Kilimanjaro Marathon and Tanzania Safari (Full Itinerary)
What could be a better experience than to run the Kilimanjaro Marathon and treating yourself with a superb wildlife safari? Joining you for the Kilimanjaro Marathon and then showing you the best of Tanzania’s exquisite wildlife is our main focus for this safari combo. Guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience!
Next race date: Expected date early March 2021
Arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, transfer to Moshi
Welcome to Tanzania! Your fantastic African running and Big Five safari will start today when you touch down at the Kilimanjaro International Airport in northern Tanzania. The airport is not called the “Gateway to Africa’s Wildlife Heritage” for nothing; you are close to some of the planet’s best-known wildlife reserves.
You will be met by your Nature Travel guide (and fellow runner!), we will pack our bags in our comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle and we will transfer to our comfortable lodge in the town of Moshi, less than an hour away. It is situated on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, and the views of the mountain on a clear day are simply stunning. Moshi is one of tourism centres in the northern safari circuit of Tanzania, and both the Kilimanjaro National Park and Mkomazi National Park are close by. There are also several waterfalls, Lake Jipe and Lake Chala, natural springs and lush tropical forests in the area. The KiliFair, an international tourism & industry fair, promoting and presenting companies based in the Kilimanjaro region, is also held in Moshi every year at the beginning of June.
Depending on what time we arrive in Moshi, we might have time for a bit of sightseeing or even time to visit a local market – a buzzing, colourful, loud spectacle indeed!
We will then go to one of the race number collection points in town and pick up our race packs for tomorrow’s marathon. Now the excitement will really start building.
We will have dinner at the lodge tonight and get to know each other a bit better. We will also learn a bit about where we are; fantastic Tanzania! It is the world-class safari destination (together with neighbouring Kenya), boasting some of the best wildlife reserves on the planet and some very cool geographical features, not least the magnificent and iconic Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain on Earth at nearly 6 kilometres above sea level! But Tanzania is not all about classic “Out of Africa” landscapes and “Kili”, as the locals call the mountain. It also boasts incredible cultural richness, superb coffee, friendly people, fascinating history and amazing Afro-Arab-Indian cuisine.
The locals are buzzing during marathon time and all the restaurants serve some sort of carbo-loading meal (like pasta or pizza) along with the usual excellent cuisine, so we are sure to find something that everyone enjoys.
After dinner we will return to our rooms for a good night’s rest before tomorrow’s marathon.
Kilimanjaro Marathon, return to Moshi
Today we run!
We will have an early quick breakfast at our guesthouse or hotel and proceed to the start area of the “Kili” marathon, about 30 minutes away. This is a marathon like no other, and you will feel the excitement and joy in the air – this is special!
The race starts at the Ushirika Stadium, and the atmosphere in the stadium is electric, with local bands playing, lots of entertainment, huge crowds of local enthusiasts to cheer the runners, and lots of food and drink for sale. The route passes through many small-holder farms, villages, sections of Moshi town, banana and coffee plantations and patches of forest, providing great excitement to the residents who give ample vocal support. And of course, if you look north at almost any point of the race, she is there, mighty and majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, guarding over us as we run our race.
The cut-off for the marathon is a generous 6 hours, so there will be plenty of time to enjoy the superb scenery and our friendly fellow runners. When you receive your finisher’s medal it will be a special one, and one that you will treasure for a long time.
After the marathon and maybe a celebratory local beer (or two), we will return to our accommodation for a late lunch, a shower and some down time.
We will get together for dinner at the lodge or maybe somewhere else in town tonight, chatting about our race and showing off the (hopefully awesome) photos we took on the route, before we settle in for a good night’s sleep after an amazing day.
Moshi to Tarangire National Park
We will enjoy an early breakfast this morning, and then depart the town of Moshi.
We are heading west, in the direction of a park that we all love here at the Nature Travel group; Tarangire National Park.
It is a drive of about 3 and a half hours in a southwesterly direction, skirting Lake Manyara to our right, where we will be in a few days’ time. We will enjoy some wonderful scenery along the way today.
We will reach our home for the next 2 nights, in time for a late lunch. The lodge is only 10 minutes from the park’s entrance and is perfectly situated in the corridor between Tarangire and Manyara. It is perched in a perfect spot and has a vast viewing deck, from where we can watch animals drink at the beautiful nearby Burunge Lake, and you are guaranteed some incredible sunset pictures from here!
After lunch we will have some time to relax and then we are off on our first game drive of the safari! We will learn some more about this wonderful park as we drive along looking to start our trip lists of mammals, birds and more.
Tarangire National Park is a lovely quiet park, off the beaten safari track, most famous for its huge elephant migration and named after the Tarangire river that crosses the park. The landscape of Tarangire is primarily open savanna dotted with Acacia woodland and large Baobab trees, with the areas next to the river containing dense patches of riparian woodland and even some palm trees. This is classic east African safari scenery; no wonder people call Tarangire a “mini Serengeti”!
