An Intrepid Adventure – Hillary’s Trekking Safari
A Tanzania Trekking Safari is an intrepid adventure for travelers hoping to experience Tanzania in a way few ever do.
Challenging daily hikes along the towering escarpments of the Great Rift Valley bring trekkers face to face with Tanzania’s most breathtaking natural wonders, and nights camping under the stars offer an experience like no other: the chance to commune with nature in a way our ancestors have been doing for millennia.
On her recent trekking safari, Thomson staffer Hillary was thrilled to experience natural wonders few travelers ever see. Her absolute favorites included:
Hillary kicked off the trekking portion of her safari at Empakaai, with a strenuous hike from the rim down to the crater floor. “The challenge was intense, but it was so worth it,” she said. “The views were like nothing I’ve ever seen before!”
Hillary’s camp was perched on the crater rim, about 9,000’ high. “It was quiet in a way I’ve never experienced in my life. I can’t even describe how beautiful it was there. It was a wonderful reward for a demanding day of trekking.”
Great Rift Valley
From Empakaai, Hillary traveled to the Great Rift Valley, a volcanic trench that runs for thousands of miles, and is characterized by towering escarpments and lush, unique landscapes (due to the nutrient-rich volcanic soil). There she began what was “by far [her] favorite part of the trip.”
“The hike was about four hours long, but I didn’t want it to end. Being surrounded by beautiful hills and the walls of the Great Rift Valley, with no other tourists in sight, was awe-inspiring.”
Shallow, warm (the water temperature hovers around 105°F), its shorelines a distinct chalky white (due to the high alkalinity of its waters), Lake Natron is probably most famous not for what it is, but what it holds: thousands upon thousands of flamingos!
A centuries-old breeding ground for the birds, the lake is surrounded by traditional Maasai boma encampments, and goats grazing the nearby slopes regularly wander by.
“When we were on our way to camp, situated between one of the bomas and a small river, our guide told us ‘This is the real Africa.’ ” Hillary recalled. “He was right.”
Ol Doinyo Lengai
Looming over the landscape through the entire hike, Ol Doinyo Lengai, or “the mountain of God,” is not only an active volcano (it last erupted in 2007-08), it’s the only active carbonatite volcano in the world!
That unique composition gives the lava flows a distinctive black color. Grasslands near the mountain, enriched by the volcanic ash, are particularly lush. Though they didn’t climb its slopes, Hillary says “it was one of the most memorable sights on the entire trek.”
Though Hillary loved the challenges of the hike, she was thrilled to be able to experience Tanzanian wildlife in the Eastern Serengeti Nature Reserve, the Serengeti, and the Ngorongoro Crater. “We saw two female lions stalking a herd of zebras, and in the Serengeti two herds of over 50 elephants completely surrounded us! It was magical!”
“Every day we saw something new and exciting,” Hillary gushed. “I’m so happy I chose this safari—I got to see all the wildlife Tanzania is famous for, and also experience an adventure unlike anything I’ve ever undertaken before. I’ll never forget it!”