Cultural Tourism

Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) – Arusha, Tanzania



One of the best travel destinations in Africa is the Ngorongoro crater which is located inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). Once you visit United Republic of Tanzania never miss to visit Ngorongoro.


In  recent  years,  two  major  concerns  of  the  international conservation community have been the governance  of  protected  areas  and  the  need  to  balance biodiversity  conservation  with  the  rights  and  livelihood needs of local communities living in and around protected areas.

These concerns were prominently displayed at the 2003 World Parks Congress (WPC) held in Durban, South Africa, and the smaller follow-up Durban+5 meeting held in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2008. The Durban WPC’s overall theme was “Benefits  beyond  Boundaries,”  and  the  Durban  Action  Plan  produced at  the  Congress  declared,  “governance  is  central  to  the  conservation of protected areas throughout the world.”

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) in northern Tanzania offers an excellent opportunity for a historical analysis of both protected area governance and the balance of biodiversity and local people’s interests. Th e Ngorongoro Crater Highlands are well known for the 18 km-diameter main caldera with its tremendous density and variety of wildlife.  The western plains of Ngorongoro are an important rainy season grazing area for the migratory wildlife of the Serengeti. Ngorongoro is also home to around 62,000 people, the vast majority of whom are members of the Maasai ethnic group.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) was  carved  out  of  the  Serengeti  National  Park  (SNP)  in  1959  after a  decade  of  controversy  over  the  rights  of  Maasai  pastoralists  in  the previously established SNP.  This debate reached far beyond the then British colony of Tanganyika with organizations such as the Society for the Preservation of the Fauna of the Empire and personalities such as the German zoologist Bernard Grzimek weighing in.

After great controversy, the NCA was created as a “multiple land use” area with the goal of balancing the interests of conservation and pastoralist de-velopment, and with the hope of “maintain[ing] the coexistence of pastoralists and wildlife in a natural traditional setting.”

The  origins  of  the  NCA  invite  the  exploration  of  several  questions. One, what sort of governance institution was created to fulfil the NCA’s original mandate? Two, how have these institutions changed over time? Three, what have been the forces and processes that  have  shaped  the  governance  of  the  NCA  from  1959  onward? Four, have these patterns of governance served the interests of biodiversity conservation and pastoralist development in the NCA?


Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a large volcanic caldera located about 180km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area in Tanzania. This unusual volcanic landscape is fertile and rich with stunning lakes and enormous craters including Ngorongoro Crater – the largest inactive volcanic caldera formed several million years ago.  The conservation area has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was recently voted one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. It features vast areas of highland plains, forests, and an array of wildlife species including zebras, gazelles, and wildebeest. NCA offers exceptional wildlife viewing and a wide range of activities such as hiking Empakaai Crater and Olmoti Climb.


Ngorongoro is formed form a volcano erupting two to three million years ago which has collapsed and formed a crater. The steep sides of the crater have become a natural enclosure for a wide variety of wild animals. It is also presently one of the most likely areas in Africa to see the endangered Black Rhino. Local Maasai people are permitted to bring cattle to graze in the crater but are required to leave at the end of each day.


Located between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater and one of Tanzania’s most popular wildlife viewing areas. This huge volcanic crater has a permanent supply of water which draws all kinds of animals who stay in this area rather than migrating. Visitors come here primarily for viewing large game and bird watching, but also of interest in the conservation area is the Olduvai Gorge. This important archeological site has revealed ancient skull and bone fragments that have delivered critical information about early mankind.


In 1914, German authorities established what is now the Northern  Highland  Forest  Reserve  of  the  NCA  for  the  purpose  of  watershed  protection,  but  their  control  of  the  area  was  short-lived.  Following  Germany’s  defeat  in  World  War  I,  the  British  governed Tanganyika as a League of Nations Mandate and designated the Serengeti as a Game Reserve where controlled hunting was allowed and the Ngorongoro Crater as a Complete Game Reserve where hunting was  prohibited.  The 1940 Game Ordinance formally created the Serengeti National Park (SNP), which included most of what is now the NCA.  However, there were few resources for enforcement of these conservation regulations either before or during World War II, and their overall impact was limited.

After the World War II, a new National Parks Ordinance was enacted by the Tanganyikan colonial government in 1948. This created a National Parks Board of Trustees separate from the existing Game Department and provided the basis for the 1951 (re)creation of the SNP. Serious enforcement of the SNP’s status as a national park began in the early 1950s.


The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest intact ancient caldera in the world, nearly three million years old. The Ngorongoro volcano was one of the world’s tallest mountains before it exploded and collapsed. Thousands of wild game can be seen on the crater floor, including lions, elephants, rhinos, Thomson’s gazelles, and buffaloes, but wildebeests and zebras account for over half of the animals that call the Ngorongoro Crater home. Bird watching is superb, especially around Lake Migadi, which attracts flocks of flamingos to the shallows. Hippos are content to submerge themselves during the day and then graze in the nearby grass in the evening.

The Ngorongoro Crater is over three million years old and the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world. Thousands of wild animals graze the verdant crater floor that is blessed with a permanent supply of water and abundant vegetation. Besides the animals, the natural panoramas that Ngorongoro provides are a treat for the eyes, and bird watching is superb in the area. Another highlight is the Olduvai Gorge, an archaeological site situated on a series of fault lines, where centuries of erosion have revealed fossils and remnants of early mankind.