To get to the Serengeti the second time around, we chose the less travelled north eastern route from Arusha to Klein’s Gate.
The journey there took us from Arusha (stayed at The Blue Heron) on the T2 highway toward the Tanzania border town of Namanga. This is the southern entry into Kenya.
Close to Kenya, it’s a two day journey through Maasai homelands. We traversed through plains surrounded by mountains. We saw giraffe and zebra in the same space as cattle.
The geography and geology in the region is interesting. Once on the gravel road and heading west there in the distance is another peak which is OL DOINYO LENGAI (3188m ASL) and behind us MOUNT MERU (4562m ASL).
Ol Doinyo Lengai is unique in the world – it is still active and produces carbontite ( mainly sodium & potassium carbonates). These weather quickly and turn from black to grey making the landscape different to any other volcano. The ash spreads over the grasslands which results in succulent rich pastures which positively impact the breeding herds of wildebeest in the annual migrations. The carbonates also end up in lake Natron making the lake very alkaline so only wildlife that has adapted to the water survives in it. The water is very unfriendly to those species who haven’t adapted.
If interested there is a you tube on how to survive Lake Natron which is worth watching
It is possible to climb to the top of OL DOINYO LENGAI you just have to pay $100 if on your own or $70 per person if more than one. It takes about 14 hours up & down. We didn’t do it but it does seem something that people do. It apparently is quite a challenge with great views of Kilimanjaro and Meru on a clear day (that’s the catch – those two are often shrouded in clouds ?)
En route to our overnight stop we encountered 4 trucks stuck in sand – we couldn’t help do went widely off-road through grassland and carried on toward Lake Natron – locals call it the poisoned lake
As an aside Natron means a mineral salt found in dried lake beds, consisting of hydrated sodium carbonate. This naturally occurring hydrous sodium carbonate was used in ancient times in embalming, in ceramic pastes, and as a cleansing agent.
We stayed for two nights on the hill looking down on Lake Natron at Lengai Safari lodge. We had first looked at World view campsite – but it had no facilities and wanted to charge $10 pppn. It might have had a better view but it was not great
Whilst at Lengai we had a visit from Lanjoo- the Maasai we had met in Arusha – his home village is close by and somehow news reached him of our whereabouts. We chatted had tea and arranged to meet the day we left as we were heading through his village.
Continuing on from Lengai we met up with Lanjoo in his village and bought some trinkets
Then we continued to our next overnight stop at Wasso – which according to I overlander had a campsite
Oloip guesthouse is on the outskirts of Wasso – we Meereen told we could camp on the front lawn which had not been cut since COVID started so we flattened out some grass and cleared some branches. We had to buy a gas cylinder and fittings 60 000 Tanzanian Shillings (value R500) because our gas had run out and we couldn’t get the cadac cylinder refilled. It was quite an experience as I could not light the new gas burner. After going back to the shop – which was quite a mission because we had already made camp and were getting food going – but we folded up the tent and went to get help – the solution was masking tape over two of the 4 gas jet holes to reduce amount of airflow – it now works like charm
After Wasso the rough road became rougher as we had to negotiate a service road next to a most magnificent highway being built by the Chinese.
We continued through toward Klein’s Gate which is the north eastern gate of Serengeti