Olduvai Gorge Museum Olduvai Gorge Museum Kalambo Falls Maasai Village near Ngorongoro Olmoti Crater of Ngorongoro Reserve
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Olduvai is a gorge in northern Tanzania. It is a 40-kilometer gorge running along the Serengeti plains in the Ngorongoro Protected Area, about 100 meters deep and 250 square kilometers in area.
The Olduvai Gorge is the site of many prehistoric finds. In particular, the remains of Homo habilis (over 2 million years old), which resembled australopithecines but had already crossed the threshold that separated humans from the animal kingdom, were found. An Australopithecus skull, fragmented bones from animals killed in hunting and very crude stone tools of the earliest Paleolithic age were also found.
The gorge now houses the Olduvai Gorge Museum of Anthropology and Human Evolution, which exhibits the remains of predecessors of modern man, remains of prehistoric animals, and mammoth tusks.
Coordinates : -2.98967000,35.35463900
Olduvai Gorge Museum
Olduvai Goj Museum is a museum of anthropology and human evolution located in Olduvai Gorge in the Ngorongoro Reserve. The museum displays the remains of the predecessors of modern man, the remains of prehistoric animals, mammoth tusks, and stone tools of ancient people. Several halls of the museum display the remains of various animals that at different times inhabited the area of East Africa, where the Olduvai Gorge is situated now.
The most interesting and extensive exposition of the museum is devoted to the footprints and hoofprints of prehistoric animals and footprints of anthropoid creatures – hominids, which were discovered by archaeologists in 1979.
Olduvai Gorge was not accidentally chosen as a place for the museum. Many interesting archaeological finds have been made here in different years. In particular, the remains of Homo habilis (more than 2 million years old) which resembled australopithecines but had already crossed the border separating a man from the animal kingdom were found. An Australopithecus skull, fragmented bones from animals killed in a hunt and very crude stone tools of the earliest Paleolithic age were also found. A part of these exhibits is now on display at the Olduvai Goj Museum.
Coordinates : -2.98967000,35.35463900
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Kalambo Falls on the Kalambo River (flows into Lake Tanganyika), on the border of Zambia and Tanzania.
The waterfall reaches a height of 427 meters, the width varies from 3 to 18 meters. It is the second highest continuous falling waterfall in Africa. Kalambo is a popular tourist attraction.
The waterfall was first discovered by Europeans only in 1913. Archaeologically it is one of the most important sites in Africa. In its vicinity, human activity can be traced back over two hundred and fifty thousand years. John Desmond Clark first excavated around the small lake below the falls in 1953.
Coordinates : -8.58823500,31.24275000
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Maasai village near Ngorongoro
There are small Maasai villages (bomas) scattered near the Ngorongoro crater. Some of them host guided tours. However, the villages are not tourist sites, but authentic, authentic Maasai settlements.
For tourists, the villagers put on small shows, singing and dancing. Then they show you around the village and show you the huts and the school for children. However, the Maasai are not too good-natured and open, so the visit rarely lasts more than 15 minutes.
The Maasai live in huts made of cow dung, the huts are built by women and the men graze the cattle. In the hut lives a family with several children and young cattle.
Ngorongoro Nature Reserve Crater
The huge crater of Tanzania, which emerged as a caldera as a consequence of the collapse of a large volcano about 2.5 million years ago, is called Ngorongoro. Its bottom is almost two kilometers above sea level, and the edges are slightly higher – at an altitude of 3,000 meters.
The diameter of the famous crater is about 19 kilometers, and the total area is 26,400 hectares.
Ngorongoro’s microclimate varies greatly from location to location, this is due to the dramatic difference in altitude and the dynamics of its air masses. The uplands are usually foggy and humid, with most of the rainfall here falling in April and November. Shrub vegetation covers the edges of the crater, which is a savanna with fairly tall vegetation and evergreen mountain forests. Shorter grasses grow at the bottom of the crater, and there are acacia forests and drinking water sources.
