The Kilema Mountain Bike Route with first night at Mandaru Hut
The Kilema mountain bike trails runs parallel with the Marangu route. The Kilema route is mainly used as an access road by vehicles to bring supplies to the Horombo hut and to evacuate medical emergencies from Horombo hut. The route from Kilema gate to Horombo hut is a 4 x 4 gravel road, which is usually in a fair condition.
The Kilema route with the first night at Mandara hut option, is longer, more strenuous and involves more hiking, compared to the Kilema route option with the first night at Kilema camp. However it is cheaper and all nights are spend in the Marangu route’s A-frame huts.
Kilema Gate (1950m) – Horombo hut (3705m)
Cycling time: Approximately 5 to 6 hours
Distance: Approximately 16 km
Habitat: Montane forest
Horombo hut (3705m) – Mandara hut (2715m)
Hiking time: 3 hours
Distance: Approximately 11.6 km
Meet your guide and embark on your transfer to the Marangu gate, which takes about 45 minutes. The journey passes through the village of Marangu, which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain. Once you reach the park gate, all hikers are required to register at the Park office. After signing-in and registering at the Marangu gate, we drive to the Kilema gate.
Upon arrival you will ensure that you have all your daypack items (containing at least drinking water, your lunch pack and extra clothing) and do a final check on your mountain bike. You will then start the first route section of 16km, (with your guide also on a mountain bike) from the Kilema gate (1 950m) to the Horombo hut (3 705m) on a 4×4 track. Bikers with good fitness levels, mountain biking skills and subject to road conditions, will be able to cycle all the way to Horombo hut.
It is important to remember that the biggest cause of altitude sickness is ascending too high too quickly. We will be stopping regularly and to give your body the maximum time to adjust to the higher altitudes. We will aim to reach Horombo hut at around 15:00pm, where you will be leaving your mountain bike for the night and descend to Mandara Hut (2 700m / distance 11.7km) on foot, to overnight. You will ensure that your head lamps are in your daypack as you can expect a late arrival at Mandara hut, with dinner being served at around 20h00.
Mandara hut, is a group of wooden A-framed huts in a forest clearing. Each hut features 6-8 sleeping bunks with solar generated lighting.
Mandara hut (2715m) – Horombo hut (3705m)
Hiking time: 4 hours
Distance: Approximately 11.6 km
Horombo hut (3705m) – Zebra Rocks (4 040m) – Horombo hut
Cycling time: 1 hour up and 20 minutes down
Distance: Approximately 2 km up and 2 km down
From Mandara hut the trail passes through a short stretch of forest, skirts the base of the Maundi Crater and then emerges into the transition from rain forest to moorland. We will do a short detour to scramble up the rim of the Maundi Crater for your first really impressive view of the Kibo Crater. On a clear day, Kibo will glimmer in the distance, showing off her majestic glaciers in the morning sun.
Once you are in the open moorland you will get the chance to see some of Kilimanjaro’s most spectacular plants – the endemic giant lobelia which grows up to 3 m in height and the giant groundsel (Senecia Kilimanjari), which can reach heights of 5m!
We arrive in time for a late lunch at Horombo hut. After lunch collect our bikes and go for an 1,5 hour acclimatization cycle up to Zebra rocks (4 040m) and back.
Enjoy dinner and overnight at Horombo hut.
Day 3 (Acclimatisation day – cycle high and sleep low)
Horombo hut (3 705m) – Kibo hut (4 730m) – Horombo hut (3 705m)
Cycling time: 4 to 5 hours up and 1 hour down
Distance: 9.6 km up and 9.6km down
Habitat: Alpine desert
After an early breakfast, meet your guide and start your ascent into the Alpine desert habitat. The first 3 km of the trail is very rocky and cycling will be very difficult as this section is very stony and eroded. You will be forced to push and carry your bike for some sections, but after about 3km the trail improves and cycling will once again be possible.
The “Saddle” (which refers to the area located between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo) is relatively flat and cycling is much easier. However high altitudes, low oxygen levels and cold conditions make the 7km section towards Kibo hut strenuous and challenging.
