On a recent visit to Karatu town near Ngorongoro conservation area, Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete issued a directive that there should be no more new lodges inside the conservation area. According to the directive any new accommodation such as lodges should be put up outside of the conservation area. According to the president, the almost 50 accommodation facilities already existing Ngorongoro Conservation area are more than enough, any further developments of the kind should be done in the town nearby.
Karatu, where the president was speaking, is not far from the entrance gate of the park and also has quite a number of accommodation facilities for tourists. Some of the lodges in the town are; samba lodge, Umali lodge, Gibbs farm etc. It still wouldn’t hurt to put up a few more in the area though. These are usually cheaper than those that are found inside the conservation area although the facilities are pretty much the same.
While the president was very straight forward about the lodges in the conservation area, nothing was said about the ever increasing human population in Ngorongoro conservation area. A number of pastoralists from nearby areas have settled in the park with their livestock in the past decades, and have been an issue for management but the NCCA doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it. According to stakeholders in the tourism industry, human settlement in the park is more detrimental to the survival of the conservation area than the ever increasing number of tourists and vehicles.
Although the NCCA might have to come up with measures to control the tourist traffic as well. The number of tourists on Tanzania safaris in the park and otherwise, has increased greatly in the park, bringing about challenges that have necessitated changes in the management and arrangement of tours to the crater, game drives, and picnics on the crater floor. While some of these were full day activities before, they are now half day activities. This has been done to enable management meet the high tourist demand.
Ngorongoro conservation area is a UNESCO world heritage site famous for its vast wildlife population, the Ngorongoro crater, the nearby Empakai crater, etc. It is a popular stop for many tourists on safaris in Tanzania, and a major contributor to Tanzania’s tourism revenue. Its popularity in recent years however has increased so much that even the tourists have complained about the traffic in the crater, especially vehicle traffic.
The NCCA now has the task of controlling the large number of tourists visiting the park, the vehicle traffic in the park in order to improve the tourist experience when they visit. The president’s directive therefore comes at an opportune time when the local and tourists population in the conservation area needs to be kept in check. This is all in a bid to preserve the heritage site so it can keep bringing in revenue to the country.