Crater Highland Trek and Ascent of the Ol Doinyo Lengai
You are passionate about nature, trek into the wild and the exploration of volcanic activity? This tour is made for you ! We propose you an innovative and exciting new program in collaboration with Prof. Tobias Fischer of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He will be your guide on the ascent of the Lengai, providing an unmatched scientific background on one of the most intriguing and fascinating volcano on earth. You will enjoy a safari into Manyara National Park, a safari into the legendary Ngorongoro Crater, an unforgettable trek into the Olmoti and Empakai craters and the climb of the Ol Doinyo Lengai with a night scheduled on top of the crater. Under the guidance of Prof. Fischer you will be able to take some scientific measurements and collect samples which will help the understanding of this world renowned volcano.
- Safari and volcano trek in full board
- Accommodation in existing camping grounds and camping into the wild
- Professional driver/naturalist guide with first aid certificate for the safari part
- Maasai guides and porters with donkeys for the trekking part
- All park fees and taxes included, camping equipment included
- The climb under the guidance of a professional volcanologist, Prof. Tobias Fischer
This trek implies a very good physical condition and some endurance
Please, contact us if you have doubts about your capacities to join this tour
9 Days Volcanoes Trek and Camping Safari
A long trek across the volcanic Maasai lands north of Ngorongoro Crater through game-filled craters and up active volcanoes to the Rift Valley and one night on the Lengai on the border of Lake Natron, where thousands of Pink Flamingos breed. Nights are spent at wilderness camps, open to the elements and passing wildlife and equipment is carried by backup 4wd vehicles and/or pack-animals.
Arrival – in Arusha (please advise us about your arrival details). If you wish we can arrange for you to stay the first night in our Lodge – Karama Lodge in Bed and Breakfast. (Optional) – www.karama-lodge.com
Aug 1 – Drive from Arusha to Lake Manyara National Park for a game drive, you will have a picnic lunch in the park, followed by an afternoon game drive. It is a great opportunity to see its marvelous concentration of animals, including 350 species of birds, not to mention the glistening soda lake itself where you’ll catch glimpses of grazing pink Flamingos. It is also the chance to admire the escarpment of the Rift Valley and better understand its impact on the Tanzanian landscape. Dinner and overnight stay at Jambo Campsite, just outside Lake Manyara National Park.
Aug 2 – After an early breakfast, you will drive to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and upon arrival you will descend into the Crater for a game drive. You will enjoy a picnic lunch and exit the crater to reach Nainakonaka. Take an afternoon hike to Olmoti, which takes you through the rain forested slopes of Olmoti Crater to the viewpoint on the rim. The trek winds down to the grassy plains of the crater floor and to Mungwe Falls; named after the distinctive white flourish of the Colobus Monkey tail. Dinner and overnight stay at Olmoti Special Campsite. Olmoti Crater is located north of Ngorongoro Crater at the altitude of 3,088 meters above sea level. Olmoti, meaning Cooking Pot in Maasai language, is a small pristine caldera where water springs combine to form Munge river. The Olmoti crater floor is home to grazing wild animals; eland, reed buck, buffalo, bushbuck along with Maasai livestock.
Aug 3 – The trek continues to the distant Empakai Crater. On this day the trek covers open grassland through a natural amphitheater created by encircling volcanoes. The Empakai crater area is about 6 km wide and rests at the altitude of 3200m above sea level. Its walls rises 300m above crater floor while a large part of the caldera floor is filled by a soda lake with depth of 85m; an unusual feature for an alkaline lake in East Africa. Views along the walking trail downward to the Empakai is the most spectacular at every point. Along the rim you can enjoy the crater green lush vegetation. Also in a distance you will see the dramatic cone of the Oldonyo Lengai and Lake Natron below the Rift Valley wall.The steep walk up to Empakai offers breathtaking views, especially from the top where the sheer sided sunken crater can be seen. We camp on the crater rim, with Empakai on one side and Ol Doinyo Lengai, the holy Maasai volcano on the other side. Dinner and overnight stay at Empakai Special Campsite.
