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updated - 09. Jun 13

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Serengeti National Park
  wikipedia: "The Maasai people had been grazing their livestock in the open plains which they knew as “endless plain” for over 200 years when the first white man, Stewart Edward White recorded coming across it in 1913. The name Serengeti is an approximation of the word used by the Maasai to describe the area.
The area was declared as a ‘protected area’ in 1921 by the then German colonial administration. The national park was gazetted in 1951 by the English administration and it then became famous after the initial work of Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael in the 1950’s. Together they produced the book and film Serengeti Shall Not Die, widely recognized as one of the most important early pieces of nature conservation documentary.
As part of the gazetting of the park and in order to preserve wildlife from human interruption the area’s residents were moved to the Ngorongoro highlands. There is still considerable controversy surrounding this move, with claims made of coercion and deceit on the part of the colonial authorities.
The Serengeti is Tanzania's first national park and remains the flagship of the country’s tourism industry, providing a major draw to the “Northern Safari Circuit”, encompassing Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha national parks, as well as Ngorongoro Conservation Area"

"The park covers 14,763km² of grassland plains and savanna as well as riverine forest and woodlands. The park lies in the north of the country, bordered to the north by the national Tanzania and Kenyan border, where it is contiguous with the Masai Mara National Reserve. To the south-east of the park is Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the south-west lies Maswa Game Reserve, and to the western borders are Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, finally to the north-east lies Loliondo Game Control Area.
Human habitation is forbidden in the National Park with the exception of staff for TANAPA, researchers and staff of Frankfurt Zoological Society, and staff of the various lodges and hotels. The main settlement is Seronera which houses the majority of research staff and the park’s main headquarters, including it’s primary airstrip.
As well as the migration of ungulates, the park is well known for its healthy stock of other resident wildlife, particularly the "Big Five", named for the five most prized trophies taken by hunters, lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo. These species remain the key attractions to tourists, but the park also supports many further species including cheetah, gazelle and giraffe as well as a large and varied bird population."

Lake Manyara National Park
  "This beautiful Lake Manyara National Park is at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment and comprises of a diverse range of habitats ranging from the rift wall, ground water forest, acacia woodlands, open grasslands, the shore of the soda lake - Lake Manyara and, finally, the lake itself. Entrance to the park is via the village of Mto wa Mbu, 130 km from Arusha, along the rift wall. The park often appears to be in a heat haze created by the lake and lake attracts considerable birdlife.Its surrounding terrain contains such a rich mosaic of different habitats that it supports a large number of animals.
Like most Rift Valley lakes, the water is alkaline. This attracts vast flocks of flamingos, which form pink foam against a silver background of water. There are numerous water birds in the area, including storks and pelicans that waddle around next to short grasses on the shore of the lake. The park is a bird lover’s haven with a variety (350 species) of local species inhabiting the forest and bush. The best time to observe these birds is in the late afternoon and early morning.
Lake Manyara National Park provides sanctuary to a variety of animals like the gazelle, impala, buffalo, wildebeest, hyena, baboon, giraffe and hippo.
Manayara is also known for its tree-climbing lions.
Lake Manyara Tanzania and the areas outside the park has become a hub for active adventure guests where many stop over to enjoy activities such as horse riding, abseiling, mountain biking, canoeing and nature walk safaris."
Tarangire National Park
  wikipedia: "Tarangire National Park is probably one of the least visited of the northern Tanzanian game parks, and retains a real air of undiscovered Africa, particularly in the south of the park. Just a two hours drive away from Arusha, the park is a nice stop if time does not allow for a visit to Serengeti and Ngorongoro.
It lies a little distance to the south east of Lake Manyara and covers an area of approximately 2,850 square kilometres. It is named after the Tarangire River that flows through the park."
Ngorongoro Crater - protected area

