Explore The Shifting Sands in The Ngorongoro Conservation Area : Although the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the top safari parks in Africa, it is primarily renowned for its Ngorongoro Crater, the largest crater in the world. However, in addition to the African Big 5, the Ngorongoro crater is home to numerous other breathtaking sights that are well worth visiting, including Olduvai Gorge and a variety of bird species. To be explored and offering an amazing safari experience, the shifting sand is another unique, lovely, and stunning feature of the Ngorongoro conservation area. A striking black dune of shifting sand made of volcanic ash from Oldoinyo Lengai is being blown slowly over the plains to the west at a rate of around 17 meters per year. It is located to the north of Olduvai Gorge and is approximately nine meters high and 100 meters long, including its bend.
There is little to no sand or ash in the vicinity, and the shifting sands are moved by the powerful winds that blow across the plains nearby. This circumstance occasionally causes a mini-sandstorm in the vicinity, making it challenging to view or visit the dunes. However, as it settles, you may be able to climb to the top of the dune to take pictures or see the vast plains that surround it.
Two crescent-shaped sand dunes can be found close to the Olduvai Gorge on the way to the Serengeti National Park. Particularly when compared to the soil around the dunes, the sand is unusually dark. Because it is highly magnetic volcanic ash, this explains why the particles tend to land back on the dunes rather than being carried away by the wind.
In fact, you can throw some sand into the air to observe how the dune system re-joins and clamps together. However, these sand dunes, also known as barkan, start to shift when high winds blow. They move through the desert at a steady average speed of 55 feet (17 meters) every year. For three million years, these sand dunes are thought to have traveled through the savannah.
Although this condition is uncommon, its roots have been identified, and it is not entirely unique. If volcanic ash contains a lot of iron, it can magnetize and, when carried by the wind, begin to gather around rocks. This small hill can grow into a dune given enough time.
Local Maasai believe that the Oldoinyo Lengai, also known as the Mountain of God, a sacred mountain nearby, is the source of the shifting sand dunes (where God resides). Due to this, the Maasai revere these dunes as well and gather there during periods of extreme drought. At certain times, a goat is offered as a sacrifice to the gods in order to speed up the rainy season.
Remarks: Along the route to Serengeti National Park, in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the dunes are situated close to Olduvai Gorge. Visiting the sand dunes right after a rainstorm is not advised since the trails could turn into impassable mud traps. In the dry season, the trails leading to the area where the changing sand dunes roam require a 44-foot vehicle.
How was Ngorongoro Shifting Sand formed?
The dune is thought to have been formed more than 3,000 years ago as a result of a large eruption of the nearby active volcano Oldoinyo Lengai, which is located about 60 kilometers to the north-east. The dune has steadily migrated over time, occasionally altering shape and even direction.
Explore the shifting sands in Ngorongoro with us (Focus East Africa Tours)
Your safari to Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area to explore the shifting sands will be an once-in-a-lifetime safari adventure, especially if you book with Focus East Africa Tours. The shifting sand safari tour is best combined with other adjacent safari parks, such as the Serengeti National Park to witness the great wildebeest migration, the Lake Manyara National Park to witness tree climbing lions, the Tarangire National Park to witness the largest elephant population, and so on. You can even combine your visit with a climbing tour of Mount Kilimanjaro or a beach tour of Zanzibar.