One of the world's largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera, surrounded by the treasure-trove of historical sites like The Engare Sero Footprint Site and Olduvai Gorge. Take a walk through the history of mankind and ages of evolution.
Olduvai Gorge - Considered to be the seat of humanity after the discovery of the earliest known specimens of the human genus, Homo habilis as well as early hominidae, The Olduvai Gorge is recognized as one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world. The gorge is named after 'Oldupaai', the Maasai word for the wild sisal plant. The Engare Sero Footprint Site - More than 400 footprints left in the mud between 5,000 and 19,000 years ago, covering an area slightly larger than a tennis court, crisscrossing the dark gray mudflat on the southern shore of Tanzania’s Lake Natron. Empakaai Crater - The lake-filled Empakaai Crater draws flamingos and other waterbirds in the thousands.
A Visit with the Maasai - An educational visit to the local Maasai village to observe the culture and understand the traditions of the villagers.
Approximately 25,000 large animals live in the crater. The largest population of the Maasai Lions can be found here.
The migrating Maasai from Central Africa were looking for a permanent settlement, and hence they named the place Ngorongoro or El-Nkoronkoro meaning Gift of Life. Evidence of various hominid species found at the Olduvai Gorge is evidence that the area must have been occupied 3 million years ago.
The Mbulu came to the area about 2,000 years ago and were joined by the Datooga around the year 1700. Both groups were driven from the area by the Maasai in the 1800s. Massive fig trees in the northwest of the Lerai Forest are sacred to the Maasai and the Datooga. Some of them may have been planted on the grave of a Datago leader who died in battle with the Maasai around 1840.
The first Europeans to arrive in the area were two German brothers, who farmed in the crater until World War 1. They were known to organize shooting parties to entertain their German friends and they also attempted to drive the wildebeest herds out of the crater.
The first game preservation ordinance was passed in 1921, restricting the hunting throughout Tanzania, to permit holders only. In 1928, hunting was prohibited on all land within the crater rim, except for the farm formerly owned by the German brothers.
Maasai are now permitted to graze their cattle within the crater, but must enter and exit daily.
July to March is considered the best time to visit the crater, however the crater continues to draw crowds for most of the year.
April and May have smaller crowds. The best weather is from June to October, when there is little to no rain.
March and April is the peak of wet season and generally not considered to be the best season to view the game.