NGORONGORO HIGHLANDS

Ngorongoro highland offers histrionic hike in East Africa. This hiking takes you through the diverse landscapes of the Ngorongoro Highlands. You will hike through grassy plains and the mountainous countryside as well as thick mountain forest and the savannah landscape of the Rift Valley. This walking safari is a unique chance for those who love walking and hiking adventures.
Apart from irreplaceable landscapes and seeing wildlife, this hike allows insight into the daily routine of the Maasai people. It will not end there, it will take you to the edge of the great rift valley where you can descend to the base of the escarpment wall right on the foot of the active volcanoes in the world, Mountain Ol Doinyo Lengai. This walking safari is a unique chance for those who love walking and hiking adventures, it is very good if your hike will end on the shores of the Lake Natron which is an alkaline lake which serve as the breeding ground for the Lesser Flamingo.

Ol Doinyo Lengai:
Rising to an altitude of 9717 feet the symmetrical, steeply sided and still active volcano of Ol Doinyo Lengai is located in the Eastern Rift Valley of remote northern Tanzania. Soaring 6562 feet (2000 meters) above the dry and rocky desert floor, it is considered the home of the Masai god, Eng'ai, who occasionally signals her wrath with eruptions and drought. Pronounced ol doyn-yo len-guy, meaning 'Mountain of God' in the Maasai language, it has long been a place of pilgrimage for Tanzania's pastoralists, who pray for the most important things in their world: rain, cattle, and healthy children. In one of the more common rituals, Masai elders lead groups of barren women to the base of the mountain, where they pray to Eng'ai to bless them with children.
The Tanzanian volcano, sprouting in the middle of a plain, is the only active volcano on Earth spewing carbonatite lava instead of silica, a rare chemical makeup that yields some bizarre results. The lava that flows from Ol Doinyo Lengai is uniquely cool: At “only” up to 950 degrees Fahrenheit, it is nearly twice as cold as silicate magma.


Empakai Crater:
With a lake on the Crater floor and the entire caldera encircled by a steep, densely forested wall, Empakaai is a scene of vast natural beauty. On clear days the Crater offers views of Ol Doinyo Lengai, Tanzania’s most recently active volcano. The steep slope calls for a degree of fitness, but the walk through the lush forest, with its ancient strangler figs and rich birdlife, is well worth the effort. The trail continues to the lakeshore, where you can view water birds such as flamingo.
A caved in the volcanic caldera, Empakaai Crater stands at 300 meters in height and more than six kilometers in width. Rippling at its heart is Empakaai Lake, an 85 meters deep alkaline pool that envelops three quarters of the crater’s floor. Standing at Empakai Crater’s imposing rim, you can see landmarks, such as the distant fleecy snows of Kilimanjaro far on the eastern side of the Valley, the Great Rift Valley, and Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano.
Along with your hiking sojourn, while taking in the glorious sights, you are sure to spot a profusion of animals including blue monkeys, buffalo, bushbucks, waterbucks, and an extensive array of kaleidoscopic bird life.

Olmoti Crater:
Though lacking the drama of Ngorongoro and Empakaai, Olmoti Crater, 13km north of the Lemala ascent descent road, is worth visiting on the way north into the highlands. It's also the starting point for two days hiking to Empakaai. Olmoti's crater floor is shallow, haired with grass and crossed by the Munge River. To reach the rim, it's a one-hour return walk from where the 4WD track ends on the crater's eastern side. From there, a short trail leads to the Munge Waterfall.
The walk offers very good birding, with raptors such as the augur buzzard, and daintier forest birds, including the golden-winged sunbird that we spotted. A large array of butterflies is attracted by varied vegetation, with some splendid fern species. You will have a chance to see the traditional medicinal uses of the various plants, as well as pointing out animal tracks: a hyena had walked along your path.

