Home of the nomadic and athletic Maasai, the Ngorongoro highlands are great for trekking and offer exciting, isolated, off-the beaten path treasures for the discerning visitor.
The Ngorongoro Highlands were formed millions of years ago with volcanic activity and seismic transformations which saw the formation of a series of 7 volcanic craters along with the development of the Great Rift Valley and soda lakes they are so famous for.
Walking in the Footsteps of the Maasai: Empakaai to Natron 3 day trek.
The change in elevation is from 3,000 metres at Embakai to 600 metres at Lake Natron. There is a corresponding change in temperatures from 15 Celsius at Embakai to 30-40 Celsius at Natron depending on the time of year. Itineraries can be reversed, starting from Natron and ending at Ngorongoro.
There is approximately six hours of walking each day. The distance from the rim of Embakai Crater to Lake Natron is 44 kms walk, or 230 kms by road. It is downhill for most of the way. Fly camps are basic and water is scarce. If you are up to it, there is the option of climbing Oldoinyo L'Engai at the end of the hike.
|1||Drive to Empakaai Crater trail head. A Maasai guide will be waiting near the small village of Sandwi. The eastern part of Empakaai is heavily forested. Optional descent into Embakai Crater (an additional three hours). Spectacular views from the rim of Embakai of the Rift Valley and the active volcano of Oldoinyo L'Engai. Overnight basic fly camp.|
|2||The vehicle will return to Ngorongoro Crater and then continue to Lake Natron. You can leave all unwanted baggage in the vehicle, which will meet up with you on Day 3 at Lake Natron. After breakfast, hike down from Embakai toward the small village of Naiyopi. Overnight basic fly camp at Lerai.|
|3||Early morning start. Breakfast en route. After lunch, if time allows, hike up the Engare Sero gorge to the waterfalls (recommended). The water is normally crystal clear and a delight to bathe in. Overnight Lake Natron Camp. (Optional midnight trek up Oldo inyo Lengai approx 7-10 hours guided trek)|
CAMPING ON HIKES
Donkeys or porters are used to carry equipment, food and water to the camp. You will be required to carry your own daypack, lunch box, drinking water and personal effects. Carry lightweight rain gear. Please keep your baggage to a limit of about 10 kgs for the hike.
Camping will be basic, utilising equipment that can be carried by donkeys. Tents are small back packing style tents with foam pad and bedding (sleeping bags or blankets). Sheets and towels are provided. Table and chairs are not provided. Mats are provided for sitting on the ground. A washbowl is provided but not showers. All water has to be packed on the donkeys. Bottled drinking water is available.
Aim 4 Africa can organise special guided treks to some of the craters in the highlands, as well as the opportunity to trek with Maasai Warrior guides and explore the surrounding areas in the footsteps of those that know the land best – the native Maasai.
This is a short walk around the rim of the eighth wonder of the world – the Ngorongoro Crater. The trek gives one the opportunity to explore the area on foot, learning about the different plants and wildlife inhabitants, as well as an insight into the lives of the Maasai peoples who have made this their home for years.
For those pressed for time this is one trek that can be easily incorporated into a safari itinerary over a half day.
Longer treks and walking safaris can be arranged to other off-the beaten path destinations. The areas around and in the Ngorongoro Highlands have some of the most spectacular craters, rock formations and natural beauty in Africa – here, one is totally at peace and harmony with nature. Your visit here is sure to rejuvenate your spirit!
Olmoti Crater is situated north of Ngorongoro Crater, and lies at an altitude of 3,700 metres but the crater itself is relatively shallow and home to many grazing animals. The crater can be accessed via Nainokanoka Maasai village (also a beautiful village to visit where one can gain a cultural insight into the daily lives of the Maasai tribe). Water cascades from a spring inside the crater to form a beautiful waterfall, which flows to form the Munge River feeding the Mwagusi Swamp in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Guided treks around the rim of the Olmoti Crater and its fringing forest can be arranged (trek takes about 3 hours). It is also possible to have a longer trek from Olmoti Crater to the Salei plains and have a driver/guide meet you enroute to Serengeti.
Empakaai (or Embakai) Crater, 300 meters deep and six kms in diameter, is another collapsed volcanic caldera which is dominated by a soda lake occupying about 75% of the crater floor. This is a truly beautiful, more isolated crater supporting a variety of unique aquatic birdlife including flamingo and pelicans, and much larger mammals such as buffalo, waterbuck and leopard. Very few people visit this crater compared to its more famous neighbour Ngorongoro Crater.
Guided treks can be arranged to the floor from the rim through dense rainforest, which is occupied by all sorts of wildlife – big and small, including buffalo, gazelle, monkeys, leopard and other animals. From the rim of the crater, one can see the conical active volcano Oldo inyo Lengai ( Mountain of God).
One of the most memorable experiences is camping in one of two special/private campsites on the crater rim, and waking up to a stunning dawn overlooking the soda lake in the crater and the beckoning peak of Oldo inyo Lengai.
For guests who are interested in an eco-friendly walking safaris, 3 to 5 day treks can be arranged from Empakaai Crater to Lake Natron. Visitors are given the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the Maasai, fly camping near Maasai settlements or in the heart of the bush land. A trek to the top of Oldo inyo Lengai can be arranged at the end of the walking safari. For those who only have a couple of days to spare in Ngorongoro, a full day to visit Empakaai and Olmoti Craters is very worthwhile giving guests the opportunity to explore off-the-beaten-path areas and the magnificent beauty of the Ngorongoro Highlands.
These lie within a range of the Oldo inyo Ildatwa mountains, which can be scaled in 4-6 hours following an hour’s drive from Ngorongoro Crater. Mount Oldeani is 3216 metres high.
This excursion offers guests the opportunity to stretch their legs in the middle of their safari experience, whilst affording a spectacular view over the Crater highlands and surrounding areas.
Visit off the beaten path locations just outside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park border, where one can trek, visit Angata Kiti and Salei, climb Nasera Rock and enjoy a picnic against the backdrop of Tanzania’s ancient volcanoes and free and open spaces.
Climbing up Nasera Rock is a bit of a challenge (although no technical skill required) and the views from the top of the rock and nothing short of amazing!
Anther beautiful rock formation in An’gata Kiti is Soit Naudo – an eye-shaped window in the huge granite boulder.