Empakai to natron

The Great Rift Valley Trek – 5 days

Empakai to Lake Natron Trek – 4 night / 5 days

Why this adventure?
For active types Tanzania has a lot to offer and this is one of the most dramatic hikes in East Africa. As well as the amazing scenery there is also the chance to witness the changing lives of the Maasai in both Ngorongoro and Natron.

How to book

All our adventures can be booked through a tour operator near you. Just ask them about Lake Natron Camp, Ngare Sero and our range of activities and adventures and specify the “Empakai to Lake Natron Trek”.  You can add this adventure into your dates – all trips are customised to your dates.

Description
A 2 night trek combined with 2 nights in Lake Natron. The trek starts with a night at Empakai Crater in the Ngorongoro highlands (and depending on arrival time can include a descent into Empakai) from which our guides lead you down the outer slopes of Empakai with the second night on the edge of the Gregorian rift. You then trek down the rift valley with stunning views throughout and once at the base are transferred for 2 nights at Lake Natron Camp (Ngare Sero) and use this as a base for activities such as seeing the flamingoes on Lake Natron, visiting the hominid footprints, delving deep into the Ngare Sero gorge or even just relaxing in camp and enjoying the natural plunge pools. For the very active you can also climb Oldonyo Lengai (extra cost).

Highlights
Ngorongoro volcanoes – Empakai crater
Stunning vistas
Walking with Maasai Warriors
Learning about local tribes and customs
Being a witness to a changing times and culture
The unique habitat of Lake Natron
Flamingoes feeding & preening in fresh water streams

Itinerary In Short

Day 1: Drive to Empakai. Empakai trek. Empakai Camp (fb)

Day 2: Trek to Leonotis Camp (fb) Trek 16km

Day 3: Trek to Lake Natron Camp with a pick up at the bottom of the rift valley. Lake Natron Camp (fb) Trek 12km, Drive 14km

Day 4: Relax and take part in activities at Lake Natron Camp (fb)

Day 5: Depart

VIDEO

Itinerary In Full

Day 1 – Empakai Crater

On arrival at Empakai crater there is the option to descend into the crater. This is around 40 minutes down and depending on season can be quite slippery but certainly a great hike with stunning views. Flamingoes are often seen flying into the crater or feeding in the lake at the base. A hot shower is available before dinner. Overnight Empakai Camp (full board).

Day 2 – Rift Valley Scarp

Dawn rises and our lofty position affords a great sunrise. As we take breakfast our camp crew break camp and depart to send the camp ahead with donkeys. We then set off hiking with Maasai guides following a route that takes us through picturesque Maasai villages and rolling hills. Lunch can be taken on route as a picnic or if guests are very fit a late lunch can be had in camp. In the late afternoon a hike up to  a nearby viewpoint is highly recommended and a great place for sundowners! Dinner & overnight Leonotis Camp (full board).

Day 3 – Lake Natron

The final section of hiking has two options of a shorter hike or a longer more strenuous option right along the rift wall. The views are spectacular with the active volcano Oldoinyo Lengai dominating the foreground. This volcano affects almost everything from hydrology to lifestyle, as will become apparent. Once down on the rift valley floor we are picked up and transfer to Lake Natron Camp, Ngare Sero and here have the chance to jump in the natural pools to cool down. Sundowners are served at any number of beautiful points close to camp. Dinner & overnight Lake Natron Camp (full board).

Day 4 – Lake Natron

Lake Natron has a number of activities that are very easily combined with dawn walks and sundowners and in the middle of the day there is the nearby Ngare Sero gorge that you can walk to options of long hikes to the source or shorter hikes to waterfalls. The staff are on hand to make you stay as adventurous or relaxing as you want. Dinner & overnight Lake Natron Camp (full board).

Day 5 – Depart

After breakfast you can do some additional activities before departure and picnic lunches are provided to ensure you reach your goal well fed.

