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A Walking Safari In Tanzania's Ngorongoro

Posted by nick_niesen on October 29th, 2010

See Tanzania?s incredible flora and fauna on foot, walking in the African Bush with Masai warriors as you guides. Spectacular game viewing is combined with hikes around Lake Eyasi and the Ol Moti Crater, where you experience cultural encounters amongst the Masai, Datoga tribe and nomadic Bushmen.

The walking safari in Ngorongoro Conservation area is becoming very popular. Normally it is preceded with a short safari in 4 x 4 safari Land Rovers or Land Cruisers. Many people when they get to East Africa understandably want to see as much as possible and arrive with killer agendas ahead of them. I would advise restraint with the temptation to do too much in a short time. Safari fatigue can set in all too quickly with visitors reaching the halfway point in a safari and just longing for it all to end.

I would recommend some time spent at Lake Manyara, as you are able go out onto the lake in a two-man canoe and see the game from this unusual perspective. Also bicycles and village walking ?cultural? safaris are on offer. Take every chance you can to spend some time out of your safari vehicle. Stretch your legs and see Africa from as many perspectives as you can. There is much to experience and it cannot all be done from sitting on your bottom.

Remember, the most enjoyable experiences are not achieved quickly.

This walking safari has the added bonus of using Masai warriors as your guides. Donkeys, belonging to the Masia, are used as porters. The walking safari starts on the cool, forested rim of Ngorongoro crater and ends in the dry heat on the arid shores of Lake Natron, where temperature often exceed 40 c [105 f]. This soda lake is famed for the large number of flamingo that fly here to breed. Indeed the flamingo seems to be the only animal that flourishes in this harsh environment.

The highland walking safaris cover a rage of altitudes with the range rising steeply from the surrounding plains at about 1,500 meters to heights of between 2,500 and 3,500 meters. It is advisable to wear many layers of clothing as the temperatures will vary greatly. These safaris are quite energetic and a good level of fitness is required. The Crater Highlands range is roughly oval, measuring about 80 km by 40 km.

The Highlands are volcanic in origin, with the different peaks being created over millions of years by a series of eruptions connected with the formation of the Great Rift Valley. The older volcanoes have been eroded and most have collapsed to form craters.

Empakaai crater is 600 meters in diameter and 300 meters deep. With much of the base of the crater covered by a deep, 80 meter soda lake. Here there are birds, antelope, buffalo and blue monkeys, with the thickly forested walls plunging to the crater floor. If you wish to climb into the crater and explore, you will be required to be accompanied by an armed guide. The crater is heavily grazed by buffalo and the buffalo are notoriously anti-social and very aggressive. To catch the best Rift Valley views it is a must to be there at dawn or dusk, as the cloud cover can be heavy at other times. The familiar water birds to be spotted here include the black-winged stilt, cape teal and flamingo.

Ol Moti Crater can only be reached by foot and an armed ranger must accompany you. The scenery of Ol Moti is beautiful, with islands of forest and a waterfall at the source of the Munge River. Monkeys and buffalo are seen in the area.

The active volcano Ol Donyo Lengai standing at 2,878m is a popular way to end the walking safari. This volcano erupts every seven years or so. Here an early morning start essential. The climb is steep on powdery scree; therefore climbing the steep slopes on this very loose footing is neither easy nor enjoyable. The early morning start is to avoid the heat of the sun, for there is no shade on the mountain and together with the heat and lack of water makes this early start, in the pre dawn darkness, essential. This climb would only be recommended for the physically fit and for those with an interest in volcanoes, otherwise relax at the bottom and enjoy a well-earned rest and a cool drink.

Also See: Walking Safari, Ol Moti, Soda Lake, Rift Valley, Safari, Crater, Walking

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