DAY ONE: ARUSHA – NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
After breakfast, you’ll depart for Ngorongoro Crater; considered by some to be the Eighth Wonder of the World. When you get your first glimpse of this vast, verdant caldera from the panoramic viewpoint, you’ll soon understand why it has earned such a lofty reputation.
Home to over 120 species of mammal including the fabled Big Five, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the most sought after safari destinations in the world. It’s a particularly good place to see the endangered black rhinoceros enjoying a lonely meal out on the grass plains, as well as a place to see large numbers of hippopotamus enjoying the cool water.
From the comfort of your open-top vehicle, you’ll be able to observe and photograph some of Africa’s most recognisable faces. The crater is home to a large number of predators including lions, leopards, cheetahs, jackals, and hyenas, as well as a large population of wildebeest, zebras, antelope, cape buffalo, and more. It is truly one of Africa’s premier safari destinations.
Your game drive experience will also include a picnic lunch by an active hippo pool.
You’ll overnight in the nearby town of Karatu.
DAY TWO: KARATU – KAMNANA VILLAGE
You’ll begin the hiking portion of your trip today, departing after breakfast for the nearby village of Nainokanoka.
Your hike today takes you 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 Maasai cattle trails as you make your way to Kamnana Village to set up camp and overnight.
DAY THREE: EMPAKAI CRATER
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. Empakai Crater offers unparalleled views of Ol Doinyo Lengai, a still active volcano. There’s also the opportunity to see Lake Natron, the Great Rift Valley, and even distant Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear day.
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. Taking a picnic within the park offers you the chance to soak in its utter tranquility before you hike back to the car for your return journey to Karatu Town or the crater rim.
We’ll then return to the crater rim to overnight.
DAY FOUR: EMPAKAI – NAIYOBI VILLAGE
After breakfast and packing up camp, you’ll circle along the crater rim to reach its north-western side. From here, you’ll descend to Naiyobi, a Maasai village.
Arriving in the late afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with the friendly Maasai people who call the area home, as well as paying a visit to a local school and sampling traditional Maasai cuisine.
You’ll then set up camp and overnight in an acacia grove not far from the village.
DAY FIVE: NAIYOBI VILLAGE – MOUNWONGONI VILLAGE
Beginning early in the morning, you’ll make this 11 kilometre, 6-hour trek from Naiyobi to Mounwongoni Village.
A predominantly downhill hike, you’ll move along dusty trails as we bid farewell to the verdant crater highlands.
DAY SIX: OL DOINYO LENGAI
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, you will dine before heading out on a game drive around the Lake Natron area.
DAY SEVEN: 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.
You’ll then return to Arusha.