Into the Maasai Lands (7 Days)
Into the Maasai Lands (7 Days)
Explore the Maasai Lands of Tanzania, East Africa, visiting remote Maasai communities, seeing wildlife within and outside the national parks, and ending with a tour of Ngorongoro Crater.
Arrive Nairobi this morning and either continue with connecting flight to Kilimanjaro or depart by shuttle bus to the frontier at Nmanga (approx. 3 hours), cross into Tanzania and then drive a further half hour to a rendezvous point with the Tanzania support team.
After a quick introductory briefing, we will begin the walk to our fist camp, Longido Wild Camp, located in the foothills of the dramatic Mt. Longido. It’s a one hour walk in the bush, and once we reach camp the team will begin preparing lunch.
In the afternoon, head out for a walk in the surrounding area to get a feel for the geography and to help further acclimatise you to the African bush. This is typical African acacia bush country, and a pleasure to explore on foot.
In the evening we will gather around the campfire and your guide will introduce our Maasai team, who will begin to tell you about their lives and customs. In the evening be sure to look out for the incredible star canopy.
Wake to an early breakfast (06:00), and then, for the more confident walkers, a hot ascending trek up into the foothills of Longido. We hope to trek up to a high view point (5,487ft). If the weather is clear, you will have stunning views of Mt Meru and Kilimanjaro, and west across the floor of the Rift Valley to the Crater Highlands on the very distant horizon.
This will be your first African mountain on this expedition and learning walking security will be very important. The forested slopes of Longido are rarely visited and they are home to a lot of wild game, including buffalo. It is important to remain close to the Maasai guides who know the mountain well.
After admiring the view from Longido’s viewpoint, we descend to meet the vehicles. Our transfer vehicles will take us across the Arusha-Nairobi main road and onto a rough track. We then proceed further into the bush for one hour, heading west to a picnic lunch point in the shade. After lunch, drive a short distance and then leave the vehicles and proceed to walk to Kitumbeine Village and Kitumbeine Rocky Camp, two kilometres outside the village.
Your climb, drive and trek today will be tough, covering up to 20kms. The experience should give you a good understanding of just how hardy the Maasai, who walk these distances regularly, really are. Today will also provide a chance to get a better feel for Maasai life. You will be walking in the Maasai heartlands, passing through traditional temporary villages with mud-built houses and thorn hedges, where young Maasai boys herd cattle and goats as their forefathers have done for centuries.
After an early start and breakfast, we drive and trek part way up Kitumbeine Mountain to a viewpoint on a ridge at 6,300ft. The trail is dusty and rocky to start, but soon merges with a well-trodden goat trail. Temperatures should drop as the day proceeds and we being to gain altitude. Expect to reach the viewpoint early afternoon.
Later we trek part way back down and meet the vehicles for a short drive to the Ngarirat swamp, a mostly dry ancient swamp bed, where many wild animals come to drink and graze.
Late afternoon, enjoy a game viewing trek in the region around the swamp, before heading to Ngarirat Camp for overnight. The views from the camp across the Rift Valley floor to the Maasai Mountain of Ol Doinyo Lengai are simply breath-taking. You can expect to see more wild game today. In particular look out for zebra, gerenuk, and giraffe. The birdlife is rich along the entire route. The superb starlings, the “Go Away” bird, hoopoes and numerous raptors are seen in the area, as are weaver birds, with their fascinating nests.
This morning we shall visit a Maasai boma (a temporary settlement surrounded by thorn hedges) and see and meet the Maasai who live there seasonally.
This is a unique opportunity to enter an authentic Maasai village, one that is used as a seasonal dwelling place by the Maasai and their flocks. There are many contrived Maasai villages on the main tourist circuit, but for the most part these exist only for tourists.
You will have a chance to explore the village. Your Maasai guides will explain to you how the huts are built, how the cooking is done, where people sleep and eat, and the practice of bringing in the animals at night.
After exploring the village, we walk across untamed bush towards the Sunken Crater. You will cross a beautiful plain marked by dead volcanic vents, your journey bringing you ever closer to the escarpment of the Rift Valley, which rises from the bush up to the Ngorongoro Crater Highlands.
We hope to reach the impressive Sunken Crater mid-afternoon, and will be camping overnight near the crater. Time allowing, you can explore some of the interesting features of the area, including the volcanic cones, and even descend into the Sunken Crater.
An early night is recommended today to be rested for the early start tomorrow.
Pack up camp this morning and set off by 4x4 for Lake Natron and the Waterfalls, in the Gregory Rift. Lake Natron is a shallow alkaline lake, that is often tinged pink with flamingo.
In the afternoon, enjoy a short hike in the region around Lake Natron, before setting up camp close to the shoreline.
Wake very early to tea, coffee and biscuits, before we begin the drive (around 4 hours) to Ngorongoro Crater.
The early start is in order to make the most of our time in the Crater, allowing much of the morning and early afternoon to explore its interior.
On the crater floor, grassland blends into swamp, lakes, rivers, woodland and mountains – a haven for a host of wildlife, including the densest predator population in Africa. The crater is home to up to 25,000 large mammals, mainly grazers - gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest and warthog. There are a small number of black rhinos here and large herds of elephant.
After exploring the Crater (with picnic lunch), we drive to Endoro Lodge in the Crater Highlands for a hot shower, dinner and overnight.
After breakfast say goodbye to your support team before driving to the airport for your connecting flight to the coast or your overnight flight home.