The Great African Rift Valley

To the north of the familiar landmark of Lake Manyara, the Great Rift Valley system of Northern Tanzania reveals a striking landscape of plains, woodlands and wide views interrupted by the looming shapes of extinct volcanoes. These volcanoes include the quite active Ol Donyo Lengai (the Maasai "Mountain of God"). This stunning volcano dominates the view from most of my campsites in this area. It stands on the edge of the dramatic escarpment that marks the rift, and beside it spreads the huge soda lake of Natron. The environment down in the Rift Valley provides a stark contrast to that of the Serengeti or the Ngorongoro Highlands. It is characterized by austere beauty and harsh habitats, hardy Maasai pastoralists and can be surprisingly bountiful with wildlife if rain has been enough. The very best months to visit the Rift valley are from January to early May. This is a wonderful safari in its own right and I would, if you are keen, spend up to a week here, but it is perhaps best combined with a safari to The Gol Mountains, The Sanjan or the Serengeti.

The great African Rift Vally at  Natron The great African Rift Vally at Natron

I tend to camp on the open plains then close to one the lakes or mountains of this extraordinary part of East Africa and the sites are wonderfully named, places such as Gelai, Kitumbeine and Lengai as well as Lakes Magadi and Natron. Where ever I camp on this safari the Maasai warriors will always check me out! Great fun in such incredible landscapes. Spoil yourself!

Cloudscapes over the Rift Valley Cloudscapes over the Rift Valley

Cow and flamingos at Lake Natron Cow and flamingos at Lake Natron

The active volcano Oldonyo Lengai The active volcano Oldonyo Lengai dominates the view

I recommend 4-6 nights to really enjoy the freedom this land offers and then onto the Serengeti in January and February or May and on to the Gol Mountains in March or April. For landscape photography this safari takes some beating.