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Hot air balloons soon to grace Ngorongoro Crater skies

HOT air balloons will soon start hovering over the Ngorongoro Crater as the Conservation Area Authority works to introduce this form of tourism over the wildlife filled caldera.

Speaking during Arusha Stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Regional Commissioner, Mr Mrisho Gambo, the Deputy Conservator at Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Mr Assangye Bangu said the NCAA is intending to expand its tourism profile in the country’s topmost destination which has been registering an average of 500,000 tourists every year.

“We are soon going to launch hot air balloon safaris, to take visitors across the main Ngorongoro crater as well as the other two calderas, the Olmoti and Empakaai Craters, in addition to flying above the scenic Olduvai Gorge and Laetili archaeological sites,” explained Mr Bangu.

The Ngorongoro Crater, which happens to be the main tourism offering at NCAA, is said to have formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself about three million years ago.

The vast wildlife filled caldera measures 0.6 kilometres deep, with its basin covering 260 square kilometres.

The elevation of the crater floor is 1,800 metres above sea level, and this feature made Ngorongoro to be voted by Seven Wonders Organisation as one of the outstanding ‘Seven Natural Wonders’ on the African continent.

Experts are of the view that using balloons to fly tourists above the crater will help reduce the number of vehicles that get in and out of the caldera on a daily basis, thus saving the environment.

However, there are those who feel that the noisy helium burning may scare some animals.

Balloon safaris have for years been an optional ‘earlymorning’ package for tourism offerings in Tanzania’s second largest national park, the Serengeti, but now it seems the helium filled inflatables are making their move southwards to the neighbouring Ngorongoro.

Presenting his paper backed with visual High-Definition Video clips in the Simba Plenary hall of the Arusha International Conference Centre where the regional stakeholders meeting was held over the weekend, Conservator Bangu also revealed that the NCAA also intends to introduce horse riding safaris in selected areas of the conservation area.

On his part, the Public Relations Manager for Tanzania National Parks, Mr Paschal Shelutete, who represented the TANAPA Director General, Dr Allan Kijazi, said the entity will now handle 21 national parks instead of the former 16, and that the huge task now requires even more dedication in conservation and further tourism promotional strategies

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Author: MARC NKWAME in Arush

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