mt Meru 4,566 m (14,980 ft) is a beautiful volcanic mountain on the western edge of Arusha National Park, just north of the city of Arusha. It’s the second highest mountain in Tanzania, and the fifth highest in Africa. It was once taller than Kilimanjaro, but an eruption blew off its top.
The peak of Mt Meru is in the back corner and its 3.5 km-wide caldera in the foreground
The ideal Mt Meru trekker
The now dormant volcano is a popular three- or four-day trek. It’s a great option for anyone who:
- only has a few days or wants a more affordable climb
- is not (as yet) strong enough to climb Kilimanjaro
- is keen to trek a quieter mountain
- wants a challenging mountain climb without such a high risk of altitude sickness
- wants to tackle an acclimatisation hike that prepares them for Kilimanjaro
The barren peak of Mt Meru
While Mt Meru isn’t as tough or long as Kilimanjaro, it’s still a challenging trek, so don’t think you’ll breeze on up to the summit!! But it’s a very rewarding climb. For starters, the scenery is exceptional, and include a great view of Kilimanjaro 70 km to the east! The wildlife is also arguably better than on Kilimanjaro, and is easier to spot. You can hope to spy animals like buffaloes, giraffes, warthogs, bushbuck, duikers, black-and-white colobus monkeys, and tawny eagles.
So could Mt Meru be a good trek for you? Here’s what you need to know …
Mt Meru can be climbed over three or four days. The first two days are for climbing up, with the third day serving as summit day. Some hike back down the same day, while others spend another night on the mountain for a more relaxed descent. Note that trekkers stay over in mountain huts, so this isn’t a camping climb.
The lower slopes of Mt Meru are lush and covered in dense forest | Image by Y. Lerner
Climate and vegetation
The climate and vegetation zones of Meru are similar to those of nearby Kilimanjaro: you have dense forest, followed by meadows, then giant lobelias and giant groundsels, and finally montane desert. Only the top zone of Kilimanjaro – which is an arctic world of ice fields and glaciers – is missing on Meru.
Mt Meru is an excellent acclimatisation hike for those wanting to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.
Where to stay in Kilimanjaro
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want accommodation with a great location, good-quality services and excellent value-for-money. I’ve travelled to Tanzania several times over the years and my top five Kilimanjaro hotels are:
Kilimanjaro Safari FAQ's
Tanzania has three major international airports:
- – Dar es Salaam (DAR)
- – Zanzibar (ZNZ)
- – Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO)
The latter is the most convenient for Kilimanjaro, sitting only 42 km away from the mountain town of Moshi and 50 km from Arusha.
In addition to flights to Tanzania, you may consider flights to Nairobi in Kenya, which is only a five-hour shuttle bus ride to Arusha or a one-hour plane ride to JRO. Note, however, that by choosing to fly to Kenya you may need a multiple-entry Kenya visa (if you’re flying out of Kenya, too, for example, and spend longer than a fortnight in Tanzania), which can cost as much as $122. This would reduce or even eliminate any saving you may have made in airfares.
In deciding which flights to book, you should take the full trip into consideration. For example, if you’d like to spend a couple of days in Zanzibar after the climb, it might be best to book one-way tickets from your home to Kilimanjaro Airport for the climb, from there to Zanzibar after the climb, and then from Zanzibar back home.
Many folks like to head on safari or to Zanzibar as a reward after the rigours of Kilimanjaro
We recommend arriving one day early (what we refer to as “arrival day”). This will give you time to relax, meet your fellow trekkers, and get a proper briefing before the climb starts. More importantly, if there’s any delay to your flight or your luggage goes AWOL, there’s enough wiggle room so that this delay doesn’t derail your climb. Seriously – this extra day really is a good idea, especially with post-pandemic airlines being in a little bit of a pickle right now.
All that said, we understand that travelling to Kilimanjaro can be a challenge. So we’ll accommodate your arrival time as best we can (for example, if you only arrive late at night the day before the climb starts, we’ll still be there to collect you!).
Every campsite has a sign with some altitude figures
Yes, most foreigners need a Tanzanian visa to visit the country. US, Canadian, British and most European citizens can simply obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport. The cost is $100 for US passport holders and $50 for others. US citizens do get a longer visa, however.
If you’re a citizen of a different country, please check with your embassy if you can obtain a visa upon arrival – of if you even need one. Certain African nationals, for instance, can enter Tanzania without a visa.
Please also note that you need a passport that’s valid for at least six months after your departure date.
What vaccinations do I need?
There are no specific vaccine requirements for entry into Tanzania. However, be aware that the Government of Tanzania requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you are travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever.
While it’s not mandatory by any means, we suggest you talk to your doctor about getting the following vaccinations (which are standard in developed countries): Hepatitis A & B, typhoid, yellow fever, tetanus, polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and meningococcal meningitis (Africa and Asia).
Please check the Fit For Travel website for more up-to-date information.
There are seven different Kilimanjaro routes up the mountain. We recommend the eight-day Lemosho, seven-day Machame and nine-day Northern Circuit routes. These routes offer the best balance of a high success rate and beautiful scenery.
A group of Follow Alice climbers on the Lemosho route
Kilimanjaro requires no technical climbing experience nor climbing equipment. This makes it the most accessible of the Seven Summits in many ways.
Any decently fit person can summit the mountain. That said, for most people, it will be one of the most difficult things they ever do in their lives! As we discuss in Kilimanjaro vs Everest Base Camp, it’s even harder in our opinion than trekking to Everest Base Camp!
Kilimanjaro is climbable all year round. Yippee!
The best months to clim, however, are July to October and December to February, as these are the warmest and driest months respectively.
July, August and September tend to be the busiest months on the mountain.
Another factor to take into consideration is the full moon. Summiting Kilimanjaro on a cloudless evening with the moon as your guide instead of headlamp is without a doubt an unforgettable experience. Also imagine seeing the glaciers glitter in the moonlight – absolutely stunning! Learn more in our post Kilimanjaro full moon climbs.
You can also summit the mountain to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Why not join us on a New Year’s Eve climb, a unique once-in-a-lifetime adventure?
The moorland section has some really unusual and striking vegetation
You’ll be provided with locally sourced, healthy and nutritious meals cooked fresh every day by your cook and his assistant.
Our menus have been carefully designed to ensure the food is delicious, easy to digest, and provides plenty of energy. Expect fresh veg, fruits, meat, nuts and snacks along the way, as well as clean water throughout.
The primary carbohydrates of the meals are rice, potatoes and pasta, as well as some meat. Fresh fruit and vegetables accompany every meal. Most meals will also have a selection of hot drinks like instant coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
You may want to bring some supplementary comfort foods, such as candy, gum, chocolate, health bars and powdered energy drinks.