The final km before reaching Kibo hut is especially strenuous. You will once again be reminded to slow down and drink enough water! Upon arrival to at Kibo hut lunch will be served.
After lunch we will embark on an awesome downhill, descending nearly 800m over 7km. The final 3km descend down to Horombo hut is very technical and challenging.
Dinner and overnight at Horombo hut.
Horombo hut (3705m) – Kibo hut (4730m)
Cycling time: 4 to 5 hours
Distance: Approximately 9.6 km
Habitat: Alpine desert
Early wake and make sure your duffel bags are packed and ready to go. After breakfast, meet your guide and we head back up to Kibo hut. Again the first 3km would require you pushing and carrying your bike a lot, with the final 7km to Kibo hut offering a good biking trail.
We will enjoy lunch and then aim to rest. At around 16h00 depending on how you feel it is possible to hike partially up the summit path to orientate yourself for the summit attempt later that night.
Situated in the barren Alpine desert is Kibo hut, a stone build block house which has bunk beds for 60 climbers, but no streams with water nearby. There are platform toilets behind the hut.
The summit (Uhuru Peak) is now a further 1195m up and you will make your final ascent the same night. Prepare your equipment, thermal clothing etc for your summit bid. This should include the replacement of your headlamp and camera batteries and make sure you have a spare set available as well. To prevent freezing it will be wise to carry your water in a thermal flask.
Go to bed at round about 19h00 and try to get as much rest and sleep as possible, until 22h00
Day 5 (The summit night)
Kibo hut (4730m) – Uhuru Peak (5895m) – Kibo hut (4730m)
Cycling time: 7 to 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak, 3 to 4 hours to descend to Kibo hut,
Distance: Approximately 5.4km ascent and 31 km descent
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
You will rise around 22h00, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night, and this is where the going really gets tough. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5150m), also a good resting spot. The path then zigzags up to Gillman’s point (5 681m), which is located on the crater rim. The section just before Gillman’s point known as “Jamaica rocks” is very steep with a lot of stone scree, boulders requiring a great physical and mental effort.
From Horombo hut up to Gillmans point the trail cannot be cycled and you will have to push your bike up to the Jamaica rocks, however from Jamaica rocks to Gillmans point, you will have to carry your bike (or if you are not up to it – arrange for a porter to carry your bike). With oxygen levels close to 9.5%, this is probably the most demanding section of the entire route. You will be doing the Kili shuffle and move very slowly.
From Gillman’s Point the trail can be cycled again and you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895m), the highest point in Africa. Depending on snowfall, mountain bikers with high fitness levels and expert technical mountain biking skills, will be able to cycle most of the trail from Gillman’s Point to Uhuru peak.
Total exhilaration and satisfaction – you made it. Weather conditions on the summit will determine how long you will be able to spend, taking photographs, before the 3 hour descent back to Kibo hut.
Again, mountain bikers with expert technical cycling skills, should be able to cycle from Uhuru peak to Gillmans’ point. It is impossible to ride the first section from Gillman’s point down to Kibo hut. Cycling will only be possible for the final 1 to 2 km before reaching Kibo hut.
Upon arrival to Kibo Hut enjoy a late breakfast and then pack your gear in your duffel bag for the porter to carry down.
Kibo hut (4730m) – Kilema gate (1950m)
Cycling time: 3 hours
Distance: 25 km.
You will then embarked on the world’s ultimate downhill mountain bike rollercoaster ride:
Starting at Kibo hut at 4 730m you will descend down to the Kilema gate 1 950m – distance approximately 31km, descend approximately 3 000m in only 3 hours!
It is strongly recommended not to pay your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely. We will transfer by vehicle from the Kilema gate to the Marangu gate, where you will sign out of the park in a register. This is also where successful bikers receive their summit certificates.
Those bikers who reached Gillman’s Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m), receive gold certificates, after which we will drive back to Moshi for a long overdue hot shower, dinner and celebrations, where you will received your Kilimanjaro Mountain Bike certificate – something only a few people in the world can claim!!