Lake Natron is a popular area to stay at the lake-side lodging and observe the massive flocks of flamingos and other wildlife near the expansive salt lake. The ‘Mountain of God’ Ol Doinyo Lengai also looms in the background and is the third most popular mountain to climb in Tanzania. However, hidden in the depths of the Ngare Sero Gorge is the hidden gem of the region with a series of stunning waterfalls. It might be hard to believe in the heat of the plains but this refreshing micro-adventure was one of my favorite activities in the Lake Natron region.
NGARE SERO WATERFALL HIKE DETAILS
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 waterfall.
Hike Difficulty: This trail is quite basic as it is only five kilometers in distance. However, the trail crosses the river a number of times. I highly suggest water shoes or even using hiking boots and getting them wet. My friend went in flip-flops and regretted it due to how much of the trail was on slippery rocks.
Hike Incline: 333 meters.
My Strava Map Upload: Ngare Sero Waterfall Hike
WHERE IS THE NGARE SERO WATERFALL
The Ngare Sero Waterfall is in the Lake Natron region, just below the foot of the Ol Doinyo Lengai Mountain. Several Maasai villages are found nearby and your guide for the hike will be a Maasai. Most people visiting the Ngare Sero Waterfall do so as part of an extended stay in the region including a Lake Natron lodge stay and/or climbing Ol Doinyo Lengai (Mountain of God). I’ve included the pin location below so you can see where the waterfall is situated in regards to Arusha but you will need a 4×4 and most likely a guide to reach this area.
GUIDES AND PERMITS FOR NGARE SERO WATERFALL HIKE
To enter Ngare Sero, you will need to have done prior organization and it isn’t a hike you can do independently. Firstly, you will need to pay the park fees and permit to enter the Lake Natron Area. As I mentioned earlier, most people visit several attractions in the area to get value out of their permits including Ol Doinyo Lengai and Lake Natron. Ngare Sero Waterfall was part of a four-day expedition I did with Altezza Travel. It included the Empakaai Crater hike, Olmoti Crater hike, and climbing Ol Doinyo Lengai.
In addition to the park permit, you will also need to employ the services of one of the Maasai guides. This was organized by our lodge, Lake Natron Luxury Camp. The guided tour is included in their lodge fee.
The last part to consider about reaching Ngare Sero Waterfall is that you will need a 4×4 vehicle, which is capable of handling the tough terrain of the region. I hiked Ngare Sero Waterfall as part of a four-day expedition of several hikes in the region with Altezza Travel and we had a driver with a 4×4 vehicle for the entirety of our trip.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE NGARE SERO WATERFALL HIKE
The last stop of my four-day expedition was the Lake Natron region to hike the famous Ol Doinyo Lengai, which is also known as the ‘Mountain of God’. I was based at Lake Natron Luxury Camp, which is about thirty minutes from Ngare Sero Waterfall and 45-minutes from Ol Doinyo Lengai. Bad weather delayed our Ol Doinyo Lengai hike so we had a day to spare.
This region is known to be incredibly hot and it starts to fry you within seconds. Temperatures can often reach up to 50 degrees at the peak of the day. When I heard about a waterfall hike nearby, I imagined it could be a great way to cool down during our rest-day before trekking up the ‘Mountain of God’. Most of the hike is within the gorge so it receives a little bit of shade but many sections of the trail receive a lot of sun especially during the middle of the day when the sun is overhead.
We set off at 2:30 pm from Lake Natron Luxury Camp and made the 30-minute drive to the small Maasai village nearby Ngare Sero Waterfall. Our Maasai guide, Wilson, works directly with Lake Natron Luxury Camp and was also our guide for the Ol Doinyo Lengai climb. After parking next to a herd of curious cattle, we set off heading towards the gorge in the extreme heat.
The trail is a mix of rocky terrain and river crossings as you quickly delve into the gorge with walls towering over you on either side. The first river crossing was a great way to cool down and I wasn’t at all bothered to be walking in wet shoes and socks. A hike with multiple river crossings might sound a bit extreme but you will never have to submerge into water higher than your hips. You can carry your camera gear or phones and as long as you don’t slip everything will survive the expedition.
The trail is 2.5km through the gorge until you reach the waterfalls, which are an oasis amidst the desert. Palm trees and ferns look out of place upon the cliffs at the source of the waterfall, which pours down into a cavern. A small pool is great for a refreshing dip and leads you into the cavern. Exploring into the narrow gorge, you can walk underneath the waterfall to find yet another waterfall with much greater force into the narrow pool. Take care here as it is incredibly strong and pushes you into the side of the gorge. Under the shade, with water cascading down onto us from the falls above, it truly felt like a dream. Just minutes earlier we had been in the hot plains basically melting and now we were floating on our backs looking up at palm trees and waterfalls.
I truly recommend this micro-adventure as one of my favorite things to do in the region. If you are trekking Ol Doinyo Lengai, don’t be afraid to do this trek before or after as it is very easy on the legs and well worth it. You will have more than enough energy for summiting the ‘Mountain of God’ the next day.
I hope you enjoyed this guide about Ngare Sero Waterfall near Lake Natron, Tanzania.