END OF SERVICES

GAME PACKAGE

INCLUDES

  • Support vehicle
  • WFR Trained guide
  • NCAA entry fees
  • NCAA Empakai private campsite fees
  • Ranger fees
  • Meals as described
  • Limited stock of red wine / beers / sodas
  • Tea / coffee / hot chocolate
  • Donkeys to carry guest luggage to Natron
  • 2 nights Expedition ‘Fly-camping’
  • 2 nights Lake Natron Camp
  • Activity fees Ngare Sero
  • Village fees Ngare Sero
  • Wildlife Department fees
  • Gate fees Longido
  • Gate fees Engaruka
  • Gate fees Ngorongoro District

Excludes

  • Ngorongoro game drive fees ($200 per car if needed)
  • Any changes to the itinerary requiring change of route or accommodation
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Personal evacuation insurance / travel insurance
  • Lengai climb fees (payable direct to village at $100 for 1 climber, $140 for 2 climbers)

WHAT TO WEAR

  • Sun hat
  • sunglasses
  • head torch
  • buff or lightweight neck gaiter (for keeping out dust)
  • rain shell
  • light fleece
  • long sleeve t shirt x 2
  • hiking trousers (zip off style are recommended so you have shorts too)
  • waterproof trousers
  • socks x 3 pairs
  • hiking shoes preferably with some decent ankle support
  • teva or flip flops for in camp
  • walking poles
  • gaiters for those that have low cut hiking shoes
  • water bottles x 3 enough to hold 3 Liters

 

Rift Valley Day Hike

A great alternative to climbing Lengai, this adventurous hike leaves at dawn from camp and you transfer to the base of the rift valley wall. You then scale the wall on foot, ascending close to the Ngare Sero gorge to enjoy the dawn. A picnic breakfast is taken with you and once on top this is the perfect place to enjoy being in one of the most dramatic view points in this region. After breakfast descend back down another route, or select the same way depending on time.

| price: included | time: 6 hours |

Ngare Sero Water Falls Hike

Let us arrange a walk up Ngare Sero gorge to see the spectacular waterfalls. The scenery is a unique blend of arid volcanic rocks and lush tropical palms. Wear shoes that can get wet, preferably trainers or secure sandals, as it is rocky underfoot! Take 2 litres of water and snacks. Its great spot for lunch so please ask your guide for a packed lunch!

| $included | time: 2- 3 hours |

Bird Watching Walk

The Lake Flats surrounding the waters edge contain small streams, lakes and hills that provide a variety of hospitable environments for birds that thrive in the alkali oasis. Take evening or morning walks to the lake, pond and marsh for bird-watching. This tends to be a longer walk than the Flamingo walk, incorporating ponds further afield. You can combine this with a walk to the hominid footprints as well.

Also, for some simply stunning photography check out Nick Brandt’s images and the article on the same at Huffington Post.

| $included| time: at your leisure |

Flamingo Lake Walk

The beguiling lesser flamingo feed on algae found in soda lakes across eastern Africa but choose to breed almost exclusively at Lake Natron. Our guests can take early morning or sunset walks to the lake flats. For seasonal more intense flamingo experience please see Pinyinyi Flamingo Picnic Lunch.

| $included | time: 1 to 4 hours |

Swimming

Cool off in any one of the natural plunge pools in front of the accommodation units or dining / bar area. There is also a larger pool suitable for swimming further down stream as well as endemic cyclids – bring some goggles or ask our team for a pair!

| $included | time: at your leisure|

Hominid Footprints

Walk to hominid footprints within our concession area. These footprints were discovered by members of our team and since then have been investigated by separate teams both locally and internationally to try to establish how they came to be. Initially it was thought that they might be as old as 100,000 years or more but recent studies indicate them to be younger. A fascinating chance to look back in time at a group of people that raises a number of questions about hominids in East Africa and part of a larger story of man in East Africa.

| $included | time: 1 to 2 hours, can be combined with sundowner |

Sundowners

Walk to one of the nearby sundowner spots. Enjoy your sundowner overlooking the Lake Natron, the majestic Lengai and Gelai mountains and watch the sun go down behind the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. Note private sundowners can be arranged in conjunction with the use of your tour operators vehicle (ask your tour operator for any additional costs).

| $included| time: at your leisure |

At home with the Maasai

This part of the Great Rift Valley is populated by the Maasai people. Maasai bomas spread around the area, but the main central village is few kilometres away to the west at the base of the escarpment. The village is named Engare Sero, which means dappled water. This village gets its name from the river flowing out of the escarpment through a spectacular gorge that is both arid and lush. Take some time out with your guides and visit a local homestead.

| $100 per group| time: 2 hours |