The 2,850 km2 (1,100 sq mi) park is a dry season refuge when large numbers of migratory wildlife such as African Elephants, Plains Zebras, Common Wildebeest, Common Eland, African Buffalo and other antelope concentrate around permanent water sources. Elephants congregate in herds of up to 600 animals, and the large numbers of game animals attract numerous predator species, especially Lions. In fact, after the Serengeti, Tarangire has the greatest concentration of wildlife in Tanzania!
After our exciting first game drive we will return to our lodge to freshen up and have dinner. Remember to look up at the sky tonight before settling in – the stars are truly remarkable out here! Also, listen out for the roar of a Lion or a nightjar’s call before falling asleep… Isn’t Africa fantastic!
Tarangire National Park
We have our first full day on safari in the wonderful Tarangire.
We will enjoy morning and afternoon game drives, and return to camp for lunch and a siesta in the heat of the day.
Tarangire is one of our favourite parks in east Africa here at Nature Travel, partly because it is quieter than the other reserves, but also because of its incredible natural beauty. It really is an awe-inspiring place, comprising of granite ridges, river valleys, mixed vegetative landscapes, and swamps. It provides breathtaking views of the Maasai Steppe and the mountains to the south.
Tarangire is also the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as Beisa Oryx and Gerenuk are seen regularly. We will also look for Waterbuck, Giraffe, Impala, monkeys, Olive Baboon, Cheetah, Caracal, Honey Badger and African Wild Dog.
Another attraction of Tarangire is its many termite mounds that dot the beautiful landscape. The ones that have been abandoned by termites are often home to families of Common Dwarf Mongoose.
Over 550 species of birds have also been recorded in the park, and specials include the seemingly out-of-place Yellow-collared Lovebird, endemic Ashy Starling and Red-throated Tit, Red-necked Spurfowl, Red-winged Prinia, Lazy Cisticola, Black Bishop, Pangani Longclaw, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Red-and-yellow and D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Mottled Spinetail, Banded Parisoma, Jameson’s Firefinch, African Silverbill, African Broadbill, Rufous-tailed Weaver and Northern Pied Babbler, along with a host of vultures, eagles and other raptors, including African Hawk-eagle and the cute Pygmy Falcon.
After another fantastic day in Tarangire, we will return to the lodge for our final dinner here. Tonight might also be a good idea to do some “owling” before or after dinner, and on a short walk we might be lucky to get Slender-tailed and Freckled Nightjar, or even African Scops Owl.
We will sit under the African sky and reminisce about our wonderful time so far before heading to bed and a good night’s rest. Tomorrow we go to the most famous crater on Earth!
Tarangire National Park to Ngorongoro Crater
This morning we will have some excellent Tanzanian coffee and a quick breakfast on the viewing deck before setting off north to the Ngorongoro crater for the next part of our adventure.
We will skirt the northern part of Lake Manyara and then turn west to head towards the crater. The entire drive will take about 3 hours, so we should arrive at our lodge in time for lunch and some time to relax.
The lodge is situated very close to the rim of the famous crater, from where the views into the crater floor are simply mind-blowingly beautiful. The lodge offers a perfect base from which to explore the Ngorongoro crater and its surroundings.
After lunch we will have some time to relax and then we will go on a game drive; we will descend to the crater floor and look for the mammals and birds that call the inside of Ngorongoro their home. It will be an unforgettable experience! On the way into the crater we will learn some cool facts about this incredible natural geological wonderland.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) covers some 8,500 km2 (3,300 sq mi) adjacent to the plains of the Serengeti, with which it shares an 80 km (50 mi) border. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and listed as an International Biosphere Reserve, and some people even call it the “eighth wonder of the world”. The conservation area’s main feature is the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater, the largest unbroken volcanic caldera on the planet. The caldera is surrounded by incredibly steep walls rising 600 m (2,000 feet) above the floor of the volcano. It’s gobsmackingly beautiful and definitely a must-visit place on any tour to Tanzania or even east Africa.
The grasslands within the crater are the permanent home to about 25,000 large mammals, an incredibly high number for such a small area. The most numerous ungulates are Common Wildebeest, Hartebeest (Coke’s subspecies), African Buffalo, Plains Zebra, Thomson’s and Grant’s Gazelle, and Common Eland. Other mammals that we will look for include Hippopotamus, African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros (there are only about 20 in the entire crater but we see them regularly), Waterbuck, Bushbuck, baboons, monkeys, and the rare Bohor Reedbuck. There are of course also predators present, with the crater boasting sizeable Lion and Cheetah populations, and some Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Bat-eared Fox and Serval also. Mysteriously there are no Giraffe or Impala inside the crater.
We will return to the rim of the crater and go back to our lodge. We will have dinner and some socialising time at our lodge before falling asleep under the vast, star-filled African sky.
We will start with an early breakfast today in order to get into the crater as soon as we can. We will also need to pack our bags and check out before we leave, because we are overnighting at a different lodge tonight.
