African Environments have developed unique day hike itineraries, giving you every opportunity to get out of the car and stretch your legs, whether on a tailor-made adventure departing from Arusha or while on safari.
Due to the exclusive location of African Environments Pembezoni Camp in the Serengeti we are able to offer half day or full day guides walks in the National Park’s Wilderness Area. Whether staying overnight at the camp, or near-by African Environments is able to arrange guided nature walks including a ‘surprise’ bush lunch that will give you or your clients a chance to alight the vehicle, stretch legs and open a door to a whole new world of the Serengeti. The are in which African Environments is able to walk is not used for mainstream vehicle safaris, this is a part of the park reserved only for on-foot making it extra-special. The length of the walk will be tailored for your group and time, meandering along river beds, stalking large game or discovering insects, tracks, trees and plants.
Shira Plateau Day Hike
The Shira Plateau area of Kilimanjaro offers a fantastic opportunity to get high on a big mountain and to hike around this impressive World Heritage Site as a day trip – it’s a fantastic area and there are some great day hikes – either a more strenuous day hiking up along the ancient rim of the plateau or something more relaxed sticking to the undulating floor – perhaps going as far as the photogenic ‘cone place’ or Shira Needles’ at the Southern end of the plateau. To the west the Kibo Massif of Kilimanjaro sweeps up to the glaciers near the summit, the rise scarred by deep valleys and eroded lava flows that stand like twisted modern sculptures in the harsh mountain weather. A number of streams tumble down this flank of the mountain, eventually joining together in a gully that crosses the plateau before plunging down to the plains far below.
There is a fair amount of wildlife on the plateau however most of it is elusive and nocturnal but with care the events of the night can be reconstructed from the footprints around the watering points on the streams. There are herds of buffalo but also smaller gazelles and bush buck, there is the carcass of eland and elephant higher on the mountain proving that these larger animals are occasional visitors.
The day starts early with a pick-up in Arusha then a 3 hours drive through the rich agricultural area at the base of the mountain, this varies from hand tilled small holdings to large commercial farms before giving way first to plantation forest and finally to indigenous forest . Once through the park gate the road climbs more steeply up a rough track moving quickly through the different layers of vegetation from thick mountain forest with towering trees gradually giving way to the giant heath. These giants initially tower ten to fifteen feet high but as we get higher they become gradually shorter, when we crest the final rise on the plateau they are only a few feet high. From the parking area at the edge of the plateau we can strike out in any direction, following the myriad of small animal tracks to meander our way across the plateau. The guide will carry trail food and a picnic lunch, each hiker needs a small rucksack to carry water, warm clothes and full waterproofs – the weather can change incredibly quickly as clouds swoop down from the summit. We have warm and waterproof equipment for hire. A pair of stout walking boots are needed as in some areas the ground can be soft.
Mid afternoon return to the vehicle and bump back down the track and across the plains to Arusha arriving back at the hotel late afternoon or early evening.
Walking with the Maasai
Hikes in the Ngorongoro Highlands are always interesting, the topography is fantastic with stunning views either south across the vast Lake Eyasi, a soda lake in an offshoot of the Rift Valley lying thousands of feet below, to the convoluted remains of the multiple volcanoes that created this highland mass. A further attraction is that you will have a Maasai warrior as your guide who can offer incredible insights into the ways of the Maasai.
There is an opportunity to hike right out of the seasonal camp at Ngorongoro and head up through some woodland with a chance of occasional glimpses of wildlife thought the trees towards the ridge that leads into the highlands. The ridge is wide and grassy and not too steep and offers for the first time stunning views to the west over the vast, seemingly endless plains of the Serengeti.
Alternatively you can drive a little closer and hike up the valley and through the Maasai villages or ‘bomas’ that are scattered throughout the open woodland. As you climb higher the trees become closer together and the air becomes cooler and from here you can hike up onto the ridge and descend down its broad grass crest to camp.
You will be accompanied on the walk by your Guide, an armed Parks Ranger and a local Maasai guide. Along the way you may meet other Maasai herders grazing their cows and goats. By lunch time you will reach the high point of this ridge exposing more great views towards Oldonyo Lengai the active volcano that lies in the Rift Valley to the North.
Arusha National Park Hike and Bush Lunch by a waterfall
Pick up from a hotel in Arusha at 9am by our guide in a 4×4 safari vehicle and head off to Arusha National Park. This rarely visited gem covers the 15,000 ft Summit and Eastern flank of the mountain. Mount Meru is a dormant volcano the last eruption (a rather undramatic dribble of lava!) was just over 100 years ago. The most dramatic event happened over half a million years ago when the entire Eastern side of the cone was ejected in a massive explosion that has created a wonderful rich environment. The park has been protected for a long time – particularly the upper areas – and contains some magnificent forests and gorges.
Arriving at Itikoni Camp there will be an opportunity to use the facilities and have a cup of tea or coffee before heading off on foot with your guide and an armed park ranger.
The hike can be tailored from about an hour up to three hours depending on time and how keen the hikers are. There is no set trail – the group will wander through the forest using small game trails – perhaps the occasional glimpse of some game or colobus monkey high in the canopy. The forest is also home to some wonderful birdlife. The hike will pass by a deep gorge that drains the crater – much of the water in the streams on Mount Meru is so naturally rich in fluoride as to damage the teeth and bones of anyone who drinks it a lot as a child – look out for native Arushans with brown stained teeth.
Arriving at one of the waterfalls you will find a bush lunch laid out – relax and enjoy a few drinks and fantastic meal with the soothing sound of the water.
From here it is a 20-minute walk back to the vehicle and drive back to Arusha.
Short Bush Hike from Arusha and Bush Lunch
Pick up from your hotel in Arusha by our guide in a 4×4 safari vehicle and head South out of Arusha for a few miles before turning off onto a rough track that winds its way though a couple of of small hills before arriving at the base of a small extinct volcano crater.
Here we will meet our Massai escort and head off up the slopes of the crater at the low point. There are several options for the walk …. The longer walk all the way around the rim takes about one and a half hours and involves a couple of hundred foot of climbing but rewards this with spectacular views. For those with less time or inclination we can hike down onto the grassy wooded floor of the crater and visit the scared rock – there is just one ‘room sized’ rock laid on the crater floor and the Massai have all sorts of stories about its origin.
After the hike hop back in the cars for a 5-minute drive to a private farm. There will be chance to meet some members of the local community and watch (or join in!) some dancing and a traditional beading demonstration – perhaps have a go at making something. Walk a little further onto the farm where a sumptuous lunch will be served under a shady acacia tree. Time to relax and enjoy time in the bush and chat to your guide about life in Africa. Lunch includes soft drinks, wine and beer.
After lunch drive back to Arusha and drop off at your hotel.