The Gol Mountains are a hidden gem located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania. These fault-bounded mountain ranges rise up to 915 meters above the open short grass plains, attracting migratory wild animals and predators. The Gol Mountains consist of highly-fractured metamorphic quartzite, virtually identical to that seen in the Soitoo Hills, and continuous faulting has resulted in a unique geological formation. During the rainy season, the area teems with wildlife, making it an excellent destination for safari enthusiasts.
The Gol Mountains region, northwest of Ngorongoro but still within the limits of the Ngorongoro Conservation region, is one such location.
Ol Karien Gorge, to the east of the Gol Mountains, is a spectacularly beautiful and historically significant location. The huge canyon slicing through the ground is geologically intriguing. It is also the main nesting site for Ruppell’s Griffin vultures.
The Maasai continue to bring their livestock to Ol Karien Gorge to drink. Their customs have remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
Walking Safaris and hikes around the Gol Mountains
Short hikes can be booked by the area’s lodges, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority’s headquarters, or a tour operator. Trekking down Empakai or Olmoti Craters are examples of short hikes. Longer hikes need more planning and may be arranged through tour companies. hiking from Olmoti to Empakai and down to the Great Rift Valley level; hiking in the Northern Highlands Forest Reserve; and trekking in the Eastern Plains surrounding Nasera Rock, Gol Mountains, and Olkarien Gorge are all long hikes.
All Ngorongoro walking safaris must be escorted by an armed ranger.
Walking in and around Ngorongoro is both challenging and enjoyable.
The Geological Formation of the Gol Mountains
The Gol Mountains are an example of a fault-bounded mountain range. The rocks in the mountains consist of highly-fractured metamorphic quartzite, virtually identical to that seen in the Soitoo Hills. Continuous faulting lowered the rocks to the east, leaving the rocks to the west to form the mountains. The Gol Mountains are a unique geological formation that offers a fascinating insight into the earth’s geology.
The Wildlife of the Gol Mountains
The Gol Mountains are located at the north-end of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which is home to an incredible array of wildlife. During the rainy season, from March to June, the area is teeming with wildlife, including wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle, making it an excellent destination for safari enthusiasts. In contrast, the dry months see the vegetation turn dusty brown, and wildlife becomes scarce.
The Unique Fertility of the Plains
The dust blown by volcano eruptions has landed on the plains surrounding the Gol Mountains, making the area unique. During the rainy season, the plains are most fertile with very nutritious pasture, attracting large concentrations of migratory animals. This unique phenomenon creates a captivating spectacle, with the landscape coming alive with an array of animals.
The Remoteness of the Gol Mountains
The Gol Mountains are a remote and rarely visited area, northwest of Ngorongoro, still within the boundaries of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Due to its isolated location, the area is still one of the most traditional corners of Tanzania, with the Maasai people still living outside cash society. This makes the Gol Mountains a unique destination, offering an insight into a way of life that has been preserved for centuries.
The Maasai Culture
The Maasai people are a tribe indigenous to Tanzania and Kenya, and the Gol Mountains area is home to a community of Maasai who still adhere to their traditional way of life. The Maasai’s cultural practices are fascinating, and they are known for their distinctive dressing and jumping dance, as well as their lion hunting traditions. The Maasai people still kill lions as their rite of passage into warriorhood, making the Gol Mountains a unique destination for those interested in cultural tourism.
The Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the Gol Mountains is during the rainy season, from March to June. During this time, the area is teeming with wildlife, and the plains are most fertile, showcasing the area’s uniqueness. The dry months, from July to February, see the vegetation turn dusty brown, and wildlife becomes scarce, making it less ideal for safari enthusiasts.
The Gol Mountains are located within the boundaries of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which is easily accessible from Arusha, Tanzania. The best time to visit is during the rainy season, from March to June, when the plains are at their most fertile, and the wildlife is abundant.
How to Get There
The Gol Mountains are a remote destination, and getting there requires some planning. The nearest town to the Gol Mountains is Mto wa Mbu, which is approximately 100 km away. From Mto wa Mbu, visitors can hire a private vehicle or join a guided tour to reach the Gol Mountains. It is essential to plan the trip in advance and ensure that all necessary arrangements are made before embarking on the journey.
There are several accommodation options around the Gol Mountain offering all kinds of budgets, from luxury lodges to midrange camps and budget campsites around the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where these mountains are located like the Sanjan Camp.
Things to Do in the Gol Mountains
- Wildlife Viewing: The Gol Mountains are a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. From the migratory herds to the predators, there is an abundance of wildlife to see.
- Cultural Visits: A visit to the Gol Mountains is an opportunity to meet the Maasai people, learn about their traditional way of life, and interact with them.
- Hiking: The Gol Mountains offer breathtaking views, and hiking through the mountains is a great way to experience the beauty of the area up close.
- Bird Watching: The Gol Mountains are home to several bird species, including the Secretary Bird, which is the national bird of Tanzania.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. What is the Gol Mountains’ altitude?
The Gol Mountains rise to a height of 915m above their base.
Q2. What is the best time to visit the Gol Mountains?
The best time to visit the Gol Mountains is during the rainy season, from March to June.
Q3. What kind of wildlife can be seen in the Gol Mountains?
The Gol Mountains are home to a variety of wildlife, including wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, lions, leopards, and hyenas.
Q4. Are there any cultural experiences to be had in the Gol Mountains?
Yes, a visit to the Gol Mountains is an opportunity to meet the Maasai people, learn about their traditional way of life, and interact with them.
Q5. Can the Gol Mountains be hiked?
Yes, hiking through Gol Mountains can be done with a private and native guide.