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Explore the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area Highlands

  • Exciting off the beaten track, day hikes, short walks or long multi-day hikes.
  • Spectacular scenery with wildlife, mountains and craters.
  • Experience culture, nature and hiking on it's own or combined with a wildlife safari.
  • Quiet locations. not packed with tourists.
  • and much more!
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Ngorongoro Highland Trekking map

Overview

The Ngorongoro Highlands

The Ngorongoro Highlands are one of our favorite places in Tanzania to hike. This unique 'off the beaten track' location offers spectacular scenery through the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area highlands, forest walks, mountains, craters, Maasailand and the Rift Valley. The scenery here cannot be compared with anywhere else in the world combined with the fact that these are quiet areas with mainly the local Maasai inhabitants who coexist with wildlife in harmony, making this must visit place for adventure travelers.

Itinerary

Click to expand the various itinerary options for this destination. Itineraries indicated as * Recommended * are chosen for their duration, duration spent on activities and overall great experience.

Day 1 - Empakai and Olmoti Crater

Empakai CraterYou start your journey early from Karatu, Mto wa Mbu or the Ngorongoro Crater rim today at 06:00am-08:00am. Once inside of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area you take the scenic road to the base of Olmoti Crater (near Nainokanoka ranger post where you will meet your armed Ranger. You can climb up to the Olmoti crater rim (1 hour, low to medium fitness) to enjoy the view.  You drive further until Empakai camp where you have the option of hiking down into the Empakai crater (2 hours, low to medium fitness). From Empakai you will head back to your overnight lodge or camp in Karatu, Mto wa Mbu or the Ngorongoro Crater rim.

  • Approx driving distance: 2-3 hours to Olmoti and Empakai / 2-3 hours back to Karatu, Mto wa Mbu or the Ngorongoro crater rim
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger
  • Optional extras: Maasai village visit, pre or post tour accommodation
  • Meals included: Picnic lunchbox
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (optional)

(Speak to a tour consultant for your specific options)

Day 1 - Ngorongoro Crater Rim Highlands

Ngorongoro HighlandsYou start your journey early from Karatu, Mto wa Mbu or the Ngorongoro Crater rim today and once inside of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area you proceed with an armed park ranger to the Ngorongoro Crater rim where you explore the surrounding areas with a walk (low to medium fitness). Your walk will take you around the forest highlands and across the diverse landscapes of the highlands around the crater with scenic views in all directions. t You can climb up to the Olmoti crater rim (1 hour, low to medium fitness) to enjoy the view.  From the Crater Rim you will head back to your overnight lodge or camp in Karatu, Mto wa Mbu or the Ngorongoro Crater rim.

  • Approx driving distance: 1 hour to Ngorongoro Crater Rim / 1 hour back to lodge
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger
  • Optional extras: Ngorongoro Crater game drive, Maasai village visit, pre or post tour accommodation
  • Meals included: None
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (optional)

(Speak to a tour consultant for your specific options)

Day 1 - Mto wa Mbu / Karatu / Ngorongoro Crater rim to Olmoti & Empakai Craters

Empakai CraterYou start your journey early from Karatu, Mto wa Mbu or the Ngorongoro Crater rim today and drive North inside of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area on a scenic road to the base of Olmoti Crater near Nainokanoka ranger post where you will meet your armed Ranger. You can climb up (1 hour, low to medium fitness) to the crater rim to enjoy the view. Today. You drive further until Bulati camp where you have the option of hiking (4-5 hours, medium fitness, time permitting) or driving to the Empakai crater to camp overnight on the Empakai crater rim. Time permitting you can descend into Empakai crater today for a visit to the Empakai lake (1-2 hours, low to medium fitness) or descend early tomorrow morning.

  • Approx driving distance: 2-4 hours to Nainokanoka Ranger post
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger
  • Optional extras: None
  • Meals included: Picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight at Empakai Campsite

Camping safari
Style: Sepcial campsite (no facilities)
Location:
Empakai Crater Rim, Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Day 2 - Empakai Crater to Acacia Campsite via Nayobi Maasai village

A full day hike in the Ngorongoro Highlands where you leave Empakai Crater and take the road north past Naiyobi Maasai village until the edge of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. You will leave your vehicle behind (your driver will meet you again at Lake Natron tomorrow) and take local donkeys with Maasai donkey runners to help to carry your camping gear. The hike today is medium fitness and around 15km / 6-8 hours. On arrival at Acacia camp, there is a spectacular view point on the top of the rift giving you a beautiful view of Oldoinyo Lengai (mountain of god), Lake Natron, the Ngorongoro highlands and the Gol mountains in the distance. This has to be one of the most scenic spots in the whole country!

