Walking Safari Across The Ngorongoro Conservation Area
There are a number of walking safaris across the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Northern Tanzania they vary in length from eight to twelve days. Generally your safari will begin with a day or two of game drives. The Tarangire is a nice place to have your pre-walking safari game drives. These first few days can also include morning walking safari along the border of the park it is essential you take a guide and an armed ranger with you. Bellow is an eight day itinerary
On day three the walking safari proper begins. Starting in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and walking to the Olmoti crater takes about four hours and is a pretty walk as you advance up through the rainforest slopes to the crater rim and viewpoint.
As you walk across the Ngorongoro Conservation area the altitudes will vary considerably. So be prepared and have many layers of clothing available as the temperature may vary as dramatically as the altitude. A water proof jacket is essential.
Altitude related Illness can kill you and every year tourists die from altitude related illnesses. Higher altitudes are colder even in Africa; there is less oxygen and to walk slowly is essential especially if you climb above 1,500 to 3,000 meters above sea level. You should be breathing easily with no panting and no extreme physical excursion. Drink water regularly and eat a light diet with lots of carbohydrates. It is essential to keep warm.
The fourth day will continue across to the distant Empakai Crater. This walk covers open grassland through a dramatic natural amphitheatre created by encircling volcanoes. As you pass the local villages the Maasai will rush out of their traditional homes to greet you. A few moths ago as we passed a village the elders of the village asked for help with a woman who had just been bitten by a snake; we still had the vehicles with us were able to take this woman to a hospital. Ordinarily this woman may have died as there are no clinics or hospitals in the area.
Day four: The walk up to Empakai is steep and slow going but affords awe-inspiring views, especially from the top where the sheer sided sunken crater can be seen. This is a special day as you will camp on the Crater Rim, with Empakai on one side and Ol Donyo Lengai, the holy Masai volcano, on the other. Be warned this day has about eleven hours of walking and is a very tiring trek.
Hiking in hot or sunny weather often causes heat exhaustion the signs/symptoms are weakness/fatigue, headache, vertigo, thirst nausea/vomiting faintness high body temperature. The treatment is to lay flat in shade, remove clothing to cool the patient, soak the body with cold water, re-hydrate patient and monitor body temperature.
Heat stroke is more serious with the signs/symptoms being delirium, coma, rapid pulse, rapid breathing; skin hot and dry, body temperature above 40c [104 f]. Treat as for heat exhaustion but this condition can be fatal so seek medical assistance quickly ? evacuate if possible.
Day five will have you scramble down the sheer-sided slopes of Empakai onto the crater floor for a foot 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 and lion, with large seasonal zebra and wildebeest populations when they pass through on their migratory circuits. Today makes the hard slog of the previous day well worth the effort. This is Africa as few tourists will ever experience.
Day six and the Maasai Mountain of God, Oldonyo Lengai looms out of the sunrise as we head out early to avoid the African heat. We arrive at the escarpment, the sheer wall that looms out of the Rift Valley floor, to admire one of the finest views in Africa. Bellow lays the sweeping vistas of the great Rift Valley; a drop of 1500ft. The scattered active volcanoes, primitive rock formations, glimmering soda lakes and clustered Maasai bomas make for a dramatic and moving experience. The final six kilometers are across the tough uncompromising terrain of the valley floor is in extreme heat; it is a long six kilometers. The reward to your walk is a shaded camp that is perched above a refreshing stream, only a half-hours walk from a heavenly waterfall.
Day seven has a very early morning an optional climb of Ol Donyo Lengai (2878m), an active carbonated volcano with spiritual significance to the Maasai. It is best not to book this climb in advance as many people are just too tired to climb this mountain. The climb starts at midnight so as to see the dawn from the top ? it is also because the climb is very steep and on loose scree and there is no shade from the sun. The cost will be about US$50 per group of six people.
The end to this walking safari is a visit to Lake Natron one of the soda alkaline lakes that jewel the East African Rift, here is a display of water birds including a multitude of resident pink flamingos. There is also the opportunity, body willing after the past few days hiking, to walk up a gorge carved into the Rift Escarpment to a waterfall to wash off five days of dust.
Day eight is a return to Arusha town where most safaris in Northern Tanzania begin and end.
About the Author: For a more comprehensive guide to Walking Safaris and Ngorongoro Conservation Area contact Ian through http://www.betheladventure.co.uk or Philemon http://www.aardvark-expeditions.com Using responsible tourism to change lives.