Located in the northern highlands of Tanzania, beneath the twin peaks of Mt. Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha is the safari capital of the country. Guests embarking on the popular northern safari circuit all stop in the ‘Geneva of Africa’ to prepare for their journeys into the African bush.
From is two-lane streets, the dramatic crater of Mt. Meru stands over the town like a majestic sentinel, it’s crater strewn with thick clouds, it’s slopes dark with verdant forest. Arusha’s ideal location near the major national parks and it’s highland setting make it a peaceful idyll of relaxation before the start of an exciting journey.
Built by the Germans as a centre of colonial administration administration in the early 20th century, Arusha was a sleepy town with a garrison stationed at the old boma and a few shops around a grassy roundabout. From its backwater status amidst the farmlands and plantations of northern Tanzania, today Arusha is one of the country’s most prosperous towns.
Arusha is a major international diplomatic hub. The city hosts and is regarded as the de facto capital of the East African Community. Since 1994, the city has also hosted the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. It is a multicultural city with a majority Tanzanian population of mixed backgrounds: indigenous Bantu, Arab-Tanzanian and Indian-Tanzanian population, plus small White European and white American minority population. Religions of the Arushan population are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu.
The current site of Arusha was first settled in the 1830s by the agro-pastoral Arusha Maasai from the Arusha Chini community, south of Mount Kilimanjaro. They traded grains, honey, beer, and tobacco with the pastoral Kisongo Maasai in exchange for livestock, milk, meat, and skins. Demand for Arusha’s foodstuffs increased substantially during the 1860s when the Pangani Valley trade route was extended through Old Moshi, Arusha, and ultimately to western Kenya. Although it was not yet a town, it was a regional centre and had a number of urban features.
Despite its proximity to the equator, Arusha’s elevation of 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) on the southern slopes of Mount Meru keeps temperatures relatively low and alleviates humidity. Cool dry air is prevalent for much of the year. The temperature ranges between 13 and 30 degrees Celsius with an average around 25 degrees. It has distinct wet and dry seasons, and experiences an eastern prevailing wind from the Indian Ocean, a couple of hundred miles east.
Arusha National Park (ANAPA) is a gem of varied ecosystems and spectacular views of Mt. Meru, the crater that gives the region its name
It is a popular destination for day trip visitors who are about to embark from the town of Arusha on longer northern circuit safaris. The small national park includes the slopes, summit, and ash cone of Mt. Meru, the Momela Lakes, Ngurdoto Crater, and the lush highland forests that blanket its lower slopes. Game viewing around the Momela Lakes is at a laid-back and quiet pace, and while passing through the forest many visitors stop to search for troupes of rare colubus monkeys playing in the canopy.
Climbing Mt. Meru or enjoying the smaller trails that criss-cross its lower slopes is a popular activity for visitors to Arusha National Park. The three-day trek to reach the crater’s summit is a quieter, and some say more challenging alternative than the famous peak of nearby Mount Kilimanjaro. Along the lower slopes, the paths to rivers and waterfalls create a relaxing day hike for visitors who don’t want to attempt the rather arduous climb. Ancient fig tree forests, crystal clear waters cascading from mountain streams, and a chance to spot colobus monkeys are the attractions and pleasures of Arusha National Park.
The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safari goers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours.
The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.
Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one having a different hue of green or blue. There are shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos. The lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and also shaggy waterbucks that display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, whilst pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.
Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park, and lions are absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, which is only 50km (30 miles) away.
But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest mountain in Africa at 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. With its peaks and eastern foot slopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbour, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.
Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching highly open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.
Lake Chala is a unique caldera lake, and is thought to be the deepest inland body of water in Africa. This lake is fed by underground springs from Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The lake has a great diversity of life. From lush lake shore forest to stunning volcanic savannah; from river beds marvelously carved through ancient rock, to thick bush or open ‘mbuga’. Walking at Lake Chala is a magical experience that will put you back in touch with nature.
The lake is fed by groundwater flows, which come from Mount Kilimanjaro, fed and drained underground with a rate of about 10 million m³ / year. Depending on the time of year, it ranges in colour from deep blue to turquoise and green, it is surrounded by a 100 metres high crater rim.
