Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the biggest national parks in Tanzania that has contributed a lot to the tourism sector of the country. Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) was established in 1959 as the multiple land-use areas for the purposes of promoting the conservation of natural resources to protect the interest of indigenous people who live in Ngorongoro and to promote tourism activities in this protected area. The uniqueness of this protected area is that it the unique protected area in entire Tanzania and Africa that conservation of natural resources are in integration with human development.
The Ngorongoro conservation area covers area square of 8,292 square kilometres. It is one of the divisions that form the Ngorongoro district council in Arusha city. It is the one that located in the northern circuit of Tanzania tourism, visitors will get in this wonderful conservation area from Arusha bypassing various national parks on the way such as Arusha national park, Tarangire national park and Lake Manyara national park.
The gemstone in Ngorongoro crown is deep and is a caldera with volcanic nature, unbroken and largest un-flooded in the world. The area is about 20kms across, 600meters in-depth and in the area of 300 square kilometres and this makes it be one of the natural wonders in the world.
In Africa, Ngorongoro crater is one of the most famous sites that said to have a high density of wildlife and sometimes it is described as an eighth wonder of the world that. Ngorongoro crater is the largest volcanic caldera in the world that forms a bowl of about 265 kilometres squared.
- Shifting sand: This is a mysterious event whereby sand dunes shift from one area to another while the shape of the dune is maintained. From a historical point of view, these sands were from the active volcanic mountain which is Oldonyo Lengai where for a year sand dunes moves for about 10 metres. This wonderful incidence also attracts a larger number of tourists.
- Olduvai Gorge: This attracts tourist due to its great history. This is a prominent archaeological site in East Africa and has become an essential reason for visitors to come at Ngorongoro. The first skull of Zinjanthropus was found here and stored here for tourism, researches and study purposes and hence Olduvai is the best place for a scientist to study the evolution of man as the challengeable debate between religion and scientists.
- The crater: Apart from the main caldera, Ngorongoro also has two other volcanic calderas that together they play part in attracting tourists. These two other volcanic calderas are Olmoti and Empakai. The former is famous for its stunning waterfall and the latter is famous for its capacity of holding a deep lake and lush, green walls
- People and culture: For many years the Maasai have been living in Ngorongoro areas even before the area was established to be a restricted area. So Maasai have been in interaction with these environments and hence up to this time, there are more than 42,000 Maasai who live inside the park. They are allowed to take their cattle to the crater for pastures and water during the dry season but are not allowed to do agricultural activities for ecological reasons of sustaining the crater. So there are various cultural boma where visitor are always taken to experience Maasai life.
- Bird species: There are numbers of bird species which are suitable for birding in Ngorongoro, prominent are lesser flamingo that are very common at Lakes in Ngorongoro and of which they mainly feed on planktons. Other bird species are white storks, yellow wagtails, saddle-billed storks, ibis, ostrich, kori bustards and many other species.
- Big five: Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of few areas in Tanzania where one can find all big 5 animals. Big five animals are elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and buffalo they are all situated in Ngorongoro. Among these big five animals, the black rhino seems to attract everyone who visits this unique protected area in Africa even due to its attractiveness
- Wildlife: In Ngorongoro, there is a high number of wild animals of different species such as spotted hyena, a high number of wildebeest, plenty of zebras, reedbucks, jackals, gazelles, wild dogs, cheetahs and many species ranging from big mammals and small mammals. All these attract a number of tourists to visit Ngorongoro for game viewing and other activities associated with wildlife in Ngorongoro.
Things to do in Ngorongoro
A lot of activities are organised at the Ngorongoro conservation area. Things to do include Walking where visitors will take walk tours to different areas. Also, the presence of many bird species made it easy to organise Bird watching, and game driving is given high priority by most of the visitors who have been paying a visit to Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Best Time to Visit Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Best season to visit Ngorongoro is during both rain season and dry season because each of the seasons have got useful incidence;
- During the rainy season (November to April): Short rain season starts from November to December and the long season of rainfall starts from February to April and the latter is being regarded as offseason. During rainy season animals are accumulated on the short grass plain because of having their babies. On the early of February and early of march it is usually the best time to see the migration on the plain and this attracts predators and ultimately enhances the intersection between predators and preys. To note: it should be remembered that some parts of Serengeti national park fall within the Ngorongoro conservation area
- During the dry season (May to October): In Ngorongoro and Africa in general, the dry season is the best time to do game viewing because the largest number of animals are concentrated at permanent water sources. This is the best time also to visit Empakai and Ndutu which have an indigenous game that remains around the lake all the year around
Accessibility to Ngorongoro
Getting to Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the traveller may opt to use road transport or air transport from Kilimanjaro International Airport or Arusha regional airport.
By road: from Arusha to the entrance is 160 km long and it takes almost two hours to drive because currently, the entire road is tarmacked unless one stays on the main roads which are gravelled where 4×4 safari jeeps are used when entering Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
By air: after flying to Kilimanjaro international airport which is found beneath Moshi town and Arusha town, a traveller has to get a charter flight that is arranged for a safari to airstrips that found nearby Ngorongoro. The distance from Moshi town to Arusha is about 55km long.
Accommodations in Ngorongoro
There are high qualified campsites and touristic lodges around the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Within Ngorongoro with exception of Simba near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) headquarters, all the campsites are classified as special campsites that means that they are for exclusive use and they contain no facilities rather are designed for self-sufficient safari whereby tourists come with everything needed. Camping is generally not allowed inside the crater itself.
Some of the luxury lodges found within and outside Ngorongoro are Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp, Ngorongoro Forest Tented Lodge, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge and many others. Also one can accommodate in Karate lodges as it is not very far from Ngorongoro National Park.