The Olmoti Crater is one of the hidden gems of the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area in Tanzania. A sunken caldera has formed over the past ten million years, to create the Olmoti Crater which means ‘Cooking Pot’ in the Maasai language. While it isn’t quite as dramatic in shape as Ngorongoro or Empakaai Crater, the lush surroundings and water source still attract a number of grazing animals such as elephants, buffalo, waterbuck, and antelope. The hike into Olmoti Crater takes about thirty minutes and offers panoramic views of the region and a glimpse of the Munge Waterfall, which pours out of the crater.
OLMOTI CRATER HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike is 3km out and back (return trip)
Hike Duration: The hike can be completed in about 1.5 hours depending on how long you enjoy the views inside the crater.
Hike Difficulty: This trail is quite basic as it is only 3 kilometers in distance. However, the trail is quite steep up and into the crater with 310m of total elevation on this hike. Keep in mind it is at an altitude of 2700m, so you will be breathing heavily. However, it isn’t a huge undertaking and most who are capable of walking for 1-2 hours will be fine.
Hike Incline: 310 meters.
My Strava Map Upload: Olmoti Crater Hike
WHERE IS THE OLMOTI CRATER
The Olmoti Crater is in the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, which is a five-hour drive from Arusha. Most people visiting the Olmoti Crater do so as part of a tour including a safari in Ngorongoro Crater and the nearby hikes of Empakaai Crater and/or Ol Doinyo Lengai (Mountain of God). I hiked Olmoti 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.
GUIDES, RANGERS AND PERMITS FOR OLMOTI CRATER
To enter Olmoti Crater, 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 Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. As I mentioned earlier, most people visit several attractions in the area to get value out of their permits. A safari in the Ngorongoro Crater, hiking Empakaai Crater, and visiting the Maasai villages can all be included in your itinerary to maximize your time in the region.
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 the small 3-kilometer round-trip hike of Olmoti Crater and then we drove to Empakaai Crater and he led us up and down that hike also. Your ranger will be experienced, well-trained and armed in case of an emergency or dangerous animal encounter.
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. I hiked Olmoti Crater 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 OLMOTI CRATER HIKE
The morning began with an early morning wake-up at the Lion’s Paw lodge in Ngorongoro. We then had to head to the secondary entrance gate of Ngorongoro to pick up our ranger/guide for the hike. After picking up Simon, drove to the ranger post at Nainokanoka where we checked in, parked the car, and then began the hike up into Olmoti Crater.
Simon was a young ranger who was armed for the trek, mainly in case a rogue buffalo ambushed us. The rangers carry a gun but rarely ever use it and they are actually the ones who protect the animals in the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. This includes 24/7 surveillance of the rhino population in the region.
The hike is uphill straight away and Simon’s pace left us breathless. At 2700m of elevation, the air is thin especially in the humidity of the forest. As we made our way up the hill, we passed through the dense vegetation including the ‘Old Man’s Beard’, which is the high-altitude moss that covers the branches of the trees.
After thirty minutes, we reached the crater rim to enjoy beautiful views of the expansive caldera. In the distance, we could spot buffalo, elephants, and waterbuck grazing in the plains. A river wound through the crater providing a water source for the wildlife. This river eventually reaches an opening in the crater to pour down into the Munge Waterfall, which is visible from the road as you approach the ranger station.
I asked the ranger if it is possible to hike and/or around the crater and he said it can be done but is not offered to tourists. The terrain of the Olmoti Crater is a swamp in many places and even going much further beyond the initial river is very muddy. Simon our ranger took us down to the river and the source of the waterfall where we had great views of the crater. It would have been a great adventure to do a longer, full loop around the crater, but I can appreciate when some parts of ecosystems are off-limits to tourists.
I think the Olmoti Crater is a great short hike and makes a handy addition to your itinerary in the Ngorongoro region. I hope you enjoyed this hiking guide for the Empakaai Crater in Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, Tanzania.