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Ngorongoro- The 8th Wonder of the Natural World

Featuring volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and forests is the Ngorongoro conservation area. The centerpiece, of the conservation area is the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater and often called the eighth wonder of the natural world, the Crater is the largest intact crater in the world. About two million years ago, the Ngorongoro volcano erupted and its walls collapsed.

Featuring volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and forests is the Ngorongoro conservation area. The center piece, of the conservation area is the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater and often called the eighth wonder of the natural world, the Crater is the largest intact crater in the world. About two million years ago, the Ngorongoro volcano erupted and its walls collapsed. The volcano floor sank to create a natural enclosure surrounded by 600m high walls and over 19 kilometers wide, this natural amphitheater is full of acacia forest, hippo-filled swamps and wide open grasslands. These different habitats contain over 30,000 animals – including elephants, warthogs, flamingos, magnificent birds, the rare black rhinoceros and all the predatory cats. Another attraction in the crater is the Munge River that cuts across the crater before falling hundreds of meters in one of the most picturesque waterfalls inside the and one of few that can be seen from miles away.

The crater sits inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which covers more than 8,000 sq km. It is called a ‘Conservation Area’ and not a ‘National Park’ because animals and people live together here (people are not allowed to live in National Parks). The Maasai live around the Ngorongoro Crater and can often be seen grazing their livestock in peaceful co-existence with the wildlife as if stuck in a capsule that has defied the passage of time.

In addition the area has made an exceptional contribution to our understanding of human evolution. Fossil evidence from various locations within the Conservation Area, notably Olduvai Gorge, provides a remarkably complete picture spanning a period of almost four million years. One of the most remarkable finds was a series of hominid footprints (known as the ‘Laetoli’ footprints), preserved in wet volcanic ash, that proved that our ancestors (Australopithecus afarensis) were walking upright long before anyone had imagined – some 3.75 million years ago.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority was established in 1959, establishing multiple land use in which conservation, tourism and pastoral activities co-exist in carefully managed harmony.

Selous – The largest game reserve in Africa

Selous Game Reserve is Africa’s largest game reserve and is located in southern Tanzania, far from the crazy crowds of the northern circuit. It is one my favourite wildlife viewing areas and really is a hidden gem for that traveler that wants to experience African flora and fauna in its pristine state. The mighty Rufiji river and small lakes in Selous are the lifeblood of the park supporting huge numbers of game that range from elephants, wild dogs, buffaloes, hippos, crocodiles and fantastic prides of lion. I am a huge fan of arranging Selous safaris because this park is so vast and so richly endowed that impossible to count its game. In addition Selous is the untouched African wilderness and yet still easily accessible from Dar and Zanzibar.  Not only a wonderful place for the seasoned safari enthusiast, Selous offers an amazing introduction to unspoilt Africa. The game viewing is superb (especially in the peak season months), the wilderness on display is some of the most untouched in Africa, and the sheer variety of activities available makes for an unforgettable safari experience. Home to some of Africa’s best walking, boat safaris and fly camping trips, Selous has the greatest diversity of safari activities of all the Tanzanian safari parks. The boating safaris in particular really set this reserve apart from other Tanzanian parks. The fact that the Selous is so much quieter (in visitor terms) than the majority of the rest of the country just adds to its attraction.Selous Game Reserve –

The wildlife in the Selous is particularly interesting as it attracts both east and southern African wildlife, both resident and migratory, and over 440 known species of birds, which make it a key destination on a Southern Tanzania safari. Lions are particularly numerous here and there are large numbers of leopards.

The park is home to over 50% of the remaining endangered African wild dog, and also hosts very huge populations of elephants, buffalo, giraffe, eland, hyena, sable, hippo, crocodile, kudu, baboon, wildebeest, zebra, impala, hartebeest, colobus and vervet monkeys along with over 450 species of bird. The Activities Standard daytime game drives are just the beginning.

The Selous also offers some of the finest boating safaris in Africa, along with some of the very best walking operations on the continent, including in particular at Siwandu, Beho Beho and Sand Rivers Selous. There are also a number of operators here who run fly camping trips, comprising lengthy walking safaris and mobile camping under the stars – very adventurous and a romantic idea for a Tanzania Honeymoon but not for the faint-hearted!