  • Approx driving distance: None
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger
  • Optional extras: None
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight at Acacia Campsite

Camping safari
Style: Sepcial campsite (no facilities)
Location:
Acacia forest, Just outside of Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Day 3 - Acacia Campsite to Lake Natron

Ngorongoro Highlands

Today you finish the last stage of the walking journey and it is relatively short (6km or around 2-4 hours) and downhill and takes you down into the dry and hot Rift Valley at the base of Oldoinyo Lengai (the mountain of God) in the Lake Natron area, where ash from previous eruptions may be seen. Your driver will meet you at the end of the trek and take you to Engarasero village where you should reach around lunchtime. This afternoon you have optional activities (time permitting) including: Village tour / Hotspring tour / Visit to waterfalls / Biking tour to Orpul caves / Footprints / Maasai cultural and botanical tour / herding tour.

  • Approx driving distance: 1-2 hours to Natron
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger, Half day Lake Natron activities
  • Optional extras: Oldoinyo Lengai trek (mid-night)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (Optional) at Giraffe Campsite

Camping safari

Style: Private campground with faciltiies
Location:
Lake Natron area

Overnight (optional) at African Safari Lake Natron

African Safari Lake Natron

Style: Budget Eco Camp
Location:
Lake Natron Area

Overnight (optional) at Lake Natron Camp

Lake Natron Camp

Style: Budget Eco Camp
Location:
Lake Natron Area

Day 4 - Lake Natron to Arusha, Kilimanjaro airport or Moshi

Oldoinyo Lengai

The morning today will be relaxed, and your options include (time permitting): explore the lake shores of Lake Natron / Village tour / Hotspring tour / Visit to waterfalls / Biking tour to Orpul caves / Footprints / Maasai cultural and botanical tour / herding tour. Lake Natron is a breeding place for thousands of Flamingos who usually build their nests using the soda flats between August and October. After a picnic lunch you will drive back to Arusha, Kilimanjaro Airport (night flights only) or Moshi.

  • Approx driving distance: 5-7 hours to Arusha, Kilimanjaro Airport or Moshi
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Half day Lake Natron activities
  • Optional extras: Oldoinyo Lengai trek (mid-night)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (optional)

(Speak to a tour consultant for your specific options)

Day 1 - Mto wa Mbu / Karatu / Ngorongoro Crater rim to Olmoti & Empakai Craters

Empakai CraterYou start your journey early from Karatu, Mto wa Mbu or the Ngorongoro Crater rim today and drive North inside of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area on a scenic road to the base of Olmoti Crater near Nainokanoka ranger post where you will meet your armed Ranger. You can climb up (1 hour, low to medium fitness) to the crater rim to enjoy the view. Today. You drive further until Bulati camp where you have the option of hiking (4-5 hours, medium fitness, time permitting) or driving to the Empakai crater to camp overnight on the Empakai crater rim. Time permitting you can descend into Empakai crater today for a visit to the Empakai lake (1-2 hours, low to medium fitness) or descend early tomorrow morning.

  • Approx driving distance: 2-4 hours to Nainokanoka Ranger post
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger
  • Optional extras: None
  • Meals included: Picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight at Empakai Campsite

Camping safari
Style: Sepcial campsite
Location:
Empakai Crater Rim, Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Day 2 - Empakai Crater to Acacia Campsite via Nayobi Maasai village

A full day hike in the Ngorongoro Highlands where you leave Empakai Crater and take the road north past Naiyobi Maasai village until the edge of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. You will leave your vehicle behind (your driver will meet you again at Lake Natron tomorrow) and take local donkeys with Maasai donkey runners to help to carry your camping gear. The hike today is medium fitness and around 15km / 6-8 hours. On arrival at Acacia camp, there is a spectacular view point on the top of the rift giving you a beautiful view of Oldoinyo Lengai (mountain of god), Lake Natron, the Ngorongoro highlands and the Gol mountains in the distance. This has to be one of the most scenic spots in the whole country!

