Kilimanjaro Elephant Ride
The derivation of the name ‘Kilimanjaro’ is contentious: some say it means ‘white mountain’ others ‘we failed to climb it’! Whichever theory you favour, the fact remains that it’s a stunning hill to look at. Even better to ride around.
Kilimanjaro Elephant Ride
In the footsteps of the greatest mammal on earth.
First, a caveat! This ride is for riders who consider themselves strong intermediate or better: furthermore, the precise itinerary is subject to change due to the movement of game and prevailing weather conditions. The itinerary is designed to give the best opportunity to see Big Game up close, without being cavalier. We must also stick to the most suitable terrain for the horses.
Kilimanjaro Elephant Ride
Day 1: Arrive to Kilimanjaro
We’ll meet your flight at Kili International Airport and drive you out to the farm (35 mins away). The farm has its own polo club where the first night is spent. Settle into the new surroundings and meet the other riders. Sundowners and dinner at the clubhouse where your guide will run through the logistics.
Day 2: Riding in Arusha National Park.
Head out after breakfast to Arusha National Park (30 min drive) where the horses will be waiting.
Mount up and ride into one of the most beautiful parks in East Africa: the vegetation changes dramatically from open grassland that stretch away to the east, towards the Serengeti Plain, and the massif of Kilimanjaro to the north. In between there a zone of rainforest where there’s a good chance of seeing elephants, buffaloe and plains game. More elusive are species such as leopard and
rare residents such as Suni and Red Duiker (antelopes) and in the trees the magnificent Hartlaub’s turaco. Gradually the canopy closes overhead till we are properly into the forest.
Picnic lunch along the way, with time for a siesta. And ride on through the forest, which is prime leopard country, to pass Margarete Trappe’s old home. She was an early explorer from the 1920’s who had two famous horses, Comet and Diamond, and her two inseparable Alsatians. We will be following many trails she pioneered. Camp tonight is at the base of Mt Meru and we’ll be in camp with time for showers and sundowners; then dinner under the stars.
Day 3: Hatari and Fig Tree Arch
Chances are the chatter of Colobus monkeys will wake you this morning. Mount up and head for “Hatari” which is the John Wayne film that was shot on his ranch, here on the foothills of Kilimanjaro. ‘Hatari’ actually means ‘danger’ in Swahili. Beautiful ranch … make your own mind up about the film! The trail then begins to climb towards Kili till we reach 2,000m and the remarkable
Fig Tree Arch, a massive arch formed by a fig tree and big enough to fit five horses abreast. Ride on to a nearby waterfall where we stop for a picnic.
Ride back to camp, passing another 30m waterfall on the way, to reach camp. Not too far away, in the NE corner or the Park, are the seven Momella Lakes which we can drive to for a bit of hippo spotting. These are all alkaline lakes which are ideal for flamingos. Sundowners at the lakes before heading back to camp for showers and dinner.
Day 4: Crossing the Maasai Steppe
The sun will ahead of us this morning we turn eastwards, leaving Mount Meru behind. The trail crosses ranch land to emerge on the Maasai plains which are dotted with family groups of manyattas that consist of a thorn fence encircling half-a-dozen mud huts, home to a clan of Maasai nomads and their cattle. We tend to use of the cooler hours of the morning and to cover as much ground as possible. Picnic lunch beneath a big, flat-topped acacia near a dam where the Maasai water their cattle and we our horses. In the afternoon we leave the nomads behind and ride into a big game area, making sure to reach our night stop before the sun hits the horizon.
Day 5: Elephants!
Today we’ll pick up the spore of elephants which favour this area for its plentiful food and reliable water. The day is spent tracking the biggest land-living mammal, the elephants. The country varies from thick scrubland to acacia woodland. Return to camp for lunch and head out for another ride in the afternoon. Return to camp just before sunset and after a cuppa and rest, we return to the field for a night-ride in this remote and remarkable place.
Day 6: to the shadow of Kilimanjaro
Today we ride across ‘Insinya’ which is a Maasai name for the country that lies directly south of Amboseli National Park which is in Kenya and west of Kili. The border is unfenced and the animals move freely between Amboseli and Insinya. This almost unexplored wilderness has no roads at all and apart from the traditional Maasai there are no people here. The game is fantastic: bull elephants over 50 years old, and their family groups. Plains game is plentiful along with the Maasai Giraffe, a sub-species specific to this area. Most unexpected of all is the Gerenuk, an antelope which is somewhere between a deer and a giraffe: elegant, long-legged and long-necked. Camp is in an astonishing place: watched over by four powerful mountains, Mt Meru, Namanga, Longido and the commanding Mt Kilimanjaro.
Day 7: Elephant tracking beneath Kili
An early start and we’ll head north towards the Kenya border. It’s difficult to predict what we’ll find, but that’s the beauty of safari! You never know what’s round the corner. With luck we’ll have plenty of big game encounters, including seeing elephant from horseback. With luck too, the night will be clear giving that other-worldly view of the mountains … and the star-scape here is simply out of this world: there’s zero light pollution.
Day 8: Return to civilisation
Today we leave the Insinya behind and head back to Arusha and the airport (for those flying out). The drive back to the farm takes about 3 ½ hrs and there’s a day-room available for a wash and brush up.
NB. This is a sample itinerary and the precise details remain flexible so that we can respond to animal movements. Camp locations, trails ridden and routes will be varied by your guide (who possesses decades of experience) at her absolute discretion according to the weather, game movements or if other local conditions require.
Min 4 riders max 10
Polo club permanent camp 1 night
Mobile Horse Safari camp 6 nights
Polo club / Day room ½ Day
Included in the price
Saddle horse, tack and full guiding services
Accommodation based upon twin share
Full board, including locally sourced beverages
Single supplement, if unwilling to share £50/night
Single traveller – no extra fee for single tent
Government taxes, levies and community fees
National Park entry fees
Day room at Polo Club on last day
Airport transfers (return)
Flying doctor membership (fly-out medical evacuation service)
Tips for the crew (allow $25-35 per day)