Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater in Summary

For thousands of years, a succession of cattle herding people moved into the Ngorongoro area, lived there for sometime and then moved on, sometimes forced out by other tribes. About 200 years ago, the Maasai arrived and have since colonized the area in substantial numbers with their traditional way of life allowing them to live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment. 

Ngorongoro Crater Overview

Nearly three million years old, the ancient caldera of the once-volcanic Ngorongoro gives life to one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on earth.

Ngorongoro Crater is often called 'Africa's Eden', the '8th Natural Wonder of the World'. A massive extinct volcano, its towering tree lined walls drop thousands of feet to a "Noah's Ark" of animals on the verdant floor below. This breathtaking oasis provides a haven for both predator and prey to live among grasslands, fresh springs and the large soda lake. Large herds of zebra, buffalo, antelope and wildebeest graze nearby while sleeping lions laze in the sun. At dawn, the endangered black rhino returns to the thick cover of the crater forests after grazing on dew-laden grass in the morning mist. Nowhere else can such a diversity in wildlife be experienced in such a short period of time.

Ngorongoro Crater is set in northern Tanzania, sharing part of the Serengeti plains to the north-west and with the towns of Arusha and Moshi, and Mount Kilimanjaro, to the east, and forms part of the unique Serengeti ecosystem. A major ecological survey of the Serengeti Reserve (which at the time included the Ngorongoro) by Dr. Bernhard Grizmek and his late son in the 1950's resulted in the establishment of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in 1959. The oversight and management of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area was provided by the the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area was a pioneering experiment in multiple land use where pastoralism, conservation and tourism could all co-exist under agreement. At the same time, the Serenegti National Park was enlarged and extended northwards towards Kenya border, where is border the Masai Mara National Reserve.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area which includes the famed Ngorongoro Crater was awarded World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve Status. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Including Ngorongoro Crater covers an area of 8292 square kilometers and ranges in altitude from 1020 to 3587 meters (60% of the height of Mount Kilimanjaro at its highest point.
The Ngorongoro terrain embraces several distinct habitats from open grasslands to mountain forests, and from scrub bushland to highland heath. The area contains sites of international palaeontological and archaeological importance. Around 25000 animals live in the the Ngorongoro Crater throughout the year, where the numbers can increases to 2.5 million when the complete Ngorongoro is considered, depending on the time of the year.

A Brief Safari Back In To History Of The Ngorongoro 

Two main geological rifts run through the Ngorongoro area. Nine volcanoes in the Ngorongoro highlands were formed during the past four million years. One of these, Oldonyo Lengai (Mountain of God) is still active. Over millennia the ash and dust from each eruption has been carried by the winds to form the fertile soils of the Serengeti Plains. The earliest sign of mankind in the Ngorongoro is at Laetoli, where hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 million years ago. Further north on the tourism circuit, Ol Duvai Gorge has yielded a wealth of hominid and animal remains. 

The Maasai Community Of The Ngorongoro

For thousands of years, a succession of cattle herding people moved into the Ngorongoro area, lived there for sometime and then moved on, sometimes forced out by other tribes. About 200 years ago, the Maasai arrived and have since colonized the area in substantial numbers with their traditional way of life allowing them to live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment. The Datoga, Nilo-hamitic speaking pastoralists who arrived more than 300 years ago were subsequently forced out of the Serengeti-Ngorongoro areas by the Maasai, who moved outside the Ngorongoro and settled in the Lake Eyasi basin and beyond. Today there are some 42,000 Maasai pastoralists living in the areas around the Ngorongoro with their cattle, donkeys, goats and sheep. During the rains they move out on to the open plains; in the dry season they move into the adjacent woodlands and mountain slopes. The Maasai are allowed to take their animals into the Ngorongoro Crater for water and grazing. but not to live or cultivate there. Elsewhere in the Ngorongoro, they have the right to roam freely. Visitors normally stop the Masaai cultural homestead, one on the road to the Serengeti national Park and another close to the Sopa Lodge at the Irkeepusi Village.

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