Chala has a huge variety of amazing trees, grasses and plants; some are unique to the area. According to the time of year there are hundreds of species of butterflies and birds, including spectacular birds of prey. The African Fish Eagle, with its haunting techniques, Verreaux’s Eagle, Augur Buzzards and many other species of birds can be seen around the crater walls. Wild mammals do vary including Blue Monkeys, Colobus Monkeys, baboons, dik-dik, kudu and elephant. Chala is an untouched part of a truly ancient land and a must visit place.
Activities at this lake: walking safaris, canoeing, swimming and fishing.
Located beneath the cliffs of the Manyara Escarpment, on the edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park offers varied ecosystems, incredible bird life, and breathtaking views.
Located on the way to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, Lake Manyara National Park is worth a stop in its own right. Its ground water forests, bush plains, baobab strewn cliffs, and algae-streaked hot springs offer incredible ecological variety in a small area, rich in wildlife and incredible numbers of birds.
The alkaline soda of Lake Manyara is home to an incredible array of bird life that thrives on its brackish waters. Pink flamingo stoop and graze by the thousands colourful specks against the grey minerals of the lake shore. Yellow-billed storks swoop and corkscrew on thermal winds rising up from the escarpment, and herons flap their wings against the sun-drenched sky. Even reluctant bird-watchers will find something to watch and marvel at within the national park.
Lake Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions are another reason to pay a visit to this park. The only kind of their species in the world, they make the ancient mahogany and elegant acacias their home during the rainy season, and are a well-known but rather rare feature of the northern park. In addition to the lions, the national park is also home to the largest concentration of baboons anywhere in the world — a fact that accounts for interesting game viewing of large families of the primates.
Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”.
The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience.
From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside; the blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees; dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and the outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.
In contrast with the intimacy of the forest, is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, and so do the giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance.
Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favoured haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants. Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, whereas the diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above a field of searing hot springs that steams and bubbles adjacent to the lakeshore in the far south of the park.
Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large water birds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.
About Lake Manyara National Park
Size: 330 sq km (127 sq miles), of which up to 200 sq km (77 sq miles) is the lake when water levels are high.
Location: Northern Tanzania. The entrance gate lies 1.5 hours (126km/80 miles) west of Arusha along a newly surfaced road, close to the ethnically diverse market town of Mto wa Mbu.
A soda lake at the base of the active Ol Donyo Lengai volcano, the area around Lake Natron is often described as having a desolate and almost lunar beauty. Lake Natron is found in the northern part of Tanzania. Nearest towns to Lake Natron are Arusha in Tanzania and Magadi in Kenya. It is the most important breeding site for Lesser Flamingos in the world.
East Africa has 1.5-2.5 million Lesser Flamingos, representing three-quarters of the world population and most of them are hatched at Lake Natron. Food is plentiful, nesting sites abound – and above all, the lake is isolated and undisturbed. The lake and its ecosystem provides a source of livelihoods to the local communities.
High levels of evaporation have left behind natron (sodium carbonate decahydrate) and trona (sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate). The alkalinity of the lake can reach a pH of greater than 12. The surrounding bedrock is composed of alkaline, sodium-dominated trachyte lavas that were laid down during the Pleistocene period. The lavas have significant amounts of carbonate but very low calcium and magnesium levels. This has allowed the lake to concentrate into a caustic alkaline brine
Walks around the lake and to the streams and waterfalls along the nearby escarpment make for a fantastic adventure off the beaten track.
There are a number of campgrounds near the lake, which is also the base for climbing Ol Doinyo Lengai.
Set below the verdant slopes of the spectacular Usambara and Pare Eastern Arc Mountain Ranges and overseen by iconic snow – capped peak of Kilimanjaro, Mkomazi is a virgin breathtaking beauty exhibiting unique natural treasures and immense sense of space – which adds to the fulfillment of high visitor’s enjoyment expectations – a much needed bridge between northern circuit and coastal attractions.