Selous is a classic dry season park, with the game viewing getting progressively better the later in the season you travel. July to October is the best time of year for the greatest overall concentrations of game, but do not underestimate this park at any other time; game viewing is very good in various areas throughout the year. During January and February you do need to choose your camp very carefully as the game migrates away to more fertile feeding grounds. Birding at this time of year is absolutely world class.

The Selous is home to three of the finest camps in Tanzania, a couple of which would stake their claim as the best in all of Africa.

Beho Beho and Sand Rivers are exceptional lodges that offer all the activities for which the Selous is famous, and host some excellent guiding teams. Siwandu (formerly Selous Safari Camp) is a fabulous tented camp in arguably the best game area of the park at a price that makes it one of the best value camps in Africa. Close by to Siwandu is the no-frills Lake Manze a great little adventurous camp which has a reputation for being on an elephant highway. A little further away, Manze’s sister camp Impala offers a higher level of luxury at a still-affordable price. Other camps in the park include River Rufiji Camp, The Retreat and Azura Selous

The cost of a Selous Safari varies from camp to camp. Generally prices start from $400 per person per night and go all the way up to $1,500 per person per night. The best thing top do is to drop me a line or email with your tentative budget and then work on getting the best deal for you, and find a camp which perfectly suits your style and budget.

Olduvai Gorge: The Cradle of Mankind

Olduvai Gorge is a site in Tanzania that holds the earliest evidence of the existence of human ancestors. Paleoanthropologists have found hundreds of fossilized bones and stone tools in the area dating back millions of years, leading them to conclude that humans evolved in Africa.Olduvai is a misspelling of Oldupai, a Maasai word for a wild sisal plant that grows in the area. The gorge is located in the Great Rift Valley, between the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park.

It is 30 miles from Laetoli, another fossil-rich area. Olduvai Gorge was formed about 30,000 years ago, the result of aggressive geological activity and streams.

The steep ravine is about 30 miles (48.2 km) long and 295 feet (89.9 meters) deep, not quite large enough to be classified as a canyon. A river cuts through several layers to form four individual beds, with the oldest estimated at about 2 million years old.

At Laetoli, west of Ngorongoro Crater, hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 millions years old and represent some of the earliest signs of mankind in the world. Three separate tracks of a small-brained upright walking early hominid. Australopithecus afarensis, a creature about 1.2 to 1.4 meters high, were found. Imprints of these are displayed in the Oldupai museum.

More advanced descendants of Laetoli’s hominids were found further north, buried in the layers of the 100 meters deep Oldupai Gorge. Excavations, mainly by the archaeologist Louis and Mary Leakey, yielded four different kinds of hominid, showing a gradual increases in brain size and in the complexity of their stone tools. The first skull of Zinjanthropus, commonly known as ‘Nutcracker Man’ who lived about 1.75 millions years ago, was found here. The most important find include Home habilis, Zinjathropus and the Laetoli footprints.

Ngorongoro has some of the finest camps and lodges in Tanzania, a couple of which would stake their claim as the best in all of Africa such as Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Ngorongoro Serena, Lions Paw, Plantation Lodge, Gibbs Farm, Pakulala among the numerous options in the area.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is an exceptional property standing on the crater rim and offering spectacular crater views from everywhere in the suites. It has been commonly voted as the most luxurious lodge in all Africa and is sight to behold.

Close by we have the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge built in a truly marvelous location. It’s usually used as a base for visits into the crater, and has views of the magnificent caldera from all of the bedrooms and most of the public areas.

The cost of a Ngorongoro safari varies from camp to camp. Generally, prices start from $400 per person per night and go all the way up to $2,500 per person per night. The best thing to do is to drop me a line or email with your tentative budget and then we will work on getting the best deal that suits your budget.

One of the best kept secrets – Tanzania Tourism

Did you know that Tanzania has 16 national parks, which protect more than 25% of its land and are home to 20% of the African continent’s larger mammals so it is little wonder game viewing experiences are one of the best in Africa. It is the place to watch the largest herds of elephants, endless plains filled with wildebeest and zebra trekking across the plains on their annual migration – followed by lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. Gombe and Mahale National Parks are home to groups of chimpanzees rarely seen in the wild