Lake Ndutu and the Serengeti Plains
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is essentially an eastern extension of the vast Serengeti-Mara ecosystem – indeed, it formed part of the original Serengeti National Park as it was gazetted in 1951 but was split off shortly afterwards to appease Maasai protests against being evicted from their traditional grazing lands. Today, the southeast of the conservation area, around Oldupai Gorge, remains an important component of this migratory ecosystem, a fact of which you will be in no doubt should you pass through the area en route to the Serengeti National Park during the rainy season (late November to early May), when large herds of wildebeest and other ungulates disperse across the short grass plains and calve en masse in February. At other times of year, the area is a good place to look for cheetah, bat-eared fox, eland and ostrich. The game viewing centrepiece of the region is Lake Ndutu, which straddles the Serengeti-Ngorongoro boundary at the epicentre of the wildebeest dispersal, when it offers truly dramatic game viewing.