Every day, thousands of people pass within a few kilometers of Mkomazi on one of Tanzania’s busiest highways. These and the northern circuit safari – goers are now most welcomed to discover the treasures of this wedge of hilly semi-arid savannah – home of large herds of giraffe, eland, hartebeest, zebra, buffalo and elephant.
Mkomazi is a vital refuge for two highly endangered species, the charismatic black rhino and the sociable African wild dog, both of which were successfully reintroduced in the 1990s. Nomadic by nature, wild dog might be seen almost anywhere in the park, however the black rhino are restricted to a fenced sanctuary, ensuring their safe keeping for the enjoyment and prosperity of future generations.
Mkomazi supports several dry – country specialists’ species that are rare elsewhere in Tanzania; these include the spectacular fringe – eared oryx, with its long back – sweeping horns, and the handsome spiral – horned lesser kudu. Oddest of all is the gerenuk, a gazelle distinguished by its slender neck, bizarre alien – like head, and having the habit of standing tall on its hind legs as it stretches for acacia leaves that other browsers cannot reach.
A game reserve since 1951, this new National Park takes its name from a word from Pare tribe denoting “scoop of water”, referring to little water. It is a fantastic destination for birdwatchers, with more than 450 avian species recorded, among them are the dry – country endemics such as the cobalt – chested vulturine guinea-fowl, other large ground birds such as ostrich, kori bustard, secretary bird, ground hornbill and some migratory species including the Eurasian roller.
Location: Northern Tanzania split between Kilimanjaro and Tanga administrative regions. The park borders on the west the Tsavo National Park in Kenya. The Zange entrance gate lies 112 km (69 miles) from Moshi, 550 km (341 miles) from Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere International Airport – Dar es Salaam, 142 km (88.7 miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport, 120 km (75 miles) from Kilimanjaro National Park and 6 km (3.7 miles) from the town of Same.
How to get there
By road, Mkomazi is easily accessible via Same, which lies on the surfaced highway connecting Arusha to Dar es Salaam. The Park is also easily accessible on special arrangement through Njiro, Kivingo and Umba gates. The park can also be easily accessed from the nearby existing tourist attractions in Eastern Arc Mountains, The Coast and Kilimanjaro Mountain. Charter flights are available to Kisima airstrip.
What to do
Game drives, camping, site seeing, bird watching, walking safari, and hiking (uphill). Learn more about conservation and rhinoceros at Mkomazi rhino sanctuary.
There is one semi – permanent tented camp near the Park headquarters. Few designated basic campsites where one must bring his/her own camping gears and food. There are several small hotels and guest houses in Same town.
At 5896m Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and one of the continent’s magnificent sights, It has three main volcanic peaks, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. The name itself “Kilimanjaro” is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans.
Above the gently rolling hills and plateaux of northern Tanzania rises the snowy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, it’s slopes and glaciers shimmering above the rising clouds. Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi and is a protected area, carefully regulated for climbers to enjoy without leaving a trace of their presence. The mountain’s ecosystems are as strikingly beautiful as they are varied and diverse. On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain is farmland, with coffee, banana, cassava, and maize crops grown for subsistence and cash sale. A few larger coffee farms still exist on the lower slopes, but much of the area outside the national park has been subdivided into small plots. Once inside the park, thick lowland forest covers the lower altitudes and breaks into alpine meadows once the air begins to thin. Near the peak, the landscape is harsh and barren, with rocks and ice the predominant features above a breathtaking African view.
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highlight of most visitors’ experiences in Tanzania. Few mountains can claim the grandeur, the breathtaking views of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the Rift Valley, and the Masaai Steppe, that belongs to Kilimanjaro. Hiking on the ‘rooftop of Africa’ — the highest point on the continent at 5896 metres — is the adventure of a lifetime, especially because, if paced well, everyone from seasoned trekkers to first-time enthusiasts can scale the snowy peak. For more information, see the ‘Mountain Climbing‘ section under ‘Things to Do.
Kilimanjaro. The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don’t even have a name for the whole massif, only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperious, overseer of the continent, the summit of Africa.
Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you understand why. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).
Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates.
And their memories.
But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic.
Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated footslopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias.
Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.
About Kilimanjaro National Park
Size: 1668 sq km 641 sq miles).
Location: Northern Tanzania, near the town of Moshi.
– 128 km (80 miles) from Arusha.
– About one hour’s drive from Kilimanjaro airport.
What to do
– Six usual trekking routes to the summit and other more-demanding mountaineering routes.
– Day or overnight hikes on the Shira plateau. Nature trails on the lower reaches.
– Trout fishing.
– Visit the beautiful Chala crater lake on the mountain’s southeastern slopes.
– Huts and campsites on the mountain.
– Several hotels and campsites outside the park in the village of Marangu and town of Moshi.
– Climb slowly to increase your acclimatisation time and maximise your chances of reaching the summit.
– To avoid altitude sickness, allow a minimum of five nights, preferably even more for the climb. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of the mountain.
NEW RATES FOR PORTERS AND GUIDES (JUNE ’08)
Porters – USD 10 per day
Cooks – USD 15 per day
Guides – USD 20 per day
Con i suoi 4566m, il Monte Meru è la quinta montagna più alta del continente africano e la seconda più alta in Tanzania. Circa 250.000 anni fa, una massiccia esplosione vulcanica spazzò via l’intero fianco orientale della montagna e la lasciò con l’aspetto caratteristico e distintivo che ha oggi. Ultima eruzione: 1910.
La salita del Monte Meru passa attraverso diverse zone di vegetazione: la foresta nella parte inferiore lascia il posto a una fitta foresta pluviale di montagna che, infine, si trasforma in una boscaglia.
Verso la cima della montagna, la vegetazione è formata da brughiera che viene sostituita dai meravigliosi deserti alpini.
Come cambia la flora anche la fauna fa lo stesso: durante l’ascesa, incontrerai grandi mammiferi come elefanti e bufali, ma potresti anche incontrare leopardi.
Per questo motivo è obbligatorio essere accompagnati da un ranger del parco armato durante il tour.
1° giorno Arusha – Momella Gate (1.500m) – Miriakamba Hut (2.500m)
Al mattino, sarete prelevati dal vostro hotel e, dopo 45 minuti di auto, arriverete alla Porta del Parco Nazionale di Arusha.
Al cancello d’ingresso, la guida completerà i moduli di iscrizione obbligatori (è possibile consultare le schede informative del parco nazionale).
Una volta completate le formalità e formata la squadra di escursionisti (composta da anche facchini provenienti dai villaggi circostanti), inizierà l’ascesa.
Un ranger del parco, armato, ti accompagnerà mentre inizi la tua escursione e avrai occasione di dare una prima occhiata alle meravigliose giraffe e bufali.
Una volta lasciate alle spalle queste mandrie, entrerai nella foresta di acacie seguendo la Strada del Sud.
Dopo una costante salita di 2 ore, raggiungerai le cascate Maio e alcuni pittoreschi prati che sono il luogo perfetto per un pic-nic.
Dopo un periodo di riposo, sarete di nuovo in marcia e presto raggiungerete il famoso “Albero di fico arcuato”. Qui il ranger del parco ti parlerà della formazione di questo albero e di come ha ottenuto la sua forma ad arco sul sentiero.
Dopo altre 2 ore circa, arriverete al rifugio Miriakamba.
Cena, pernottamento al rifugio Miriakamba e prima colazione prima di ripartire.
2° giorno Miriakamba Hut (2.500m) – Saddle Hut (3.550m)
Al mattino, lascerai il rifugio Miriakamba e seguirai un sentiero ripido con gradini di legno verso l’alto.
A causa dell’aumento di altitudine, sarà sensibilmente più fresco rispetto al giorno precedente quindi l’escursione sembrerà essere più facile.
Le nuvole spesso si trovano anche nella foresta pluviale e immergono la rigogliosa vegetazione in un’atmosfera particolare.
Dopo circa 2 ore, raggiungerai il punto panoramico ‘Mgongo wa Tembo’ (schiena dell’elefante) ad un’altitudine di 3.200 m, dove potrai goderti una meritata pausa.
