It’s our hope that each of you, our readers, will enjoy and appreciate this article we present about these 3 Tantalizing Wonders of Tanzania. It was certainly our pleasure to gather the information for you. May it provide you with both education and increased awareness.
Certainly, these formations listed herein represent only a portion of the wonders found throughout this amazing region. It’s our belief, though, that they serve as excellent representations of the marvels found here. Check out some of our other articles, as well.
Lake Natron Facts
- Leading off this compendium of 3 Tantalizing Wonders of Tanzania we present you with the creation of Nature known as Lake Natron.
- This stunning creation of natural forces bears the deceptively simple name used here. But only the name qualifies as simple, though. That’s true since it ranks as a true marvel of Nature. It also boasts highly unusual physical properties.
- Its name belies its nature, though. The formation holds this title due to those same qualities. It’s named after a mineral known as natron. That’s an amalgamation of the chemicals forming hydrate sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate.
- This compound remains present in the body of water in prodigious quantities. The very distinctive chemical properties of the body of water have fascinating effects on the surroundings. At times, its contents are almost as caustic to the touch as ammonia!
- No record exists of how long the local Indigenous Peoples knew of its existence. It’s likely they long knew of its presence, however. This wonder of the earth remained completely unknown to the outside world, though, until its discovery in 1954.
- Today, the incredible attributes of Lake Natron justly earn it full appreciation. Despite the seeming inhospitableness of the site, it represents an important wetland within its region. That’s clearly acknowledged by its present listing as a Ramsar Site.
- This marvel of the world resides in a region full of other wonders. That’s because it formed on the continent of Africa. It sits in the East African Rift, like Ol Doinyo Lengai. More precisely, it lies within the current borders of the country of Tanzania.
Lake Natron Unique Flora
One might think that the extreme conditions within Lake Natron would rended it devoid of life. Intriguingly, however, the reverse is actually the case. In its on way, this fabulous combination of conditions teems with life, albeit highly specialized types.
The microbiology of the body of unusual water remains dominated by salt-loving organisms. Given the high levels of this compound present, these thrive in vast quantities. Several species of these appear in the lake. The most prevalent one, though, is known as spirulina.
This cyanobacteria makes its own food, utilizing photosynthesis. One of the chemical compounds, an accessory to the process, is a bright red pigment. It’s this that creates the incredible eye-catching red blood-red hues for which the site’s perhaps best known.
The extremely high evaporation rate of the waters of Lake Natron maintain this ecosystem. That’s because such a remarkable rate generates very high salinity levels. A thin, alkali salt crust forms on the surface, serving as the perfect environment to sustain the bacteria.
Lake Natron Wildlife
Despite the conditions of and immediately surrounding Lake Natron, bacteria aren’t the only life there. A surprising variety of fauna also calls the formation home. In the somewhat less salty, as well as slightly cooler regions around the edge, a few fish even survive.
Two species of these appear natively, in addition to one not endemic to the lake. The native varieties consist of tilapias. They bear the unoriginal names of wide-lipped Natron tilapia, and the narrow-mouthed Natron tilapia. When the invasive one appeared is unknown.
A few hardy types of invertebrates also make their home here. Yet, the most visible inhabitant of the region is astonishing. That’s due to the fact that this site serves as the sole breeding ground for the 2.5 million lesser flamingoes. They depend on this one region.
They feed voraciously on the specialized bacteria present in Lake Natron. Indeed, it’s the red algae they consume that creates their trademark pink hue! Special evolutionary adaptations make it possible for them to survive and feed here. The conditions also limit predators.
Lake Natron Threats and Preservation Efforts
Lake Natron represents a truly geologically unique and vitally important habitat. Unfortunately, the few species adapted to its unique environment cannot survive elsewhere. That very adaptation, however, leaves them extremely vulnerable to a wide range of threats.
Sadly, projected logging activities currently threaten to disrupt the delicate salinity balance of the lake. A hydroelectric plant on the Ewaso River is under consideration. Both of these projects are posed to severely affect the delicate environmental balance of the lake.
A proposed soda ash plant at the site, suggested for one shore, also constitutes a threat. This plant would extract sodium carbonate from its waters. That’s one of the key components of the unique attributes of its water. The lesser flamingoes, however, could not feed on it.