The crater is home to about 25,000 animals and has the highest density of predators in all of Africa. Quite often in Ngorongoro you can find zebras, buffalo and various species of antelope such as gazelles, gnu, and kannas.
Olmoti is one of several picturesque craters surrounding Ngorongoro, a natural landmark in Tanzania.
The crater is 3,700 meters above sea level, which is higher than the neighboring craters. However, the crater itself is shallow and does not have any body of water inside. But on its southern slopes one of the most beautiful waterfalls Mungue cascades down. Lions and buffaloes like to come here to drink.
The Olmoti and Empakai craters are accessible by jeep, always accompanied by a ranger, from the eastern slope of Ngorongoro Crater, through the village of Nainokanoka.
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Ngorongoro, a natural park in a giant volcanic caldera
Ngorongoro is a large volcanic crater in Tanzania south of the Serengeti savanna. It is the habitat of many African animals and a large natural reserve.
In general, the reserve covers a huge area (8300 km 2 ) and is part of the Serengeti National Park along with the Maswa Reserve (west of Ngorongoro). But it is its volcanic caldera that has become the jewel of these places.
Where is it
Ngorongoro lies in northern Tanzania south of the Serengeti Reserve, but is actually part of its ecosystem.
Ngorongoro Crater is located on a volcanic highland surrounded by lesser known craters (such as Empacaa in the northeast). The southern and eastern borders are defined by the edge of the East African Rift, which has become a barrier to animal migration in the area.
100 km northeast of Ngorongoro is the frightening yet attractive Lake Natron. And 200 km to the east rises the famous volcano Kilimanjaro.
Peculiarities of the Ngorongoro crater
Its shape is supposedly almost round, with a diameter of 17 to 20 kilometers. The maximum depth of the caldera is about 610 meters. But its edges can reach a height of 2286 meters above sea level. The lower part of the caldera lies at 1700 meters. The inner area of the crater is over 260 km 2 . At the bottom you can see the lake Magadi. It is famous for a large concentration of flamingos.
Flamingo in Lake Magadi
Interesting fact – Ngorongoro Crater is the largest inactive, pristine and unfilled volcanic caldera on the planet.
The main uniqueness of the crater is that over a long period of time it has formed its own habitat for a variety of animals that practically do not go outside the caldera.
Zebras and antelope in the Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro is an imposing caldera that emerged after a volcanic eruption about 2.5 million years ago. According to scientists, the height of the volcano may have been 4,500 to 5,800 meters. The greatest volcanic activity was observed here in the period from 2 to 2.5 million years ago.
An interesting fact – the Crater Ngorongoro in February 2013 was included in the list of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
Several thousand years ago, aboriginal herders settled here. The Mbulu people came here about 2,000 years ago. A little later they were joined by the Datuga tribes. But at the beginning of the 19th century, the Masai tribes drove everyone out of Ngorongoro and began to actively breed cattle.
Interesting fact – The name Ngorongoro was given to the crater by Maasai herders. There is no mythical and secret meaning in this word. Just the sound of the bells on the local cows was very similar to ngoro-ngoro, hence the name.
It is known that Europeans did not know about the crater Ngorongoro until 1892, when it was visited by Austrian ethnographer and cartographer Oskar Baumann.
In the early 20th century German farmers, brothers Adolf and Friedrich Siedentopf, arrived here. They began to breed cattle and grow wheat. It is noteworthy that the Europeans got along quite well with the locals. They helped each other in raising livestock and in defense against predators. After World War I, the Sidentops returned to Germany. And the Maasai were later actually evicted from Ngorongoro.
In 1959, the area around the crater became the Ngorongoro Protected Area. The Maasai were allowed to settle here and raise cattle. Today, there are up to 60,000 herders in the park and up to 350,000 cattle. This puts an additional strain on the ecosystem.
A Maasai village on the border of Ngorongoro Park
In 1975, agricultural activities in the caldera were completely banned. Since 1979, the Ngorongoro Crater is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and became a Biosphere Reserve in 1981.