Dopo un’altra lunga camminata in cui vedrai la vegetazione trasformarsi dalla foresta pluviale in un arioso terreno boscoso, raggiungerai la Saddle Hut (3.550 m) verso mezzogiorno e lì potrai rilassarti e pranzare.
Durante il pomeriggio, hai la possibilità di fare una gita a Little Meru (3.820 m), che dura ora e mezza circa e da dove si può gustare una splendida vista sul Parco Nazionale di Arusha e sul Kilimangiaro (a circa 80 km di distanza).
Tornati al rifugio, vi aspetta una cena calda prima di iniziare l’ultimo discorso in vista della salita del giorno successivo alla vetta.
Cena, pernottamento al rifugio Miriakamba e prima colazione prima di ripartire.
3° giorno Saddle Hut – Socialist Peak (4.562m) – Miriakamba Hut (2.500m)
La sveglia sarà di notte, colazione con tè e biscotti, partirai per la cima alle 02:00.
Alla luce delle torce, seguirai il sentiero attraverso la boscaglia fino al cosiddetto punto del rinoceronte (3.821 m) in cui il sentiero si trasforma in un trekking un po’ più impegnativo con occasionali salite più leggere.
Seguirai la cresta nord fino alla cima su cui camminerai su un terreno formato da cenere di lava e roccia. Dopo circa 4/5 ore, comincerai a intravedere la cima e la bandiera della Tanzania.
Dalla cima, potrete godervi il sole che sorge sopra il Kilimangiaro e la fantastica vista del cratere del Monte Meru con i suoi lati scoscesi e il “Cono della Cenere” nel mezzo.
La discesa segue lo stesso percorso fino al rifugio Saddle (3.550m) dove ci si concede una lunga pausa meritata e ci si riprende con una zuppa e tè caldi.
Una volta rifocillato, continuerai con la discesa. Nel primo pomeriggio arriverai al rifugio Miriakamba (2.500 m), stanco ma felice.
Qui, potrai rilassarti e ripensare all’ultima impresa che hai completato.
Cena, pernottamento al rifugio Miriakamba (2.500 m) e prima colazione.
4° giorno Miriakamba Hut (2.500m) – Momella Gate (1.500m)
Dopo colazione, seguirai un trekking di 2/3 ore sulla cosiddetta “Northern Route” fino a Momella Gate.
La discesa è più breve della salita, ma c’è ancora la possibilità di vedere elefanti, bufali, giraffe e le scimmie colubus.
Al cancello, saluterai alla tua squadra di escursionisti e il tuo autista ti riporterà ad Arusha.
La salita alla vetta contiene alcuni passaggi di arrampicata semplici, ma non sicuri. Una buona abitudine alle altezze e piedi saldi sono assolutamente necessari.
In condizioni climatiche avverse (forti piogge, rocce e sentieri ghiacciati o fitta nebbia) il ranger del parco può rinviare la salita verso la vetta.
Non consigliamo le scalate nella stagione delle piogge (aprile e maggio).
Mount Ol doinyo Lengai
“Oldoinyo Lengai” means “The Mountain of God” in the Maasai language. The summit of this strato-volcano is 2962 metres above sea level, and affords direct views into the caldera of Tanzania’s only officially-certified active volcano, and the world’s only carbonatite volcano; records of eruptions have been maintained since 1883, the largest of which deposited ash 100 kilometres away in Loliondo on the Kenyan border to the north west.
It is located in northern Tanzania lying just south of Lake Natron in the Rift Valley, in the heart of Maasai country, and locally regarded as a sacred mountain. Looking north from it’s summit crater, the hot barren salt flats of Lake Natron stretch into the distance. To the south stretch the crater Highlands and the Ngorongoro Game Reserve. The eastern horizons dominated by Kilimanjaro and to the west the forested escarpments and hills comprising the western slopes of the Rift Valley. Every seven years Lengai erupts and plumes of smoke billow out of the crater.
