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Hiking and Biking: Zanzibar to Mount Kilimanjaro

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

GETTING THERE

Surf to Summit begins in Zanzibar and ends in Moshi, near Mount Kilimanjaro. KLM, Kenya Airlines and American Airlines fly from Dulles to Nairobi, with fares starting at about $1,200 round trip. From there you can fly Precision Air to Zanzibar for about $400 round trip. Another option is to fly Swissair from Dulles to Dar es Salaam and take the three-hour ferry to Zanzibar for about $40.

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Although it is easier to fly into Zanzibar, the bikes are an expense and a burden, especially since there's no riding in Zanzibar. You're expected to drag luggage and bike onto the ferry to Dar and take public transportation to Mombo, where the riding portion of the tour begins.

Better to fly into Dar, store bikes and climbing gear in a hotel locker (usually no charge), pack light and ferry round trip to Zanzibar. Pick up bikes and gear on the way back. Ibike will transport climbing gear from Mombo to Moshi.

IF YOU GO

Ibike (http://www.ibike.org) is the only organization we could find that packaged both cycling and mountain climbing. It serves as a broker, subcontracting with Jerome Mwamboneke (jmwamboneke@yahoo.com), an independent guide, for part of the trip and then with one of the many licensed Kilimanjaro outfitters, but there's no Ibike presence on the ground.

For planning purposes, however, David Mozer is available on the telephone (206-767-0848) from Seattle and is a patient purveyor of information, essential when considering such an exotic trip.

Should you choose to plan your own bike safari, Mwamboneke is available for hire, and Mozer charges $40 an hour to consult.

Kessy Brothers (http://www.kessybrotherstours.com) is a popular Kilimanjaro outfitter. The company will also plan safaris for you to other parts of Tanzania, including the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, while you are there.

COST

Surf to Summit is inexpensive ($1,890 per person). But we often wished we had paid more. Although there were few alternative accommodations in Ndungu and some other rural destinations, there were many comfortable hotels in Zanzibar and Moshi, which, according to Mwamboneke, were out of reach on Ibike's meager budget. The Narrow Street Hotel in Zanzibar, where we stayed, cost $30. Some of the guesthouses were $3 per person per night.

While in Zanzibar or Dar, stock up on snacks. Conquering the hills and bumpy roads on bikes made us very hungry, and the food, more often than not, was not particularly nourishing or substantial enough. One dinner consisted of french fries, rice and our choice of (one) fish tail or (one) fish head, while patrons at other tables were eating the meaty middle of the fish.

-- L.G.


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