12-days: Ngorongoro Highlands - Lake Natron - Lengai - Lake Manyara
This itinerary is a recommended example to truly enjoy what this remarkeable part of Tanzania has to offer. On request, modifications are possible, such as upgrade of accommodation (where available) to lodges.
Tag 1: Arrival / transfer to Arusha
Pick-up from airport or bus terminal and transfer to the hotel. Meeting of the group, presentation of the program and group dinner. Overnight at a uniquely designed and owner-managed lodge just a few minutes from Arusha town, situated in private grounds within a quiet residential area known as Sekei, with views of Mt. Meru (the 5th highest mountain in Africa, at 4,655 m). Pool and comfortable lounge with an excellent bar and dinner menu, complemented by staff who are friendly and attentive.
Tag 2: Arusha - Lake Manyara - Ngorongoro Highlands
After an early start, 6-hoursdrive to and through parts of the Rift Valley, passing spectactular scenery and Maassai villages. Encounters possible monkeys, giraffes, elephants and flamingos at Manyara viewpoint. In the late afternoon we arrive at our private campsite on the rim of the grand Ngorongoro crater.
Tag 3: Morning game drive in Ngorongoro - hike to Olmoti volcano
In the morning, we include a second game drive in Ngorongoro crater. In the afternoon, we circle the crater and drive into the vast and rarely visited central part of the Highlands to Olmoti volcano (about 1 hour drive). Option for an easy hike to the crater rim and down to waterfalls.
Tag 4: Hike from Olmoti to Empakai
Whole-day hike to Empakai Crater, through the impressive Embulbul depression. Camp on the crater rim of Empakai.
Tag 5: Full day at Empakai crater
We have a full day to explore Empakai Crater. Following a narrow trail we descend on foot into the thickly forested Empakai Crater. As we descend through the vines and over roots, we get glimpses of the emerald green soda lake which covers about a quarter of the crater floor. The lake is a haven for flamingoes. We have a picnic lunch by the lakeside, and then hike around the lakeshore and back to camp (4-6 hours total). Hot showers will be available, and then dinner, as we listen to the flamingoes pass overhead on their nightly journey toward Lake Natron. Oldonyo Lengai glows in the afternoon sun, poking its steep sloped top above the depths of the plains which surround its base well below the Rift Valley Escarpment, our next destination.
For the walk to Empakai Crater floor, carry your own picnic lunch box in your daypacks, to enjoy at the lakeside. This evening each person will need to prepare a “light” bag for the donkey trek portion of the next etappe.
Tag 6: Hike from Empakai crater to the Rift Valley rim
Using donkeys for camp porterage, we walk from Empakai Crater downward towards the edge of the Rift Valley Escarpment. Camp at an excellent viewpoint onto the Rift Valley and the splendid cone of Lengai volcano: for the Maassai, the Mountain of God.
Tag 7: Hike into the Rift Valley, base of Ol Doinyo Lengai mountain
Hike into the Rift Valley: steep cliffs on one side, Lake Natron in front and the impressive stratovolcano of Lengai on the other side. Down in the valley, we relax at a comfortable campsite near the lake.
Tag 8-9: 2 full days at Lake Natron: waterfalls, the salt lake, Lengai volcano, Maassai etc
Two full days to explore the Lake Natron area: the salt flats at the lakeshore with the flamingoes, underdo hikes into a nearby gorge to some spectacular waterfalls, observe / climb Lengai volcano, visit a traditional Maassai village etc.
Tag 10: Lake Manyara game drive
Drive to Mtowa Mbu. Game viewing in Lake Manyara National Park with picnic lunches.
Tag 11: Return to Arusha - night in Arusha
Transfer to Arusha (ca. 2 hrs), end of service
Tag 12: Departure or extension program
Transfer to airport or extension tour.