Marangu Hotel is located on the slopes of Kilimanjaro about 6 kms from the Marangu National Park Gate which itself is located at the lower level of the rainforest.
This is a rural area. Imagine a belt, a few kilometres wide, running the entire circumference of the mountain between the rainforest belt and the plains below. On the southern slopes especially (the northern slopes are much drier) this belt is a patchwork quilt of tiny farmsteads. This is the home of the waChagga people. It is a heavily populated area although you don’t see that at ground level because of the prolific vegetation. You are never far, in this whole area, from the mountain’s many rivers and waterfalls and the myriad rural pathways linking the whole.
We do facilitate walks in the area but the amounts involved are very modest and we like to see the guests paying the local people involved directly. For example, the price of a day guide is about $10 for a few hours or a full day. That is per guide, not per guest. Thus for 4 guests it would be $10, not $40. Then there are custodians at the various features such as waterfalls. These people charge adult guests $5 each. Children are less or even free. If there are a few of them you can negotiate. The custodians of the various other features such as traditional huts, blacksmiths, cave shelters for children, women and livestock (from the days of Maasai raids) usually charge about $3 per visitor. So the price of the tour will vary with the kind and number of features visited and it is best for the guests to deal with it directly. Our reception will introduce the guests to a reliable day guide and then they take it from there. Coffee is grown on the slopes of Kilimanjaro and Meru. The day guides are knowledgeable about this and the other crops grown on the farmsteads. Coffee is not as important a cash crop to the local people as it once was but the day guides can talk to visitors about it and show them how it is grown, harvested and processed. They will probably offer to sell you some beans. Caveat Emptor!
Lake Chala is a spectacular (“hidden”-you don’t see it until you are right at the top of the cliffs overlooking it) crater lake about 35 kms from the hotel. Again, a trip there can be arranged easily on the spot. The lake straddles the TZ-Kenya border.
Tsavo West National Park, which is in Kenya (past Lake Chala), is very close. The nearest gate is about 50 kms from the hotel. A day trip to the extraordinary oasis of Mzima Springs, which supplies much of Mombasa’s fresh water, is feasible but there are additional expenses involved. A Kenya visa is required. This can be obtained at the border for $50 for most nationalities. Note that another visa to re-enter Tanzania would be required for the same price. If this trip is contemplated the visitors should ask for multiple entry visas if available. It would also be necessary to obtain the services of a Kenyan Safari Operator. Marangu Hotel recommends Brayogo Safaris, located at Voi, between West and East Tsavo Parks. The owner is named Okeno and has always been completely dependable. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
Arusha National Park: A full day can be spent at this park. It takes about 2 hours to drive to the park from Marangu, and one can then spend several hours driving around the park's main attractions of Ngurdoto crater, and the Momella lakes which teem with bird life and where hippo can also be seen. Towering over the park is Mount Meru. This is Africa's fifth highest mountain, often ignored because of the proximity of Kilimanjaro, but a fascinating and beautiful mountain in its own right. It is possible to drive right up close to the crater floor, but one has to choose either to do that or to rive around the park's other attractions, since there is not enough time to do both in a day trip from Marangu. As far as cost is involved, to hire a four wheel drive vehicle for a day usually costs about $150 to $200, and daily park entrance fees are $45 per adult (16 and over). If a party numbers around 4 people, this can be quite manageable financially - many do this on a free day after climbing Kilimanjaro and before flying home.
There are a number of Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries in Tanzania (formerly German East Africa) and Kenya from the First World War campaign. There is one in Moshi that may be of interest to some and another in Taveta on the Kenya side of the border that could easily be visited en route or back from Tsavo West.
Markets are always of interest and there is always a market at one location or another. On Tuesdays and Fridays there is a banana market at Mwika, some 20 kms from the hotel. The people here, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, are the biggest consumers of plantains as a staple in the world. The Mwika market sends many tons of bananas to other parts of the country. A visit here can be tied to a Chala visit.
For recreation, the hotel has a swimming pool and croquet lawn, or guests may simply relax in the comfortable bar and lounges, or in our lovely gardens. Birdwatchers frequently rave about the many varieties of birds (over 300 at the last count) seen around the hotel's grounds. There are also pretty walks to be had locally through the surrounding banana and coffee farms, along the river that borders the hotel on one side, and to other rivers and waterfalls in the area. Where time permits, the colourful local markets are well worth a visit.
If you would like any advice on fitting trips into your itinerary please contact us.