Efforts to protect and preserve Lake Natron do exist, though. These efforts remain ongoing, yet need more support. Dozens of preservation societies and environmental organizatios spearhead these efforts. Birdlife International represents one of the leading proponents.
Ol Doinyo Lengai
Ol Doinyo Lengai Facts
- The next feature chosen for inclusion in this article about 3 Tantalizing Wonders of Tanzania is the remarkable Ol Doinyo Lengai.
- The term applied to it serves as the most commonly used name for this true masterpiece of geological processes. But that term represents the english language translation of its name in the native tongue of the original inhabitants of its region.
- Two local groups of Indigenous Peoples share that common language. In the native tongue of the Maasai and the Sonjo, the term translates as The Mountain of God. They also use other terms, though, such as Basanjo, Donjo Ngai, and Mongogogura.
- Regardless of which moniker one uses, it’s an impressive natural feature. It also merits appreciation for its uniqueness. That’s due to the special attributes of the lava it produces. These easily rank it as one of the most unusual volcanoes on the planet.
- Due to its unique nature, the lava spewed forth by Ol Doinyo Lengai displays astonishing patterns. It’s initially black or brown in color. Within days, or sometimes only hours, however, it changes color. After that time, it changes to a snow-like white!
- Yet another quality of its flows distinguishes it from other volcanoes. Its flows are also highly liquid compared to others. In fact, these remain the most liquid like of any known such flows. These also emerge at significantly lower temperatures than others.
Ol Doinyo Lengai Physical Description
The fabulous Ol Doinyo Lengai easily merits attention and appreciation by the viewer. It further does so for a variety of reasons. The site’s not the largest of its kind around the world, of course. Yet, its physical dimensions certainly qualify it as an impressive volcano.
The site boasts a remarkably rounded and even cone shape structure. The intriguing mountain also rises to a respectable height above the surrounding terrain. This aspect of the site makes it clearly visible over great distances. It stands an impressive 5,900 ft (1,800 m).
Each side of the summit of the mountain additionally features a large crater. These remain separated by a ridge measuring approximately 360 ft (110 m) in length. Despite such close proximity to each other, the two craters displays striking different appearances.
The one on the southern flank appears to be completely inactive. This sometimes fills with water. The other crater, however, presents a vastly different view. It’s routinely covered in fresh lava flows. It also regularly forms small, temporary cones that produce lava.
Ol Doinyo Lengai further manifests several parasitic vents. These smaller formations appear on its flanks. Presently, four of these exist on its slopes. The western flank also displays large, deep fractures. Large debris fields dot its sides as well, from earlier events.
It’s the lava itself that ranks as its most unique structure, however. This stratovolcano produces eruptions with an incredibly low silica content. Its composition consists of more than 50% carbonate, even though this compound rarely appears on the earth’s surface.
Ol Doinyo Lengai Location, Formation, and Importance
The location of Ol Doinyo Lengai probably won’t surprise many of you. That’s because this wonder of geological processes formed in a region of the world well known for its natural marvels. That’s due to the fact that it formed on what’s now the continent of Africa.
There, it lies in the approximately southeastern section of the continent. That location places the formation with the boundaries of the country of Tanzania. Within that area, the volcano lies in the more northerly portion of the country, above the Serengeti.
The mountain itself forms an integral part of the East African Rift Valley. Geological research indicates that this continental rift began forming around 1.2 million years ago. Over time, the resulting thinned crust allowed for the formation of the site as it’s seen today.
Though far too infinitesimally slow for human observation, this expansion continues today. Such ongoing movement generates the heat that still maintains the activity of the mountain. This continued movement by the rift proceeds at a leisurely 0.12 in (3mm) per year.
The mighty Ol Doinyo Lengai has much to offer. It plays a vital role in the overall health of the surrounding ecosystem. Its unique lava actually breaks down quickly when it rains. The resulting runoff has helped lead to the remarkable verdure of the entire region.
It’s importance doesn’t end there, though. That’s true since it’s also quite important to research. Carbonatite, which it produces, remains invaluable to the study of rare earth elements. This site represents the only actively producing source of these elements.
