Mount Longido is a rocky peak (2,629m) in the Mount Longido Forest Reserve about a 1.5-hours drive from Arusha. The climb is pretty demanding and steep with more than 1300 meters of incline to ascend through the forest to reach the summit. With lots of sun exposure and no drinking water available along the route, this is a tough expedition. I camped at the summit, carrying all my equipment, water and food for the journey. The sunset and sunrise were truly incredible above the clouds as we looked towards Tanzania on one side and Kenya on the other.
In this blog post, I will share with you all of the details about Mount Longido including permits, fees, guides, how to camp, and hike statistics. I’ll also share my full experience and all of my photos including some epic drone shots from the summit so you can get an idea of why this was one of my favorite hikes in Tanzania.
MOUNT LONGIDO HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike is 13.5km out and back (return trip)
Hike Duration: This depends a lot on your speed and how much gear you are carrying. The ascent can be completed in about 5 hours and the descent can be completed in about 3 hours. This obviously depends on your ability to hike uphill with gear. Our total moving time was just five hours and twenty minutes according to the Garmin, which doesn’t count any rest breaks or stops. We left at 1 pm and made it to the summit just after 5 pm in time for sunset and then the next morning took about 2-3 hours to slowly hike down with a nice big break at leopard rock.
Hike Difficulty: This trail is quite difficult due to the extreme incline. In 6.5 kilometers you will ascend more than 1300 meters and this is done at elevation. The hike will reach 2,629m by the time you are at the summit so expect to be short on breath. The terrain is rocky, dusty, and quite overgrown. There are many sections where you will need to be sure-footed but not any big drop-offs or moments of exposure. Basically, if you can handle the incline, heat, and being amongst bushes you are all set for this one.
Hike Incline: 1380 meters.
My Strava Map Upload: Mount Longido
WHERE IS THE MOUNT LONGIDO HIKE
Mount Longido is situated in the Mount Longido Forest Reserve. It’s actually right near the border of Kenya and Tanzania near the town Namanga. From Arusha, you have a straight shot to Longido on the highway with plains on either side. You can actually see Mount Longido as you drive towards it for most of the journey. It’s a 1.5-hour drive from Arusha to Longido town.
Once in the town head to the tourism office to sign in, get your guide and permit and do all of the official stuff before starting your trek. I’ve left some images below of the tourist office so you can find it as it was a little hard and there is no pin on Google Maps. Basically, drive towards Longido and when you pass the district office, it will be another 500m, there is then a small sign on the right that says cultural tourism office. Head down that road and the office is on the right (a bit hidden) but it is before the school and church. I’ve added the pin location for the Mount Longido School below, which is the closest pin available to the tourism office. Ask anyone you see there for the cultural tourism office and they will know. This is where the trek starts and finishes for most people (although there are other routes).
HOW TO GET TO MOUNT LONGIDO
Tanzania is a little bit interesting to get around but there are several options to reach Mount Longido from Arusha. Firstly, there is a public transport van that drives from Arusha to Namanga and you can get out at Longido and simply walk to the tourism office, which isn’t too far. The second option is to book a private transfer. I had a private transfer with Altezza Travel and it makes the trip very comfortable in a van with A/C, wifi, and a driver who helped us arrange everything when we arrived at Longido (very valuable in our situation as we arrived on the day we wanted to hike and need to negotiate). Our driver waited overnight in Longido and was there waiting to drive us back to Arusha the next morning. It’s obviously more expensive than public transit but can be worth it when you are a group of several people and makes the trip much more comfortable.
GUIDES AND PERMIT FEES FOR THE MOUNT LONGIDO HIKE
To organize a trek up Mount Longido, you need to contact the cultural tourism office. The details are below:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mobile: +255-787 855 185 or 0767 855 185
Usually, they like to package the trip with a one-night stay in Longido, which includes a cultural tour, dinner accommodation, and then the trek the next day. I preferred to spend the two days on the mountain with the overnight on top of the summit and they were up for my idea. They were a cool bunch of guys at the tourism office so just let them know what you are keen to do and what your schedule permits and they will help sort you out. There were a number of fees involved with the trek and we found out it is mandatory to have a guide. There are buffalo and leopards on the mountain so like most of Tanzania, tourists cannot hike independently and risk a fine from a ranger if found doing so. The fee and permit breakdown per person was as follows:
MOUNT LONGIDO FEES (2021)
- $30 USD Government Fee
- $15 Park Fee
- $10 Office Administration Fee
- $30 Guide Fee (For one guide on an overnight trek for the entire group so this was split by the two of us making the guide $15 per person. This will vary on your number of hikers, duration of the hike, gear required, etc. We had all our own gear and just needed one guide to accompany us for the 24-hour period. We also tipped him another $25 so it wasn’t a bad night upon the mountains for all of us as it was his first time camping on the top rock!)
