As for earliest African societies, the Ngorongoro conservation Area used to be occupied by hunter-gatherers who developed into pastoralists societies of Mbulu and Datooga. Thinking that they had found their own fertile soil with greener pasture for their livestock, somewhere else there were Maasai watching the Ngorongoro land with full of envy until 1800 where Maasai took the matter into their own hands, driving both Datooga and Mbulu away from the land and make Ngorongoro their own until the moment we’re speaking.
With fantastic weather, the fertility of the soil, and an abundance of foods and water for Maasai and their livestock, it didn’t take so long for them to declare the area as their gift of life. In fact, Maasai believed that God had given them the gift of life, for themselves as well as for their livestock.
They named the area the “El-Nkoronkoro”
El-Nkoronkoro is a Maasai word with a meaning Gift of Life. The word El-Nkoronkoro, being pronounced by different people from different origins became what is today’s known as Ngorongoro.
Ngorongoro which has its name in the 7 natural wonders of Africa is also UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 and it has been welcoming at least 500,000 travelers from all over the world year after year.
The main feature of the conservation area is the Ngorongoro crater, the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Origin
Ngorongoro conservation Area wasn’t made a conservation area just swiftly. It followed a number of huntings which endangered the ecosystem of the area.
Forming the Serengeti national park partly accelerated the enclosing of the Ngorongoro area to become the protected government land.
However, the extreme huntings in the Southern Serengeti by Stewart Edward White and his friends who shot a minimum of 50 lions in a space of only 3 months and Adolph & Friedrich Siedentopf who used to shot animals in the Ngorongoro Area for fun.
It is understood that Ngorongoro had not been reached by Europeans before 1892 when Oscar Baumann, an Austrian explorer, cartographer, and ethnographer who is respected by the world for performing map-making duties for most of Tanzania, Rwanda, Zanzibar, and Burundi.
Baumann who is also known to be the first-ever European to visit Lake Eyasi and Manyara went on to speak a lot of interesting stories about the Ngorongoro area something that attracted more Europeans to visit the area to explore its uniqueness and attractiveness.
Among the inspired travelers who decided to pay a visit to the park are the two German brothers Adolph & Friedrich Siedentopf who saw it good to start farming projects in the area.
As their farming projects were taking over, some of his friends from Germany visited these two brothers and during their visit, the two lads would go on to organize shooting parties to entertain their friends.
As if that wasn’t enough, the two fellas went ahead and made initial initiatives to drive the wildebeest’s herds away from the crater as they considered them dangerous for their crops.
Following all these actions by Siedentopf brothers and Stewart Edward White in 1921 hunting throughout Tanzania was prohibited and it could only be done by permitted hunters.
In 1928 all huntings permitted or not were prohibited across the crater rim after the number of wildlife experienced a great hit during the period of 6 years. The exception here was only the Germany brother farms.
In 1951 when Serengeti National park was made, Ngorongoro conservation Area was included as a part of the park. And being a national park it meant that all other activities by human beings like a living, grazing, and farming were prohibited.
Maasai societies who had for so many years considered the Ngorongoro area as their gift of life, land for their livestock and for them to do cultivation didn’t take this national park ordinance too kind.
This started the conflict between the park authority and the Maasai, the conflicts that would go on until the moment I am writing this.
Either way, to resolve the conflicts something had to be done.
And since the Maasai societies were not ready to move away from their gift of life, the colonial administrative board found a solution thanks to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Ordinance of 1959 that separated Ngorongoro from Serengeti National park and allowed a multi-use of the Ngorongoro land.
Helping to cool down the conflicts, the area is still under tension as Maasai societies have kept practicing crop cultivation that on one side effects the ecosystem of the area. Several laws to protect Ngorongoro through prohibiting crops cultivation in the area as well as displacing Maasai away from the area have been going on and currently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is working with the government of Tanzania to find a way that the conservation of the Ngorongoro area can still include the locals.
Canine distemper kills Ngorongoro lions
Over the past, 30 years or so, a viral disease that is known to affect a wide variety of animal families has been affecting the lions of Ngorongoro with the most recent being that of 2001 when about 34% of lion population died in the months of January and April 2001
Nonetheless, the experts say that the deaths are just natural events to remove the poor genes of the cats while controlling their populations
Animals in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro is reputed to have a stunning number of animals where about 25,000 large animals live in this natural wonder of Africa.
If you’re a rhinoceros lover, there is no better place in the region to see the endangered black rhinos than in the Ngorongoro conservation area where it is reported to exist at least 26 rhinoceros.
Also, if there are best places to see lions, it is in the Ngorongoro conservation area as it is the place with the densest population of lions where more than 60 lions dwell in the area of just 3,202 square meters.
With other cats like cheetahs and leopards, spotted hyenas, jackals, and rare wild dogs, Ngorongoro is also full of ungulates as it is inhabited by at least 7,000 wildebeests, a whopping 4000 zebras and 3000 for the eland and Grants gazelles each.
Buffaloes are also available in a good number as the area is known to have over 4,000 of them.
Apart from 260,000 zebra in the area, Ngorongoro is reported to have more than 470,000 gazelles and over 500 species of birds like ostrich, white pelican, and flamingo just to name a few and these plus the other many species of birds can be stunningly viewed on Lake Magadi within the crater, Lake Ndutu which is outside crater as well as in the Empakaai Crater Lake.
Speaking about vegetation, the Ngorongoro conservation Area is the best place for grazers who likes the shorter grasses. In general, the diversity of the vegetation in Ngorongoro land has caused the variation of plants in the area which in return brings perfect scenery for the visitors.
