The Rift Valley Trail
A walk from Ngorongoro Crater to Lake Natron
This short trek in Tanzania takes you from one of the wonders of the natural world, The Ngorongoro Crater, into the heartland of the Maasai people, Africa’s archetypal pastoralists.
The Rift Valley Walk- Day 1: Arriving at The Crater
This trail begins on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater and this evening you meet your guide and fellow trekkers and talk through the plan for the next few days. The chances are that if you’re in this part of Tanzania, you will have been on safari in Serengeti, or climbed Kili, or one of the other peaks in Tanzania, if not, we can easily add other activities on to this walk.
Overnight in the lodge.
The Rift Valley Walk – Day 2: Olmoti Crater and Nainokanoka
Today we drive around the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater and look down, into the 100 sq miles that make up the floor. This is the world’s largest caldera and is a massive 12 miles across. They recon that the volcano that used to stand here was similar in size to Kilimanjaro, and that it erupted about 2 ½ million years ago. Imagine the bang!
The animals that live here are resident and don’t join the annual Serengeti-to-Maasai Mara migration . Ngorongoro is unusual because despite being part of the Serengeti National Park it allows restricted human activity. This means that you will see resident Maasai families and their herds of cattle that live alongside wild animals.
We drive on to the Nainokanoka Ranger Station and settle into camp. Set off on the half-day walk to Olmoti Crater and the enchanting Munge Falls.
Half-day walk to the crater. Overnight in camp.
The Rift Valley Walk – Day 3: Nainokanoka to Embakai
Your driver will collect you and take you the short distance to the tiny hamlet of Bulati, where we start walking towards Embakai Volcano. The walk begins with an uphill stretch ending at a beautiful high point giving panoramic views over the surrounding grasslands. The undulated through “bushy” country which finally opens up to reveal the active volcano, Oldoinyo Lengai in the distance. All along the trail you’ll have great views of the majestic volcano, as well as the impressive Embakai Crater which is smaller than Ngorongoro but equally dramatic. Fantastic bird and wildlife throughout this area.
Today’s trek is 9 km (3 to 4 hours). Dinner and overnight under canvas in a “fly camp” which means “temporary camp” on the crater rim.
The Rift Valley Trail – Day 4: Embakai to Acacia Camp
A well-maintained track descends the crater’s side and brings you to the crater floor, a third of which is covered by Lake Embakai. This alkaline soda lake is an important habitat for Lesser Flamingos which are resident here throughout the year. After breakfast the journey continues to a Maasai manyatta (‘village’) called Naiyobi (not to be confused with Nairobi!) During the morning you’ll have views of Lake Natron away to the north and the Great Rift Valley is all around you. Visiting the village is an opportunity to see the Maasai in their own back yard and learn how their lives are intertwined with the lives of their cattle. Lunch in Naiyobi. In the afternoon continue the walk, descending all the while, to a drier and warmer zone leaving the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area and entering the rolling grasslands. Camp will be prepared within a grove of flat-topped acacias.
Trekking distance: 13 km (4 to 5 hours). Dinner and overnight at Acacia Camp
The Rift Valley Trail – Day 5: Acacia Camp to Ol’Doinyo Lengai
The last stage of the journey is not too long and continues downhill. A big part of this rugged countryside is covered by the ashes of the last eruption of Ol’Doinyo Lengai (2007) which added to the already-surreal landscape. The trek goes deeper down into the dry and hot Rift Valley where the volcanic ash can be viewed from relatively close quarters (6 km). Just before lunchtime you rendez-vous with the Land Rover. We can drive up to Lake Natron to see the otherworldly site, or take a swim in a nearby waterfall. Dinner and overnight at Engaresero Camp. Ol’Doinyo Lengai, which means “Mountain of God” in Maasai is an active (though dormant) volcano. Lake Natron is one of the most alkaline lakes in the world and the annual nesting site of thousands of lesser flamingos; this is the single most important nesting area for this species (Oct to Jan) but flamingos are resident throughout the year. Fledgling flamingos are held in crèches that can number a couple of thousand birds.
The Rift Valley Trail – Day 6: Lake Natron to Arusha
Today you leave the Rift Valley behind and drive back to Arusha (5 hrs) but not before exploring Engaruka ruins: there are 7 abandoned villages dating from between 1750 and 1850 (no-one’s really sure). The irrigation system here is surprisingly complex. The trek ends in Arusha / or continue on safari.
Trekking to Lake Natron with private guide and cook
Donkeys to carry baggage
Tents and sleeping mats
All camp kitchen equipment
Unrestricted drinking water during the trek
International flight (which can be provided by Venture Co)
Drinks where not stipulated
Tanzania Visa (50 US$)
Duration: 6 days
Start: any day.