wikipedia: "The Ngorongoro Conservation Area or NCA is a conservation area situated 180 km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The conservation area's boundaries follow the boundary of the Ngorongoro Division of Ngorongoro District. It is 8,288 km² - about the size of Crete.
Ngorongoro was declared a conservation area in 1959 and at that point it was separated from the Serengeti National Park. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority is the governing body regulating use and access to the NCA. The area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Land in the conservation area is multi-use, it is unique in Tanzania as the only conservation area, providing protection status for wildlife whilst allowing human habitation. As such land use is controlled to prevent negative effects on the wildlife population, for example cultivation is prohibited at all but subsistence levels.
The area is part of the Serengeti ecosystem, and to the north-west it adjoins the Serengeti National Park and is contiguous with the southern Serengeti plains, these plains also extend to the north into unprotected Loliondo division and are kept open to wildlife through transhuman pastoralism practiced by Maasai. The south and west of the area are volcanic highlands, including the famous Ngorongoro Crater and the lesser known Empakai. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the Great Rift Valley wall, which also prevents animal migration in these directions.
The annual ungulate migration passes through the NCA, with wildebeest and zebra moving south into the area in December and moving north in June. This movement changes seasonally with the rains, but the migration will traverse almost the entire plains in search of food. The NCA has a healthy resident population of most species of wildlife, in particular the Ndutu Lake area to the west has a strong cheetah and lion population."

Arusha-National Park

Often underestimated - the Arusha-Naional-park is the closest of all the parks to Arusha. It has a lot to offer in flora and fauna, embedded between Tanzania's two tallest mountains you will also be able to go for a walk with a knowledge-able ranger. Many animals such as giraffes, buffalos, flamingoes at the lakes, warthogs and wonderful black/white Colobus-monkeys call this park Home.
Hardy Krüger the German actor and Weltenbummler used to own his farm in the park for so many years after he had his role in 'Hatari' - the great movie with John Wayne. Here the movie was made in the early sixties.

wikipedia: "Arusha National Park is a national park in the Arusha Region of north eastern Tanzania. Although not large, it covers three distinct areas.
Ngurdoto, to the south, is grassland, featuring the Ngurdoto Crater. Momela, to the east, features shallow alkaline Momella Lakes in varying algal colours, known for their wading birds and surrounded by swamps. To the west, the Meru Crater funnels the Jekukumia River; Mount Meru (the second highest peak in Tanzania at 4566m) lies on its rim.
The park is located 25 kilometers east of Arusha, 58 kilometers from Moshi and 35 kilometers from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA)."

Lake Natron

worldlakes.org: "Lake Natron is a soda lake in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa. It is surrounded by escarpments and volcanic mountains, one of which is active.
In early 2002 the Kenyan government announced its intention to deforest close to 70,000 hectares of government-owned land. Large parts of the Mau forest, which are home to the Lake Natron headwaters, are believed to be targeted.
The Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River is the main tributary into Lake Natron. The lake is also fed by hot mineral-laden springs that bubble up on the periphery of the lake. In fact, the water of Lake Natron is so rich in dissolved sodium carbonate that it often feels viscous to touch.
Lake Natron is a closed drainage system and highly alkaline, as freshwater evaporates and leaves high salt concentrations. Sodium bicarbonate concentrations are crucial for the abundance of blue-green algae, which is food for the lesser flamingo.
Volume 0.35 km3
Surface Area 600.00 km2
Type: Soda, Intermittent, Natural
Catchment size: 932.00 km2

Olduvai Gorge

wikipedia: The conservation area also protects Olduvai Gorge, situated in the plains area. It is considered the seat of humanity after the discovery of the earliest known specimens of modern man, Homo habilis as well as early man Paranthropus boisei.
The Olduvai Gorge or Oldupai Gorge is a steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley, which stretches along eastern Africa. Olduvai is in the eastern Serengeti Plains in northern Tanzania and is about 30 miles long. The gorge is named after the Maasai word for the wild sisal plant Sansevieria ehrenbergii, commonly called Oldupaai.
It is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and has been instrumental in furthering understanding of early human evolution. Excavation work there was pioneered by Louis Leakey in the 1950s and is continued today by his family. Some believe that millions of years ago, the site was that of a large lake, the shores of which were covered with successive deposits of volcanic ash. Around 500,000 years ago seismic activity diverted a nearby stream which began to cut down into the sediments, revealing seven main layers in the walls of the gorge.

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