Undoubtedly, the hero of the Ngorongoro conservation area is the 19km long and 16km wide crater. The greater area of the Ngorongoro Highlands itself, though, is buzzing with an energy of adventure.
The highlight of your trip to our Ngorongoro Tortilis Camp will be the full day safari to the crater, but we have another little gem to experience, and this one is on foot. To enjoy this hike, set aside half the day, sleep in a little later in your cosy bed, enjoy a relaxed, hearty breakfast and then join our Maasai staff and an armed conservation ranger for a hike up Mount Makarot.
The beauty of this hike is it starts on your doorstep! A path leads right onto the mountain from the camp and after just a few minutes you’ll pop out of our acacia forest canopy onto a steep climb, which takes around two hours to the peak. The Ngorongoro Tortilis camp itself is already at a high altitude and the peak sits at an impressive 3132m above sea level. Taking it slow is the answer and the rewards at the top are outstanding.
Vistas for Days
It’s not just the view from the peak that impresses though. Every time you take in the expansive vista there’s something interesting to catch your eye. You’ll quickly notice the many small villages below. Some are so close the cows and donkeys are in earshot, and others as far as you can see on the horizon. These are the Maasai villages of the Ngorongoro Highlands and a rich part of the heritage of these lands.
There is more animal life than just the Maasai livestock though and that’s why the ranger is carrying his weapon, and the Maasai their impressive long spears. Buffaloe roam these hills and there could even be a lion or leopard in the area so the guides are always on the lookout and listening for signs of life.
About halfway to the top, there is a level patch of grass with an enticing tree to climb. It serves as a great rest spot and, if the going is too tough, a good turning back point for those feeling they’ve already got what they need from this hike. The temptation to eat the packed lunch is a challenge to avoid, but abstaining will be rewarded a little later. The Maasai are generously and skilfully carrying lunch and water in their bright blankets turned ingeniously into a carrying pouch for a picnic at the top.
After a break, the single file begins the march upward once more. The vegetation changes from hillside bush-scrub to longer grasses and then into tremendously lush, dense, atmospheric and jungle-like trees and vines. The Masai guide you around the ridge of this green valley and then, all of a sudden, the forest canopy breaks to present the most comfortable of slopes under open skies where you will take a load off and enjoy lunch. It’s a most welcome spread of sandwiches, fruit and nuts, which, as with anything in life, tastes all that much sweeter having earned it.
The peak is just a short 2-minute scramble above the picnic slope and the views are incredible. Make a note of the height. At 3132m above sea level, this may well be the highest you have ever been in your life!
Gazing Southward into the Ngorongoro crater itself gives a great perspective of how the geography all fits together. In the direction of your camp below (way below) is the huge Lake Eyasi and the Western Wall of the Rift Valley. And over the steepest drop from the Makarot peak to the North West lies the Serengeti plains that you are most likely heading to or coming from.
Ask the ranger to take you down the easier descent to the North into the valley for fresh views and the car can meet you at a watering hole close to Ngorongoro Tortilis Camp.
- Wear long pants
- Shoes likely to get wet from the dew of grass and foliage
- It’s a half-day hike even though less than 10km total distance
- At least a basic level of fitness is required
If you are ready for the challenge and want to Hike Mount Makarot, contact us and our exceptional customer service staff can build a custom trip that meets your specific wishes to leave you with everlasting memories.