I recently enjoyed a safari on Tanzania’s Northern Circuit, which included time in the Ngorongoro Highlands. My visit to The Highlands, a deluxe tented camp located to the north of Ngorongoro Crater, was an experience I will forever cherish. The setting is beautiful with views of the hilly and green Ngorongoro Highlands, and the area is dotted with Maasai bomas. In addition to the traditional game drives into the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater, the camp offers many fun activities including cultural visits and hikes.
My favorite activity during my visit was taking the Empakaai Crater descent hike. We drove about 40 minutes to the top of the crater where our Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) ranger and guides prepped us for the hike by providing a hiking pole and water and telling us about the wildlife we might encounter along the way. There is the potential to see an array of wildlife from baboons to wildebeest and even lion, although seeing the latter is not very common.
On our hike the views were phenomenal! I loved the Jurassic Park feel of the crater with thick vegetation surrounding us as we made our descent. It took about 40 minutes of hiking to reach the crater floor where we found ourselves proximate to a sparkling blue lake where anywhere from hundreds to thousands of flamingos congregate year-round!
As I enjoyed soaking in the mirage-like views of flamingos, our guides stealthily set up a beautiful picnic site for us to enjoy snacks, coffee and tea. What a treat to have the entire Empakaai Crater all to ourselves with hot coffee and snacks on hand to fortify ourselves after the hike in.
After enjoying the Crater’s tranquility and wildlife, we hiked about an hour and a half back to the top where we were met by our drivers for the drive back to camp.
If you are a keen hiker and avid camper, I would recommend extending this hike into our 4-day Nature Hike from Empakaai Crater to Lake Natron. You’ll have the chance to explore misty forests and rolling hills, ancient craters, the red blazes of Maasai who inhabit this beautiful landscape, waterfalls and so much more!