Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lake Natron

Lake Natron is situated in the north of the Ngorongoro Highlands; to the south is the active volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai and to the west, is the edge of the Serengeti National Park. The journey is a long but beautiful passage through dramatic, harsh territory. Making this an outstanding destination for walking safaris. Walking in the African Bush with Maasai Warriors as you guides is a unique opportunity for spectacular game viewing combined with the prospect to experience cultural encounters amongst the Maasai, Datoga, and nomadic Bushmen. Lake Natron is a soda lake at the base of the active Ol Donyo Lengai volcano, the area around the lake is often described as having a desolate and almost lunar beauty. Walks around the lake and up along the side of the streams to the waterfalls along the nearby escarpment make for a fantastic adventure that is well and truly “off the beaten track”. Day 1: Arrival in Aruhsa. Day 2: Early morning head to Tarangire National Park, arriving in time for lunch, set up camp in a remote area of the park. After lunch take your first experience of Africa with a walk following the park border. Day 3 and 4 : Full day Walking Safari guided by an armed ranger, or if you prefer take a morning walk and an afternoon game drive in the park. The park is famed for a rich bird life. Depending on the season it is possible see elephants, zebras, wildebeest and even lions; with year round water this park has a prolific game especially in the dry season. Day 5: A short drive to the Ngorongoro Crater to set up camp on the crater rim. Take an early lunch and spend the afternoon on a game drive on the crater floor. Day 6: Early morning departure to Olmoti Crater and waterfalls for a half day walk. There is a good chance of meeting Maasai herders-men with there cattle en-route. In the afternoon proceed to the base camp at Empakaai Crater. Day 7: The views along the trail downwards to the crater lake of Empakaai are spectacular at every point. You might see herds of buffalo, bushbucks, blue monkeys in the flat toped acacia and always a good variety of birds. It is a joy to walk around the lake shore, experiencing the serenity and quite beauty of this wild spot. Overnight at the base camp. Day 8 : The hike to Lake Natron starts proper from Empakaai Crater. Descending the outer hills of the Great Rift Valley, walk through the open plains of the Embulbul depression, to the campsite at the village of Naiobi. This village offers the great privilege to meet the local Maasai. Ol Doinyo Lengai and Mount Meru are seen along the way. No porters here but the Maasai donkeys carry the luggage. Day 9: Trekking to Oldonyo Lengai the only active volcano of Tanzania, named by the Maasai as the holy mountain . It is a four hour walk to the foot of this impressive mountain, pitch tents and set up camp (an alternative camp is at Ngare Sero/ Kamakia at the nearby Lake Natron) Day 10: At midnight the steep accent of the mountain begins; this is in order to avoid the heat of the sun, there is no shelter on the mountain. This is a steep climb on loose scree is for the physically fit only. The summit, at 2,450 meters above sea level, is achieved by sunrise. From here there are fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, Lake Natron, Mount Meru and even Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear day. The crater itself offers a unique spectacle. You can descend onto the crater floor, everywhere it is bubbling and steaming, small fissures inside the crater produce streams of molten lava. Return to the base camp for overnight. Day 11: Trek to the Ngare Sero River. In contrast to the surrounding arid landscape, the water here has crated an oasis. The trek is a strenuous walk up the stream to the source; a cascading waterfall that gushes out of the mountain. Overnight at the Ngare Sero / Kamakia Camp. Day 12: At 05h30 drive to Lake Natron to experience the Sunrise over the Lake and a multitude of pink flamingoes. After breakfast depart by car to the village of Mto wa Mbu. The day is spent exploring the Great Rift Valley escarpment. Overnight at the campsite Fig Resort Campsite Day 13: Return to Arusha. The site has full details of National Parks and timetables for Zanzibar Ferries, flights and Buses in Tanzania â€" and has safari information. Use responsible tourism to make a difference to the countries and peoples you visit.

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