Attraction surrounding Ngorongoro Conservation area : The Ngorongoro Conservation area is located west of Arusha, connecting to the Serengeti in the north-west and to the Great Rift Valley in the east. Attractions in Ngorongoro conservation area comprise of the destination, Ngorongoro itself. The attraction that gaze within or without the park include physical features like Ngorongoro crater, Empakai and Olmoti Craters and Oldonyo Lengai. Visible elevations in the Ngorongoro Highlands like Mt Oldeani (3,216M), Mount Loolmalassin (3,648M), Mount Noomurata (2,781), Oldoinyo Waas (2,637), Lakes Natron, Lake Magadi, Lake Maseki, and Ndutu. Visitors can also do cultural, recreational and leisure activities and events on offer such as game drives, bird watching, sundowners, the rich culture of the local people and the visitor experience at various points of contact with the locals and other visitors.
The Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area attracts thousands of tourists to Tanzania each year. It is one of the best places to spot all the big 5 of Africa’s famous mammals – lions, rhinos, leopards, elephants and what to see in Ngorongoro Crater buffaloes. Other animals found within the crater include hippos, jackals, reedbuck, waterbuck, wildebeest, warthogs, hartebeests, servals, zebras, cheetahs and crocodiles.
In total, over 26,000 big mammals and 500 species of birds call the crater home. The main activities within/around the Ngorongoro crater are game drives, photographic Safaris, picnics, nature walks, birding, visiting the Maasai villages, hot air ballooning, a tour of Olduvai Gorge, visiting the Empakaai Crater, hiking to the summit of the Gol Mountains and Oldoinyo Lengai. There is also visiting the Olmoti Crater, the Lerai Fever Tree Forest and Lake Magadi.
Hot Air Ballooning
This is an expensive but very adventurous way to explore the vast crater and surrounding areas. Hot air ballooning is highly recommended especially during the migration – when the wildebeest are roaming or calving outside the crater and the nearby Serengeti. The great thing about hot air ballooning is that it allows tourists to appreciate and enjoy the beautiful scenery within the crater.
There are so many memorable places to visit on nature vacation in Tanzania. Within the Ngorongoro Crater itself, Lake Magadi, shallow, azure blue, fiercely alkaline from sodium carbonate, is fringed by hundreds of long-legged pink flamingos. Most are lesser flamingos, distinguished by their dark red bills, which eat blue-green spirulina algae. There are also many greater flamingos with black-tipped pink bills, slightly bent to facilitate sifting shellfish from the rich bottom mud. The lake shrinks noticeably in the dry season, leaving thick, crystalline saltpans used as licks by jackals, hyena and other animals to supplement their diet.
Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli
Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek are also on the migratory route in the Rift Valley, not far from Olduvai gorge, where the ancestors of mankind began the journey towards civilization, with the fabrication of the earliest tools and the building of the first human settlements. At laetoli, hominid footprints of the genetic ancestors and their relatives have been found in sedimentary rock of 3.7 million years old. No Tanzanian safari would be complete without a guided tour of the excavations and modest paleoanthropological museum at Olduvai where you can also see evolutionary fossils.
Ash from Ol Dionyo has formed Shifting Sands – a black dune of moving sand 100 meters in length, and nine meters high, which ingeniously moves slowly across the plains at a rate of 15 meters every year.
Olmoti Crater and Empakaai Crater
You can take gentle, guided walks to two other nearby craters. Olmoti Crater is a shallow, grassy hollow, very quiet and lovely, where Maasai pasture their cattle alongside eland, bushbuck, reedbuck and an occasional buffalo. From the south wall of the caldera, the Munge stream forms a delightful waterfall, plunging several hundred meters into the Ngorongoro crater to feed Lake Magadi. Empakaai Crater is half-filled by an unusually deep soda lake.
From the rim, you can look across an exhilarating panorama of volcanic craters and depressions towards Ol Doinyo Legai, the Great African Rift Valley, and even, in super clear weather, snows on the distant Uhuru peak of Kilimanjaro. You can walk for many kilometers around the lushly forested green bowl, frequented by blue monkeys, brilliantly colored sunbirds and red-crested turaco.
Gol Mountains and Nasera Rock
To the northeastern zone, the primeval Gol Mountains provide a surreal wilderness environment of stark, pink cliffs, enclosing the Angata Kiti pass, a bottleneck for the annual Great Migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra, searching for mineral rich grasses as they return to their ancestral breeding grounds in southern Serengeti and the Ndutu wilderness. Rising 80 meters from the foot of the Gol Mountains, monolithic Nasera Rock is home to mountaineering klipspringers, baboons and varied birds. It is also the location of a Stone Age human shelter, excavated by the Leakeys.
Salei Plains and Ol Karien Gorge
Ol Karien Gorge is a sheer rock-sided ravine at the end of the vast, bare Salei Plains. It is a Mecca for twitchers, because ruppel’s griffon vulture breeds there in March and April, coinciding with the passage of the Great Migration to provide plentiful food.
To the southwest of Ngorongoro crater, bamboo-clad Oldeani Mountain feeds the stream that supports the Lerai Forest, whilst seasonal Lake Eyasi is a lodestone for archaeological and cultural safaris in East Africa. Paleolithic sites include Mumba cave and nearby Nasera Rock.
Lakae Eyasi close to Ngorongoro is still home to the Hadzabe Bushmen of East Africa who subsist entirely from the wild, communicating by clicks and whistles. Mbulu and Datoga pastoral and farming tribes, who were ousted centuries ago from lands now occupied by the Masai, have now settled there.
Ol Doinyo Lengai and Lake Natron
Further north-east near the border of Kenya, Ol Doinyo Lengai casts its conical shadow across the plains from the edge of the Great African Rift Valley escarpment. Known to Maasai as “The Mountain of God”, it is still active, last erupting in 2007. Intrepid adventurers may climb its lava-encrusted slopes to stare down into its main crater and be perilously rewarded with sulfur fumes and occasional spurts of lava from smaller surrounding cones. It was featured in the Lara Croft film, “Tomb Raiders II”, but has been more seriously researched and popularized by Chris Hug-Fleck and Evelyne Pradel.
Lake Natron is fed by hot, mineral springs so heavily saturated with volcanic ash from Ol Doinyo Lengai that it provides a toxic, protective moat for Africa’s largest concentration of breeding lesser and greater flamingos. The lake itself shines like a jewel, sometimes green and blue with, sometimes blooming red with cyanobacteria and algae which provide their food.