The Kilimanjaro Stage Run adventure begins and ends at Simon Mtuy’s family farm in Mbahe Village, about 45 minutes outside of the town of Moshi, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. Runners spend two nights at Mbahe before the eight days of running and a final celebratory night there after their successful achievement.
A hidden paradise
Mbahe Farm sits on a ridge at about 1800 meters on the southeastern flanks of Mount Kilimanjaro. From its bucolic locale, the farm offers extended panoramic views down off the mountain to the plains below and up to the summit standing sentinel above. The views offer an incredible palette of colors: from the infinite shades of green of the forests and farm fields that blanket the mountain, to the shades of brown, red and yellow of the savanna, to the various whites glistening from the snow-capped peak, to the blues of the vast sky above (visible after the early morning mists disappear and before the afternoon clouds settle in).
The cottages themselves consist of 3 rustic buildings with semi-detached rooms. Simon built them when he started to welcome visitors from all over the world with his Tanzania adventure travel company (Summit Expeditions & Nomadic Experience). He has added his own personal touches and items found throughout his travels in Tanzania to give the cottages a uniquely warm and friendly atmosphere for people to relax, enjoy good company, and get away from their daily routine. There is a dining and sitting area with a fireplace, an outdoor lounge above the flower garden, and a new yoga deck overlooking the Moonjo River, offering another relaxing space.
Surrounding the cottages are tropical forest, green pastures where cows graze, smallholder coffee farms, and the river flowing just a few meters from the property. This bucolic setting allows KSR runners to explore the local natural beauty of Tanzania.
Rest, prepare, and get into the rhythm of Tanzania
During the two days before starting the running of the KSR, runners can rest after their long journey, learn about Chagga coffee farming techniques, and sit on the veranda with a cup of freshly brewed coffee they just made.
This time is also an opportunity to get to know each other. The KSR hosts about 10 international runners every year since 2012, and most have traveled solo to experience this unique adventure. Around the large fireplace or a sumptuous meal and drinks, the first signs of a camaraderie emerge that will grow day after day. Everyone talks about their running background, shares advice, and common experiences, and speaks of their individual goals, fears, excitement, and doubts.
On the first full day when everyone is together, the group will stretch their sore muscles (from the long and strenuous travel by plane and vehicle) by going for a conditioning run with Simon and the other KSR running guides. Because Simon stops often to describe the local environment, explain farming techniques used by the Chagga, introduce local environmental issues and his projects for improvement, or even to greet a village elder, the planned 1-hour run may become a 2-3 hour expedition! Relax and enjoy the adventure!
This first outing allows runners to experience some of the variety of trails that they will encounter during the 8 days: dirt roads, smooth dirt trails worn down by years of footfalls, steep switchback trails no wider than a shoe, a little bushwhacking, and rock-strewn ankle-twisting trails. The Tanzanian guides also start to learn about the individual runners, their running pace and habits. And the international runners first encounter the local inhabitants of Kilimanjaro and realize how friendly and welcoming they are!
Returning “home” after 260 grueling kilometers
After finishing the KSR at the same Marangu gate where they started – located less than a kilometer from Mbahe Farm – everyone walks back to the cottages with the incredible joy and satisfaction of having accomplished something special and unique. Not many people can say that they ran completely around Mount Kilimanjaro!
The first order of business is to take the now traditional post-run plunge into the refreshingly cool mountain pool underneath a picturesque waterfall on the Moonjo River. It is the moment when the pressure and fatigue accumulated during 8 days of hard running starts to release. That evening runners share their final dinner together enjoying a traditional Chagga feast of ugali (cornmeal) and a beef stew with potatoes, carrots, and cooked bananas prepared by the head chef. All washed down with oversize bottles of local beer!
And finally, everyone has a well-deserved long night’s sleep in a warm and comfortable bed!
By providing an authentic introduction to Tanzania and fond memories integral to the experience that is the Kilimanjaro Stage Run,
the Mbahe Farm is, for many, a highlight of their time in Tanzania.