We will spend the full day inside the crater, enjoying a picnic lunch on the 260 km2 (100 sq mi) crater floor and exiting the crater in the late afternoon.
Get ready to see some spectacular fauna and flora! Pick a superlative: amazing, incredible, fantastic… they all apply to Ngorongoro! Most of the animals are very relaxed and habituated to the presence of humans and vehicles, and the cloud-draped crater walls make for dramatic pictures and indelible memories.
While a major attraction for us is of course the mammals, birding within the crater and on the top of the crater rim is very good, and we will certainly spend some time ticking a good number of special species. These include Common Ostrich, Secretarybird, Kori Bustard, Grey Crowned Crane, Bateleur, Martial and Long-crested Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Schalow’s and Hartlaub’s Turaco, Shelley’s Francolin, Black-bellied Bustard, Dusky Turtle Dove, Kenrick’s Starling, Hunter’s Cisticola, Jackson’s Widowbird, Brown-headed Apalis, Mountain Yellow and Brown Woodland Warbler, Black-crowned Tchagra, Moorland Chat, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eater, Mountain Greenbul, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Rüppell’s Robin-Chat, Quailfinch, and Tacazze, Malachite and Golden-winged Sunbird.
After our afternoon game drive we will exit the crater via one of the steep roads out and drive for about an hour to our next lodge, and our home for the final two nights of the trip. Once we arrive, we will have some time to freshen up and have dinner together. We will sit under the African sky and reminisce about our wonderful time so far and maybe start planning our next running safari in another exotic location! We will then head to bed and good night’s rest.
Lake Manyara National Park
After an early breakfast we will drive the short distance to our destination for the day, namely the visually stunning Lake Manyara National Park.
We will spend as much of the day as we can in the park, and have a packed picnic lunch to enjoy somewhere in a beautiful, peaceful spot.
Seventy percent of the park’s 325 km2 (125 sq mi) area is covered by the shallow, alkaline lake itself. The park actually used to be an area used for sports hunting, but it was given national park status in 1960, and is now an important stop-over for birders and naturalists visiting Tanzania. Manyara lake has no outflow, but is fed by underground springs and by several permanent streams that drain from the surrounding Ngorongoro highlands. Interestingly, during the dry season the lake is virtually non-existent, and only fills up after the rains.
The park is not all about the lake, and as you will see there is much more to it! The park has a variety of diverse habitats, including acacia woodlands, wet forests, Baobab-strewn cliffs, algae-streaked hot springs, swamps and of course the lake itself.
The park is famed for its tree-climbing Lions, and since we won’t be going to the Serengeti on this trip, we will have to look for them here! A variety of other mammals are also present, including large numbers of African Elephant as well as African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest, Thomson’s Gazelle, Impala, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Kirk’s Dik-dik, Common Warthog, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Black-backed Jackal, Honey Badger, African Clawless Otter and Egyptian Mongoose. Furthermore, the park has the highest concentration of baboons (Olive Baboon) anywhere in the world!
One of the main reasons naturalists visit Lake Manyara is, however, for the birds. The park has a bird list of over 400 species, and is especially known for the flocks of thousands flamingoes that feed along the edge of the lake in the wet season. In 1991 there were an estimated 2 million Greater and Lesser Flamingoes here, along with 200,000 Great White Pelicans! Although we won’t get to see that, there are still some excellent species we will look for on and around the lake today.
We will hope for Yellow-billed and Marabou Stork, Grey Heron, Greater Painted-snipe, Chestnut-banded Plover, various other ducks, herons, storks, egrets, cormorants, kingfishers, jacanas, plovers and lapwings, Palm-nut Vulture, Ayre’s Hawk-eagle, Martial, Tawny and Crowned Eagle, Gabar Goshawk, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, White-headed Buffalo Weaver. Blue-capped Cordonbleu, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird, Southern Ground Hornbill, Purple-crested Turaco, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Baglafecht Weaver, Grey-olive Greenbul, Crested Guineafowl, D’arnaud’s Barbet, Superb Starling, Lilac-breasted and European Roller, Fischer’s Lovebird, Black Bishop and many more.
We will return to our lodge outside the park late in the afternoon to freshen up. Then we will enjoy our farewell dinner together, chatting about the fantastic Tanzania trip we’ve had. Then we are off to our rooms for a final night’s sleep on this amazing continent.
Lake Manyara to Kilimanjaro International Airport and Departure
And so an amazing Tanzanian running safari unfortunately comes an end. What a great time we had!
After breakfast at the lodge, we will pack our bags and head to the city of Arusha (about 3 hours away) and stop for lunch or some last minute shopping for mementos.
We will then make our way to nearby Kilimanjaro International Airport, where we will say our goodbyes and depart on our onward or homeward flights.
*Please note: Extensions to the famous Serengeti or one of Kenya’s wonderful parks, or even Zanzibar can easily be arranged. This safari can also be shortened or lengthened according to your specific personal preference. Please contact us for more information.
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