ngorongoroNGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a conservation area and a UNESCO 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.

It has been reported in 2009 that the government authority has proposed a reduction of the population of the conservation area from 65,000 to 25,000. There are plans being considered for 14 more luxury tourist hotels, so people can access “the unparalleled beauty of one of the world’s most unchanged wildlife sanctuaries”. None of the senior level positions in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is yet held by a member of the local Maasai pastoralists.

NGORONGORO CRATER

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 itself two to three million years ago, is 610 metres (2,000 feet) deep and its floor covers 260 square kilometres (100 square miles). Estimates of the height of the original volcano range from 4,500 to 5,800 metres (14,800 to 19,000 feet) high. The elevation of the crater floor is 1,800 metres (5,900 feet) above sea level. The Crater was voted by Seven Natural Wonders as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in Arusha, Tanzania in February 2013.

The crater highlands on the side facing the easterly trade winds receives 800 to 1,200 millimetres (31 to 47 inches) of rain a year and are covered largely in montane forest. The less-steep west wall receives only 400 to 600 millimetres (16 to 24 inches) and is grassland and bushland dotted with Euphorbia bussei (es) trees.

serengetiSERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

The Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park in the Serengeti ecosystem in the Mara and Simiyu regions. It is famous for its annual migration of over 1.5 million white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 250,000 zebra and for its numerous Nile crocodile.

As well as the migration of ungulates, the park is well known for its healthy stock of other resident wildlife, particularly the “big five”, named for the five most prized trophies taken by hunters:

Masai Lion: the Serengeti is believed to hold the largest population of lions in Africa due in part to the abundance of prey species. More than 3,000 lions live in this ecosystem.

African Leopard: these reclusive predators are commonly seen in the Seronera region but are present throughout the national park with the population at around 1,000.

African Bush Elephant: the herds are recovering from population lows in the 1980s caused by poaching and are largely located in the northern regions of the park.

Eastern Black Rhinoceros: mainly found around the kopjes in the centre of the park, very few individuals remain due to rampant poaching. Individuals from the Masai Mara Reserve cross the park border and enter Serengeti from the northern section at times.

African Buffalo: still abundant and present in healthy numbers.

The park also supports many other species, including Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, spotted hyena, striped hyena, baboon, impala, East African wild dog, and Masai giraffe. The park also boasts about 500 bird species, including ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, crowned crane, marabou stork, martial eagle, lovebirds, and many species of vultures.

lake-manyaraLAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK

Lake Manyara National Park is a Tanzanian national park located both in Arusha Region and Manyara Region, Tanzania. The two administrative regions have no jurisdiction over the parks. The park is governed by the Tanzania National Parks Authority. The majority of the land area of the park is a narrow strip running between the Gregory Rift wall to the west and Lake Manyara, an alkaline or soda-lake, to the east. The park consists of 330 km2 (130 sq mi) of arid land, forest, and a soda-lake which covers as much as 200 km2 (77 sq mi) of land during the wet season but is nearly nonexistent during the dry season.

Lake Manyara National Park is known for the flamingos that inhabit the lake. During the wet season they inhabit the edges of the lake in flocks of thousands but they are not so present during the dry season.

More than 400 species of birds inhabit the park and many remain throughout the year. Because of this Lake Manyara National Park is a good spot for bird watching. Visitors to the park can expect to see upwards of 100 different species of bird on any day.

African leopards, Masai lions, Tanzanian cheetahs, African bush elephants, blue monkeys, dik-dik, Thomson’s gazelle, hippo, Masai giraffe, impala, Grant’s zebras and more inhabit the park and many can be seen throughout the year. There is a hippo pond at one end of the park where visitors can get out of their cars and observe from a safe distance. The leopards and lions are both known to lounge in the trees while not hunting for prey.

tarangireTARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK

Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania after Ruaha, Serengeti, Mikumi, Katavi and Mkomazi. The national park is located in Manyara Region. The name of the park originates from the Tarangire river that crosses through the park, being the only source of water for wild animals during dry seasons. During the dry season thousands of animals migrate to the Tarangire National Park from Manyara National Park.

It lies a little distance to the south east of Lake Manyara and covers an area of approximately 2,850 square kilometers(1,100 square miles.) The landscape and vegetation is incredibly diverse with a mix that is not found anywhere else in the northern safari circuit. The hilly landscape is dotted with vast numbers of Baobab trees, dense bush and high grasses.

The park is famous for its huge number of elephants, baobab trees and tree climbing lions. Visitors to the park can expect to see any number of resident zebra and wildebeest in addition to the less common animals. Other common animals include waterbuck, giraffe, and olive baboons.

Home to more than 550 species, the park is a haven for bird enthusiasts who can expect so see dozens of species even in the dry season. The swamps are the focus of the largest selection of breeding birds anywhere in the world. yellow-collared lovebirds are a common bird sighting in the trees along the Tarangire River.

The park is also famous for the termite mounds that dot the landscape. Those that have been abandoned are often seen to be home to dwarf mongoose.

arushaARUSHA NATIONAL PARK

Arusha National Park covers Mount Meru, a prominent volcano with an elevation of 4566 m, in the Arusha Region of north eastern Tanzania. The park is small but varied with spectacular landscapes in three distinct areas. In the west, the Meru Crater funnels the Jekukumia River; the peak of Mount Meru lies on its rim. Ngurdoto Crater in the south-east is grassland. The shallow alkaline Momella Lakes in the north-east have varying algal colours and are known for their wading birds.

Mount Meru is the second highest peak in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro, which is just 60 km away and forms a backdrop to views from the park to the east. Arusha National Park lies on a 300-kilometre axis of Africa’s most famous national parks, running from Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater in the west to Kilimanjaro National Park in the east.

The park is just a few kilometres north east of Arusha, though the main gate is 25 km east of the city. It is also 58 km from Moshi and 35 km from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).

Arusha National Park has a rich variety of wildlife, but visitors shouldn’t expect the same game-viewing experience they find in other national parks of Tanzania’s northern circuit. Despite the small size of the park, common animals include giraffe, buffalo, zebra, warthog, the black-and-white colobus monkey, the blue monkey, flamingos, african elephants, lions and more. Leopards are present, but rarely seen. Birdlife in the forest is prolific, with many forest species more easily seen here than elsewhere on the tourist route – Narina trogon and bar-tailed trogon are both possible highlights for visiting birders, whilst the range of starling species provide somewhat less gaudy interest.