Ngorongoro Crater Facts
- Closing out this collection of 3 Tantalizing Wonders of Tanzania comes the intriguing and beautiful site known as Ngorongoro Crater.
- This breathtaking creation of geological forces remains best known by the somewhat hard to pronounce term listed in this article. It stands out due to the fact that it represents the largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera on earth.
- Evidence indicates that this masterpiece of Nature formed somewhere between 2 – 3 million years ago. This occurred due to the powerful explosion of a large volcano. The remnants of the mount subsequently collapsed inward, forming the site as it is now.
- Researchers currently estimate that the original volcano boasted a height between 14,800 – 19,000 ft (4,500 – 5,800 m). The formation as it exists now boasts some truly impressive phsyical dimensions. Its floor measures roughly 2,000 ft (610 m) in depth.
- The crater remains relatively circular in shape. It also measures about 12.4 mi (20 km) in diameter. The floor of this remarkable product of natural forces also distinguishes itself. That’s because it covers an area of about 100 sq mi (260 sq km).
- That same portion of Ngorongoro Crater further separates itself from similar features. The crater does so due to yet another surprising characteristic. The tantalizing wonder of geology lies at an elevation of around 5,900 ft (1,800 m) above sea level.
Ngorongoro Crater Wildlife
The lush setting of Ngorongoro Crater literally teems with life. This includes both plants and animals, to be certain. Yet it’s the fauna that make their home here that garner the most attention. These comprise in an incredible variety of animals, both large and small.
Roughly 25,000 large animals live within its confines. Ungualtes comprise the majority of these, though. This population includes such animals as the black rhino, hippo, and the cape buffalo. Wildebeests, zebras, elands, gazelles, and other herbivores also appear.
A relatively large lake also exists in the southwestern portion of the beautiful formation. Named Lake Madagi, it’s frequently filled with large numbers of lesser flamingoes. Other avians also appear in small numbers. One endangered species of shrew also lives there.
Intriguingly, many other creatures common to this part of the world remain abent. Whether that’s coincidental or due to some unknown factor remains undetermined. Impala, giraffe, oribi, and topi do not live here. Among predators, crocodiles are curiously absent.
Given the presence of so many potential prey species, many predators call the location home, too. It holds one of the densest known population of lions. They’re not the only large feline present, though. Servals additionally dwell in comparatively large numbers here.
Some additional creatures do appear in Ngorongoro Crater sporadically, however. These include such creatures as the African leopard, East African wild dog, and the cheetah. Some of the many animals here seem to migrate in and out of the amazing site, as well.
Ngorongoro Crater Location, History, and Preservation
The location of the magical Ngorongoro Crater suits it perfectly as a backdrop for its wonders. That’s due to the fact that it formed in a region of the globe renowned for its many natural marvels. More specifically, it sits on the already impressive continent of Africa.
There, it formed on the approximate southeastern section of the landmass. That location places it inside the boundaries of the country of Tanzania. It further sits roughly 110 mi (177 km) west of Arusha City. This places it in the aptly-named Crater Highlands of the country.
Archaeological evidence indicates that prehistoric man knew of this wonder in the far-distant past. Fossil discoveries show that various hominid species have occupied the region for more than 3 million years! Pastoralists replaces hunter-gathers a few thousand years ago.
In more modern times, the Mbulu arrive in the region around 2,000 years ago. The Datooga joined them around 1700 years later. Yet another Indigenous People displaced both in the 1800’s. That group, the Maasai, still inhabit the immediate area of the site.
Efforts to preserve and maintain the vital Ngorongoro Crater remain ongoing. For one, it now forms part of the namesake Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In fact, this entire marvel of geology presently officially qualifies and lists as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3 Tantalizing Wonders of Tanzania
We hope that each of you thoroughly enjoyed reading, and hopefully learning from, this article we’ve written about these 3 Tantalizing Wonders of Tanzania. It’s also our hope that doing so has left you with either a new or renewed appreciation for such wonders of Nature.
Unfortunately, many other such features around the world now find themselves facing threats to their continued existence in an undamaged state. Many of those dangers, in fact, stem from the actions of mankind. We must do all we can to protect and preserve them all.