The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the flagship of Tanzania’s tourism industry and is full of interesting facts that will knock your socks off.
The NCA was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. It is the only place on earth where mankind and a high concentration of wildlife co-exist in harmony, which is pretty odd if you let this thought sink in. The crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera and is the only place in the world where you have a very high chance of seeing the ‘Big 5’ in one day.
Rent a car from XCAR and enjoy the amaizing Ngorongoro
Wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater
The NCA is named after and most famous for the Ngorongoro Crater, meaning ”big hole” in a local dialect. It is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. If it hadn’t exploded and collapsed some three million years ago, it would have been a towering volcanic mountain, as high as Kilimanjaro. The NCA was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. Land within the area is multi-use, providing protection status for wildlife while also permitting human settlement and livestock grazing, which is pretty odd if you let this thought sink in. As a consequence, Maasai cattle can be seen grazing alongside zebras on Ngorongoro’s grassland.
The crater floor deep down below provides a natural sanctuary, resulting in an incredible natural drama as the black rhino and great numbers of lions, elephants, buffaloes, ostriches and plain herbivores roam about. The Ngorongoro Crater is the only place in the world where you have a very high chance to see the ‘Big 5’ in one day. The ‘Big 5’ refers to the Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Cape Buffalo. Why not the hippo or giraffe, you may ask? Are they not large as well? Or how about the cheetah, aren’t these rare? Well, it is not a name invented by the tourist industry. Back in the colonial days, it were the big game hunters that came up with the term “big five”. It refers to the difficulty in shooting down these large animals, mostly due to their ferocity when cornered and shot at.
Note! Unlike other National Parks in Tanzania, where you can pay the entry fees with a credit card when you enter, all fees to enter the Ngorongoro Crater should be paid for in advance. You can contact us on how to pay for entrance fees
The rest of the NCA can be divided into two broad ecological zones. In the east lie the Crater Highlands, most famous for the Empakaai crater and Oldupai Gorge. The western plains of the NCA are a continuation of the Serengeti ecosystem, a savanna area of short grasses that attract immense concentrations of grazers during the raining season.
Hiking in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Because the NCA lies outside the national park system, it is permissible to hike along a number of trails, but excluding the crater floor, in the company of an authorized guide. Suitable walking routes include the area that connects Lake Eyasi in the south to Lake Natron in the north, routes running west across the plains towards Lake Ndutu and from Olmoti Crater to Empakaai Highlands. The best place to make initial enquiries and arrangements is the NCA Information Center in Arusha (Boma Road). You have to bring your own tent, food and warm clothes, as it can be cold in the evenings. Useful sources for more information are the Bradt Travel Guide, The ”Ngrongoro Conservation Area” booklet and ”Tourist Travel & Field Guide to the Ngrongoro Conservation Area”, both readily available in Arusha. A map showing all hiking routes is downloadable from the NCA website.