Farming around Ngorongoro: A silent tourism attraction
By Elisha Mayallah
up around 4. 00 in the morning seeing my bed and the whole room was unpleasantly
cold! That was a night in Ngorongoro, about three weeks ago.
Ngorongoro, situated about 169 kilometres away from Arusha, is today housing
about 52,000 Maasai pastoralists living in the area with their cattle, goats and
sheep. Their presence makes the basic difference between the management policies
of Tanzania National Parks and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
I arrived at Ngorongoro a night before having traveled by public transport up to
Karatu town. Karatu, located about one-hour drive (30 Kms) from Ngorongoro. A
month ago I visited the place during the market – Mnadani. Some of your readers
will remember the story of the grilled meat at Mnadani Karatu.
I got a lift from one of the friends of my host who had arranged for my stay.
The drive to Ngorongoro from Karatu was smooth though the car was too full for
our comfort. But, I had to oblige with the situation, and had in mind that those
were the experiences of traveling in this country. As someone once said – it is
rough, it is dusty but it is an adventure.
The night at Ngorongoro seemed to be too long. Reading and even trying to listen
to the radio did not help either. I tried to write something about my trip but
again my hand was trembling. So I gave up the idea.
Ngorongoro Crater having been christened the Eighth wonder of the World offers
huge calderas or collapsed volcano with an oval shape and is a home to about
60,000 large animals including black rhinos, the World's rare animal.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) boasts of its ecological and
social policies and offers the finest blend of landscapes, wildlife, and
archaeological sites in the continent.
According to Mr. Bernard Murunya, The Chief Manager Tourism Services, The NCAA
purposes is to encourage responsible tourism which benefits local, regional and
national economy and to uphold a dynamic land use which perpetuates the
historical balance of people and nature, among others.
The multiple land use philosophy is to preserve coexistence of human being and
wildlife in a natural tradition setting. Pastoralism, Conservation of natural
resources and tourism are the three items that are compatible in the area.
After breakfast my host had arranged a trip to one of the famous farms around
Karatu - Shangri-la Estate Ltd.
The band of forests around Ngorongoro Conservation Area and its environs help
the agricultural communities doing farming. Areas such as Karatu, Oldean, Mto wa
Mbu and Man'gola are famous for selling many foodstuffs to the Arusha town
On our way to Karatu we could see an elephant and a buffalo feeding themselves
nearby the road. At a distance we could also see the Maasai grazing their cattle
in the short grass.
The Shangri-la estate, located about 25 kms from Ngorongoro and 144 kms from
Arusha, with 2200 acres is famous for producing vegetables, herbs, fruits, field
crops, beef, pork, chicken and goat.
After an hour's drive we arrived at the farm. Unlike Ngorongoro where it was
very cold, the whether at the farm was warm so we walked around the farm to see
the variety of plants, vegetables and coffee trees.
According to the Mr. Rainer Herrmann, The Managing Director, the farm supplies
its produces to lodges, tented camps and hotels as far as Musoma about 400 kms
A lunch at Kifaru lodge, a sister company of the farm, was booked for us and we
were asked whether we wanted any other vegetables added to our menu, none of us
asked for any extra. Kifaru lodge is about 10 minutes drive from the farm. And
surely we needed the lunch, as it was already getting to be 2. 30 in the
afternoon, we thought the added vegetables would delay our lunch.
Lunch was served after we had been taken around the Kifaru lodge. During lunch
we had long talks with our host Mr. Herrmann about the area, people, business
and future plans.
We left the farm just before 4. 00 pm because we were supposed to cross the gate
before 6. 00 pm the official closing time for the main gate.
In conclusion, after the Karatu and Ngorongoro visits I have an opinion that
Ngorongoro and its environs offer an extra tourism attraction to the tourists.
Not just the crater and wildlife.