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Start Arusha; morning briefing, the afternoon is free to relax after your flight, lie by the pool or explore the town.
Cycle west across the Monduli mountain range, dropping down to Mezerani.
Starting from our Arusha lodging, we cycle a route through banana and coffee plantations before heading west towards the Monduli mountain range. Open farmland leads us past the foothills of the mountains. The earth here is known as 'Black cotton' and is very prone to erosion. We weave through various small valleys and Maasai homesteads as we traverse the foothills. We will be carrying a packed lunch to re-energise at a convenient point on the way. We camp tonight at the 'Snake Park', where there is an excellent display of local reptiles.
Cycling towards the Rift Valley and Selelai.
Cycling straight from our camp, the route follows the old tarmac road, which weaves back and forth over the new road. It is broken up a lot, and at times goes some distance away from the main road. After lunch, depending on the distance covered, we either get a lift or keep cycling straight towards the Rift Valley wall, which is seen in the distance, with Lake Manyara glistening at its foot. After Manyuki we follow the main road to the village of Selelai . This is open country, and giraffe, ostrich, gazelles and occasionally elephant are seen. We camp tonight at an attractive campsite on the edge of a Rift Valley mountain.
Rift Valley Wall hike; visit to Masai homestead.
A morning hike up the mountain behind the campsite offers some spectacular views over the Rift Valley and across to Manyara NP. Our Masai guide takes the opportunity to introducing us to the various medicinal plants that his tribe uses. We head back to camp for lunch. In the afternoon we cycle out to a local Masai homestead to visit some of our Masai friends and gain some insight into their lives in the Rift Valley. We return to the camp late afternoon.
Cycle to Mto Wa Mbu.
Departing from the campsite we cycle across the rift to the village of Mto wa Mbu. The Rift Valley wall is in sight all day as we cycle through a number of Masai homesteads. Possible sightings of wildlife as we cross over the open plains. We have our packed lunch under an acacia tree during the heat of the day before cycling on and arriving into camp late afternoon.
Ngorongoro Crater game drive; camp on crater rim.
Today all the bikes are packed onto our vehicles and we drive to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Ngorongoro is a special place in that it is a Conservation Area, not a National Park; which means that the whole area is managed for both the animals and the local Masai people who graze their cattle alongside the indigenous wildlife. After stopping at the entrance gate, where there is a chance to learn about this fascinating volcanic landscape, we drive around the rim of the Crater itself, from where we can look down and see herds of wildebeeste and elephant. Then we descend into the crater. The crater walls provide a natural sanctuary for the animals, which means there is plenty to see, lions, elephants, buffalo, rhino and, if we are lucky, leopard. The only animal we won't see in here is a giraffe whose long legs are unable to cope with the steep sides of the crater. We drive up the crater wall in the afternoon and camp on the rim at Simba campsite.
Full day in the Serengeti, enjoying the wildlife.
After an early breakfast we have a spectacular drive down the outside of the crater and come to Oldupai Gorge, where the Leakey family unearthed the remains of some of man's earliest ancestors. We then drive on to Naabi Hill, which marks the boundary between Ngorongoro and Serengeti - the Masai's 'Endless Plains'. We have the rest of the day wildlife spotting in Serengeti. Where we go depends on the time of year; we can spend time at the Hippo pool watching these majestic animals laze about in the cool water happily living alongside the crocodiles, watch a big pride of lions, be in the middle of the migration, sometimes surrounded by wildebeeste and sometimes by zebras. We journey from the wide open plains to the kopjes: these volcanic rocky outcrops provide protection and shelter for a wide variety of animals and from the top we can look out across the vast grasslands of the Serengeti. This stunnining landscape will provide us with the ultimate in game viewing, and we will hopefully see all the plain games; elephants, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, lions and maybe the elusive leopard and cheetah, as well as huge amounts of interesting birdlife, from the elegant Secretary birds to the flightless ostrich. We spend the night in the middle of the plains at Seronera campsite.
Full day wildlife viewing; camp at Lobo.
Our second day in the Serengeti: again we will rise early and have a full day in the park, heading north and enjoying the animals and scenery as we go. This is a long day driving but there is plenty to see on the way. We camp tonight at Lobo camp, in a beautiful setting.
Cycle down the eastern edge of the park through Masai villages.
We get back on the bikes today. It is a short drive to the national park gate from where we can start cycling. The next two days will be on dirt road with some sandy sections. The route is rolling, and you will be glad to be back in the saddle again. As we are on the edge of the game park we may see more wildlife en route, as well many colourfully-dressed Masai. We set up camp late afternoon at a local campsite in the little town of Wasso.
Spectacular ride down to Lake Natron and Ol Doinyo Lengai.
Today is potentially our longest day of cycling. We cycle southwards through the hills bordering the Serengeti and down through an area populated by the Songo tribe, dressed in their bright orange attire. Our route is along a rough dirt road with some sandy sections and the countryside is as the previous day. We need to stop for an early lunch, after which we pack the bikes on the vehicle and we all get a transfer to the top of the Rift Valley escarpment overlooking Lake Natron, a spectacular view. The descent is on a gravel road with switchbacks, so a steady handlebar is necessary! The road descends steeply to the side of Lake Natron and then follows the lakeshore to a village. The road surface changes, becoming stonier, and requires more concentration. It is a real challenge to reach camp on the bikes but we will go as far as possible. Camp at the Lake Natron campsite.
Free day for relaxation.
Today is a free day to relax at Lake Natron Camp; we can sit and enjoy the view of the lake from the camp, which appears almost mirage-like in the distance. If we can convince the manager to fill the fresh water pool we can relax there with a cold beer! A short drive or walk to the lake is well worth it: the flamingos, pelicans and egrets are great. It is however VERY hot. Lake Natron is known as one of the world's largest breeding grounds for lesser flamingos. A late afternoon walk to the local waterfalls is a great way to finish the day. The water is cool and refreshing, and you can almost swim in places. Some people have taken the opportunity to climb Ol Doinyo Lengai but this is a tough climb. Camping back at Lake Natron campsite.
Transfer to Arusha.
Return to Arusha. It is a long, dusty drive, approximately 6hrs. We follow the foothills of the Rift Valley wall over open plains on which also live the plains animals, a familiar sight by now. Once we reach the tarmac road you will all probably go to sleep as we drive the final 2hrs back to civilisation. We return to our comfortable starting hotel.
Free day in Arusha to explore the city; end Arusha
The tour ends this morning.