Lake Eyas:
It is an area of spectacular Rift Valley scenery which lies just to the west of the main safari route through the Ngorongoro Karatu area in Northern Tanzania and centered on the beautiful Lake Eyasi itself. It is one of several lakes on the floor of the Great Rift Valley. The southwest flank of Ngorongoro Volcano drains into the northeast end of the lake. The lake is generally rectangular, except the indented southeast side, which appears to be shallower because sediment has filled in the shore. Most of the former shoreline can be identified by the color change around the fairly steep embanked perimeter of the lake. Seasonal water level fluctuations in the lake are dramatic, perhaps indicating that Lake Eyasi is relatively shallow even during periods of maximum water.
The main potential downsides are that this is not a strong wildlife area, there is a good deal of human habitation and farming around the lake, the Hadzabe interaction is not well controlled and the drive down here is pretty arduous.

Mount Oldeani:
To get to Mt. Oldeani from the Eyasi viewpoint, you need to walk directly uphill. This is a stiff climb of about 2 hours. It is about 900 meters climb, eventually reaching a height of 3,200 meters at the top. There is a great chance to see a difference in the vegetation, the plants and the birdlife. It is all open grassland with no forest or thickets of dense bush. At certain times of the year, the profusion and color of the wildflowers will surely amaze anyone.
Mount Oldeani offers a spectacular panorama from the top with magnificent views in every direction: the crater to the north, the Serengeti and Lake Eyasi to the West, Lake Manyara to the South, and the crater highlands to the East. This walk can be done in about 4 hours. However, it can be easily expanded into a more leisurely, half-day excursion with a picnic lunch.

Mount Makarot:
This is also shown on many maps as Mt. Lemagarut. It’s best to depart after breakfast and drive down the road to Endulen as far as the village of Misigiyo. The walk starts there in an acacia-filled valley, from which walker emerge into scrub and grassland. It is a stiff 2 hours climb to the peak, where there is a good view back down of Lake Eyasi, and Endulen.
After another half an hour through some beautiful, high-altitude forest. There is a great chance to see signs of animals such as buffalo, and baboons along the track. Eventually, scramble up another 200 meters to reach the Makarot peak itself at 3,130 meters. From there, there is an outstanding view and the feeling of standing on the roof of the world. The ground falls away to the Lake Eyasi, the western wall of the Rift Valley, Lake Ndutu, Olduvai Gorge, and the plains of the Serengeti. In the distance, there is the Gol Mountains. To the left, there is Mt. Oldeani, and to the right the western part of the Ngorongoro Crater.
Depending on the time of year, the beauty and variety of wildflowers are remarkable. Normally, people eat the lunch that is wisely packed while admiring the view from up here. Then descend either by the same way from, or down the northern slopes of Makarot towards the Serengeti plans, and rendezvous by the car on the road to the Serengeti.

Endoro River Nature Trail:
Situated just to the north of the small town of Karatu (5km round trip), uphill into the Northern Highland Forest Reserve, where there are the elephant caves (created by elephants digging up and eating dirt to take advantage of the vitamins and minerals in the soil), and a 150m waterfall. From the top of the trail, there are beautiful views over the agricultural country around Karatu.
The forest is home to elephant, buffalo, leopard, waterbuck, bushbuck and vervet monkeys, plus a variety of birds. This is montane forest, not tropical, and is a vital source of water for the wildlife, and as well as the farming communities to the south.

**Notes: All walks must be accompanied by an armed ranger from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority. Although the risk of coming into contact with a dangerous, large animal is not very great, it is a law that you are accompanied by a ranger, just in case! In order to ensure the availability of a ranger, it is preferable to book walks in advance. A Maasai Elder who has been born, and has lived in the Ngorongoro his entire life can accompany you and your group on the walk and provide a cultural perspective of the area. It may occasionally happen that adverse weather conditions (low cloud and rain) make it impossible to do the walk. We also recommend good walking shoes or boots, a sunhat and a waterproof jacket – just in case of a shower of rain. During these walks, small numbers of animals will be seen but the main attraction of the walk is the natural beauty of the scenery, not the game viewing.