It is possible to walk across the crater floor. The ascent of Oldoinyo Lengai is demanding on account of the day time heat, lack of water, steep and unsuitable slopes of ash and crumbly rocks and considerable height gain. Normally you can start ascending to summit early in the morning and reach to summit at sunrise. Short and a warm jacket are suitable for ascent, also long trousers are good as the summit before dawn can be cold. Access route from the North West allows an early descent to be made from the summit in the morning shadow.
Standing at 2,878 meters above the Soda Ash Lake Natron, Mountain of GOD as famous to the Maasai community that inhabit the area, Mountain Ol’doinyo Lengai is situated in the Ngorongoro highlands and the African Rift valley about 120 kilometers Northwest of Arusha, Tanzania.
Since the past ancestors the Holly Lengai has been used by Maasai for their prayer to their GOD known as NGAI. Ol’doinyo Lengai is the only active volcano in the world that erupt natrocarbonatite lava which is cooler than other lavas about (510 degrees C) compare to the temperatures of basaltic lavas (1,100 degrees C) with less silicon.
The Mountain frequently does minor eruptions and form cone like structures to its crater base.
While on the summit of Mountain Ol’doinyo Lengai one can sight clearly the Soda Lake Natron which accommodates and consist of good nesting sites for different bird species especially the Flamingos, pelicans and geese more than 350 different types are recorded to date.
Unlike others two highest Mountains, Lengai takes about six to seven hours to the summit crater. Also the Mountain is an ideal place for a working safari escort by the Maasai guides with weapons tourist can sight wild animals like olive baboon, velvet, monitor lizard, hyenas, lion, leopard, jackal, Grant’s gazelle, impala and zebra.
The nearby are the Maasai BOMAS that gives you a chance to interact with the indigenous learn their cultures, taboos and traditional.
The jewel in Ngorongoro’s crown is a deep, volcanic crater, the largest un flooded and unbroken caldera in the world. About 20kms across, 600 meters deep and 300 sq kms in area, the Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtaking natural wonder.
The Ngorongoro Crater is one of Africa’s most famous sites and is said to have the highest density of wildlife in Africa. Sometimes described as an ‘eighth wonder of the world’, the Crater has achieved world renown, attracting an ever-increasing number of visitors each year. You are unlikely to escape other vehicles here, but you are guaranteed great wildlife viewing in a genuinely mind-blowing environment. There is nowhere else in Africa quite like Ngorongoro!
The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. Forming a spectacular bowl of about 265 square kilometres, with sides up to 600 metres deep; it is home to approximately 30,000 animals at any one time. The Crater rim is over 2,200 metres high and experiences its own climate. From this high vantage point it is possible to make out the tiny shapes of animals making their way around the crater floor far below. Swathes of cloud hang around the rocky rim most days of the year and it’s one of the few places in Tanzania where it can get chilly at night.
The crater floor consists of a number of different habitats that include grassland, swamps, forests and Lake Makat (Maasai for ‘salt’) – a central soda lake filled by the Munge River. All these various environments attract wildlife to drink, wallow, graze, hide or climb. Although animals are free to move in and out of this contained environment, the rich volcanic soil, lush forests and spring source lakes on the crater floor (combined with fairly steep crater sides) tend to incline both grazers and predators to remain throughout the year.
Ngorongoro Crater: Wildlife Highlights
Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most likely areas in Tanzania to see the endangered Black Rhino, as a small population is thriving in this idyllic and protected environment. It is currently one of the few areas where they continue to breed in the wild. Your chances of encountering leopard here are also good, and fabulous black-maned lions. Many flamingos are also attracted to the soda waters of Lake Magadi.
Ngorongoro Crater: Maasai village trips
Part of the reason behind the Ngorongoro Conservation Area has been to preserve the environment for the Maasai people who were diverted from the Serengeti Plains. Essentially nomadic people, they build temporary villages in circular homesteads called bomas. There are possibilities to visit a couple of these now, which have been opened up for tourists to explore. Here you can see how the huts are built in a strict pattern of order according to the chronological order of the wives, and experience what it must be like to rely on warmth and energy from a fire burning at the heart of a cattle dung dwelling with no chimney. These proud cattle herding people have a great history as warriors, and even though they are no longer allowed to build villages inside, they continue to herd their cattle into the crater to graze and drink, regardless of the predators nearby.
