Trekking Empakai Crater to Lake Natron

Empakai Crater is located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and reaches an altitude of 2,800 to 3,000 meters (9200ft – 9800ft). From its rim there is a magnificent view of the sacred mountain of the Maasai, the volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai, at the feet of which lies Lake Natron, which provides food for countless lesser flamingos and other water birds.

The region is full of treasures that you should spend a few days to see. Especially the ascent of the volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai is worthwhile

Day - 1

From Arusha we drive to the edge of the Empakai crater, where our guides are already waiting for us together with their donkeys, which carry our luggage, food and drinks. In about 40 minutes we descend to the crater floor, cross it and then climb back up through lush green, enchanting rainforest to the crater rim.

From here we look down on Engaruka, the place of origin of Kaira, where its “Eramatare School” (lien vers is located, which we can visit on the way back. The active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai also attracts our view.

In the evening we build a fire, pitch the tent, enjoy dinner in the wilderness and the starry night. A ranger stays with us to protect us from buffalo attacks.

Day 2 Empakai Crater - Acacia Camp

After breakfast we set out on our way towards Acacia Camp. We initially walk through the forest which soon releases us into open country. We walk along the Great Rift Valley towards Lake Natron, passing through ancient Maasai land in a spectacular landscape unique in the world, where no car has been able to go before. Only a few travelers dare to come here.

In one of the most remote regions of the world, we pass numerous Maasai bomas with their mud huts, we meet many children, women and men as well as their cattle herds, often accompanied by zebras and wildebeests. The rolling hills, the children accompanying us part of the way, all the friendly people captivate us.

At the Acacia campsite we enjoy our dinner by the fire and a starry night.

Day 3 Camping Acacia - Lake Natron

After breakfast we start our hike at 6am. This day is a bit adventurous because the trail is very narrow, plus the sandy, soft ground makes walking difficult. Soon we see Lake Natron. We walk along the foot of the all-dominating sacred volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai as the lake gets closer and closer. At the end of our tour, we explore this natural gem, located on the border with Kenya, which is rarely visited by tourists.

As soon as we hit the road, we reach our car, which is already waiting for us.  We say goodbye to our companions including donkeys and drive to Moivaro Camp at Lake Natron, where we have lunch.

Together with our local Maasai guide you can walk to the waterfalls of Engero Sero. After some fords in the stream, we will reach a beautiful natural pool surrounded by steep rock walls over which spring water falls. Here you will have the opportunity for a refreshing swim.


In the late afternoon we drive to the shore of Lake Natron, where we observe the various bird colonies. Often a carpet of dried fish spreads out at our feet in the shore area. The irregular rainfall and the great heat lead to lake level fluctuations, parts fall dry along with the fish, natron crusts are formed, which are collected and traded by the local Maasai.

This alkaline salt lake, as beautiful as it is inhospitable, takes its name from one of its chemical constituents: Natron (soda ash), which is supplied to it by the sodium carbonate lava of the Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano. Its colors range from pink to blue and change depending on the season and rainfall. The lake is only up to three meters deep, reaches temperatures above 40°C, it has no outflow, resulting in high concentrations of salt and soda, and yet algae and brine shrimp thrive here, and even a small species of cichlid in the mouth of the few streams. Storks, Greater Flamingos, pelicans and other waterfowl are found by the thousands in the estuaries of the creeks, while the rest of the lake, which reaches as far as Kenya, belongs to the approximately two million Lesser Flamingos alone, which are able to live on the algae and brine shrimp. Animal carcasses left in the water form a bizarre scenery, because within a short time they are preserved by salts and calcified, i.e. fossilized, by the sodium carbonate contained in the lake. Near the lake, there are fossilized footprints that are 100,000 years old.

The area around the lake is dry, hot, desolate and at the same time of beguiling beauty.


Overnight at Moivaro Camp

Day 4 Return journey

The next morning we make our way back to Arusha at peace.


*1 additional night at Moivaro Camp to fully enjoy this place and Lake Natron, which has much to offer.


*Add a stay in my Maasai village to your tour ( mettre le lien vers immersion village massai ) 

Price for 4 days of Trekking from Empakai to Lake Natron on estimate

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