With lush vegetation, desert plants, scrub heath, peacock flowers, yellow-wood, Kousso, and sweet olive all present in the area, Ngorongoro is truly the dream safari for both wildlife and flora admirers.
Other plants that beautify the area are; Acacia, yellow fever trees, Africana trees, zebrawood, and pillar wood are all available in Ngorongoro making a lovely mixture with open short grass plains to make the scenery excellent in everyone eyes.
Things to do and see in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro, which is the flagship of Tanzania’s tourism industry, isn’t short of things to do. And the most thing I like about Ngorongoro is that it can be explored within one day to greater satisfaction.
Ngorongoro can even be done as a day trip from Arusha, which is the tourist center of Tanzania as almost all the safari tours to the unique national parks of Tanzania in the Northern tourism circuit starts at this region.
It is widely accepted that Ngorongoro, had it not collapsed and form what is today known as the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera, today Tanzania would have two of the highest peaks of the world, with Kilimanjaro.
After forming one of the highest volcanic peaks almost 3 million years ago, Ngorongoro sunk to more than 600 meters deep to form a crater that hosts wild animals and human beings (Maasai) who co-exist together in the area in harmony.
The crater covers about 260 square kilometers while it is understood that the height of the original volcano before collapsing could be something towering up to 5,800 meters high. Having said so, I should remind you that Kilimanjaro itself which is the highest free-standing mountain on the planet is 5,895 meters high.
In and around crater various activities can be done like, game drive, guided nature walks, and so many other activities.
Day hiking in Olmoti & Empakai crater
Ngorongoro conservation area has no only one crater.
While Ngorongoro crater is the bigger one and more remarkable, Olmoti and Empakai are very good small craters where the guided walks and hiking can be done while singing the beauty of this wonderful land.
In 1950 the remains of a believed to be among the earliest humans by Dr. Louis Leakey and his wife Mary Leakey who were Kenyan paleoanthropologists and archaeologists were found in the Oldupai Gorge area.
The area has been the important archeological site where several studies have been made to try and understand the evolution of early humans from gathering & hunting to the making of stone tools, iron tools as well as starting the farming and animals keeping.
Oldupai, which is commonly known as Olduvai Gorge is simply the best place to study the history of mankind while seeing some evidences of the evolutions.
Archeological activities aside, Oldupai and the neighboring areas are the perfect places for cultural visits where unique Maasai bomas and other different local traditions of pastoralists’ societies can be learned.
Ol Doinyo Lengai Mountain Visits
No may volcanic Mountains are known to have active eruptions as per I am writing this.
Ol Doinyo Lengai which are the Maasai words to mean the mount of God is an active volcano just outside Ngorongoro crater which have been active for almost 130 years now with the most remarkable eruption being in 2007-08 when the area was characterized by massive earth tremors reaching up to 6.0 Richter scale while sending away plume of ash and steam at least 18 kilometers.
An adventurous 3 days hiking which includes 2 nights a day trip to see the Mountain of Good up close and personal are the most common activities in the Mountain.
Best time to visit Ngorongoro Crater
Surprisingly, there is no best time to visit the Ngorongoro conservation area, neither the bad time to visit as the area is the best throughout the year.
Regardless of the month of the year you decide to visit Ngorongoro, you won’t regret your time there as almost all of the crater animals are residents and they don’t move too much as everything is available at their disposal starting from water, prey, and greener pasture.
Where to stay in Ngorongoro
This is will definitely depend on your safari style. However, at Earthlife Expeditions we usually do the mid-range to luxury private tours. Where we use different partner accommodations inside and out of the Ngorongoro crater
Properties like; Rhino lodges, Ngorongoro Serena lodges, Ngorongoro Sopa lodges, Acacia farm lodges, Eileen’s Trees in, Marera and Farm of dreams are among the mid-range & luxury accommodations that can be used for even more enjoyable Ngorongoro experience.
Safari Cost to Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Just like other tourist destinations of Tanzania, there are no fixed costs for a Ngorongoro safari trip. It all depends on several factors like;
- Number of days in Ngorongoro trip and your safari in general
- How many people are you going to travel with in your group, the important to note here is the more people in a group will reduce cost per person through cost-sharing than when the safari is done solo.
- Nature of the accommodation, budget? Mid-range or luxury accommodation?
- Time of the year – In the low season (April & May) you are likely going to get the best deals for your Ngorongoro and generally your whole Tanzania safari
Every year, more than 500,000 travelers from all over the world visit this magnificent land, and surprisingly, most of them return again and again.
SafariBookings, which is among the largest online marketplace based in the Netherlands rates Ngorongoro 4.59/5 based on over 2500 reviews from the acclaimed safari experts as well as the travelers. Here is the full list;
|No.||Safari Park||Ratings based on more than 2,500 reviews|
|1||Serengeti National Park||4.90/5|
|2||Mala Mala Game Reserve||4.88/5|
|3||Mana Pools National Park||4.87/5|
|5||South Luangwa National Park||4.71/5|
|6||Moremi Game Reserve||4.66/5|
|7||Sabi Sand Game Reserve||4.64/5|
|8||Masai Mara National Reserve||4.61/5|
|9||Selous Game Reserve||4.60/5|
Perhaps the next person to visit Ngorongoro is you, who knows? Let’s chat today and see how we can be of use helping you planning a Tanzania & Ngorongoro safari. We’ll give you the professional advice and guide with no strings attached whether you decide to go or not, how cool is that?