Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is part of the Tanzania’s Northern Circuit together with Serengeti national park, Tarangire national park, and Lake Manyara national park. Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) was gazette in 1959 in order to protect its unique attractions covering 8,292km2 of land with the caldera, Serengeti plains, Ngorongoro crater that offer harbor a huge population of wildlife in northern part of Tanzania thus attracting several tourists from different parts of the world. Ngorongoro Conservation Area was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in the year 1979 in order to protect its unique tourist features from extinction. It’s in Ngorongoro Conservation Area where you find both the wildlife and the human beings together with their livestock living harmoniously together without any interference since the most community people in Ngorongoro conservation area are mainly pastoralists thus it’s possible to watch both the herds of cattle grazing with other mammals in the such as Zebras, elephants, buffaloes.
Tourist attractions in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Vegetation cover: Ngorongoro Conservation Area has a perfect vegetation cover mixed with both savanna grassland and Woodland with short grasses, shrubs, and flowers. This thrilling vegetation cover stretches to the crater, lakes, mountains, rivers, swamps and many other places that act as homes to different species of wildlife thus attracting tourists all year round.
Wildlife: Ngorongoro Conservation Area harbors a largest concentration of wildlife species with over 25,000 big mammals such as big mammals like Rhinos, Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, Giraffes and other mammals including Gazelles, Wildebeests, elands, Zebras, Impalas, Hyenas, jackals, cheetahs, Leopards, Hippos, Crocodiles and many more that make the Ngorongoro Conservation Area the best destination for wildlife viewing. Remember there is yet a fascinating Wildebeest migration that traverses through this area seasonally as they breed in the southern part of Serengeti national park.
Birds: Ngorongoro Area is a home to over 500 species of birds with a huge population of Flamingos thrilling along Lake Natron at the base of Mount Oldonyo Lengai in Tanzania and Lake Magadi in Kenya’s rift valley just close to Lake Natron, plus other craters and other parts of the park are scattered with several bird species such as Ostriches, pelicans, weaver birds, sterling, Lapwing, storks, Grey-crowned cranes, egrets, bee-eaters among others.
Craters in Ngorongoro Conservation Area: The main Ngorongoro Crater known as Caldera is the major attraction in Ngorongoro conservation area and it was formed as a result of volcanic eruption about 3 million years back forming a caldera that acts as a home to several wildlife species with in the conservation area. Other craters include Empakai crater which harbors beautiful waterfalls and Olmoti crater which has a deep lake with stunning green walls and thrilling lush of savanna grassland.
Oldonyo Lengai volcanic mountain: This is also yet another fascinating thing to see while on a visit to the Ngorongoro area on a Tanzania safari. Mount Oldonyo Lengai is the third highest peak in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro which is the highest peak and Mount Meru the second highest peak in Tanzania. Mount Oldonyo Lengai an active volcano and its last eruption was observed in 2007. Oldonyo Lengai is situated just outside Ngorongoro Conservation Area also known as mountain of God close to Lake Natron.
Shifting sands: This shifting sand is also a tourist attraction to watch while on a safari to Ngorongoro Area. This sand originates from Oldonyo Lengai and is mainly ash that came as a result of volcanic eruption of Mount Oldonyo thus this ash is always blown away by wind towards the western plains and the northern part of the Olduvai Gorge.
Lake Natron: this stunning saline water lake is situated at the foot of Mount Oldonyo Lengai and is famously known as the best breeding ground for flamingo bird in the entire East Africa region. After breeding some of these flamingos are attracted by the soda water and they are seen congested at Lake Magadi situated in the rift valley region in southern part of Kenya.
Olkarien Gorge: this is yet a best spot for birders as it acts as both a breeding ground and nesting place for Vultures that are best seen during the months of March and April. A visit to Olkarien gorge also offers an opportunity to view other mammals especially during the wildebeest migration since it contains plains that provide food for mammals.
Lake Ndutu: This is a shallow basin with saline water and the best place to visit due to high concentration of mammals especially during the wildebeest migration as the mammals are attracted to the fresh vegetation along the shores.
Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli: In Olduvai gorge is where the remains of the early men were discovered making it one of the best archeological site. On the other hand, west of Ngorongoro is yet a place to find the foot prints of the hominids that are over 3 million years old making both Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli a place of mankind in the entire East Africa.
Tourist activities in Ngorongoro Area
Apart from the above mention tourist attractions, Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the perfect place to wildlife viewing safaris, birding safaris, hiking safaris and Nature walk safaris.
Birding in Ngorongoro: Being a birders paradise, Ngorongoro Conservation Area attracts several birders to watch both the migratory bird species, the other species that call this place their permanent home. The best birding spots include along the saline water lakes where a good population of Flamingo bird is found, along the savanna plains and marshes and within the forest. The best season for birding is during rainy months when several birds are breeding and also the migratory birds are in Ngorongoro in search of food. Amongst birds seen in Ngorongoro include the Flamingos, Storks, ostriches, Bustard birds, Ibis, ducks, Vultures among others.
Walking safaris in Ngorongoro: Taking a guided walk is so rewarding and enables tourists to explore different parts of the conservation Area including exploration of Craters such as the main crater, Olmoti crater and Empakai crater, the rift valley, explore the Gorge such as Olduvai gorge and Olkarien Gorge, take a walk along the shores of Lake Natron and Lake Ndutu, take a forest walk and finally take a long walk to hike Mount Oldoinyo Lengai among others. All these walks are so rewarding with an encounter with different species of wildlife including mammals such as Wildebeests, Buffaloes, elephants, hippos, rhinos and several species of birds including Flamingos.
Game drive safaris: A game drive is carried out with in Ngorongoro Crater where all safari vehicles are expected to leave the crater as early as 4:30pm for security and safety purposes. The crater has a huge concentration of wildlife species found which is rich in fresh vegetation cover that provides food for the wildlife. Amongst mammals seen while on a game drive in Ngorongoro include Lions, cheetahs, Leopards, Rhinos, among others.
Cultural tours: A cultural tour in Ngorongoro Conservation Area takes you to an encounter with the local Masai People and their cultures. There are Masai Bomas who reside in the Ngorongoro conservation area thus a visit to any of the Masai cultural Bomas is so rewarding as one gets an opportunity to interact closely with the Masai people while learning some of their cultures as pastoralists. Some of the Masai cultural Bomas to explore in the Ngorongoro conservation area include Senato, Kiloki senyati, Irkeepusi and Loonguku cultural Bomas.
Accommodation in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
There are several accommodations in Ngorongoro Conservation Area where tourists on a Tanzania safari spend their nights for relaxation and these include both Luxury, Midrange and Budget such as Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, Lion Paw Ngorongoro, Pakulala Safari Camp, Ngorongoro Crater lodge, Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge, Ngorongoro Kuhama Camp, Hotel Ebeneza, Chaka Camp, Ngorongoro Tented Camp, Neptune Ngorongoro Lodge among others.