Join Simon Mtuy, Tanzania’s foremost trail runner, expert mountain guide, and world-record holder as he shares with you the paths he knows and loves in this trail runner’s paradise.
This trail running route circumnavigates the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
This is a physically demanding event requiring a high level of fitness and endurance, and the dream of discovery.
Explore the stunning natural beauty and local culture of East Africa.
Run the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro on ancient trails between the national park forest and local villages.
Be amazed by the beauty of the surrounding landscape, from Uhuru Peak – the Roof of Africa – above, to the encircling mountain rainforest, the waterfalls and rivers lining the valleys, remote villages with plots of coffee and banana trees, maize fields, pastures, wildflowers and the magnificent views of the sweeping plains below.
The trails pass through the land of the Chagga people, who for centuries have cultivated this fertile mountain paradise. Running on local footpaths used to access farm fields, forests, and to cross from one ridge to another, you discover a part of Tanzania few tourists ever see.
Arrive at the Kilimanjaro International Airport. You will be met by your driver and transferred to Mbahe Village on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Mbahe will be your base for run preparation and orientation. Accommodations are in private cottages on Simon Mtuy’s family farm.
Breakfast and orientation meeting, followed by a farm tour. We‘ll go for a light run to explore the village and mountain trails. This afternoon, enjoy free time to explore the farm, swim in the Moonjo River waterfall, relax with a good book, or just admire the sweeping mountain views with a cup of “homebrew” coffee (grown and roasted on the farm). After dinner, we‘ll review additional run details and logistics.
Run 31 km from Mbahe to Rombo. From the official start at Kilimanjaro National Park’s Marangu entrance gate, we cross dozens of streams and rivers, many with deep and steep gorges to descend and ascend, while keeping Mawenzi, Kilimanjaro’s second peak, on our left and Kenya’s Tsavo National Park to our right. You will be completely spent at the end of this day.
Run 31 km Rombo to Rongai. As we approach Kilimanjaro’s drier northeast flank, the number and depth of the gorges lessen, as do the number of settlements. We may encounter colobus and blue monkeys in the forests. The route runs along a paved road along the Kenyan border for a few kilometers.
Run 33 km Rongai to Kitendeni. The forest thins as we run through a dry and rocky landscape, passing Maasai settlements and with the chance to see wildlife migrating from the plains below to mountainside above. Our campsite at a primary school overlooks Amboseli National Park in Kenya, where the only light comes from the stars above and the few safari lodges within the park.
Run 39 km Kitendeni to West Kilimanjaro. Exiting the sparse landscape, we skirt Legumishera Hill, which contains a small lake at the summit and is the source of much local superstition. We then run several hilly kilometers along the forest edge between Kilimanjaro National Park and cultivated land. We’ll finish the day at Simba Farm, one of the original European farms in Tanganyika Territory. The farm grows wheat and barley for local breweries and market produce for Arusha Town. From the dining area we have spectacular sunset views of Mount Meru.
Run 46 km West Kilimanjaro to Masama Run. Today is the longest stage. We begin with a long ascent into the forest reserve where active timber harvesting continues, then exit to a hot and dry lowland stretch, and finally return to the verdant southern slopes of Kilimanjaro.
Run 35 km Masama to Mweka. Today we encounter our steepest valleys and ridges above a densely settled area of smallholder Arabica coffee farms that use centuries-old irrigation canals dug along the mountainside. Each village has its own primary school, each with its own distinctive uniform color for the students.
Run 24 km Mweka to Kidia Run. Kidia was the site of the first European settlement in the Kilimanjaro region. The original church and mission station are still intact. Each mountain ridge in this area is either predominantly Lutheran or Catholic, depending on the original missionary group operating there. Another day of extreme elevation changes.
Run 21 km Kidia to Mbahe. Running high above the villages and just outside the national park boundary, our final day brings even more spectacular views and a joyous return to Mbahe Village, where we started 7 days ago. Congratulations, you ran around the Roof of Africa! Celebrate with a leap into the river, hot shower, or cold beer . . . or all three!
Rest, recover and relax at the farm. For those returning home you will be transferred to the Kilimanjaro International Airport to catch your flight. Those staying in Tanzania may start your safari, depart for Zanzibar, or spend an extra night at Mbahe.
“This is Simon's dream, to share these trails and his community with his trail running friends that he has made from all over the world. He has obviously gone to great effort in all of the planning and so far this is a dream trip. After a long day of running in a completely foreign environment and countless memorable interactions I sensed we were all impressed and wow'ed by this attention from the village. We finished up on the field with at least 150 kids filing in behind us. It was a complete emotional rush and high to finish day 1 this way.”
“I've been many places in the world and at dozens of events big and small - this ranks among the top. The running, the views, the people, the trails. Wow! Our favorite canyon though was mid afternoon with what seemed like the steepest longest descent and ascent. Going down it was narrow enough in places that it was only a half-shoe wide. There was one tall tree sticking up, and still it was dwarfed by the depth. We also saw our first baboons scamper across the bottom as we descended. When we reached the bottom we found an amazing waterfall cascading down several levels with vines, moss, and tons of green. The whole day was green - everywhere! Stunning. Never the same though. Open fields, a small pine forest, banana forest, fields of plants, close cover running. A lot of it seemed like we were running cross country, almost making our own trails.”
“SENE provides a unique, challenging, and unforgettable running experience for well seasoned trail runners of all ages. Their guides and staff were simply amazing, and for me, one of the highlights of the adventure. The meals were varied, extensive, and delicious and kept our bodies fueled and ready. I highly recommend the Kilimanjaro Stage Run for runners seeking something new, different, and challenging.”
“This was, hands down, the best running adventure of my life! The diversity of the landscape is indescribable: lush jungles, deep green valleys, very steep descents and climbs, farms, river crossings, remote villages. Some days we'd be under the canopy of the forest all day, other days we'd be out in the sun all day. I was really amazed that, although I had never run this kind of distance on consecutive days, I never felt like I was too tired to go on. I think that I was too enthralled with the beautiful surroundings and the camaraderie to realize that my legs were actually really tired!”
Simon Mtuy, founder and director of Summit Expeditions & Nomadic Experience (SENE), is a born leader. He is a leader within his community as an outspoken advocate of environmental sustainability and conservation and is sought after for his help and advice in community development projects. Simon is an accomplished ultrarunner, having completed some of the U.S.‘s biggest races, including the prestigious 100-mile Western States Endurance Run, which he has completed nine times. Simon is also the world-record holder for the fastest ascent and descent of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.