Ngorongoro is characterized by large variations in altitude. Accordingly, the climate varies significantly depending on the location. The higher the terrain, the more humid it is and the more often there is fog.
The mountainous area of the crater on the eastern side receives between 800 and 1200 millimeters of precipitation per year. The less steep western side receives 400 to 600 millimeters. Most of the precipitation occurs in November and April.
The plain in the center of the caldera is subject to considerable fluctuations in temperature. Here, too, much depends on the specific location.
Ngorongoro crater plain
The edges of the caldera are dominated by wet savannah. These areas are covered with shrubs, tall grasses and small evergreen mountain forests. At the bottom of the caldera, the grass is noticeably lower. Thickets of acacia trees can be found.
In the northwestern part there are massive fig trees. These are sacred trees to the Datug and Maasai tribes. There is even speculation that they were planted at the grave of a Datug chief, who died in battle with the Maasai in the mid-19th century.
The Ngorongoro Crater is home to about 25,000 animals. There are many zebras, African buffalo, and a variety of antelope.
Despite the isolation of the region, more than 20% of gnu antelope and more than half of the zebras leave the caldera during the rainy season.
Predators include hyenas, leopards, and lions. Cheetahs are rare.
An interesting fact is that Ngorongoro has the highest density of predators in all of Africa.
Sometimes you can see elephants and black rhinos. In addition, hippos live here, which is not quite usual for such latitudes. But giraffes and crocodiles are not found here.
Rhinos in Ngorongoro
Interesting fact – Each year a mass migration of herbivores passes through Ngorongoro Nature Reserve. More than 1.7 million wildebeest, 260,000 zebra and 470,000 gazelles pass south in this region in December and move back in June.
There is a seasonal salt lake, Lake Magadi, in the southwestern part of the Ngorongoro Crater. It is inhabited by thousands of flamingos, mostly of the “lesser flamingo” species.
Note that you can see as many as a million flamingos, maybe more, at Lake Nakuru in Kenya.
Munge Creek flows from the Olmoti Crater (north of Ngorongoro). It is the main source of water that replenishes the lake. Another supplier of water to the lake is the Ngoitokitok spring a few kilometers to the east. There is a picnic area open to tourists and a huge swamp fed by this spring.
Besides the famous name Magadi, the lake has another name. Makat is how the lake is called by the local Maasai. In translation, it simply means “salt.
Lake Magadi. View from Above
Ngorongoro Crater in tourism
Ngorongoro is the only protected area in Tanzania that protects wildlife but allows people to live here. Land use is strictly controlled to prevent negative impacts on wildlife. For example, large-scale farming is prohibited. Local people are only allowed to cultivate the soil for their own needs.
Interesting fact – The authorities actually displace the local Maasai herders, but allow the construction of hotels in the park.
Now you will find many cozy hotels in and outside the crater, offering comfortable accommodation for tourists.
One of the hotels with a view of the Ngorongoro Crater
Naturally you will be offered Ngorongoro safari tours. Among the standard rules of safari tours is the principle “take nothing from the reserve except impressions, leave nothing but footprints”. Of course, we mean footprints on the road, not such traces as on the “paradise” island of Tilafushi.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the growing number of cars and tourists has become a big problem for the park. About 450,000 tourists visit Ngorongoro annually. This is about 60% of all travelers visiting Tanzania.
When choosing a time to visit Ngorongoro, consider the seasonality.
The rainy season (November to April)
Ngorongoro usually has light rains from November to December and heavy rains from February to April. The rainy season is a very exciting time of year when animals gather on the plains for mating games and rearing their young.
Late February and early March is a good time to see herbivores migrate to the plains. In turn, this attracts large numbers of predators and leads to exciting hunting scenes.
Dry season (May to October).
This time has its own beauty. It is a great season to observe the mass accumulation of animals near small water sources.
Dry Season at Ngorongoro
Fun fact – Famous visitors to the park include former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Queen Magreta II of Denmark, Prince William, and Hollywood movie stars Chris Tucker and John Wayne.
For more information about Ngorongoro Park, visit the official website.