Shifting Sand Dunes

Shifting Sand Dunes, Ngorongoro, Tanzania : About 50 feet of these odd piles of magnetized volcanic ash are moved across the desert every year. Two crescent-shaped sand dunes can be found in a remote area of the savannah on the way to the Serengeti National Park, close to the Olduvai Gorge. Particularly when compared to the soil around the dunes, the sand is remarkably dark. This explains why the volcanic ash tends to fall back onto the dunes rather than being carried away by the wind because it is highly magnetized.

In fact, you can throw some sand into the air to observe how the dune system re-joins and clamps together. However, these sand dunes, also known as barkan, start to move when strong winds blow. They move through the desert at a steady average speed of 55 feet (17 meters) per year. These sand dunes are thought to have been wandering the savannah for three million years.

Although this phenomenon is uncommon, its roots have been identified, and it is entirely unique. If volcanic ash contains a lot of iron, it can magnetize and, when blown by the wind, begin to gather around rocks. This little mound can grow into a dune given enough time.

The nearby sacred mountain Ol Doinyo Lengai, also known as the Mountain of God (where God resides), is credited by the local Maasai tribe as the source of the shifting sand dunes. Since they are revered by the Maasai, who gather by the dunes during extended droughts, these sand dunes are also regarded as sacred by them. At these times, a goat is offered as a sacrifice to the gods in order to speed up the rainy season. It makes sense that climbing the sand dunes is improper.


Along the route to Serengeti National Park, in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the dunes are situated close to Olduvai Gorge. Visiting the sand dunes right after a rainstorm is not advised because the trails could turn into impassable mud pits. In the dry season, the trails leading to the area where the shifting sand dunes roam require a 4×4 vehicle.


Apart from shifting sand, you can enjoy unforgettable wildlife viewing in your Ngorongoro safari tour. Since the animals don’t migrate, wildlife viewing at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is excellent all year. However, the best opportunities for wildlife viewing are during the dry seasons from December to March and June to September. There are no rains during those months, and the mud inside the crater is reduced. The shorter savanna grasslands make it easier to see wildlife. Animals gather at the few remaining waterholes during the dry season, allowing tourists to see the majority of them in one location.

Shifting Sand Dunes
Ngorongoro Crater Walk

Unfortunately, the peak tourist season coincides with the dry season. You should think about going during the rainy season to avoid the crowds and have a more private safari. The entire nation is lush and beautiful during the rainy season. The time is ideal for bird watching as well. Therefore, all things considered, we would advise that you go when the Great wildebeest migration is passing through the Serengeti and the crater. You will be able to see wildlife both inside and outside the crater thanks to this.


The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is separated by only 185 kilometers (3 hours’ drive) from Arusha. Road travel from Arusha to the region can take up to 3 hours. Additionally, travelers have the option of taking one of the scheduled flights from Kilimanjaro International Airport or Arusha Airport to Ngorongoro Airstrip. When you arrive at the airstrip, a car from the tour operator or hotel of your choice will be there to transport you to the crater and shifting sand.

Visitors to the Ngorongoro Crater can choose from a variety of lodging options. One can pick between staying in a cheap, mid-range, or luxurious lodge. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Gibbs Farm, Lemala Ngorongoro Lodge, Lions Paw Camp Ngorongoro, Ngorongoro Serena Lodge, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, the Ngorongoro Farmhouse, and the Plantation Lodge are a few of the well-known lodges.