The Empakaai crater is one of the multi-volcanic calderas in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, probably with the highest rim of all and a beautiful lake that makes up more than 75% of its crater floor. Among the main attractions inside the crater is the large number of Flamingoes spotted around this Crater’s Lake coastline.
The crater rests on the Ngorongoro highlands and is surrounded by steep-sided wooded cliffs about 300m high, characterized by lush-green natural vegetation, wildlife, and a variety of bird species. The crater is almost 8 kilometers wide, yet about half of its floor is covered by a deep soda lake, home to flamingoes and other water birds.

While on the edge of the crater rim, you can explore Oldoinyo Lengai Mountain, the Great Rift Valley, and Lake Natron with a spectacular panorama. You can also enjoy a nature walk from the rim of the crater or descend to the crater floor to explore various attractions. You can take a nature walk from the crater rim or descend to the crater floor to explore various available attractions.
The Empakaai elevation is approximately 3,200m above sea level on the western side and 2,590m above sea level on the eastern side. It is always shrouded in mist due to its high altitude, and the lake appears emerald or deep blue.
Empakaai crater is popular for walking safaris, wherein tourists hike for about one hour and walk back for about two and a half hours, depending on personal fitness.

Visitors can explore the lake and the dense rainforest inside and around it near the
floor. As part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Empakaai crater shares a substantial percentage of wildlife, providing a higher possibility of spotting some of the Big Five, particularly leopards, lions, elephants, and buffaloes. It also hosts smaller wild animals such as Monkeys and various bird species.

In an ideal coincidence, a long walking safari done in the NCA through Oldoinyo Lengai and Lake Natron situated outside the area that can last for two to four days can be enhanced by including safaris to Empakaai Crater. This crater can be visited at any
time of year, with a greater emphasis from June to December (drier seasons). A walk to the Empakaai crater needs to be accompanied by an armed ranger. There is a special campsite on the crater rim for camping. However, booking in advance is
highly recommended.


Empakaai crater hike

Hidden in the highlands region of the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area (NCA), there are some hidden gems that most visitors in Tanzania will completely overlook. A 40-kilometer drive north of the famous Ngorongoro Crater is the equally impressive Empakaai Crater. This makes for some perfect off-the-beaten-path exploration to some truly incredible natural attractions like the Empakaai Crater.


Hike Distance

The total distance of the hike is 5km out and back (return trip)

Hike Duration

The hike can be completed in about two hours depending on how long you enjoy the views while lake-side in the crater rim

Hike Difficulty

This trail is quite basic as it is only 5 kilometers in distance. However, the trail is quite steep down the side of the crater rim with 300m of elevation on the way up. The other component to consider is that you may be doing much of this trek exposed to the sun.

Hike Incline

The hike incline is 295 meters.


The Empakaai Crater is in the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, which is a five-hour drive from Arusha. Most people visiting the Empakaai Crater do so as part of a tour including a safari in Ngorongoro Crater and the nearby hikes of Olmoti Crater and/or Ol Doinyo Lengai (Mountain of God). I hiked Empakaai Crater as part of a four-day expedition of several hikes in the region with Altezza Travel. Below you will find the map location of the crater but it is important to know (I will add the details in the section below) you cannot enter the crater by yourself without a ranger.

In addition to the park permits, you will also need to employ the services of one of the park rangers because you will be leaving your vehicle in a zone where wild animals rule the land. Our park ranger, Simon, took us on two hikes in one day. First, we did a small 3-kilometer round-trip hike of Olmoti Crater and then we drove to Empakaai Crater and he led us up and down.
The last part to consider about reaching Empakaai Crater is that you will need a 4×4 vehicle, which is capable of handling the tough terrain of the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area.