Ngorongoro District is one of the five districts of Tanzania's Arusha Region. It is bordered to the north by Kenya, to the east by the Monduli, to the south by the Karatu and to the west by the Mara Region. The major ethnic group is the Maasai people.
Within the district are the Ngorongoro Crater and the active volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai. They play host to parts of the massive wildebeest and zebra migration which moves south in December and north in June. It is considered part of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, despite being declared a conservation area in 1959 and separating from the Serengeti National Park.
The area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority is the governing body, regulating use and access.
Land in the conservation area is multi-use, unique in Tanzania as the only conservation area providing protection status for wildlife whilst allowing human habitation. Such land use is controlled to prevent negative effects on wildlife, and cultivation is prohibited at all but subsistence levels.
The NCA has a healthy resident population of most species of wildlife, in particular the Ndutu Lake area to the west which has a strong cheetah and lion population.
The main feature of the NCA is the Ngorongoro Crater, the world's largest unbroken volcanic caldera. The natural amphitheatre was created around two million years ago when it imploded. Its crater is 610 metres deep and the floor a massive 260 sq kms. Early man flourished there at Olduvai Gorge. In 1960 a 1.75 million-year-old homo habilis was discovered, representing man's first step on the ladder of human evolution.
Approaching Ngorongoro is a wonderful experience the road winds upwards through an area of forests and meadows carpeted with wild flowers. The final bend reveals the crater below in all its glory.
The crater's steep sides mean it has become a natural enclosure for an enormous variety of wildlife, including most of the species found in East Africa. There are an estimated 25,000 animals apart from zebra, wildebeest and gazelle and other local animals, it is home to the big five. Rhinoceros, lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo are the ones people hope to see, and here their chances are good.
Lake Magadi in the centre of the crater is, like many in the Rift Valley, a soda lake supporting magnificent flocks of flamingo. They can be seen in their thousands at dusk, along with rosy-breasted, long-claw waders and Abyssinian nightjars. A truly magical sight.
Every morning game-viewing vehicles descend the steep crater, but at night it belongs to the animals and all vehicles must leave by sunset.
Tanzania on Africa’s eastern coast.
Kumuka Worldwide has thirteen day camping tours from Nairobi in Kenya. An overnight stay at the Ngorongoro Crater is included. Tours are $1785 per person, plus local [payment of around $235 per person including activities, sightseeing and entry fees.
South African Airways has return flights to Nairobi. On sale and valid for travel until December 31, 2006.
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, $3196
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
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