Highlands Trekking

What if we told you that you could trek across one of the most stunning landscapes in the world, climb an active volcano, walk alongside heards of Thomson’s gazelle and zebras and camp amongst traditional Maasai tribe. The Ngorongoro Conservation area is truly a spectacular place, holding many of the earliest human ancestral fossils; it offers visitors the chance to be witness to one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet.
 
Hiking enthusiasts will love this seven-day trek. For those with a high level of fitness, the steep paths and steamy atmosphere of the Ngorongoro Highlands provide an exciting way to see Tanzania's most beautiful conservation area far from the tourist crowds. Your tour will also include game drives in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and at beautiful Lake Natron.

 

itinerary

Day 1 - Arusha to Ngorongoro Crater
 
Depart from Arusha making your way towards the Ngorongoro Crater. Descend into the Ngorongoro Crater and enjoy a day of game drives. This 100 square mile natural amphitheatre is host to an astonishing array of wildlife and you may be lucky enough to see rhino, elephant and lion, as well as large herds of zebra and wildebeest. A picnic lunch will be taken inside the Crater before making your way in the late afternoon to camp.
 
Day 2 - Ngorongoro Crater to Olmoti Crater
 
Travel onwards to Nainokanoka. Here you take a short trek to Olmoti Crater, which takes you through the rain-forested slopes of Olmoti Crater to the rim viewpoint.
 
Day 3 - Olmoti Crater to Empakaai
 
Northeast of the Ngorongoro Crater lies the Empakaai Crater, Empakaai is about 6000m wide and 300m high. Among other animals, you will see buffalo, bushbuck, a variety of antelope and blue monkeys. Birds are in abundance. A deep soda lake covers a large part of the crater floor. There is a track to the crater-floor and one around the rim of the crater. On a nice, clear day, one can see Mt. Oldonyo Lengai, Lake Natron and Mt. Kilimanjaro. 
 
The trek continues to the distant Empakai Crater across open grassland through a natural amphitheater created by encircling volcanoes. Masai rush out of their traditional homes (Boma’s) to greet trekkers as they pass by. The steep walk up Empakai affords inspiring views, especially from the top where the sheer sided sunken crater can be seen. You camp on the Crater Rim, with Empakai on one side and Ol Donyo Lengai, the holy Maasai volcano, on the other. Overnight at Empakai Special Campsite.
 
A full exploration of Empakaai Crater will take up the whole day. In the morning we will hike down the steep forested slopes of the caldera, hopefully catching glimpses of rarely seen forest animals such as bushbuck, duikers and even leopards. Around the lakeshore we will find many species of water birds, and an abundance of flamingos. Up to four million of flamingos roam the Rift Valley lakes in great flocks throughout the year searching for the best feeding and bathing conditions. Our day will end with an ascent back to the same camp on the crater rim.
 
Day 4 - Empakaai to Nayobi
 
This unique hundred-square mile wildlife paradise has a greater density of wildlife than sensibly any other protected wilderness in Africa. It’s the last place to see relatively easily free-ranging black rhino. There are numerous lions, and large families of buffalo. The plains gazelle seem inestimable. The crater provides a scenic wonderland famed by its central lake and many shore birds including at times large numbers of flamingo.
 
Day 5 -  Nayobi to Ngaresero
 
The Maasai Mountain of God, “Ol Donyo Lengai” looms out of the sunrise as you head out early today to avoid the heat. You arrive at the escarpment, the sheer wall that looms out of the Rift Valley floor, to admire one of the finest views in Africa. Take in the sweeping vistas of the Rift Valley below, and the scattered active volcanoes, primitive rock formations, glimmering soda lakes and clustered Maasai bomas. The final six kilometers are across the tough uncompromising terrain of the valley floor in extreme heat. Our shaded camp is perched above a refreshing stream, a half-hours walk from a paradisiacal waterfall. 
 
 
Day 6 - Ngaresero Lake Natron
 
You'll enjoy a leisurely morning game drive around Lake Natron and it surrounds. Known both for its unique volcanic landscape and the large flocks of brightly coloured flamingos that call it home, Lake Natron's isolation also means that you have a good chance of having the area to yourself. You can expect to see wildlife such as zebra, wildebeest, oryx, ostriches, kudu, gerenuk, and jackals in addition to the lake's resident flamingos, but it is the area's distinct mix of ravines, craters, and lakes that makes it such a unique location. If the weather is on your side, you'll be able to take a refreshing swim in the lakes, and we'll finish our day off with a visit to a Masai boma before returning to Arusha.
 
