This is the finest and most beautiful safari hike in Tanzania: a week-long trek through what is the remains of the world’s super-volcano, Ngorongoro. It is easily inserted into most northern circuit safaris in Tanzania.
Three million years ago the highest structure on earth was a super volcano called Ngorongoro. It may have been two or three times the height of Everest. It blew its stack over about a half million years, and what remained has been more or less unchanged for the last 2.5 million years.
The entire area is today a highland rain forest, roughly about 6-7,000′ high, interspersed by huge meadows on which Maasai graze their stock. The trek begins at Ngorongoro Crater National Park, a huge caldera of the original volcano, a 100 sq. mile animal paradise filled with big game. The hike begins on the rim of the park about 1800′ above the savanna that is filled with animals. Of course animals come in and out all the time, and there is a good chance hikers will encounter game on the trek.
The trek is accompanied by an armed ranger, a cook, and several Maasai with their mules that carry camp. All gear is supplied and while participants are asked to assist with setting and breaking camp, all camp chores are done by staff, including cooking. After walking around the big crater national park, the trail heads northeast past several other now dormant volcanos, “children” of the original super volcano. The scenery is spectacular, the game is good, and the trek is through one of the most beautiful parts of Maasailand. The trek ends at the only remnant volcano that is still active, tiny Oldonyo Lengai, the sacred mountain of the Maasai.
This is not a difficult trek, with 8-12 km hiked daily. Along the way, however, there are opportunities to actually scale these smaller volcanoes, which would involve more strenuous climbing. But the walk itself is fairly flat, mostly using Maasai trails. Participants see one of the most beautiful parts of Tanzania, get to know the local Maasai, and undoubtedly encounter game.
The trek is operated year-round. However, note that during the months of April and May the rains can be quite heavy and for prolonged periods during the day. This area of northern Tanzania has only two seasons: a rainy season December-May, and a dry season June-November. Trekking during the rainy season in other than April or May is often the best time to go, as it’s when the veld is most beautiful and the animals most concentrated. During the months of December-March rains are not long-lasting nor uniform throughout the area. Note that at any time of the year, it’s cold at night. Because of the altitude, trekkers are usually surprised at how fresh and cold the trek can be. During the rainy season, there is often frost on the ground in the morning.reserve now
The prices include:
Additional expenses not included:
The trek begins by mid-morning at the main Ngorongoro rim road, not far from the down-road into Ngorongoro Crater National Park. This package does not include transport to this point, but this can be easily arranged. This week-long trip can be inserted into any other game viewing itinerary in the northern circuit, or operated as a separate, total trip.
You'll be met by the trek staff, including an armed ranger, who will remain with you for the entire week. Maasai herding donkeys will accompany the hike to carry all the gear. After lunch near the starting point, the afternoon is spent trekking around the north end of the crater national park, along the rim which is about 1800' feet above the caldera. Hiking generally stops around 4:30-5 p.m., so that camp can be erected and the meal begun before it's dark. The cook prepares standard trail meals like spaghetti, stews and soups, and also bakes fresh bread and rolls. Kerosene lamps are used to light the camping area. Overnight in an Adventure Camp.[l-d]
After breakfast camp is broken and trekking usually gets going around 10 a.m. A stop is made for lunch. This area is the most likely area for encountering game, although people on foot generally tend to spook animals long before they're seen. But the northern end of the crater is where literally hundreds of thousands of antelope including wildebeest move in and out every year. By the end of the day the trek usually reaches the end of the national park and heads off into Maasailand. Meals and overnight in an Adventure Camp.[b-l-d]
The day is spent trekking through beautiful Maasailand along the corridor of the volcanoes towards the old dormant Olmoti volcano. This is gorgeous pastureland and you will pass by a number of Maasai villages. To the east is a huge rim of the Great Rift Valley. Depending upon your progress, you may have time to scale part of all of the old Olmoti Volcano. Meals and overnight in an Adventure Camp.[b-l-d]
Today you trek from Olmoti Volcano to Empakaai volcano. As with yesterday, there are numerous little Maasai villages along the way and few, if any vehicles, as the track here is so bad that even cow carts have difficulty using it. You'll arrive Empakaii around noon and in the afternoon can climb to the rim (900' up a pretty steep embankment). Empakaii is probably the most beautiful of the dormant volcanoes, as it contains a crater lake in its center that is usually filled with flamingo. Camp can be placed at the top of the rim with beautiful views looking into the crater, and there will be time for the energetic to actually hike down into the crater floor. This is also an area with quite a lot of big game, including buffalo and leopard. Meals and overnight in an Adventure Camp.[b-l-d]
Today you cross from the western side of the volcanoes corridor to the eastern side towards the old Keramasi volcano. This is one of the greenest parts of the corridor, with thick vegetation as you begin to ascend the slope to the only active volcano, Lengai. There are fewer villages, but the scenery becomes strikingly beautiful and the going gets a bit more difficult. How far you get, today, will determine whether or not you'll be able to scale Ol Donyo Lengai, tomorrow. Meals and overnight in an Adventure Camp.[b-l-d]
The end of the volcanoes corridor is where the last volcano is found. Ol Donyo Lengai is the tallest and still active, though being small its destructive power is limited. In 2007 it had the most serious eruption in 100 years, and it forced the evacuation of villages as far away as Olmoti. The eruptions of Ol Donyo Lengai are never sudden. It spews steam for several months before actually exploding, and so obviously this trip will not end here if the volcano is spewing. It is likely, however, that it will be dormant. Climbing to the rim of Ol Donyo Lengai, and then down a bit into its ash cone is one of the top challenges of avid trekkers to East Africa. The slope is unvegetated and slick with relatively newly formed lava (over the last 100 years). The slope angle is pretty steady at 30 degrees, which is fairly severe, and at times actually reaches 45 degrees. Fit trekkers will leave in the early morning before light and the trip up to the rim, down to the ash cone, and back done to camp normally takes 10-12 hours. Some climbers are able to do this in half the time, but that would be unusual. For those who don't want to scale the volcano, there are plenty of other beautiful paths and routes around the volcano towards Lake Natron, one of the least visited and most beautiful parts of the Serengeti. Meals and overnight in an Adventure Camp.[b-l-d]
A Landrover will be waiting for you on the main Manyara trek to return you to Lake Manyara, today. Most people arrive in the early evening. No further arrangements are included in this package, but can be easily arranged.
Don't go yet! More great safaris are just ahead! Check out our many other East African safaris or call us for suggestions.[b-l]