Ngorongoro Conservation Area
NORTHERN CIRCUIT – TANZANIA NATIONAL PARKS
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area boasts the finest blend of landscapes,wildlife,people and archaeological site in Africa.Often called ‘African Eden’ and the seventh wonder of the natural world;it is also a pioneering experiment in multiple land use.For Ngorongoro Conservation area,the idea of multiple land use means the idea of allowing the co-existence of mankind and wildlife in a natural setting.The first View of the Ngorongoro Crater takes the breath away.Ngorongoro is a huge calderas,or collapsed Volcano,250square kilometer,and 600 meters deep.The crater alone has over 20,000 large animals including some of Tanzania’s last remaining black rhino.No fences or boundaries border the crater walls; animals are free to enter or leave the crater, but many of them stay for the plentiful water and grazing available on the crater floor throughout the year.Its spectacular setting and abundance of wildlife combine to make it one of wonders of the natural world.
The crater floor consists of a number of ecological environments that include grassland, swamps, forests and Lake Makat, a central soda lake filled by the Munge river. All these various habitats attract various wildlife to drink, wallow, graze, hide or climb. Although animals are free to move in and out of this contained environment, the rich volcanic soil, lush forests and spring source lakes on the crater floor tend to incline both grazers and predators to remain throughout the year.
Humans and their distant ancestors have been part of Ngorongoro’s landscape for millions of years. The earliest signs of mankind in the Conservation Area are at Laetoli, where hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 million years old. The story continues at Olduvai Gorge, a river canyon cut 100 m deep through the volcanic soil of the Serengeti Plains. Buried in the layers are the remains of animals and hominids that lived and died around a shallow lake amid grassy plains and woodlands. These remains date from two million years ago. Visitors can learn more details of this fascinating story by visiting the site, where guides give a fascinating on-site interpretation of the gorge.
The most numerous and recent inhabitants of the Ngorongoro Area are the Maasai, who arrived about 200 years ago. Their strong insistence on traditional custom and costume interests many visitors. As of today, there are approximately 42,000 Maasai pastoralists living in Ngorongoro with their cattle, goats and sheep. Their presence is the main difference between the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Tanzania’s national parks, which do not allow human habitation. Cultural bomas, or Maasai villages, give visitors the chance to meet Maasai people on their own terms and learn more about this complex and interesting culture
Ngorongoro Crater is also presently one of the most likely areas in Tanzania to see the endangered Black Rhino, as a small population are thriving in this idyllic and protected environment one of the only areas where they continue to breed in the wild.
The Crater rim, over 2,200 meters high, touches swathes of clouds for most days of the year, with cool high altitude vapors that seem to bring a clean lightness to the air, and also a chill. These highlands wake up to a misty fog in most months, other than the high dry season during December and January.
About Ngorongoro Conservation
8,292 km2 (3,202 sq mi)
180 km (110 mi) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. Visitors:over 500,000 per year
Walking Safari on the Rim of the Crater Camp along the rim of the Crater,Game driving in and around the Crater.Visiting the masaai tribes’ villageVisiting the oldest humans footsteps Visiting the shifting sands
Anytime of the year is a good time to visit, as animals do not leave the lush grasslands of the crater.