Day 1: Depart from Arusha at 8:00 am for Empakai Crater in the Ngorongoro Highlands. This drive is 6 hours, picking up a park ranger at the Olmoti Ranger Post and driving the last hour with the ranger in the vehicle. Upon arrival at camp, pick up lunch boxes (prepared by the camp crew before arrival), and 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 exotic 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 3 hours, and the total trek is from 4 to 5 hours. Upon arrival back at the campsite, a hot shower will be available in a shower tent. Dinner will follow in the dining tent. Accommodation: Empakai Camp. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 2: Depart camp around 10am. Donkeys will carry your light bag (for one night only), plus the sleeping bags and sleeping pads 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 to the north. 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 and groves of yellow barked Acacia (Fever Trees). The private campsite is set under acacia trees, with a stunning view of Lengai. You arrive at about 3pm to the campsite for snacks and drinks. Accommodation: Acacia Camp. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: After breakfast, set off early, downward still, though more steeply 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. The temperatures grow quite hot, and areas of shade are oases from the heat. Once we reach the base of the escarpment, we’ll be picked up and driven over to the private campsite under shade in the forest on the south shore of Lake Natron. Take the afternoon to relax in camp, or we have 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! Dinner and overnight at Lake Natron Private. For Lengai 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.), an dit takes 4-6 hours to reach the summit (9,900’). 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 sights here will forever enchant you. The 30 minute climb to the summit affords you panoramic views toward Ngorongoro, Empakai and the 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 grueling portion of the trek, and it is quite dangerous due to the excessively steep terrain. The temperatures soar by mid-morning, and there are no trees to protect you from the hot sun. A vehicle will take your weary body back to camp where you can rest. The total trekking time is about 8 to 11 hours. A mountain rope, VHF hand-held radio, and snacks are included in the add-on price for Lengai. A rain shell, a hat which covers the ears, and a light pair of gloves are needed for Lengai. Trekking poles are recommended, and can be rented for $5 each. Accommodation: Lake Natron Private Camp. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: After the descent, drive back to Arusha, via Engaruka and Mto wa Mbu villages (with picnic lunch en route), along the base of the Rift Valley Escarpment. The drive back to Arusha is 6 hours. When you arrive at Empakai, there will be 4 staff present, including 1 driver/camp-hand, 2 cooks, and the Maasai trekking guide, there to greet you. For the walk to Empakai Crater floor, you will carry your own picnic lunch box in your day packs, to enjoy at the lakeside. Bottled mineral water is optional for each person (10 liters per person for the entire trip is recommended). Camping details at Empakai: The camp at Empakai includes: 2.3 m x 2.3 m dome sleeping tents with bed frames, 3” foam mattresses, sleeping bags with fleece liners, pillows with pillow cases. Dining is in a mountain mess tent, with dining tables and backed chairs. 1 toilet tent and 1 shower tent is provided. Large bath towels are provided. The Maasai trekking guide carries a VHF hand-held radio for emergency contact uses. You will carry your own picnic lunch box in your day packs, to enjoy en route.
Also see tour packages in:
Africa Tanzania Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking
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