The lake filled Empakaai crater may not be as famous as the Ngorongoro crater, but many travelers consider it to be a match in beauty. The lake fills most of the crater floor and draws flamingos and other water birds throughout the year. The crater is surrounded by steep-sided, forested cliffs that are over 985 ft (300 m) high. The view from the crater rim is one of the most appealing in northern Tanzania, but hiking down into the crater is a wonderful experience as well.
Hiking down into the crater begins with a steep 30-40 minute hike on a well-kept trail that descents through the montane forest which is rich with birdlife. As you hike down and around you will want to keep your eyes open for hyenas, buffalo, blue monkeys and perhaps even some elephant. While you are walking down to the crater floor, you will have some amazing views of the beautiful turquoise lake down below, and the perfect volcano cone of Mount Oldoinyo Lengai to the northeast. You are welcome to hike around the lake, but make sure you save enough energy to climb back out of the crater which will take you a little over an hour.