Shadows Of Africa

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

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  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Quick Overview

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a place which is almost haven for both tourists and animals! The biggest touristic attraction in Tanzania.


Ngorongoro offers diverse and brilliant activities. Game viewing and Bird-watching in the Ngorongoro Crater, safaris in the Ngorongoro Crater Highlands, cultural tourism among the Maasai and Haadzabe tribes and archeological finding at Oldupai Gorge.

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Ngorongoro Conservation Area


Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the biggest touristic attraction in Tanzania.


The Ngorongoro Conservation Area lies on a volcanic caldera, which is the only unflooded one in the world. It stretches over  8,300 square km between the Serengeti National Park in the west and Lake Manyara in the east. On the northeast it borders with Lake Natron and in the south with Lake Eyasi. 


Maasai tribes and their livestock use the area as well as other wild animals

Ngorongoro is rather a conservation area than a national park because Maasai tribes and their livestock use the area as well as other wild animals. A responsible Eco-tourism flourishes in this conservation area since it preserves not only wild animals but also the Maasai tribes living on this area.

Maasai are not the only tribes living in this area, the Haadzabe tribe or “the real Bushmen” live at Lake Eyasi.


Ngorongoro offers diverse and brilliant activities.

Game viewing and Bird watching in the Ngorongoro Crater, safaris in the Ngorongoro Crater Highlands, cultural tourism among the Maasai and Haadzabe tribes and archeological finding at Oldupai Gorge.


Oldupai Gorge

Oldupai Gorge is also called The Cradle of Mankind. The Oldupai was formed 2 million years ago when the Olmoti volcano erupted and covered the area with its lava. After wards an alkaline lake was formed which was covered with volcanic ash.

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The Oldupai was formed 2 million years ago when the Olmoti volcano erupted and covered the area with its lava. After wards an alkaline lake was formed which was covered with volcanic ash. The lake bed provided good conditions for preserving fossils. About 1,5 million years ago the landscape changed due to tilting and faulting and after series of other volcanic eruptions and tectonic movements the original lake bed was covered.

This original bed was exposed later when the basalt rock cut down. The fossils of the original lake bed were discovered by Dr. Marry Leak. Oldupai Gorge is also called “The Cradle of Mankind”, since some of the fossils found at this place are of early hominids and the site offers great research opportunities on the evolution of the human species. The archeological site is one of the most important in the world, because of its richness of various fossils. The fossil remains found at this site include those of early hominids, such as Australopithecus boisei (Zinthanthropus), Homo habilis (handy man), upright man (homo erectus), as well as fossils of many extinct animals, such as prehistoric elephants, giant horned sheep and enormous ostriches.

The entrance to the gorge is at the Oldupai archeological site which holds a small museum and visitors center. The name Oldupai comes from the Maasai word for the wild sisal plant called Oldpuai (Sansevieria ehrenbergii) which grows in the area. Several other plants also grow in this area such as commiphora shrubs, spreading umbrella shaped thorn trees and Hook thorn. The area has a rich birdlife with the slate colored boubou, purple grenadier, Red and yellow barbet, Marico sunbird, and white browed scrub robin. Among the animals which reside at this place are Kirki dik dik, giraffe, impala, and reptiles such as snakes, Puff adder, and striking pink and blue Agama lizards. The most important archeological site of the prehistoric age is in Laetoli, 40 km south of Oldupai.

At this site Dr. Mary Leak discovered jaw fragments of the human species Australopithecus afarensis. The Laetoli site is very important, because of the fossilized foot prints of two adults and a child left behind in the wet volcanic ash. The footprints are about 3,75 million years old and provide great opportunity for the research of early hominids on this area. The remains proved that hominids were already walking upright and that the Australopithecus afarensis stood upright, with a height of 100-150 cm and weighed about 50 kg. Laetoli is not accessible but the Oldupai Museum displays the plaster casts of the footprints.

The museum also has an overview of the most important fossil founding of the Oldupai gorge area.

NgoroNgoro Shifting sands

It is believed and observed that this elegant black sand dune, an example of the Barchan dune, is constantly on move.

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Beyond Oldupai Gorge is the remarkable volcanic ash known as the ‘shifting sand’.

It is believed and observed that this elegant black sand dune, an example of the Barchan dune, is constantly on move. Inch by inch forward, drifting slowly across the plains, pushed by the prevailing Eastern wind. It has been estimated that the dune moves at about 17 m per year.

The volcanic ash it’s believed to have originated from the Mount Oldonyo Lengai volcanic eruption. The mountain is an active volcano and its recent eruption happened in the year 2007.

Taking a guide is obligatory as you have to pass through the gorge to get there.

Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek

These two lakes are situated just at the head of Olupai gorge and are a resultant feature of the volcanic eruption. Lakes are the only source of surface water during dry season for countless mammals and bird species.

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These two lakes are situated just at the head of Olupai gorge and are a resultant feature of the volcanic eruption. Lakes are the only source of surface water during dry season for countless mammals and bird species.

At times Lake Ndutu may dry up but the habitat around the lakes provides short grass and a home to thousands of wildebeest, gazelles and Zebras during wet season.

However, this area is also important for the ecosystem, since the Maasai cattle graze around Lake Masek once the wildebeest have calved and moved north.

This area is of an ecological importance for apart from being a home to some resident mammals like Leopard, hippo, Bohor reedbuck, bat eared Fox and the striped hyena at times, the area hosts migratory bird species during wet season. Mostly common is the White stork, Abdims stork, lesser Kestrel, European bee eater and European swallow between November and April. Some other migratory birds like the European roller, Caspian Lapwing, Pallid Harrier and Montagu’s Harrier from Europe and Asia also find refuge in this area.

It should be noted that some birds such as Yellow necked spurfowl, silverbird, Fischer’s Lovebird and Pygmy Falcon can be found ate lake Ndutu and Masek but not in the crater.

Visit Olmoti Crater

The Olmoti Crater, 3,700 meters high, lies north of Ngorongoro Crater close to the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. The entrance to the Crater is at Nainokanoka Maasai villiage which holds a special campsite.

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The Olmoti Crater, 3,700 meters high, lies north of Ngorongoro Crater close to the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. The entrance to the Crater is at Nainokanoka Maasai villiage which holds a special campsite.

The Crater's rim can be explored with an armed ranger on a walking safari in two to seven hours.

The Crater floor is inhabited by some mammals like the Bohor Reedbuck, Buffalo and Eland and has different streams which through the Munge waterfalls fill Lake Magadi in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Among the plants found at the Crater's slopes are Nuxia, Giant St John's Wort and Hagenia trees.

Nectar feeding birds can be observed at this area: Golden-winged and the Eastern Double Collared Sunbird, Malachite and the Mountain Greenbul.

Empakaai Crater

The Crater is filled with a deep alkaline lake which occupies about 75% of the Crater's floor and is about 85 meters deep. You can see Oldonio Lengai, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Great Rift Valley from the Crater's rim.

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The Empakaai Crater is a collapsed volcanic caldera which is 300 meters high and has a width of 6 km.

The Crater is filled with a deep alkaline lake which occupies about 75% of the Crater's floor and is about 85 meters deep.

You can see Oldonio Lengai, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Great Rift Valley from the Crater's rim. Walking down the crater you can also have magnificent view of the Mount Lengai.

The Crater's rim offers two special campsites.The Empakaai Crater and the Olmoti Crater have similar vegetation and bird-life but the Empakaai Crater is marvelous for wildlife.

Among the animals living in this area are: the Bearded Vulture, the Augur Buzzard, blue Monkeys, Bushbuck, water bucks and buffaloes.

Mount Ol Doinyo Lengai

Ol Doinyo Lengai is one of the few volcanoes without Sodium carbonate and potassium and it is the only volcano in the world that erupts natrocarbonatite lava.

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East Africa's only active volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai, is situated south of Lake Natron.

In the Maasai the name means the sacred Mountain of God. Mount Lengai is 2,878 m high and it has explosive eruptions every twenty to forty years.

The last bigger eruption was in 1966, with some smaller ones in 1983, 1933 and 2007.

Ol Doinyo Lengai is one of the few volcanoes without Sodium carbonate and potassium and it is the only volcano in the world that erupts natrocarbonatite lava. This lava has almost no silicon and its temperatures are not as high as those of other lavas, approximately 500 – 600°C.

The natrocarbonatite lava looks like fluid black oil and it turns white when in contact with objects full of moisture. This whitening happens almost immediately when raining. The mountain has two summit craters. The southern one is inactive and filled with volcanic ash. The active one is the northern summit crater, with a depth of over 200 meters.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area
You will visit
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Highlights and Attractions
  • Big-five 
  • Highest concentration of predators 
  • Flamingos 
  • Local Maasai Community 
  • Oldupai Gorge 
  • Shifting sands 
  • Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek 
  • Olmoti Crater 
  • Empakaai Crater 
  • Mount Ol Doinyo Lengai

Additional Information

SKU TAN13
Destination Tanzania
What to do? Interact with local Maasai, Birds watching, Game viewing, Walking /hiking safaris on Ngorongoro Crater Highlands , Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and Lake Natron's flamingos,see the monolithic Nasera rock.
National Park Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Accessibility It is 180km or 3-hour’s drive from Arusha on paved roads.
When to visit Year around.

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