NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA & OLDOINYOLENGAI "Mountain Of God"
Ngorongoro Crater ranks right up there among Africa’s must-visit wildlife destinations: Serengeti, Masai Mara. One of only three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Tanzania (together with the Serengeti and the Selous Game Reserve), the Crater is often called the Eighth Wonder of the World. It lies in the Biosphere Reserve of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, covers 8,300 square km (3,204 square miles) in the North part of Tanzania. This reserve was specifically planned to accommodate both the traditional Maasai communities and Tourists. You’ll see Young Maasai grazing their sheep and cattle all over the conservation areas and down the crater.
The Ngorongoro Crater lies in a cluster of other volcanoes (sometimes seen rather ominously smoking) that borders the Serengeti National Park to the North and West. It’s actually a collapsed volcano or caldera. The original volcano, which may have been higher than Kilimanjaro, collapsed in on itself over time and now forms a perfect basin. Once inside you’ll feel like you’re at the bottom of a deep soup bowl with very steep sides. The basin, measuring 18 km (11 miles) in diameter, lies 500 meters (1,640 feet) below the rim, which towers above it at about 2,200 meters (7,217 feet) above sea level.
Believed to have formed some 2 millions years ago, the Crater harbours an astonishing variety of landscapes—forests, peaks, craters, valleys, rivers, lakes, and plains—including the world-famous Olduvai Gorge, where some of our earliest human ancestors once hunted and gathered. The very steep and bumpy drive into the crater begins high up in the forest. The only downside you might face is the sheer number of safari vehicles that all clamber into the crater at opening hours, creating often dusty drives through the crater itself. But once you have left the masses behind, the charm of this site slowly leaves you in awe. Although this lush highland forest looks exactly like a rain forest, it’s not. It’s a mist forest, which depends on a regular and abundant amount of mist and drizzle.
If you look closely enough, you’ll see particles of mist swirling like raindrops among the ancient trees. The aptly named pillar wood trees stand sentinel over the strangler figs, the croton trees, the highland breams (a local evergreen), and purple wild tobacco flowers. The tree trunks and branches are home to thousands of epiphytes—specialized plants such as arboreal orchids and ferns—which cling to their hosts and absorb moisture with their own aerial roots. Look for the orchids among the curtains of Old Man’s Beard, or hanging tree moss.
Monkeys, bushbuck, bush pigs, and elephants frequent the forest, although it’s unlikely you’ll see them. What you’ll see if you’re staying in one of the Crater lodges are well-mown lawns, which aren’t the result of hardworking gardeners but that of zebras and buffaloes, which after dark seek sanctuary from predators here. It’s not dogs you hear barking after sundown but the warning calls of vigilant zebras and baboons. The Crater floor, dominated by a huge flamingo-filled alkaline lake, holds the highest concentration of predators in the world—lions, hyenas, jackals, and leopards. Cheetahs can occasionally be seen but fall prey to lions and hyenas, which the nervous and fragile cheetah is no match for. Big herds of plains game such as Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, impalas, giraffes, zebras, and wildebeests are easy meat for the thoroughly spoiled predators that need to expend very little energy to score a mega meal. You’ll probably see at least one pride of bloated lions lying on their backs, paws in air, stuffed and totally damaging their noble image as the King of Beasts. Make sure to ask your guide to point out a black rhino if he spots one.
Bird life is also spectacular with some endemic species: the Rufous-tailed weaver, Schawlow’s wheatear, and large flocks of the incredibly beautiful crowned cranes. Because this is a continuous killing ground, you’ll quickly become a vulture expert.
Oldoinyo Lengai, a symmetrical, steep classical stratovolcano rises majestically about 2000m from the East Africa Rift Valley depression to a summit elevation of 2890 m.
To the Maasai people, it is home of God, which is also the meaning of the name.
Oldoinyo Lengai is the only active volcano that erupts natrocarbonatite lava.
This active volcano is a holy spot for the Maasai. In fact its name literally means "Mountain of God" in the Maasai language.
Maasai from both Tanzania and Kenya who practice their traditional religion come here to offer sacrifice to the God.
The climb is void of shade and vegetation, making it a hot and dusty trek.
The climbs start in the very early hours to avoid the scorching sun.
The climb itself can be done in half a day, but it is most often combined with a longer trek.
The two most popular itinerary options are outlined below but of course we can make alterations to fit your desires.
The Olduvai Gorge is one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world; it has proven invaluable in furthering our understanding of early human evolution.
A steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley that stretches across East Africa, it is about 48 km (30mi) long.
Homo habilis, probably the first early human species, occupied Olduvai Gorge approximately 1.9 million years ago.
The site is significant in showing the increasing developmental and social complexities in the earliest humans, largely as revealed in the production and use of stone tools. The collecting of tools and animal remains in a central area is evidence of developing social interaction and communal activity.
Ngorongoro Olkarien Gorge area , a sheer rock-sided ravine at the end of the vast bare Salei Plains, is ecologically important because it is a vital nesting site of the Ruppell's Griffon Vulture. The best time to visit Olkarien Gorge is from March to April when the vultures are breeding. This coincides with migration when there is plenty of food available.
Olmoti Crater is among the two Craters found in Ngorongoro highland. The Crater has a spectacular waterfall flows from the Crater to Munge River. A trek in this area is guaranteed to give you an amazing experience.
From the Empakaai Crater you can see Oldoinyo Lengai, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Great Rift Valley. Walking down the crater you can also have magnificent view of the Mount Lengai. En route to the crater floor, watch for views of the turquoise lake down below.
Kibowhy Safaris is made up of local and international professionals who are pioneers of African safaris.
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We only utilize specially outfitted and equipped 4 x 4 safari vehicles for our safaris in Tanzania.
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