Over the last thirty years or so, it has become increasingly apparent that Africa is probably the “Cradle of Mankind”. From Africa they spread out to populate the rest of Earth. Remains of the earliest humans were found in Oldupai Gorge.
Olduvai Gorge is a site in Tanzania that holds the earliest evidence of the existence of human ancestors. Paleoanthropologists have found hundreds of fossilized bones and stone tools in the area dating back millions of years, leading them to conclude that humans evolved in Africa.
Olduvai is a misspelling of Oldupai, a Maasai word for a wild sisal plant that grows in the area. The gorge is located in the Great Rift Valley, between the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. It is 30 miles from Laetoli, another fossil-rich area. Olduvai Gorge was formed about 30,000 years ago, the result of aggressive geological activity and streams.
The steep ravine is about 30 miles (48.2 km) long and 295 feet (89.9 meters) deep, not quite large enough to be classified as a canyon. A river cuts through several layers to form four individual beds, with the oldest estimated at about 2 million years old.
At Laetoli, west of Ngorongoro Crater, hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 millions years old and represent some of the earliest signs of mankind in the world. Three separate tracks of a small-brained upright walking early hominid. Australopithecus afarensis, a creature about 1.2 to 1.4 meters high, were found. Imprints of these are displayed in the Oldupai museum.
More advanced descendants of Laetoli’s hominids were found further north, buried in the layers of the 100 meters deep Oldupai Gorge. Excavations, mainly by the archaeologist Louis and Mary Leakey, yielded four different kinds of hominid, showing a gradual increases in brain size and in the complexity of their stone tools. The first skull of Zinjanthropus, commonly known as ‘Nutcracker Man’ who lived about 1.75 millions years ago, was found here. The most important find include Home habilis, Zinjathropus and the Laetoli footprints.
Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and scientific value, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa
The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania was established in 1952. It is home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth – the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. The resident population of lion, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, and birds is also impressive. There’s a wide variety of accommodation available, from luxury lodges to mobile camps. The park covers 5,700 sq miles, (14,763 sq km), it’s larger than Connecticut, with at most a couple hundred vehicles driving around.
The Park can be divided into 3 sections. The popular southern/central part (Seronera Valley), is what the Maasai called the “serengit”, the land of endless plains. It’s classic savannah, dotted with acacias and filled with wildlife. The western corridor is marked by the Grumeti River, and has more forests and dense bush. The north, Lobo area, meets up with Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve, is the least visited section.
Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the 30,000 km² region. It’s unique ecosystem has inspired writers from Ernest Hemingway to Peter Mattheissen, filmakers like Hugo von Lawick and Alan Root as well as numerous photographers and scientists – many of which have put their works at our disposal to create this website.
The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.
The Wildebeest travel through a variety of parks, reserves and protected areas and through a variety of habitat. Join us to explore the different forms of vegetation and landscapes of the Serengeti ecosystem and meet some of their most fascinating inhabitants.
Tarangire National Park lies 120 km south of Arusha, along The Great North Road highway, and is very popular for day trips from the town. Tarangire offers a wide variety of wildlife in its area of 2,850 sq. km. As in all ecosystems, the vegetation and the types of animals you find are closely correlated. The principal features of the park are the flood plains and the grassland, mainly comprising of various types of acacia trees, and a few scattered baobabs, tamarind and the sausage trees.
The Tarangire River, after which the park is named, provides the only permanent water for wildlife in the area. When the Maasai Steppes dry up with the end of the long rains in June, migratory animals return to the Tarangire River, making Tarangire National Park second only to Ngorongoro in the concentration of wildlife. This period stretches between June and October and it is the best season for game viewing in Tarangire. The most common animals found in the park include zebras, wildebeest, lions, leopards, waterbucks, giraffe, elephants, gazelles, impala, gerenuk, lesser kudu and the beautiful fringe-eared oryx. You may be lucky to spot the tree-climbing python, for which the park is famous, or the greater kudu and the roan antelope which are rare species in Northern Tanzania. Over 550 bird species have been recorded in the Park.