Wednesday
Sep152010

NGORONGORO HIGHLANDS TREKKING SAFARI (detailed)

Day 1 Leaving the lodge after breakfast we set off for the drive to what many people describe as ‘the 8th  wonder of the world’ – the Ngorongoro Crater. This takes around 3-4 hours following a tarmac road to the Ngorongoro gate. As we drive away from Arusha we can look back for good views of nearby Mt Meru and if it is clear can see Kilimanjaro in the distance, with the summit glaciers shining in sunlight. On the way we pass through small villages, where we can see Masai shepherds tending their goats and cattle, and the small towns of Karatu and Manyara, which also provide real insight into the country and the people’s way of life. We will have driven for over 2 hours through mainly flat plains when we pass through Manyara and climb up the escarpment before us. Until now we have been at the bottom of the Great Rift Valley, and the escarpment is in fact the edge of the valley and the result of converging fault lines. Stretching 5000kms from the tip of the Red Sea to Mozambique and South Africa, this is the world’s largest valley system. On a more local scale, driving out of the valley we pass large baobab trees and have views down over Lake Manyara at the bottom of the escarpment, and its surrounding national park. From here it is a further hour or so to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area gate, where we leave the tarmac behind and the road changes to a graded track, which can be dusty in the dry season and very muddy in the rains. The road climbs through forest to the edge of the crater and after 45 minutes we come to a fork in the road and the first views of the amazing Ngorongoro Crater below, as we are now on the rim. It is the largest unfolded, unbroken caldera (volcanically formed crater - now inactive) in the world. It is 20km in diameter, an area of 265 sq kilometres, and crater walls over 600m high with no roads or settlements within it. As a result, it is a diverse and very special environment that is home to an abundance of African wildlife, and this viewing spot makes a superb place for us to stop for a packed lunch! From here we continue our journey around the top of the crater into the Ngorongoro Highlands, to Olduvai Gorge (site of the Leakey’s archeological digs where the ealiest human tools have been found). Overnight at campsite on the Crater Rim an elevation (2700m) with amazing views across (Simba ‘A’ Public Campsite).

Day 2 The crater rim of Ngorongoro is roughly 3,000m above sea level, making nights cool and crisp all year round. Days often start with some low cloud but are usually fine and as the sun comes up they dissipate and temperatures are usually comfortable-to warm by about 9.30 – 10 am. As the sun goes down later in the day the temperature can drop quite dramatically and there can be a chill to the evening air, so fleeces and sometimes hats may be required to stay warm!. We take breakfast in the campsite before heading down into the crater to spend all the morning watching game in this superb setting. The crater is a World Heritage site (designated by UNESCO in 1979), part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and part of an International Biosphere Reserve, as declared by UNESCO, and is home to over 20,000 large animals including lion, elephant, leopard, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and hippopotamus. Some of the last remaining black rhinos in Tanzania can be found in the crater too. The Ngorongoro Crater is deservedly one of the world’s most famous wildlife-watching destinations, and having one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa inhabiting this spectacular setting, we are sure to see some great sights and a lot of wild animals. We spend the day in four-wheel drive safari vehicles allowing us to view game via dirt tracks and to best negotiate the tracks into and out of the crater. After the cool night-time temperatures and fresh morning, once the sun is up and we have descended onto the crater floor it  can get hot during the day, We stop within the crater for a packed lunch and it is soon time to carry on our game viewing. Overnight at campsite on the Crater Rim. (Simba ‘A’ Public Campsite). 

Day 3 After breakfast we set off for the drive to Seneto for 5-6 hours walking along the crater rim through ndembesi forest to Layanai campsite situated on the northern edge of the Ngorongoro crater. The walk is supported by donkeys, which carry our luggage, provisions and equipment, and by our crews, who put up and take down all the tents and prepare all the meals too. Overnight at Layanai special bush campsite. B.L.D

Day 4 After breakfast we set off for 5-6 hours walking along to Nainokanoka campsite via Olmoti Crater through forested slopes, grassland savannahs and bush, situated on the northeast edge of the Ngorongoro crater. Overnight at Nainokanoka special bush campsite. B.L.D

Day 5 After breakfast we set off for 7-8 hours walking along to Empakaai campsite. On our way via Embulbul Depression and Bulati. There are some Maasai Bomas (traditional villages) that we will see during the walk and probably some Maasai shepherds grazing their herds on the grasslands. Overnight at Empakaa special Campsite. B.L.D.     

Day 6 Empakaai Crater is situated on the northern edge of the Ngorongoro crater, near the edge of the Rift Valley escarpment. It is another caldera, though smaller than Ngorongoro at about 6km across, but it is a spectacular crater with lush vegetation covering its slopes right down to the bottom, over half of which is covered by a striking blue lake that is used by flamingos amongst other wetland birds. After an early breakfast in camp overlooking the crater, we start our walk by descending through the forest towards the crater floor for a very different perspective of this amazing place. There is a good chance, on the way down, of seeing some game drinking from the lake at the bottom of the crater. It is about 6-7 hours walk, we stop within the crater for a packed lunch and it is soon time to carry on our hiking back to campsite for overnight at the crater rim –as last night.

Day 7 We walk out of camp after breakfast heading to Acacia camp. Bush campsite overnight. (Acacia Special Campsite). B.L.D.

Day 8 We walk out of camp after breakfast heading to Lake Natron, we are met by the vehicles near the edge of the Oldoinyo Lengai mountain to drive to the Kamakia campsite. We can visit the shores of Lake Natron during late afternoon. Just after visiting the shores of Lake Natron during late afternoon. We have two options:

  • OPTION 1: Climb the nearby volcano of Oldoinyo Lengai (2,878m) in the same day. We need to get to bed early because we need to get up around midnight to get to the top for sunrise and avoid the heat of the day. The group meets up again in camp and lunch is served before we leave for the drive south, traveling along the foot of the escarpment on dirt roads towards Twiga lodges and permanent camp near Lake Manyara National Park. Overnight at campsite – with hot shower!.
  • OPTION 2: Overnight at Kamakia campsite. Day 9 Have breakfast at the camp, then travel along the foot of the escarpment on dirt road toward Twiga lodges and permanent camp. We will have time to clean up in the lodge and for those that wish, we can take game drive.

Day 9 Breakfast at Twiga lodges and luxury campsite is at around 7.30 am so that we can conduct cultural experience activities around Mto Wa Mbu. Hear you can take a leisurely walking safari to visit some of the Schools and project supported by a portion of a profit we earned from each booked trip and many different tribes and cultures in the area. Discover their farming, irrigation, sample local cuisine, visit income generation projects and generally gain a deeper understanding of the lifestyle of the people who live and work here. Return to Arusha in late afternoon. It is about a 2-hour drive and we should arrive at the Lodge (generally) where we left some of our equipments in the first day, late afternoon for dayrooms so we can shower and arrange our luggage for the flight home tonight, we will aim to leave the lodge early evening for Kilimanjaro airport.

Or we can conduct game viewing after breakfast around Lake Manyara National. Park where you can watch different species of Birds. By good lack you may have an opportunity to see Tree climbing Lion where is the most popular for them as they has adapted this mechanism for escaping from enemies such as Elephants as the area is well populated by Elephant due to the reason that most Elephant migrates from Tarangire to the area. Return to Arusha in late afternoon. It is about a 2-hour drive and we should arrive at the Lodge (generally) where we left some of our equipments in the first day, late afternoon for dayrooms so we can shower and arrange our luggage for the flight home tonight, we will aim to leave the lodge early evening for Kilimanjaro airport.