Ngorongoro Crater wins hearts of tourists globally, voted Best of the Best Destination in a poll

Covering an area of about 100 square miles, ecosystem of Ngorongoro Crater is home to over 25,000 wildlife animals.

WEDNESDAY July 6, 2023

Before a large volcano collapsed, the 610-metre deep and 260-square-kilometre wide Ngorongoro Crater is said to have been similar to Mount Kilimanjaro with an estimated height of between 4,500 and 5,800 metres above sea level. PHOTO | FILE

By Adam Ihucha

The Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania

The world’s authoritative travel advisor outfit has declared Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater global 2023 Best of the Best tourism destination, flying the country’s flag high.

Overwhelming reviews from millions of Tripadvisor travellers have placed Ngorongoro Crater, a key tourist attraction within the mighty Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania, in the top list of allure in the world.

“Ngorongoro Crater is the Tripadvisor travellers’ choice Best of the Best 2023,” the world’s leading travel platform serving about 400 million tourists per month and organiser of the annual travellers’ choice award says.

Volcano blew Ngorongoro’s top millions of years ago, leaving behind the world’s largest intact caldera. Inside the crater—covering more than 100 square miles—is an ecosystem that is home to over 25,000 wildlife animals.

“You’ll have a great chance of spotting lions, as there’s a higher density here than anywhere else on earth, along with leopards. Black rhinos are also a common sight, as are hippos, zebras, hyenas…the list goes on and on,” Tripadvisor writes.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) Conservation Commissioner, Dr Freddy Manongi, says the reward puts Tanzania in the world’s map as one of the premier tourism destinations. PHOTO | UNESCO

Outside the crater, more than a million wildebeests sweep through during the Great Migration, the statement reads in part, adding that one can also see signs of the first known human ancestor, who walked these plains 1.9 million years ago, at nearby Olduvai Gorge.

“This is the best reward off, all for not only Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, but also for the entire country, as it puts the nation in the world’s map as one of the premier tourism destinations,” says Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) Conservation Commissioner, Dr Freddy Manongi, who is credited for having offered an exemplary leadership and management of the area for the last eight years.

Dr Manongi, who is a renowned conservationist, is extremely proud of his entire team operating in Ngorongoro Conservation Area for working tirelessly to ensure the Ngorongoro Crater remains intact, a move that brings about a huge global recognition.

“The nature of our work is silent. We work behind the scenes within the jungle, we couldn’t imagine the world is watching us and would one day even recognise our efforts as is the case now,” explains the NCAA Chief, expressing his earnest gratitude to the anonymous travellers who voted for the unique destination.

In a big picture, Dr Manongi, who has been recognised by tourism key players as unsung hero in sustainable conservation, sees the recognition going a long way in complementing efforts of the Tanzania President, Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan, of unlocking tourism potential through the Tanzania: The Royal Tour film, in which Ngorongoro Crater prominently features.

Tourists take souvenir pictures of rhinos at Ngorongoro Crater. PHOTO | FILE

In the film, Dr Samia features as a tour guide to US tourist Peter Greenberg, the Travel Editor for NBC’s Today, CNBC and MSNBC.

“Tourism is Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan’s strategic industry for spurring the economy of the country through its multiplier effects. So, this feat comes at the opportune moment, as it complements our Head of State’s mission,” he explains.

Called the 8th Wonder of the World and stretching across some 8,300 square kilometres, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) boasts having a blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archaeology that is unsurpassed in Africa.

The 809,440-hecatre Ngorongoro Conservation Area spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests from the plains of the Serengeti National Park in northwest to the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley.

It includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera, and Olduvai Gorge, a 14-km-long deep ravine.

Huts of members of the Maasai pastoralist community co-existing with wildlife in Ngorongoro Crater. PHOTOS | FILE

The property has global importance for biodiversity conservation, given the presence of worldwide threatened species such as Black Rhino, the density of wildlife inhabiting the Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding areas throughout the year, and the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles and other ungulates into the northern plains.

The area has been subject to extensive archaeological research for over 80 years and has yielded a long sequence of evidence of human evolution and human-environment dynamics, collectively extending over a span of almost four million years to the early modern era.

This evidence includes fossilised footprints at Laetoli, associated with the development of human bipedalism, a sequence of diverse, evolving hominin species within Olduvai Gorge, which range from Australopiths such as Zinjanthropus boisei to the Homo lineage that includes Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens; an early form of Homo sapiens at Lake Ndutu; and, in the Ngorongoro Crater, remains that document the development of stone technology and the transition to the use of iron.

The overall landscape of the UNESCO World Heritage Site is seen to have the potential for revealing much more evidence relating to the rise of anatomically modern humans, modern behaviour and human ecology.

The nature of our work is silent. We work behind the scenes within the jungle, we couldn’t imagine the world is watching us and would one day even recognise our efforts as is the case now,” Dr Freddy Manongi, the Conservation Commissioner of the Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.

PROFILE: Dr Freddy Manongi

Tourism industry stakeholders in Tanzania give Dr Freddy Manongi, the Conservation Commissioner of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a pat on the back for steering the state-run authority. PHOTO | FILE
At the helm of Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority is the Conservation Commissioner, Dr Freddy Manongi. The PhD holder is a conservation expert with over 30 years of experience in the sector, who has been serving the authority for more than 8 years now. Dr Manongi is known for his desire, commitment and strong leadership in wildlife conservation in Africa. He has turned Ngorongoro Conservation Area into a more comprehensive area with zero poaching of elephants and rhinos. He is orchestrating the review of multiple land use mode for the betterment of the people of the area, while also maintaining the pristine nature of both the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem. He has transformed the area to a global tourism brand destination as the only site in Africa with three international recognitions from UNESCO. Over the last decade, he turned Ngorongoro Conservation Area into the most beneficial Protected Area in Africa, earning highest revenue per unit area and also the most attractive destination in Africa, drawing almost half of Tanzania’s tourist arrivalsΩ
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