Historical Ngorongoro Basin

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The Historical Ngorongoro Basin is located in northern Tanzania and covers an area of approximately 8,292 square kilometers. The name “Ngorongoro” is derived from the Maasai language. “Ngoro” means cowbell, and “ngorongoro” means “cowbell-shaped,” referring to the shape of the volcanic crater in the area. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area was established in 1959 to protect the wildlife and pastoralists living (nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle while also herding and caring for agricultural animals) in the area. It was subsequently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Volcanic Crater

The main feature of the Historical Ngorongoro Basin is the Ngorongoro Crater, which is the world’s largest inactive volcanic depression. It measures about 19 km (12 miles) in diameter, with walls reaching heights of up to 600 meters (2,000 feet). The Ngorongoro Crater was formed when a large volcano erupted and collapsed on itself millions of years ago. It left behind a fertile caldera that attracts a diverse array of wildlife.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to over 25,000 large animals, including elephants, lions, zebras, wildebeest, and many more. It is often referred to as the “eighth wonder of the world” due to its high concentration of wildlife. The Maasai people have lived in the Ngorongoro region for centuries and continue to reside in the area, co-existing with the wildlife. Their traditional way of life involves semi-nomadic cattle herding, and they have maintained their cultural traditions over generations.

The Ngorongoro Volcanic Crater in the Historical Ngorongoro Basin is considered one of the most spectacular natural wonders in Africa and attracts a large number of tourists each year. The crater is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including lions, elephants, rhinos, and flamingos, making it a popular Tanzania safari destination. Additionally, the unique landscape and stunning views from the crater rim make it a must-visit site for many travelers.

Archaeological Sites

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area also contains several archaeological sites, including Olduvai Gorge, which is situated about 40km from the Ngorongoro Crater. Excavations in this area have revealed fossils and stone tools dating back over two million years, providing significant insights into human evolution and cultural development. This Area is an important destination for tourists and Tanzania safari enthusiasts, offering breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a chance to learn about the local Maasai culture.

Nasera Rock, north of Olduvai, is the biggest fully exposed inselberg (isolated hill or mountain rising abruptly from a plain). Visitors may climb to the top of the rock and enjoy the view of the savannah plains and its amazing wildlife. Shreds of pottery, bone fragments and stone artifacts dating back to 30 000 years BC was found there.

In the northern parts of the Ngorongoro Conservation area, at the southern edge of the Serengeti National Park, you can find the Laetoli footprints of early humans in the solid rock from volcanic ash. In this paleontological site, the footprints and fossils were found in the same sediment layer. The footprint trail is about 27m (88 ft) long.

Preservation and Protection of the Ngorongoro Basin

Despite its protected status, the area faces challenges such as habitat loss, poaching, and conflicts between wildlife conservation and human settlement. Conservation efforts strive to strike a balance between preserving the ecological integrity of the region and meeting the needs of the local people. In 2019, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area celebrated its 60th anniversary since its establishment, marking six decades of successful preservation of this unique and remarkable natural and cultural heritage site.