After breakfast at the camp, then visit Lake Natron one of the soda alkaline lakes that jewel the East African Rift, here there is an array of water birds including hordes of resident flamingos. There is also the opportunity to walk up a gorge carved into the Rift Escarpment to a waterfall to wash off five days of dust! Than drive back to camp to relaxing and be ready for the trek tonight.                                                                                                           
 
Climb of Ol Donyo Lengai (2878m), an active carbonate volcano with spiritual significance to the Masai. This is a very demanding trek, which starts around 1 am in the morning so as to avoid the fierce midday heat. There is no shade on the mountain, and the terrain underfoot consists of tough scree, lava and volcanic ash, with steep furrows and gullies to negotiate. At the summit, there are two craters (one of which is still active), which can be explored, with due care, and the views across the Rift and towards Lake Natron are breathtaking. This trek is recommended for serious trekkers in good physical condition. A large water intake and a sunhat are strongly advised.  This trek can be added onto our Rift Valley Trek, for the ultimate wilderness trek across some of the most primeval, spectacular, unvisited landscapes on Earth
 
Day 7- Ngaresero to Arusha
 
You will be picked up at the base of Old Donyo Lengai Mountain around 10am with your driver and make your way back to Arusha.

 
 

Highlights

  • Hike the scenic Ngorongoro Highlanders including Empakai Crater takes you through open woodland and acacia forests
  • Includes game drives in the world famous Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the beautiful Lake Natron
  • Hike to the summit of Ol Doinyo Lengai, East Africa's only active volcano.
  • Visit multiple local villages, including a Masai community

Frequently Asked Questions

HOW ARE ITEMS SET UP DURING THE TREK?

Where and whenever possible we use our vehicle to transport the equipment. As a result thereof, the camp is already set up and snacks are prepared when you reach your daily destination. If and when it’s not possible to reach the campsite by car, the equipment will be carried by Masai herders and their donkeys

WHAT TIME OF YEAR IS BEST?

The warmest time with the least rainfall is between December and February, followed by the main rainy season from March until the beginning of June. Between June and October, temperatures are moderate with almost no rainfall. November is regarded as the small rainy season and daily short rainfalls with cloudy views are common. Except for the rainy season, this trek can be done the whole year round. Please keep in mind that you will be 2000 metres above sea level and the nights can get quite cold, even dropping to freezing point during the coldest months of July and August

CAN YOU TELL US  MORE ABOUT THE LANDSCAPES WE WILL SEE ON THIS TREK?

Close to the Ngorongoro Crater there are Olmoti and Empakaai Craters, less famous and less visited, but very interesting for a walking safaris off the beaten track. Both craters offers you the rare sense of pure solitude and peace, found only in remote, pristine places. The Olmoti Craters floor is shallow and covered with tussocks of grass. Besides the Maasai and their livestock you can sometimes see eland, buffalo and reedbuck. The Munge River origins from the waters from the Crater walls, crosses the caldera and plummets down over cliffs, falling some hundreds of metres into the steep-sided ravine below. Returning from Olmoti you can see the depression that is formed where the slopes of Olmoti, Empakaai, Lolmalasin and Losirua volcanoes join with the outer rim of Ngorongoro. this shallow, grassy bassin is called the Embulbul depression. Like the similar Malanja depression to the west, it probably collects and provides a sink for a good deal of water that appears lower down at the foot of the mountains. From theEmpakaai Crater rim you have a fantastic view in the craters’ green paradise. The caldera is about 6 km wide and nearly half of its floor is covered by a lake. The water in the lake is alkaline and the depth of the lake is about 85m, unusually deep for soda lakes in East Africa. The steep walls of the caldera, clothed in forest, rise in some places to almost 300m above the floor. The views along the trail downwards are spectacular at every point. All along you can enjoy the changing views of Empakaai itself. In addition, from the northern and eastern side you can look out to the dramatic cone of the still active volcano, Oldoinyo Lengai. If the day is clear, you can look beyond Lengai to the Great Rift Valley and Lake Natron. Sometimes you can even see the distant snows of Kilimanjaro far on the eastern side of the Valley. On your way downwards to the lake you might see buffaloes or bushbucks, blue monkeys, many birds (like sunbirds and turacos). At the shore of the lake are often waterbucks and elands. It is a joy to walk around the lake shore, experiencing the serenity and quiet beauty of this wild spot.

WHAT IS ACCOMMODATION LIKE ON THE TREK?

Unfortunately the campsites have no or only very basic ablution and shower facilities. Water sources are very scarce in the Ngorongoro Highlands and water often has to be transported to the campsites. For your daily wash we provide you with a bowl of warm water. The nights at the Craters can be quiet cold (both craters are at 3500 m), especially in June, July and August.