In the 1920's it was treated as part of the Serengeti. It is the largest unbroken volcanic caldera ( collapsed volcano) in the world, with the crater itself covering an area of 259 square kilometres and having walls over 600 meters high. It was formed by geological faulting in the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley two to three million years ago. The volcano created was probably larger than Mount Kilimanjaro. The quick withdrawal of molten lava beneath it made the centre collapse, creating the crater we see today. The name Ngorongoro comes from a Masai word, llkorongoro which was the name given to the age group of Masai warriors who wrested the highlands from the datong, their previous occupants. The datong had in turn taken them from their predecessors the Hadzabe (bushmen/hunter-gatherers). The name llkorongoro echoed the sound of the battle bells the Masai warriors wore when they first occupied the highlands in the year 1800.
This sound "koh-rohngoroh" struck terror into the hearts of their enemies. The wa-masai have also given their own names to the walls and floor of the crater, the walls are known as en tiak which means sheer drop- while the floor is ramat meaning health- land. Being a conservation area rather than a National Park the Masai are allowed to bring in their animals to graze and water, making it possible to see wild animals and domestic livestock in the crater together. We normally camp on the rim of the crater, (simba campsite) and from here, it is about one hours drive around the rim to the point where we reach the descent road. from here there are spectacular views across and down into the crater. It can be very cold at this height (2300 mts) so it is advisable to wear warm clothes until we reach the floor of the crater. the road follows a winding and very steep route known as the Seneto Descent.
Wildlife the Ngorongoro Crater offers some of the best game viewing in all the National Parks of Tanzania. It has a rich variety of resident birds and animals that make the area their home. Its varied habitats support between 30.000-40.000 animals most of the year. In the crater the mandusi and gorogor swamps are areas of marshland, the lerai forest is dominated by yellow barked acacia trees, and in the centre is Lake Magadi, a soda lake, often visited by flocks of flamingo's. The rainy season lasts from November through to May, with the dry season running from June through to October. June and July are the coldest months of the year. The rim of the crater is often shrouded in dense cloud.
Most of the animals are resident here. All the typical plains herbivores, including wildebeest, zebra, grants and thomsons gazelle, are well represented. All the most sought after animals, cape buffalo, waterbuck, eland, hartebeest, lions, elephant, black rhino, hippo, jackal (-silver-backed and golden), are well represented. Cheetah and leopard are present but sometimes difficult to see.
Ngorongoro is one of the few places left in east Africa where one can still see this rare and extremely endangered species.
Is abundant in the crater, particularly in the marshlands and Lake Magadi. Ostriches, kori bustards, secretary birds, and crowned cranes can be seen as well as vultures, egrets, herons, geese, and flamingos
The Samburu National Reserve is a 165 km² nature reserve in the dry north of Kenya. It is located in the Rift Valley Province on the Uaso Nyiro River, about 350 km north of Nairobi and borders on the Buffalo Springs National Reserve, with which it forms a unit. The Shaba National Reserve a few kilometres to the east belongs to the same ecological area. The Samburu National Reserve rises from 850 m in the west to 1250 m in the east. It is characterised by drought with an annual precipitation of less than 400 mm. Dry scrubland and open grasslands are the predominant forms of vegetation. Only the Uaso Nyeru is lined by a narrow gallery forest. There are some mountains covered with dry bushes.
It was 1913 and great stretches of Africa were still unknown to the white man when Stewart Edward White, an American hunter, set out from Nairobi. Pushing south, he recorded: "We walked for miles over burnt out country... Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked two miles more and found myself in paradise."
He had found Serengeti. In the years since White's excursion under "the high noble arc of the cloudless African sky," Serengeti has come to symbolize paradise to many of us. The Maasai, who had grazed their cattle on the vast grassy plains for millennia had always thought so. To them it was Siringitu - "the place where the land moves on forever."
The Serengeti region encompasses the Serengeti National Park itself, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, the Loliondo, Grumeti and Ikorongo Controlled Areas and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Over 90,000 tourists visit the Park each year.
Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the 30,000 km² region. It's unique ecosystem has inspired writers from Ernest Hemingway to Peter Mattheissen, filmakers like Hugo von Lawick and Alan Root as well as numerous photographers and scientists.
The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.
The Wildebeest travel through a variety of parks, reserves and protected areas and through a variety of habitat. Join us to explore the different forms of vegetation and landscapes of the Serengeti ecosystem and meet some of their most fascinating inhabitants.
Welcome to the Serengeti.
Former Director General
Tanzania National Parks
Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 13,747 square kilometres. Situated in a semi-arid area previously known as the Taru Desert it opened in April 1948, it is located near the town of Voi in the Taita-Taveta District of Coast Province. The park is divided into east and west sections by the A109 road and a railway. Named for the Tsavo River, which flows west to east through the national park, it borders the Chyulu Hills National Park, and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania. The park can be accessed by three main gates, from Voi through the Manyani gate, from Mombasa through the Bachuma gate or from Malindi through the Sala gate. There are also several airstrips in the park that allow chartered light planes. Inside the park, the Athi and Tsavo rivers converge to form the Galana River. Most of the park consists of semi-arid grasslands and savanna. It is considered one of the world's biodiversity strongholds, and its popularity is mostly due to the vast amounts of diverse wildlife that can be seen, including the famous 'big five' consisting of masai lion, black rhino, cape buffalo, elephant and leopard. The park is also home to a great variety of bird life. The slightly larger Tsavo East is generally flat, with dry plains across which the Galana River flows. Other features include the Yatta Plateau and Lugard Falls.
Tsavo West National Park is more mountainous and wetter than its counterpart, with swamps, Lake Jipe and the Mzima Springs. It is known for birdlife and for its large mammals.