Top 6 Things to do in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Top 6 Things to do in Ngorongoro Conservation Area: Ngorongoro conservation area is located in the northern part of Tanzania about 153km west of Arusha town. The conservation area was established in 1959 as a multi land use area where wildlife co exist with the semi nomadic Maasai pastoralists who practice to old age tradition of livestock grazing. The main aim of gazetting the conservation area was to promote conservation, safeguard the interests of the natives and to encourage ecotourism. Ngorongoro conservation area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 due to its rich biodiversity, entered in the list of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2010 and covers a total land area of which is composed of vegetation types, wildlife including animals like elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, hippos, zebras, wildebeests, black rhinos, lions, leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, bird species like white eyed slaty flycatcher, Livingstone turaco, kori bustard, ostriches, crowned cranes, black kite among others. The park also harbors the Ngorongoro crater which is the main attraction in the area and world’s largest inactive volcanic caldera that is 2000 feet deep and 265 square kilometers wide. The crater was formed about two to three million years ago when a large volcano erupted and collapsed on itself and has nutritious pastures which attract wild animals. There are various activities in Ngorongoro conservation area which you can engage in during your safari including
- Game drive
This is one of the exciting activities in Ngorongoro conservation area where you will drive around in a 4WD safari vehicle with an experienced driver guide. The game drive in Ngorongoro crater is done in two shifts that is the morning game dive which starts at around 7:00 am and in the afternoon at around 2:00 pm, the morning session is the best period for game viewing because that is the time when animals are still active with predators like lions, cheetahs, leopards hyenas looking for the prey and other animals like elephants, wildebeests, zebras, buffaloes looking for fresh grass with due. During the game drive you drive to different areas such as Ndutu where you will experience calving of wildebeest where thousands of wildebeests give birth daily and this cycle takes place every year. Game drives in the conservation area are rewarding in that you will be able to view the big five mammals including large herds of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards and black rhinos, views of the beautiful sunrise or sunset, scenery, birds among others which makes your safari memorable.
- Guided nature walks
Ngorongoro conservation area offers short and long hikes where visitors explore the conservation area on foot with the company of an armed park guide who is well conversant with various trails such as trails to Empakaai highlands, Great Rift Valley, trails to the Gol Mountains, Elephant caves, Olmoti crater among others. guided nature walks are best done in the morning or late in the evening and they give you an opportunity to get up close and personal with animals in their natural environment, birds, view colorful butterflies, insects, waterfall, different plant and tree species, enjoy the cool breeze, breathe fresh air, listen to birds singing in the trees, take great photos among others.
- Visit Olduvai Gorge
Olduvai Gorge is a palaeon thropological site that is located between the Ngorongoro crater and the Serengeti national park. Olduvai Gorge is an important prehistoric site in east Africa where you will find the early remains of humans which were discovered by Mary Leakey. During the Olduvai gorge visit you will also tour the museum which is situated at the edge of the Olduvai gorge and was opened in October by Mary Leakey, the museum showcases the early stone tools, plant and animal fossils, holds exhibitions where you will know more about the history of the site, get an opportunity to interact with the residents, scientists carrying out research, guided tour down the gorge where you will visit the sites where Mary and Louis Leakey discovered early hominine remains among others.
- Bird watching
The conservation area is a home of over 500 recorded bird species including endemic birds, migratory birds from Europe and near endemic species which makes Ngorongoro conservation area one of the top birding destinations in Tanzania. Bird watching is best done early in the morning with an experienced bird guide who will help you to spot different bird species including Rufous napped lark, secretary birds, ostriches, kori bustard, grey crowned crane, red capped lark, rufous tailed weaver, superb starling, fischers sparrow lark, rosy breasted long claw, European bee-eater, lesser kestrel, European swallow, African spoonbill, greater flamingo, Hildebrandt’s starling, yellow barbet, Egyptian vulture, scarlet chested sunbird, Egyptian vulture, augur buzzard, Jacksons widow bird among others.
- Cultural visits
This is an interesting activity in the Ngorongoro crater where you will be able to visit the Maasai people in the neighboring villages. The maasai people have live in the conservation area for more than 100 years and they are pastoralists who practice livestock farming and small agriculture around the conservation. During the cultural tour you will be able to interact with the local people which gives you an opportunity to know more about their culture, traditions, history, dress code, visit their Manyata homesteads, taste their local dishes, enjoy their jumping dance, listen to their ancient stories among others.
Ngorongoro conservation area is one of the best-protected areas in Tanzania for photography enthusiasts because it harbors the Ngorongoro crater which is 600 meters deep and last erupted about 8 million years ago leaving a 265 square kilometer wide caldera which has nutritious pastures that attract abundant wildlife. Ngorongoro conservation area is also a home of the big five mammals which include elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, black rhinos plus other animals like wildebeests, gazelle, zebras, impalas, hyenas, cheetahs, bird species like flamingos among others. Incredible photographs of beautiful scenery sunset/sunrise, big five mammals, different vegetation types, predators, bird species, unique culture in Ngorongoro conservation area can be taken during the game drives, guided nature walks, birding, cultural tours among others.
When to visit Ngorongoro conservation area
The conservation area can be visited all year round though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to October because during this period there is little rainfall in the conservation area therefore vegetation will be short which makes wildlife viewing easy. During the dry season animals gather around the Ngorongoro crater to drink water which gives you an opportunity to view large concentrations of animals and take great photos.
Ngorongoro conservation area can also be visited in the wet season during the months of March to May and November because during this period the vegetation is green and it’s the best period for birding where you will be able to view migratory bird species.
How to get to Ngorongoro conservation area
Ngorongoro conservation area can be accessed by road and air transport means and when using road you will drive from Arusha town to the park headquarters which takes about 3 hours drive. The conservation area can also be reached by visitors from Lake Manyara national park, Serengeti national park, and Tarangire national park.
Air transport when using air transport means you will book scheduled and charter flights from Arusha or Dar es Salaam to Ngorongoro airstrip or fly to Serengeti national park and then drive to the park headquarters which takes about 3 hours drive. Flights to Ngorongoro crater can be booked by your tour operator. (Top 6 Things to do in Ngorongoro Conservation Area)