Aug 4 – From the overnight camp, we climb down the sheer-sided slopes of Empakai onto the crater floor for a hiking safari. Empakai Crater is a sunken volcano with a soda lake covering most of the Crater Floor. Flamingos nest here during the day to escape the blazing heat of the Rift Valley. A large forest on the western shore is home to Antelope, Buffalo, Leopard, Lion, and with large seasonal Zebra and Wildebeest populations when they pass through on their migratory journey. Dinner and overnight stay at Acacia Campsite.
Aug 5 – The Maasai Mountain of God, Ol Doinyo Lengai appears off the sunrise as we head out early to avoid too much heat. We arrive at the escarpment, the sheer wall that looms out of the Rift Valley’s floor, to admire one of the finest views in Africa. Sweeping vistas of the Rift Valley, 1500ft below, and the scattered active volcanoes, primitive rock formations, glimmering soda lakes and clustered Maasai Bomas. The final six kilometers are across the tough uncompromising terrain of the valley floor. Our shaded camp is perched above a refreshing stream, a half-hour walk from a breathtaking waterfall. Dinner and overnight stay at Kamakia Campsite.
Aug 6 – Very early morning you will start your climb of Ol Doinyo Lengai (2878m), an active volcano with strong spiritual significance to the Maasai. You will be camping on the top of the volcano, on the south crater for an unforgettable experience with your scientific consultant. You will get a chance to learn how to collect samples and make measurement of gas with Prof. Fischer.
Aug 7 – A half day on top of the Lengai with your guide and descent to the shore of Lake Natron – dinner and overnight stay at Kamakia Campsite.
Aug 8 – For this last day, you will have the time and the opportunity to enjoy Lake Natron’s shores and its thousands of flamingos and explore the area at the foot of the Lengai. Last Dinner and overnight at Kamakia Campsite.
Aug 9 – A long drive back to Arusha with picnic lunch to connect to your international flight or stay overnight at Karama Lodge in Bed and Breakfast (Optional).
Our Price includes:
All National Park entrance & camping fees, Game drives, 3 meals a day, 1 bottle of water per day, Maasai trekking guides, support vehicles 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser, pack animals, National Park armed ranger, porters, services of a cook, camping equipments (tents & mattresses), guidance by Prof Tobias Fischer on the Lengai, scientific measurements’ equipment.
Our Price does not include:
International flight, airport transfers, accommodation in Arusha, sleeping bags (which can be rented for $15 per person for the whole trip), alcohol, cigarettes, additional mineral water, discretionary tipping, items of a personal nature, laundry,or anything not mentioned above.
Prices quoted in US Dollars per person. For terms and conditions of payment please refer to our booking conditions. Please note prices may be subject to change in the event of any change of Government Taxes and National Park Fees. Tropical Trails reserves the right to adjust these rates accordingly.
About your guide: Prof. Tobias Fischer
Tobias Fischer grew up in Germany, travelled many times during his childhood to Africa, venturing to various spots on the continent with his parents, avid travelers, in the early 1980s. “I was fascinated by the natural beauty, the rocks, the sand dunes,” he recalls. While an undergraduate student, Fischer seized the opportunity to study abroad on a scholarship, choosing Arizona State University, ASU. “The geology of the Arizona desert always interested me,” he stated. Once at ASU, Fischer, under the guidance of Lynda Williams, a research professor, began doing laboratory work focused on geochemistry. Through Williams, Fischer was able to get in contact with Professor Stanley Williams, who Fischer would later work with during his career as a doctoral student at ASU.
Fischer graduated from the University of Freiburg in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in geology and then began his graduate work at Arizona State University. He graduated in 1999 with a Ph.D. in Geology, focusing his dissertation on volcanic gasses being emitted from subduction zone volcanoes, and also, looking at the chemical composition of the gases to determine how their geochemistry relates to eruptive activity. He has been a professor at the University of New Mexico for the past ten years, focusing his work on active volcanoes.