  • Approx driving distance: None
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger
  • Optional extras: None
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight at Acacia Campsite

Camping safari
Style: Sepcial campsite
Location:
Acacia forest, Just outside of Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Day 3 - Acacia Campsite to Lake Natron

Ngorongoro Highlands

Today you finish the last stage of the walking journey and it is relatively short (6km or around 2-4 hours) and downhill and takes you down into the dry and hot Rift Valley at the base of Oldoinyo Lengai (the mountain of God) in the Lake Natron area, where ash from previous eruptions may be seen. Your driver will meet you at the end of the trek and take you to Engarasero village where you should reach around lunchtime. This afternoon you have optional activities (time permitting) including: Village tour / Hotspring tour / Visit to waterfalls / Biking tour to Orpul caves / Footprints / Maasai cultural and botanical tour / herding tour.

  • Approx driving distance: 1-2 hours to Natron
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger, Half day Lake Natron activities
  • Optional extras: Oldoinyo Lengai trek (mid-night)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (Optional) at Giraffe Campsite

Camping safari

Style: Private campground with faciltiies
Location:
Lake Natron area

Overnight (optional) at African Safari Lake Natron

African Safari Lake Natron

Style: Budget Eco Camp
Location:
Lake Natron Area

Overnight (optional) at Lake Natron Camp

Lake Natron Camp

Style: Budget Eco Camp
Location:
Lake Natron Area

Day 4 - Lake Natron

Oldoinyo Lengai

A full day in the Lake Natron area and your options include (time permitting): explore the lake shores of Lake Natron / Village tour / Hotspring tour / Visit to waterfalls / Biking tour to Orpul caves / Footprints / Maasai cultural and botanical tour / herding tour. Lake Natron is a breeding place for thousands of Flamingos who usually build their nests using the soda flats between August and October.

  • Approx driving distance: 0 hours to Natron
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Full day Lake Natron activities
  • Optional extras: Oldoinyo Lengai trek (mid-night)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (Optional) at Giraffe Campsite

Camping safari

Style: Private campground with faciltiies
Location:
Lake Natron area

Overnight (optional) at African Safari Lake Natron

African Safari Lake Natron

Style: Budget Eco Camp
Location:
Lake Natron Area

Overnight (optional) at Lake Natron Camp

Lake Natron Camp

Style: Budget Eco Camp
Location:
Lake Natron Area

Day 5 - Lake Natron to Arusha, Kilimanjaro airport or Moshi

Oldoinyo Lengai

The morning today will be relaxed, and your options include (time permitting): explore the lake shores of Lake Natron / Village tour / Hotspring tour / Visit to waterfalls / Biking tour to Orpul caves / Footprints / Maasai cultural and botanical tour / herding tour. Lake Natron is a breeding place for thousands of Flamingos who usually build their nests using the soda flats between August and October. After a picnic lunch you will drive back to Arusha, Kilimanjaro Airport (night flights only) or Moshi.

  • Approx driving distance: 5-7 hours to Arusha, Kilimanjaro Airport or Moshi
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Half day Lake Natron activities
  • Optional extras: Oldoinyo Lengai trek (mid-night)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (optional)

(Speak to a tour consultant for your specific options)

Day 1 - Mto wa Mbu / Karatu / Ngorongoro Crater rim to Olmoti & Empakai Craters

Empakai CraterYou start your journey early from Karatu, Mto wa Mbu or the Ngorongoro Crater rim today and drive North inside of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area on a scenic road to the base of Olmoti Crater near Nainokanoka ranger post where you will meet your armed Ranger. You can climb up (1 hour, low to medium fitness) to the crater rim to enjoy the view. Today. You drive further until Bulati camp where you have the option of hiking (4-5 hours, medium fitness, time permitting) or driving to the Empakai crater to camp overnight on the Empakai crater rim. Time permitting you can descend into Empakai crater today for a visit to the Empakai lake (1-2 hours, low to medium fitness) or descend early tomorrow morning.

