5 Days Ngorongoro Highlands Trekking Overview

The Highlands are situated within the designated Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which protects the land of the area and the traditional Maasai way of life within it.  Of course the Crater itself is the main attraction of the Conservation Area, but equally amazing are the highlands that roll on around the Crater and whose magical spell will capture your soul.

The Highlands have redefined the Ngorongoro Crater experience, offering an array of activities afforded by Exposed Africa’s combination of comfort and contemporary styled packages that should not be missed on a northern Tanzania safari.

As the highlands are not within a park area, the usual park rules and restrictions do not apply.  Therefore, various activities are possible – including opportunities for exploring the area on foot with long hikes up into the mountains.

The vast, rugged and beautiful Ngorongoro Highlands offer one of the finest blends of culture, landscapes and wildlife in Tanzania and the best way to experience it is no doubt on foot. It’s diverse landscapes consisting of elevated volcanoes and craters, forests and vast grassy plains offer a remarkable experience that is incredibly mind-blowing.

For those with a high level of fitness, the steep paths and steamy conditions of the Ngorongoro Highlands provide an exciting way for sighting wildlife and potentially see Tanzania’s most beautiful conservation area far from the tourist crowds.

Day 1: Moshi/ Arusha to Olmoti Crater to Nainokanoka

Start: Nainokanoka, Finish: Nainokanoka, Altitude: ↑ ↓ 300 m, Distance: 2 km, walking time: 1-2h

We would pick you up from your hotel in the morning and we would drive on a good tar road to the village of Mto wa Mbu all along the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. The Masai plains that stretch to the horizon and the grand beauty of the alkaline Lake Manyara down below would give you one of the best scenic sights to watch.

Taking a short drive further alkaline Lake Manyara down below. After a short drive from there you would reach at the gate of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The drive through the scenic crater roads will continue until you arrive in Nainokanoka: a Massai village. During the setting of the camp here you can climb up to the rim of the Olmoti Crater or can enjoy a small water fall taking a short hop from there.Dinner will be served at the camp. Depending on the time of year, it might be cold (the camp is at an altitude of 2,650 m).
Lunch; Dinner

Day 2: Nainokanoka to Bulati

Start: Nainokanoka, Finish: Bulati, Altitude: ↑ 500 m, Distance: 16 km, Walking time: 4-5h

In the early morning a Masai guide will arrive with his donkeys. After breakfast and loading the donkeys, the journey begins and you will pass many traditional Masai bomas and cattle herds. Soon, you might also see wild animals such as Thompson and Grant’s gazelles, zebras and wildebeests with hungry jackals not far behind and majestic eagles observing the situation. After approximately 16 km of hiking you will reach a campsite not far from the Masai village Bulati.
Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner

Day 3: Bulati to Empakai

Start: Bulati, Finish: Empakai Crater, Altitude: ↑ 500 m, Distance: 9 km, Walking time: 3-4h

After breakfast, the journey goes up a hill from where you have a last panoramic view of the grass plains below. You would have to trek through the bushy landscapes till you reach the Oldonyo Lengai: an active volcano.  Before returning o the campsite at the evening you would explore the great views of the majestic volcano as well as into the impressive Empakai Crater.

Remember, after exploring the crater, there is a well-maintained path to descend to Lake Empakai inside the crater.  This alkaline soda lake is an important food source for flamingos, which can be seen throughout the year. Returning to camp supper will be waiting for you. During the night you might hear the flamingos call as they fly back to their breeding nests at Lake Manyara and Lake Natron.
Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner

Day 4: Empakai Crater to Acacia Camp

Start: Empakai Crater, Finish: Acacia Camp, Altitude: ↑ 200 m, Distance: 13 km, Walking time: 4-5h

Today you will hike to the Masai village Naiyobi and following a good path, the village as well as Oldonyo Lengai, an active volcano, can be seen from a distance. After lunch in Naiyobi, the trek leaves the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the landscape becomes drier and warmer. Tonight’s camp will be set up at amongst an acacia forest.
Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner

Day 5: Acacia Camp to Engare Sero to Arusha/Moshi

Start: Acacia Camp, Finish: Lake Natron, Altitude: ↓ 1200 m, Distance: 6 km, Walking time: 2-3h

The last stage of the journey is not too long and it goes mainly downhill. The highlights of the trek are the great views of Oldonyo Lengai, Lake Natron and the Rift Valley. The rugged countryside looks almost surreal covered by grey ash of the last eruption in 2007. You can see the ash up-close descending down in to the dry and hot Rift Valley. By the lunch time you would wait to your waiting vehicle that would take you back to Arusha/ Moshi.


Our Package Includes

  • Ngorongoro Highlands trekking according to the itinerary
  • Professional, English-speaking guide
  • Professional, English-speaking safari cook
  • Masai guide and donkeys
  • Overnight stays in safari tents and mountain tents
  • Camping equipment (tents, sleeping mats, chairs, tables etc.)
  • Meals according to the itinerary
  • Drinking water
  • All national park fees
  • All mentioned transfers
  • Flying Doctors insurance (AMREF) during the trekking

Not Included

  • Sleeping bag
  • Flights
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Visa fees
  • Tips
  • Personal spending money for souvenirs etc.
  • Travel insurance

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