Fischer has ventured to a multitude of places most people can only imagine. As a volcanologist, one of the places he has visited on many occasions is Central America, along the Ring of Fire, where he travelled to study volcanic emissions and the composition of volcanic gasses, looking at the global cycle of carbon, nitrogen and water, relating the volcanic emissions to the amount of carbon and nitrogen subducted into the subduction zones. Fischer travelled to Iceland, host to highly geologically active grounds, to look at the sources of nitrogen, carbon and noble gasses in hot spot magmas to determine their relationship with the processes that occur in the deep versus shallow Earth.
Nearly 2,000 meters above the floor of the Rift Valley in Tanzania, sits the world’s only erupting carbonatite volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai. Fischer has been here on many expeditions, working to understand the relationship between carbon dioxide and volcanic activity. Noting the very high carbon dioxide content in the mantle, producing the carbon dioxide rich magmas, he seeks to determine the way in which the carbonatite transitions from an intrusive lava flow activity to an explosive eruption.
Most recently, he began working in the northern part of the East African rift, at Erta Ale in Ethiopia, source of the longest existing lava lake, observing sulfur isotope fractionation during magma degassing, trying to determine whether sulfur isotope fractionation can be utilized to better understand past eruptions in hopes of discovering the amount of sulfur released during them. Also, it will assist in determining the impact it had on climate. This can be applied to the Mars sulfur cycle, facilitating the prediction of the sulfur isotope composition degassing from Mars volcanoes, and also, the kind of deposit that would be left behind on the Martian surface.
Fischer is currently doing field instrumentation development. He is using instruments to measure the carbon dioxide released by volcanic plumes to better control the carbon dioxide emissions from volcanoes. Fischer’s research is closely related to the work he began doing while earning his Ph.D.; however, he has expanded it geographically and also, in terms of technique.
As with any active volcano, the access to the top and the overnight on the crater is always subject to the volcano activity. Safety remains our primary concern. Following the activity on the crater, Prof. Fischer might take the decision to offer an alternative program to ensure safety of the group. His advise will be followed by Tropical Trails holding the responsibility of this trek.
What to bring with you on this tour:
- Torch light (with extra batteries)
- Sealed plastic bags to keep your batteries
- Sunglasses and sun hat
- Sun cream and Insect repellent with a minimum of 40% DEET
- Personal medication (with extra in case a box gets damaged during the trip)
- Binoculars for better viewing of wildlife
- Eventually camera, batteries, charger, enough memory cards
- A cover to protect your equipment from the dust
- A sleeping bag, alternatively you can choose to rent a sleeping bag from us for $15/person for the whole trip
- Warm mountain clothes and good trekking shoes
Equipment provided by us:
- Field guides & reference books
- We will provide extra binoculars
- Bean bags to rest your telescope in the car
- First-aid kit
- Tent and mattress and all the camping equipment
Good to know to prepare your tour:
Passport and visa: To enter Tanzania, you will need a passport valid for six months or more at the time of arrival. You will need a visa which can be obtained in advance from the Tanzanian embassy in your home country. It is also possible to obtain the visa when entering the country. Please check the requirements with the nearest embassy in your home country.
Time difference: Tanzania is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Currency: The currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS). We recommend that you take currency in US dollars but avoid taking 100USD bills as you might have problem getting the change. Tanzania shillings cannot be brought in or taken out of the country, but money can be changed easily on arrival at the airport or at a few of our lodges during the tour. Bring enough money to cover items of a personal nature. Make sure you do not have any bill dating before 2004 as they will be refused in the country. Some places accept credit cards and ATM machines can be found but do not rely only on credit card, as technical problem and electrical problems are common.
