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The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a protected area and a World Heritage Site located 180 km (110 mi) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The area is named after Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera within the area. The conservation area is administered by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, an arm of the Tanzanian government, and its boundaries follow the boundary of the Ngorongoro Division of the Arusha Region.
The 2009 Ngorongoro Wildlife Conservation Act placed new restrictions on human settlement and subsidence farming in the Crater, displacing Maasai pastoralists, most of whom had been relocated to Ngorongoro from their ancestral lands to the north when the British colonial government established Serengeti National Park in 1959. The construction of luxury tourist hotels in the Conservation Area allows people to access "the unparalleled beauty of one of the world’s most unchanged wildlife sanctuaries", even as thousands of Maasai have suffered forcible eviction and have been denied access to water sources for their livestock. The name of the crater has an onomatopoeic origin; it was named by the Maasai pastoralists after the sound produced by the cowbell (ngoro ngoro). Based on fossil evidence found at the Olduvai Gorge, various hominid species have occupied the area for 3 million years. The main feature of the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority is the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater, which formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on it two to three million years ago, is 610 meters (2,000 feet) deep and its floor covers 260 square kilometres (100 square miles).
5 a.m depature from your hotel in Moshi
You’ll depart from Moshi at the crack of dawn for the long but scenic drive to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Along the way, you’ll pass bustling Maasai villages and sweeping plains dotted with acacia and the occasional giraffe or wildebeest.
Upon arrival at the park, you’ll sign in and then begin the winding descent into the caldera. The mist shrouded rainforests of the mountain are home to cape buffalo and baboon troupes, and the particularly lucky might even spot a grazing elephant or a shy leopard moving through the dense green undergrowth.
You’ll stop at the Ngorongoro viewing area for a stunning view of the caldera’s sheer scale. The shadows of clouds dapple the caldera floor, and the keen-eyed might spot the great herds of wildebeest and zebra moving about below. The sun glitters off the soda lakes and it all combines to make for a truly beautiful landscape.
From here you’ll continue our descent into the caldera, where over 120 species of mammals go about their lives. The park is the best place in the northern circuit to see the black rhinoceros and the cape buffalo, but is home to the entirety of the Big Five. We’ll also see large packs of hyenas as well as lesser known predators such as jackals and serval cats.
You’ll pay a visit to Lake Magadi, a vast salt lake which is a magnet for flamingoes and a number of other water birds such as pelicans and storks. A picnic lunch by the famous hippo pool is also a surreal experience, as you’ll take your lunch a few feet from where great hippopotamus wallow lazily in the cool water,
Across five hours, you’ll see the very best that Africa has to offer. In the late afternoon, with heads full of amazing memories, you’ll return to Arusha.
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