WALKING WITH THE MAASAI (SAMPLE)
Day 1: Arrival in Arusha
Today we arrive at Arusha's Kilimanjaro International Airport and transfer to our overnight camp 3 km (2 miles) out of town.
Arusha is the starting point for the northern safari routes of Tanzania, and is one of the country's most attractive towns. The surrounding area is primarily a highland forest park and it is a good place to see black and white colobus monkeys and bushbuck. You may catch a glimpse of Mount Meru that looms over the town, or even Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance.
Overnight camp near Arusha.
Day 2: Arusha - Ngorongoro Crater
Our destination today is the Ngorongoro Crater via Lake Manyara. A rough road takes us up the Rift Valley escarpment, through dramatic rolling green fields and tiny traditional villages. We skirt the rim of the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater before descending onto the crater floor in time for a picnic lunch.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is one of the most remarkable and fascinating parts of the Serengeti ecosystem. This is truly one of the great natural wonders of the world: within its 100-square-mile crater framed by steep green crater walls, a spectacular setting for wildlife is presented. The crater floor is almost entirely open country, so wildlife is in full visibility, a wonderful opportunity for photography and meaningful observations. Zebra, wildebeest, and gazelle mingle and circulate together, while herds of buffalo graze the long grass areas. Bull elephants are to be seen feeding in green marshes and there are plenty of hyenas and huge prides of lions (we may be fortunate to witness predation in action). There is a soda lake often crowded with numerous flamingos. Ngorongoro is also one of the best places for seeing the endangered black rhino.
After a day of game driving in our pop-up roofed 4X4 vehicles, we ascend the crater wall and proceed to our rim-side campground for dinner and overnight.
Overnight Simba Campground.
Day 3: Ngorongoro Highlands
You may wish to arise at dawn so you can watch the sun rising over the crater below, bathing the huge bowl-like crater in the watery early morning light. We begin our trek today through the area of the Crater Highlands, a magical, unspoiled landscape of fantastic volcanoes protruding between Africa's Rift Valley and the Serengeti Plains. Here, Maasai tend their cattle on cool mist-laden grasslands and wildlife abounds in montane forests. The Maasai are great pastoralists and are an integral part of the Ngorongoro ecosystem. We will learn about village life, the ways of the warriors, their most beloved cattle, and many other aspects of a proud and traditional people. We'll have the opportunity to discuss Maasai life firsthand and perhaps our hosts will want to ask questions about our own peculiar lives.
Our route takes us from the Seneto Maasai village on the crater rim, to Mokilal Maasai village, approximately 11 km (7 miles), 4-5 hours. Our supplies and heavier bags are transported by donkey. Support staff includes a cook, donkey handlers, a local English-speaking Maasai guide, an armed ranger, and your Adventures Abroad Tour Leader. We use pitched tents with mattresses provided, cold showers, and outdoor privy.
Overnight Highlands Camp.
Day 4: Mokilal Camp - Mti Mmoja Camp
After breakfast, start the hike ahead of the donkey team, gaining gradient gradually to the rim of the Lake Eyasi Rift Wall and down to Mti Mmoja camp. Distance covered, 9 km / 5½ mile (walking time 6 or 7 hours). Vegetation cover - moorland.
Overnight Mti Mmoja Camp.
Day 5: Mti Mmoja Camp - Intake Camp
After breakfast, depart walking along the Endamaghay River, down to Intake Camp. Distance, 7 km (4½ miles).
Walking time 5 hours. Vegetation cover - open woodland.
Overnight Intake Camp.
Day 6: Intake Camp - Endamaghay Village - Lake Eyasi
Trek down along the Endamaghay River to Endamaghay Village. This area is inhabited by the Hadzabe tribe who we can visit in their caves enroute.
Lake Eyasi is a mildly alkaline lake stretching for about 50 km (31 miles) to the southwest. To the northeast the horizon is dominated by the Crater Highlands, to the north, beyond an escarpment the plains of the Serengeti.
Over 100 years ago when the stronger Maasai tribes moved into the Ngorongoro and Serengeti, the Datoga and other indigenous Hadzabe hunter-gatherers, believed to have lived here for 10,000 years, were pushed south and many made Lake Eyasi and its surrounding bush and forests their home. This unique area contains peoples belonging to all four main socio-linguistic groups of East Africa.
Our camp is located in the forest clearings by the lake, with grassy tent spaces, shower and toilet facilities made as far as possible from local materials. This is an ideal place for bird-watchers or those who just want to relax to spend two or three nights in total peace. The meadows along the shores of the lake and the forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife including leopard, hippo.
The hike takes about 3 hours covering a distance of 5 km (3 miles). The group will be at Endamaghay village at about noon. The 4-W-drive safari vehicles will meet the group here, and drive them to an overnight camp at Kisima Ngeda - Lake Eyasi.
Overnight camp at Lake Eyasi.
Day 7: Lake Eyasi - Serengeti National Park
After breakfast, drive to Serengeti National Park via Olduvai Gorge prehistoric site, picnic lunch enroute to arrive at Seronera public camp site for dinner and overnight.
The name "Serengeti" derives from a Maasai word meaning "Land-without-end." This is a land of superlatives, both in the vast landscape that surrounds you and the incredible biodiversity it supports. The wildebeest, zebra and gazelle start migrating west and north in search of sweeter grazing from May through to July, moving from Seronera through the Western Corridor, then outside the park to the Grumeti, arriving in the Maasai Mara in Kenya by late July through to early September. By October/November they are drifting back to Seronera, and spend the long rainy season in the Serengeti grasslands. It is possible to witness both ends of the spectacle, following the migration through almost to the shores of Lake Victoria, then across the border into Kenya and down the Soit Olol Escarpment into the Maasai Mara.
The sight of tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebra milling and charging into the Mara, Talek and Sand Rivers is oneof the most photographed, and most exciting, wildlife spectacles on earth.
Overnight Seronera Camp.
Day 8: Serengeti National Park
Specially designed "pop top" safari vehicles allow us to maximize our game viewing today. We will also have a chance to visit the park's visitor's center and lunch at Seronera Wildlife Lodge which will enable us to have a swim.
We begin the day with game viewing through the short grass plains of Serengeti's kopje country. Outcroppings of ancient stone dating back 2 billion years, kopjes are rounded piles of boulders formed into their distinctive shape by eons of wind and rain. They occur as archipelagos, little islands of stone punctuating the Serengeti's sea of grass, and each have a very different character. The kopjes are an exceptionally good area for cheetahs, and lions greatly favour kopjes as daytime resting places as well.
Overnight at Seronera Camp.
Day 9: Serengeti - Arusha
Today we have a full day of travel back to Arusha. If time did not permit earlier, we may have our Olduvai Gorge visit today.
Overnight in Arusha.
Day 10: Departure
Departure from Arusha.