Health: Please contact your own doctor to obtain the latest information on the vaccinations required, as the official regulations change frequently. As for any tropical travelers, we advise to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B and C and tetanus. A malaria preventative medication is strongly recommended, as are up-to-date inoculations against yellow fever. Mosquitoes nets are provided at all the places we stay where they may be a problem and we advise that you take insect repellent with you. The one biting insect we will encounter is tsetse flies. These are small horse flies but in some parts of Tarangire and the Serengeti they can be numerous. Repellent does not seem to work on these, and they can bite through clothes where they are tight against the skin. The best protection is to wear long sleeves and trousers rather than shorts, and to make sure everything is loose-fitting and avoid blue color which attract them. Tap water is best avoided. Bottled water is provided on the tour vehicle (1.5L per day per person) and at meal times. In addition just about every place we stay at includes complimentary bottles of water, or filtered water in the accommodation.
Clothing: Dress informal. As a general rule, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes are best for the daytime. Shorts are fine, although be aware about biting insects. Long-sleeved shirts with a collar are preferable to tee shirts for sun protection, and a sun hat is essential. A lightweight waterproof jacket will also be useful as will a light sweater or sweatshirt for possible cool evenings and mornings. Make sure to bring good walking or trekking shoes.
Luggage: Please check with your chosen airline company about the weight limit on you international flights. We ask you to bring soft-sided bags which are easier to load in our vehicle than rigid suitcases. Do not forget to put identification tags to each piece of luggage with the following mention on your way to Tanzania: Tropical Trails, Maasai Camp, Arusha, Tel +255 732 972 045. In case your luggage is misled on it way in, it will brought to our office by the airline company and we will make sure it finds you on the tour. Always put a change of clothes in your hand luggage and do not put any valuable items in your checked luggage.
Travel insurance: Travel insurance is essential and we insist that you take out suitable cover as soon as your tour is booked, also to cover an eventual last minute cancelation. If you are bringing expensive optical equipment or other valuable items, please make sure they are also adequately insured on your home contents policy, as most travel insurance policies do not cover very expensive individual items. Please also ensure that your policy covers you in the event of a medical emergency. Medical costs abroad can often be extremely expensive. Please note that Tropical Trails is not liable for any medical or repatriation costs resulting from injury or illness during a tour or for covering any costs resulting from a flight delay such as extra hotel accommodation. If you wish, we can book for you The Flying Doctor cover to ensure that you can be flown to Kenya in case of a medical emergency. A 14 days cover costs 20USD per person.
Transport while on tour: Transport will be in four-wheel drive vehicles which will have a pop-up roof hatch for window-free viewing and photography. Most roads are good to excellent, but there will be some rough stretches as we drive into some less-travelled parts or if there has been recent bad weather. In most National Parks leaving the vehicles is prohibited. Each person will have a window seat and the roof hatches are ideal for getting good views but come prepared to spend an unusual amount of time in the vehicles. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles as your guide will arrange seat rotation each day.
Smoking: Smoking is not allowed in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room even if the Lodge allows it. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group and make sure you do not cause any harm to nature by throwing out your cigarettes.
Tipping: Our expert guide does not expect to be tipped for his services, and there is no need for anyone in the group to organize a collection for him. The driver/guide usually receives a tip and you can decide to give him something individually or collectively depending on his level of service. If you are please by the quality of service in your accommodations, you may decide to leave a tip.
Your expert guide will have a selection of relevant guides in the tour vehicle.
Useful Field Guides:
Stevenson, T. and J. Fanshawe, et al. 2002. Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa. Academic Press. An excellent new guide to the region and the most recommended, covering every bird species recorded in Tanzania up to shortly before publication. This is now the standard book for East Africa covering all of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, and is highly recommended.
Zimmerman, D.A., D.A. Turner and D.J. Pearson. 1996. Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania. A&C Black, London. This covers the almost all the birds we see. There is a lightweight shortened paperback version available.
Kingdon, J. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. 1997. Academic Press, London. ISBN 0-12-408355-2. This excellent guide covers the mammals of the whole of the African continent. Good color illustrations are included of most species and the text is detailed. The taxonomy followed is very up-to-date, but some of the English names used are unfamiliar ones and might seem a little confusing at first. An abridged version is available. Recommended.