THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA (Historic balance of people and nature).
The Ngorongoro conservation area is set in the Northern Tanzania stretching from the Karatu highlands to the Serengeti and down to the Northern tip of L. Eyasi, covering some 8300sq.km.The Ngorongoro is unique in that it has been able to maintain the balance of people and nature. Man, and his ancestors have lived in the Ngorongoro ecosystem for more than three million years and various tribes have migrated in and out of the area.
The maasai people arrived in the area about 200 years ago and have since then colonized the area, their traditional way of life allowing them to live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment. This tribe is unique due to the fact that it’s the only one in East Africa that has been able to maintain and stick to its culture at a greater percentage. They are always seen in their simple attire (red, blue or black Shuka) and a pair of simple shoes made of worn out car tires that enables them to conquer the harsh terrain during their long-distance walks as they herd their cattle, goats and sheep.
The Ngorongoro has a lot to offer beyond the maasai and its abundant wildlife like the Crater which is the single most visited site.
The NGORONGORO CRATER is the world’s largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world with a diameter of 19.2km,610m deep and 288sq km in area. The rich pasture and the permanent water of the crater floor supports a large resident population of wildlife of up to 25000 grazing animals like zebras, wildebeests, buffalo, antelopes, the black rhino and warthog. The Swamps and forest provide additional resources for hippo, elephants, reedbuck, baboons and vervet monkeys. Predators like lion, leopard, hyenas, the rare cheetah and serval cats survive on the abundant wildlife within the crater. The crater can be visited any time of the year but its at its best when green dominates much of the terrain on the floor due to the higher chances of seeing the nearly extinct black rhino compared to the dry season.
The rest of the Ngorongoro conservation area offers many other rewards for visitors who are prepared to explore the area further. Some attractions can be visited en route to the Serengeti and others require a special visit.
Oldonyo Lengai (mountain of God).
Its situated just outside the NCA close to Lake Natron. This volcano whose Maasai name means Mountain of God is an active volcano having erupted in 1966 and 1983.
Empakaai and Olmoti crater.
The 300m deep, 6km wide the Embakasi crater is dominated by a deep soda lake occupying nearly half the floor hosting a variety of water birds. Olmoti is much smaller and shallower whose floor is grassy hosting buffalos, elands, bushbuck along with the Maasai and their livestock. Both of them offers the best experience to explore the nature on foot as both of them are only accessible on foot.
The shifting sands.
This is a black dune composed of volcanic ash from Oldonyo Lengai being blown slowly towards the West across the plains at rate of approximately 100 meters in every six years. The dune is about nine meters high and 100 meters long. It is found in the plains in North of Olduvai Gorge.
Oldupai Gorge and the Laetoli foot prints.
Hominid foot prints are preserved in the volcanic rock 3.6 years old at Laetoli in the West of the Ngorongoro crater. These footprints represent some of the earliest signs of mankind in the world. Three different tracks of a small brained upright walking early hominid were found. More advanced hominids were discovered further North, buried in the layers of the 100 metres deep Olduvai Gorge. The archeologists Luis and Mary Leakey excavated the gorge and yielded four different kinds of hominid that showed the gradual increase in brain size and in the complexity of their stone tools.The first skull of Zinjanthropus, commonly known as “Nutcracker Man” who lived about 1.75 million years ago.
This is an alkaline lake situated just outside the Ngorongoro conservation area on the floor of the great Rift valley. Lake Natron is a major source of food for Flamingos who survive on the algae that grows here. The Lake is the largest breeding ground in East Africa for flamingos.
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