  • Approx driving distance: 2-4 hours to Nainokanoka Ranger post
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger
  • Optional extras: None
  • Meals included: Picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight at Empakai Campsite

Camping safari
Style: Sepcial campsite
Location:
Empakai Crater Rim, Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Day 2 - Empakai Crater to Acacia Campsite via Nayobi Maasai village

A full day hike in the Ngorongoro Highlands where you leave Empakai Crater and take the road north past Naiyobi Maasai village until the edge of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. You will leave your vehicle behind (your driver will meet you again at Lake Natron tomorrow) and take local donkeys with Maasai donkey runners to help to carry your camping gear. The hike today is medium fitness and around 15km / 6-8 hours. On arrival at Acacia camp, there is a spectacular view point on the top of the rift giving you a beautiful view of Oldoinyo Lengai (mountain of god), Lake Natron, the Ngorongoro highlands and the Gol mountains in the distance. This has to be one of the most scenic spots in the whole country!

  • Approx driving distance: None
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger
  • Optional extras: None
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight at Acacia Campsite

Camping safari
Style: Sepcial campsite
Location:
Acacia forest, Just outside of Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Day 3 - Acacia Campsite to Lake Natron

Ngorongoro Highlands

Today you finish the last stage of the walking journey and it is relatively short (6km or around 2-4 hours) and downhill and takes you down into the dry and hot Rift Valley at the base of Oldoinyo Lengai (the mountain of God) in the Lake Natron area, where ash from previous eruptions may be seen. Your driver will meet you at the end of the trek and take you to Engarasero village where you should reach around lunchtime. This afternoon you have optional activities (time permitting) including: Village tour / Hotspring tour / Visit to waterfalls / Biking tour to Orpul caves / Footprints / Maasai cultural and botanical tour / herding tour.

  • Approx driving distance: 1-2 hours to Natron
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger, Half day Lake Natron activities
  • Optional extras: Oldoinyo Lengai trek (mid-night)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (Optional) at Giraffe Campsite

Camping safari

Style: Private campground with faciltiies
Location:
Lake Natron area

Overnight (optional) at African Safari Lake Natron

African Safari Lake Natron

Style: Budget Eco Camp
Location:
Lake Natron Area

Overnight (optional) at Lake Natron Camp

Lake Natron Camp

Style: Budget Eco Camp
Location:
Lake Natron Area

Day 4 - Lake Natron to Ololosokwan

Oldoinyo Lengai

A half day in the Lake Natron area and your options include (time permitting): explore the lake shores of Lake Natron / Village tour / Hotspring tour / Visit to waterfalls / Biking tour to Orpul caves / Footprints / Maasai cultural and botanical tour / herding tour. Lake Natron is a breeding place for thousands of Flamingos who usually build their nests using the soda flats between August and October. In the afternoon you journey North East towards the Loliondo Game area.

  • Approx driving distance: 0 hours to Natron / 4-5 hours to Ololosokwan
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Half day Lake Natron activities
  • Optional extras: None
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (Optional) at African Safari Maasai Boma

African Safari Maasai Boma Hut

Style: Budget Maasai style hut
Location:
Ololosokwan, just outside of Serengeti National Park

Overnight (optional) at African Safari Maasai Boma (Comfort)

African Safari Maasai Boma

Style: Budget Eco Maasai style lodge
Location:
Ololosokwan, just outside of Serengeti National Park

Day 5 - Ololosokwan to Serengeti National Park

Today you leave the Maasai region behind and enter Serengeti National Park for your safari extension. This unique location allows you to enter from the remote North-east Kleins gate where you can journey to Northern Serengeti (Migration) or venture into Central Serengeti for a classic safari experience.

  • Approx driving distance: 1 hour to Serengeti National Park
  • Expected game drive: Subject to safari extension
  • Activities usually included: None
  • Optional extras: Serengeti safari extension
  • Meals included: Breakfast, picnic lunch
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (optional)

(Speak to a tour consultant for your specific options)

Custom - Ngorongoro Conservation Area Highland trekking

Ngorongoro HighlandsThe Ngorongoro Highlands has many more off the beaten track experiences that can be tailor made into your own custom highland trek. We can arrange custom tours covering the Olduvai Gorge, Shifting Sands, Ndutu Woodlands, Nasera Rock, Oldoinyo Gol Mountains, Olkarien Gorge, Laetoli, Mt Lolmalasin, Lake Eyasi.

