by AdminSoa
August 20, 2013

While it isn't possible to hike within the famous Ngorongoro caldera itself, a seven day Ngorongoro Highlands trekking adventure is a fantastic way to explore the surrounding area, learn more about local tribal cultures, and see some unique animals along the way.

Included in the hiking itinerary is a game drive through the iconic Ngorongoro Conservation Area, You'll then hike to such iconic local landmarks as Olmoti Crater, Empakai Crater, and the smouldering volcano itself - Ol Doinyo Lengai.

Camping along the way at local villages, this is a hiking experience for those who want to truly immerse themselves in Tanzania's rich culture.

Ngorongoro Highlands Trekking Itinerary

DAY 1: Ngorongoro Game Drive

After breakfast, we will proceed to Ngorongoro Crater for a half-day game drive.

Seen by many as the 8th Natural Wonder of the World, Ngorogoro Crater offers an unparralled opportunity to see the Big 5 in the wild. After a brief stop at the lip of the crater to take in the stunning panoramic view of the ancient caledera, we'll wind our way down to the valley floor where more than 120 species of mammals can be found. Ngorogoro Crater offers unmatched opportunities to see hippos wallowing in shady pools, vast flocks of flamingos feeding in shallow salt lakes, and even the chance to see the elusive black rhinoceros.

Bird-watchers will be amazed by the sheer variety of birds that call the crater home, while the vast herds of herbivores attract predators such as the cheetah and lion in numbers. Your guide will be an invaluable help to you during your day, spotting animals from some distance away and ensuring you get to see the many wild and wonderful animals that call the crater home.

Late in the afternoon, we'll drive to Nainokanoka Village where you'll set up camp and overnight.

DAY 2: Kamnana Village Hike

It's your first day of hiking, as we'll depart from Nainokanoka after breakfast to hike through the Embulimnuli Depression, a shallow depression where the slopes of the Olmoti, Empakaai, Lolmalasin, and Losirua volcanoes join with the outer rim of the Ngorongoro caldera.

The trail leads through both forests and open grasslands, following Masai cattle trails as we make our way to Kamnana Village to set up camp and overnight.

DAY 3: Empakai Crater Hike

One of the most popular hikes in Tanzania, the chance to hike Empakai Crater is one of the major selling points of any visit to the Ngorongoro Highlands.

Departing from camp after breakfast, we'll make our way to the Empakai Crater rim for an astounding view of the green paradise that exists within this lost world. Approximately 6km wide, the crater floor is dominated by an 85m deep alkaline lake. On a clear day, it's even possible to make out the distant Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano, the Great Rift Valley, and Lake Natron from the rim's north-eastern side. Look to the east and it's possible to catch a glimpse of snow-clad Kilimanjaro.

With photos taken, it's time to descend to the crater floor. With some parts of the crater rim rising 300m above the crater floor, you'll enjoy a steep descent with astonishing views of the heavily forested crater. During your descent, you'll have the opportunity to see wildlife such as buffaloes, bushbucks, blue monkeys, and a large variety of birds not limited to sunbirds and turacos.

While wandering along the shores of Empakai Lake, you'll have the chance to see waterbucks, bushbucks, and eland. Far removed from the hustle and bustle of the regualr tourist attractions, you'll be moved by the silence and serenity of this land that time forgot.

We'll then return to the crater rim to overnight.

DAY 4: Naiyobi Masai Village Hike

After breakfast and packing up camp, we'll circle along the crater rim to reach its north-western side. From here, we'll descend to Naiyobi Masai Village.

Arriving in the late afternoon, you'll have the opportunity to meet with the friendly Masai people who call the area home, paying a visit to a local school and sampling traditional Masai cuisine with these fascinating people.

We will then overnight in an acacia grove not far from the village.

DAY 5: Mounwongoni Village Hike

Beginning early in the morning, we'll make this 11km, 6-hour trek from Naiyobi to Mounwongoni Village.

A predominantly downhill hike, we'll move along dusty trails as we bid farewell to the verdant crater highlands.

DAY 6: Ol Doinyo Lengai Hike

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One of the few volcanoes in the world to emit sodium carbonate and potassium, still-active Ol Doinyo Lengai is a strikingly beautiful volcano that photographers and hikers alike love.

Due to the intense heat the volcano emits, it can only be climbed at night when the air is cooler, so we will depart at around 3 or 4 am to begin our ascent. As the only active volcano in East Africa, climbing Ol Doinyo Lengai is an invigorating experience that rewards successful climbers with an astounding view of the surrounding lands and distant Lake Natron.

Returning to camp at around lunch time, we will dine before heading out on a game drive around the Lake Natron area.

DAY 7: Lake Natron Game Drive

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.

Learn more about Ngorongoro Highlands Trekking.


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