The Northern Plains of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

The Northern Plains of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the beauty and wonder of nature. Located on the border of the Serengeti National Park, this area offers diverse environments that are all worth exploring. As part of the Serengeti Ecosystem, this region is home to some of the most spectacular wildlife in the world, and from December to March, visitors can witness one of the most incredible natural events on the planet: the Great Migration.

During these months, almost two million wild animals, including wildebeests and zebras, are attracted to these green grasslands, which are highly nourishing due to the volcanic soil of the area. For mothers who give birth to calves in January and February, this region provides the ideal location to breastfeed and wean their young before the dry season takes over water resources and feed.

The Salei plains, the Ndutu Lake, the Lake Masek, and the Gol Mountains are the areas that host most of the herds of wildebeests and zebras. During the dry season, these plains and mountains become arid and dusty, transforming into a semi-desert and inhospitable area. However, during the green season, these areas undergo a metamorphosis, transforming into a real wonderland with lush grasslands and wildflowers. This area is a small heaven where the herds graze during their stay in the South region.

Apart from herbivorous animals, this region is also home to many carnivores such as lions, hyenas, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and vultures, who follow the movement of the herds. Additionally, there are animals that reside in the area all year round, such as jackals, foxes, ostriches, and honey badgers.

With so much natural beauty and wildlife to discover, this region of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the perfect place for a once-in-a-lifetime safari adventure.

As one of the world’s most spectacular natural spectacles, the Great Migration draws countless visitors to Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This area, which borders the Serengeti National Park, is an excellent destination to experience a diverse range of environments, each of which is worth visiting.

Experience the Great Migration of North Ngorongoro

As part of the Serengeti Ecosystem, the Northern Plains of Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the Great Migration, which takes place between December and March. During these months, the green grasslands attract almost two million wild animals, mainly wildebeests and zebras. These animals feed on the highly nourishing grass that grows due to the volcanic soil of the area. It is an ideal place for mothers who give birth to calves in January and February and breastfeed and wean them in time to move back before the dry season takes over water resources and feed.

Salei Plains, Ndutu Lake, Lake Masek, and Gol Mountains

The Salei plains, the Ndutu Lake, Lake Masek, and the Gol Mountains host most of the herds of wildebeests and zebras. During the dry season, the Salei Plains and the Gol Mountains become a semi-desert and inhospitable areas. However, during the green season, they undergo a metamorphosis and become a real wonder. The grasslands and wildflowers make this area a small heaven where the herds graze during their stay in the South region.

Wildlife in the Northern Plains of Ngorongoro

Apart from the herbivorous animals, the Northern Area of Ngorongoro area is also populated by carnivores such as lions, hyenas, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and vultures. These animals follow the movement of the herds, and some reside in the area all year round, such as jackals, foxes, ostriches, and honey badgers.

Ol Karien Gorge and Ndutu Lake

The Ol Karien Gorge near the Gol Mountains is a vital naturalistic place because the Ruppell’s griffon vulture nests here. The best time to visit these gorges is from March to April, during the mating season of these vultures, and when the herds involved in the Great Migration also stay here because there is plenty of feed. The Ndutu Lake and the Masek Lake, both characterized by shallow waters and high salt concentration, are surrounded by swamps, woods, and meadows where both the migration herds and the resident animals feed.

Exploring the Northern Plains of Ngorongoro

There are numerous animal species to spot in this area, including elephants, lions, giraffes, ostriches, impalas, gazelles, spotted hyenas, hippos, and crocodiles, as well as more than 400 bird species. When the migration herds stay in the area, numerous vultures and other predators increase in number.

Paleoanthropological Site and Shifting Sands

The Olduvai Gorge is a paleoanthropological site where remains that have contributed to rewriting the history of humanity have been found. The gorge is a steep-sided ravine stretching along 48 km, formed around 500,000 years ago following violent seismic activity, has brought to light a series of layers that revealed fossil remains of hominids and animals from different eras, such as Australopithecus boisei, Homo Habilis, and Homo Erectus. A small museum exhibiting details of the findings discovered by the Leakeys in one of the world’s most important archaeological sites and in over 50 years of excavations

North of the Olduvai Gorge lies the Shifting Sands, a collection of anthracite-colored dunes that hold great significance for the Maasai people. These dunes, up to 9 meters in height and 100 meters in length, were formed from ash ejected by nearby volcanoes.

Although the winds constantly blow westward over the plains, causing the dunes to shift approximately 17 meters each year, the sand remains compact due to its electromagnetic properties, preventing it from dispersing.

In 1979, in the Ngarusi area of Laetoli, located 40 kilometers from the Olduvai Gorge, the footprints of two adult hominids and a child dating back approximately 3.5 million years were discovered. These footprints are the oldest ever found and provide evidence of a time when some hominids walked upright.

The Dry Season: A Harsh Environment

During the dry season, the Salei Plains and Gol Mountains undergo a metamorphosis and become semi-desert and inhospitable. The once lush green grasslands dry up and become dusty, and the area is not ideal for wildlife viewing. However, during the rainy season, the area comes alive, and it’s a wonder to behold.

The Green Season: A Time of Plenty

The green season, from December to March, is a time of plenty in the Northern Plains of Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The grasslands come to life, and the wildflowers bloom, making the area a small heaven where the herds graze during their stay in the South region. It’s a great time to visit if you want to witness the Great Migration and the natural beauty of the area.

The main regions of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

  • Central Plains
  • Eastern Highlands
  • Southern Highlands
  • Northern Plains
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