  • Approx driving distance: Unknown
  • Expected game drive: None
  • Activities usually included: Guided walk with an Armed park ranger
  • Optional extras: Unknown
  • Meals included: All
  • Commonly seen animals: Unknown
  • Occasionally seen animals: Unknown
  • Rarely seen animals: Unknown

Overnight (optional)

(Speak to a tour consultant for your specific options)

Price, includes, add-ons and excludes

Prices depend on your group size, exact route chosen, dates of travel and much more. You can see our standard includes, optional extras / add-ons / comfort upgrades and standard excludes below.

Standard packages usually include

  • All taxes and VAT applicable
  • All National Park conservation, park entry, camping or concession fees as applicable
  • Luggage space for a soft bag, max 20kg per person or maximum available space in vehicle
  • All meals on the safari indicated as included
  • Pre-safari briefing with the guide / tour consultant in Moshi or Arusha
  • 1.5lts per person, per day of bottled drinking water
  • Trained, certified, and experienced English-speaking Mountain guide/s
  • Basic camping safaris include a tent, mattress, camping equipment and a personal cook (sharing for even numbered groups + 1 single tent for odd numbers)
  • Basic camping at special campsites also includes a private portable toilet and camping shower
  • Medium and high range safaris include full board accommodation (sharing for all odd (triple) and even (double) numbered groups except for the 1 passenger groups which receive a single room)
  • 1 first aid kit per vehicle
  • In vehicle sanitizer, charging ports (Type G socket)
  • Add-on and extra park fees applicable to extra activities indicated as 'included' within the itineary

Optional extras, add-ons and comfort upgrades

  • Pre or post tour accommodation (and any accommodation for one day trips)
  • Single room or tents unless indicated as included
  • Transfers not explicitly within the specified route or private / individual transfers
  • Extra luggage transfer to the airport
  • Add-ons and extra activities indicated as 'excluded' within the itinerary or not explicitly mentioned as 'included'
  • Domestic flights not indicated as included
  • Flying Doctors Emergency Evacuation membership
  • Extra vehicle(s)
  • Translators or languages (Non English speaking)

Standard packages usually exclude

  • Tips / gratuities
  • Beverages such as soft drinks, alcohol etc. unless 'all inclusive' package is booked at selected lodges
  • International flights
  • Insurance
  • Visas
  • Items of a personal nature (binoculars, cameras etc.)

When to visit

These recommendations are based on weather patterns and trends. Wildlife is extremely unpredictable and we can only plan for the ideal location for your season of travel however cannot guarantee you will see all animals or experience dry weather.

Excellent time

January, February, July, August, September, October

Within our predicted dry seasons, these months generally have dry weather meaning wildlife are easier to spot (around watering holes). Driving conditions are also better in dry seasons and savannah grasses short to spot the maximum wildlife within the circuit. These months are however generally the busiest and most expensive times to travel.

Good time

March, June, November, December

These months are between our dry season and wet season where conditions are generally dry throughout the circuit and wildlife still plentiful around the major national parks and wildlife corridors. Smaller parks could be avoided in these months in favor of the larger ones and the entire safari circuit shouldn't be extremely crowded and offer a much better price point compared to the peak months.

Mixed time

April, May

Our predicted 'long rain' season in Tanzania where the chances of rain are high and downpours can be heavy (tropical!) making travel difficult and harsh as well as reduced chances of spotting wildlife all throughout the circuit. At the same time this period is the quietest (hardly any tourists!) and the classic dry savannah scenery turns green making it a special time (and price) for those who choose to travel.

Other hiking & trekking

If this isn't the right route for you, some of the below are alternative routes to consider.

Combine with

This package is usually combined with one of the below. We can also tailor a custom itinerary combining any of our packages for you.

Why us

Why choose Shah Tours for your Wildlife safari?

With decades of experience, we are one of the best providing: 35+ years experience, family owned and operated, high quality equipment and fleet, responsible and externally monitored, superior & experienced guides, safe, secure and reliable with over 2000+ happy clients each year:

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