Outdoor Pursuits

ISM is proud of our structured and extensive Outdoor Pursuits programme giving all our secondary students opportunities to face the challenge of a demanding range of outdoor activities in our superb environment centred on Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru. Our OP trips are organised into levels and students are expected to begin at Level One. Each student is only allowed to progress to a higher level after successful completion of a trip. All student groups are accompanied by a qualified guide and by teaching staff from the two campuses, who are also expected to progress through the same levels themselves. Students are expected to carry all their own equipment and a share of the group equipment and food.

The Outdoor Pursuits department is well-equipped with a wide range of camping and mountaineering equipment and clothing that is updated and replaced as necessary. Good relations are enjoyed by the school with the Tanzanian National Parks Authority who in turn are enthusiastic in their support of our activities. A well-established programme of graded mountaineering expeditions to Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru and elsewhere exist to provide training for students in mountain craft, teamwork and in leadership skills. The programme of trips includes:

INTRODUCTION

M1 Campcraft: A weekend low-level camping trip exclusively for M1 students to introduce them to a range of camp-craft skills and familiarize themselves with OP routines. Students learn how to set up tents and pack their backpack properly; they participate in the preparation, cooking and clean-up of meals. They are involved in team building activities and learn about basic first aid. 

LEVEL ONE

Mandara Hut: on Mt Kilimanjaro. This trip comprises a 4-5 hour walk up to Mandara Huts (2800 m), an overnight hut stay, a short hike to Maundi Crater and return to Marangu Gate. Although easier than most other trips, it provides a good introduction to the programme and can be quite challenging for younger students.

South Pare Mountains: This is a 3 day / 2 night trip including a hike through lush rainforests up to Mghimbi caves and Malameni Rock, also known as the ‘Sacrifice Rock’ in Pare culture. The second day includes a hike to the hilltop Ranzi Dam and Tona Moorland to get glimpses of unique flora and fauna and a view of Mkomazi National Park.

Pare Mountains: Perhaps the most demanding of the level 1 trips, this has a steep and long hike through the North Pares and includes a night’s camping with a view of Mt Kilimanjaro on clear days.

LEVEL TWO

Usambara Mountains: this trip takes place in the easternmost ranges of the Eastern Arc Mountains. During the hike, students pass through spectacular sceneries including Irente, Mambo and Mtae view points (respectively at 1450 m,1700 m, 1900 m). Although not particularly steep and strenuous, the trip requires endurance as it goes through rolling hills over four days.

Little Meru: on Mount Meru in Arusha National Park. After hiking to Miriakamba Hut on the first day, the group continues up to climb Little Meru (3800 m), the lower peak on Mt Meru before sleeping at Saddle Hut and returning to Momella Gate on the third day.

Ash cone: on Mount Meru. This is our newest trip to the summit of the Ash Cone at 3600m, an alternative to the Little Meru trip with the same level of difficulty.

LEVEL THREE

Mount Hanang: at an elevation of 3420 m is the fourth highest mountain in Tanzania. This four day trip includes a cultural visit to a Datoga tribe, a walk to Balangida Salt Lake and a demanding hike to summit Mt Hanang. 

Mawenzi Hut: on Mt Kilimanjaro. After spending the first two days climbing to Horombo, the group then takes a day trip to Mawenzi Hut (4600 m) which is at the base of the scree slope of Mawenzi Peak, the lower peak of Kilimanjaro, before returning to Horombo for the night. The group descends to Marangu gate on the fourth day.

LEVEL FOUR

Ngorongoro – Natron: a stunning five day trip in the Crater Highlands of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This low-altitude trip is supported with donkeys and includes a trek down Empakai Crater with an overnight camp on the crater rim. It continues through local Maasai villages and passes next to the magnificent Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano to finally reach Lake Natron.

Rongai Route: on Mt Kilimanjaro. This four-day route starts from the northern side of the mountain near the Kenyan border and involves two nights of camping on the mountain, an ascent over the saddle, a sleep at Horombo, before returning to the Marangu Gate.

Machame Route: on Mt Kilimanjaro. This five day trek climbs past Machame Hut (3000 m), Shira Hut (3900 m), scrambles up Barranco Wall to reach the Lava Tower (4 600 m) the highest point of this trek. The descent then starts to Mweka Hut (3110 m) and finally arrives at Mweka Gate.

Socialist Peak: summit of Mt Meru in Arusha National Park. After climbing to Miriakamba and Saddle Hut on the first two days, the group starts at night on the steep climb through Rhino Point, Cobra Point to finally reach the summit Mt Meru at dawn with spectacular views. This is the second highest mountain in Tanzania (4566 m).

LEVEL FIVE

Uhuru Peak: summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. This climb via the Marangu route passes through Mandara and Horombo Huts, with a day of acclimatisation at Zebra Rocks, reaching Kino Hut (4750 m) on the fourth day. It is followed by a midnight departure for the strenuous climb through Stella Point and Gilman’s Point to reach the summit of the highest mountain in Africa: Uhuru Peak (5895 m). The fith and sixth days are spent descending back to Marangu Gate.

There are also other routes possible to reach Uhuru Peak, some of which are more demanding and involve camping instead of the relative comfort of a mountain hut.