Ngorongoro Highlands Donkey Trek

Ngorongoro Highlands trekking

Ngorongoro Highlands trekking

The Ngorongoro highlands are home to some of the East Africa’s most spectacular sights; misty forests and rolling hills, ancient craters and the noble Maasai who inhabit this beautiful land. You are in the heart of Maasailand with a Maasai guide which is a very special experience. The daily trekking time ranges from 4 to 6 hours, and trekkers are only required to carry a daypack.

Day 1 – Depart from Arusha at 8am for Empakai Crater in the Ngorongoro Highlands. This drive is about 5 hours. Upon arrival at camp, begin the descent with an armed ranger through the lush forest leading to the crater floor about 1500 feet below. Along the way, enjoy the vegetation and stunning views of the flamingo-lined soda lake. Thousands of flamingos line the shore, which gives the impression of a “pink beach” during the walk down. The walk around the lake takes approximately 1½ to 3 hours, and the total trek is from 4 to 5 hours. Overnight at Empakai Special Campsite.

Day 2 – Depart camp around 10am. Donkeys will carry your light bag to the next campsite. The walk carries us on a rough 4 x 4 track leading along the rim of the crater, and eventually down a ridge looking out over the highlands. The top of Oldony’o Lengai juts into the sky, its steep slopes piercing the horizon created by the highlands atop the Rift Valley Escarpment wall. Along the road we pass Maasai women walking to the crater rim with donkeys in search of long grass to cut for their cows, and for roofing for their bomas (huts). The area is home to the Maasai people, living their traditional pastoralist lifestyle. We walk down into the small village of Nayobi, a center of trading ‘center’ for the local community. Continue on a cattle trail downward into scrub-woodland. The private campsite is set under acacia trees, with a stunning view of Lengai. You arrive at about 3pm to the campsite. Dinner and overnight at Acacia Private Bush Campsite.

Day 3 – After breakfast, set off early, downward still, along to the edge of the escarpment wall. The trail turns sharply downward along an ancient trading route to the foot of Lengai…for centuries the Maasai on the lower plains have traded their goods with the Maasai in the highlands. We stop midway along the trail to eat lunch in the shade of a canyon. Once we reach the base of the escarpment, we’ll be picked up and driven over to our private campsite set under giant Acacia shade trees on the south end of the lake. Take the afternoon to relax in camp, or we visit by vehicle the lake shore. Dinner and overnight at Lake Natron Private Camp.

For those who want to hike Oldony’o Lengai; Rest during the afternoon, and go to bed early. You’ll be woken at 12am with a cup of tea or coffee, and then drive to the starting point of the hike, about 45 minutes from camp. The start point is at (3500 ft / 1065 mt.)), and it takes 4-6 hours to reach the summit at 9,900’ (2890m). The trek begins at about 1am, through scrubby bushes, and becomes increasingly steep as we trek through the night. By dawn, you should reach the steep rocks at the edge of the crater rim, to step into a world of lava chimneys (cornitos) venting sulphuric gases into the air.  The 30 minute climb to the summit affords you panoramic views toward Ngorongoro, Empakai and the Ngorongoro Highlands to Lake Natron, and even you can see the sun rise over Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru. The descent (which takes 2.5 – 4 hours) is the most gruelling portion of the trek. Trekking poles are recommended, and can be rented for $5 each.

Lake Natron is one of Tanzania’s Great Rift Valley soda lakes. The lake is also the only breeding area for the 2.5 million Lesser Flamingoes, who flock along saline lakes in the region, feeding on Spirulina (a blue-green algae with pink pigments). In the morning we visit the lakeshore on foot, and in the afternoon we take a short hike (about 30-45 minutes) up into the gorge to visit the Engare Sero waterfall, to marvel at the beauty of these falls, or go for a swim! This area is called ‘Engare Sero’, meaning “endless water” in the language of the Maasai. Dinner and overnight in our private campsite.

Lesser Flamingos at Lake Natron

Lesser Flamingos at Lake Natron

Day 4 – After breakfast, drive back to Arusha, via Engaruka, the village of our company founder, Olemisiko, and Mto wa Mbu villages, along the base of the Rift Valley Escarpment. The drive back to Arusha is about 4 hours.

Prices:

Prices vary depending on a number of factors including the time of year you are travelling, the number of persons in your group, whether you have any children in your group. We are happy to provide you with pricing information if you can provide us with some basic details including those already noted. Contact us for pricing by clicking on this link.