Empakaai is the second-largest crater in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with a nearly 8-kilometer-wide floor dominated by a salty crater lake and surrounded by steep 300-meter-high walls that climb to 3,200 meters on the eastern rim. The crater is about 90 minutes northeast of Ngorongoro Crater through the Embulbul Depression, a grassland basin that drops to below 2,350m at the base of the 3,260m Mount Losirua and 3,648m Lolmalasin mountain (the highest point in the Crater Highlands).

Whether looking inward to the emerald green crater lake, whose shallows are frequently tinged pink by thousands of flamingos, or east across the Rift Valley to the ashen slopes and smoking fumaroles of volcanic Ol Doinyo Lengai, a scene that also takes in Lake Natron and snow-capped Kilimanjaro on a clear day, the view from the forested crater rim is spectacular.

With a very steep guided climb to the crater bottom, Empakaai provides a nice respite from the safari routine of twice-daily wildlife drives.

The steep but spectacular descent takes 45-60 minutes down a tolerably well-maintained route, longer if you’re looking for the numerous birds that dwell the wooded crater walls, and there’s a chance of seeing bushbuck, buffalo, blue monkey, and even elephant. It is advised that you wear good walking shoes and have a considerable level of fitness.

Empakaai Crater Hike

There are some fantastic options for breaking up a vehicle-based safari and stretching your legs in the Highlands section of the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area (NCA). The spectacular but little-known Empakaai Crater is located 40 kilometers northeast of the famed Ngorongoro Crater.

You will be treated to spectacular views of the Empakaai Crater as well as a peek of Tanzania’s most active volcano, Oldoinyo Lengai, from the time you arrive at Empakaai. Then, with the help of an expert guide and an NCA ranger, you’ll begin the 30-45 minute descent into the crater through dense, hilly forest. There’s great birding surrounding the lake on the crater floor, and there’s an opportunity to see flamingos as well as large game like buffalo, hyena, and elephant.

Day trip for Empakaai Crater Walking Tour

An Empakai Crater hiking excursion is a terrific addition to a Ngorongoro safari, but it can be easily included into any itinerary.

The bulk of Ngorongoro hotels are 3-4 hours away from Empakai Crater, making trekking a full-day activity.

The hike from the crater rim to the crater floor takes a little over half an hour after you’ve arrived. A circle of Empakai Lake takes about four hours to complete, yet if you’re short on time, you can spend as little as an hour on the crater bottom.

If you don’t want to camp in the region, you can drive back up to the crater rim in 45 minutes to an hour.

On request, Empakai Crater trekking excursions can be paired with treks to Ol Doinyo Lengai or Olmoti Crater.

Empakaai Crater hike

Mount Kilimanjaro Tours

8 days Lemosho Route
Best seller!

8 days Lemosho Route

The 8-day Lemosho route itinerary gives you an extra day advantage for acclimatization purposes on Mount Kilimanjaro. This 8-day Mount
8 days Lemosho Route
Popular!

7 days Machame Route

The Machame route which goes by the popular nickname, the "Whiskey" route, is probably the most popular route used to

7 days Lemosho Route

The shorter 7-day Lemosho route variant does not include the extra acclimatization day as the 8-day Lemosho route itinerary. The

6 days Machame Route

The 6 days Machame route does not include the extra day for acclimatization and is therefore recommended for mountain climbers

9 days Northern Circuit Route

The 9 days Northern Circuit Route is one of the easiest routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a recently introduced

7 Days Rongai Route

This is a 7-day Rongai route itinerary variation with an extra day for acclimatization. Gradually sloping towards the summit, Uhuru

6 Days Rongai Route

This 6-day itinerary takes you to the summit of Kilimanjaro using the Rongai Route. Tranquil Kilimanjaro offers treks up the

6 Days Umbwe Route

The 6 days Umbwe Route itinerary on Kilimanjaro is unpopular with many climbers especially first-time climbers for many reasons. First

9 Days Crater Camp via Lemosho Route

This 9-day crater camp trek combined with the 8-day Lemosho route climb is a uniques experience. Crater Camp is a

11 Days Western Breach Route

The 11 days Western Breach route itinerary is rarely or barely used at all due to the risks that come
Shira Route 7 Days

7 Days Shira Route

The 7 days Shira route package is seldom used mostly because Shira is an ancient route that does not follow