Lake Eyasi is home to and famous for the Hadza bushmen, the last survivors of a civilization that knows nothing of agriculture, livestock, pottery, and metals. They live by hunting with bows and arrows, and gathering wild berries and fruits. The Hadza people of Lake Eyasi are the heirs of the very first human beings, the kids of Olduvai Gorge and Koobi Fora who still have a symbiotic relationship with the environment, the purest example of anarchic society with no rules and no chief.
The Hadza hunt game, gather edible plants and honey, and move from place to place whenever the weather changes, or the wild herds migrate, or when they just feel like moving. Every two weeks or so, they move to a new temporary settlement. It takes less than two hours for Hadza women to build a new camp. They make huts by bending and weaving branches into round structures about six feet high, then covering them with thick clumps of long, golden grass.
Some rock caves have been used intermittently by the Hadza over thousands of years and are decorated with ancient rock paintings. Whether they sleep in huts, caves or in the open, the Hadza cover themselves only with thin cloths and rely on fire to keep them warm. It takes them less than 30 seconds to start a fire by rotating wooden firedrills between their palms and creating friction in a hollowed-out scrap of soft wood. Meeting them is fascinating and they are happy to take you with them in the early morning, to hunt for a few hours and experience their archaic way of life. Lake Eyasi Safari Lodge is a great location to organize such trips.
Other inhabitants of the region are the polygamous Datoga, herders who came from the Horn of Africa to this region following stock in search of pasture. It is possible to visit a village and a blacksmith’s shop that still uses ancient techniques to produce everyday objects, jewellery, and arrowheads for the neighbouring Hadza, who provide animal skins and wild honey in return.
A notable site that reflects the ancient human influence in the Lake Eyasi region is the Mumba Cave, an archaeological site that is located by the shores of Lake Eyasi. The site has yielded a number of Middle Stone Age and Late Stone Age artifacts that have proved vital to the study of man’s origins in the cradle of humanity.
Seasonal water level fluctuations in Lake Eyasi are dramatic, though the northwestern shore is constrained by the cliffs of the Serengeti Plateau. During the dry season the lake may dry up almost entirely, especially in drier years, so that Datooga herders and Hadza foragers will cross the lake on foot, but in El Niño years it may flood its banks. However, even during wet periods, lake depths typically remain less than one metre.
Lake Eyasi Highlights
Take a hunting trip with the Hadza bushmen.
Visit the Mumba Cave archaeological site.
See the rock caves with paintings for some of the first men and women to walk the Earth.
Possible hippo sightings if the water levels are just right.
Combine with trip to nearby Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Crater.
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Lake Eyasi Flora & Fauna
Like most East African soda lakes, Lake Eyasi’s size varies a lot throughout the year. Greater and lesser flamingos may be seen, sometimes in good numbers. Storks, pelicans and other birds may also be seen. It is not a prime area for mammal wildlife, but monkeys and antelopes may be spotted.
In El Niño years Lake Eyasi may flood its banks and attract hippopotamus from the Serengeti National Park. It is also a seasonal stop for migrating flamingos. The lake supports minor local fishing in wet years, but more often catfish and lungfish are taken from the streams and springs that feed the lake.
Lake Eyasi Location & Map
Lake Eyasi is a seasonal shallow endorheic salt lake on the floor of the Great Rift Valley at the base of the Serengeti Plateau, just south of the Serengeti National Park and immediately southwest of the Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area in the Crater Highlands of Tanzania. The lake is elongated, orientated southwest to northeast, and lies in the Eyasi-Wembere branch of the Great Rift Valley.
Lake Eyasi is best visited in a trip to the the Ngorongoro Crater also known as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Ngorongoro is a renowned location only a 3 hour drive from Arusha town that offers a stunning diversity and range for safari goers. The Lake Eyasi is just South of Ngorongoro.
Arusha is the starting point for most safaris to Ngorongoro which can be seen after Lake Manyara National Park and is conveniently on the way to Serengeti. Arusha is served by its own regional airport (ARK) that can be reached via Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyere International Airport, or the closer by Kilimanjaro International Airport where regular KLM flights from Amsterdam land as well as new Qatar and Turkish Airlines routes.
The best time of year to visit Lake Eyasi is between June and November, however this depends on your preference of when to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
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