About 16,500 people make it to the 19,340-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania every year. They snap a few photos and then, exhausted, slowly trudge back down the mountain on foot.
But Trek Travel saw a much more exciting way to make the return trip. Why not go by bike? No one had yet to make a two-wheeled descent from Africa’s highest peak.
The company secured the first permit to mountain bike down the mountain and, on Feb. 22, 2013, will welcome the first group of 20 travelers for the inaugural trip.
The 12-day itinerary also includes a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti during the Great Migration and a visit to a traditional Maasai village. In fact, cycling is only an option on five days, and totals under 30 miles for the trip, according to Trek Travel.
The miles you do ride are rough, rugged and aerobically demanding. The terrain sits between 6,000—20,000 feet above sea level and sections are often rocky or snow-covered. Riders take the Marangu route, or what Trek Travel calls “the most rideable route down the mountain.” An expert rider can handle about 80 percent of the trail, so the company provides support along the way and helps riders go slow and cautiously. Riders also have the additional challenge of avoiding hikers along the trail.
To prepare for the trip, guests are shipped a new mountain bike from Trek that they will use to train and to ride down the mountain. After they return home, the bike is theirs to keep. But the “complimentary” bike come with a hefty price tag. A cost of $55,000 to $85,000 per rider will help Trek Travel raise funds for projects designed to bring fresh drinking water to as many as 150,000 Tanzanians (90 percent of funds go directly to these projects).
For more information about the trip, check out the Trek Travel website.