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE MOUNT LONGIDO HIKE
Organizing the Mount Longido hike was a bit of an interesting process because I couldn’t get a reply from the cultural tourism office. I basically just showed up and said that I wanted to start the trek in an hour. They were a bit shocked but an hour later we had our guide Alliy packed and ready to go. After negotiating the fees, permits, and signing the guest book we set off up the road towards the mountain at around 1 pm. The trail quickly leaves the paved road and heads onto the dirt path, running alongside the river.
Surrounded by large rocks, our guide tells us that Longido is actually a Maasai name. Derived from the Maasai word oloonkito, which means ‘place of the stone useful for sharpening knives’. As you walk through this early section, just imagine Maasai nomads passing through Longido to sharpen their tools and weapons, and they still do to this day.
This early part of the trail was rocky, dusty, and completely exposed. Hiking up in the hottest part of the day was tough and we were smashing through our water supply of 5 liters at an alarming rate. If you aren’t good at dealing with extreme heat, make sure you are not hiking up during the peak of the day. We were rewarded with a little bit of shade after a couple of kilometers but only intermittently as we wound our way up the track. Dodging the spikes and prickles of bushes made this a tough, enduring section of the route. When I look at the photo below, I can still feel the burn of the sun on my skin from that exact moment.
At the halfway mark we made it up to Leopard Rock. I thought it was just an old name but this truly is the leopard’s rock and we even saw some fresh leopard poop at this viewpoint. Leopards and buffalo are among the reasons why the guides are required as part of the rules on this mountain. Leopard Rock is a nice place to stop for a drink and a snack as you look down over Mount Longido where you began the trek.
After Leopard rock, you have some respite from the heat as you delve deep into the forest. However, the trail becomes quite steep for the final 3.5 kilometers and it is a real leg burner. The ‘Old Man’s Beard’ hangs from the trees throughout this mystical, forest which reminded me a lot of the famous Fanal Forest on Madeira Island, Portugal.
The trail finally flattens out, reaching the plateaus where you get the first glimpse of the rocky summit. This is a favorite spot for the buffalo so our guide was on full alert as we made our final push to reach the summit. On this trip, we didn’t encounter any wildlife but Alliy told me he regularly comes across buffalo and even had common sightings of leopards.
The final part of the ascent to the top of Mount Longido is a little via ferrata-type climbing section. It’s quite safe and on a comfortable angle but you will need to climb the metal footholds to reach the top.
After four hours of battling in the heat and ascending more than 1300 meters, we had finally reached the summit of Mount Longido. I was blown away at the top and loved the rocky outcrops and huge stone summit. We reached the peak about an hour before sunset and decided to set up the tents right on the highest point. There wasn’t much dirt to peg into so we used boulders and rope to fix our tent into place atop the summit. Once we were all set up, we enjoyed the last golden light at the summit.
The view from Mount Longido might actually be one of the best in Tanzania because it offers so many unique angles. Firstly, you can spot the mighty Kilimanjaro in the distance (best viewed in the morning when it’s less likely to be cloudy). There are also great views of Mount Meru and Ol Doinyo Lengai, which are two other great volcano treks I had been on. However, the best part of the view is that we could see into Kenya. Just a few kilometers away is the border-town of Namanga, which sits between Tanzania and Kenya. I took all of the following shots during sunset and the golden hour before heading to sleep in our tent.
Our night atop Mount Longido was excellent. It’s common to have strong winds at the summit but we had a still night that wasn’t even too cold. In the morning, we hoped for sunrise to match our beautiful sunset from the night before and we were in luck. A thin opening between the clouds and horizon created a stunning spectacle when the morning light shot through onto Mount Longido. We also had a great view of Mount Kilimanjaro just after sunrise, which is a pretty epic backdrop for a morning coffee at 2,629m. These are all of my favorite shots from sunrise on Mount Longido.
After enjoying the show, we packed up and headed back down the mountain to return to the tourism office by 10:30 am and complete the drive back to Arusha.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Mount Longido hike in Tanzania. I seriously loved this one and hope you put in the effort to journey out here and camp atop this rocky summit.