Explore The Shifting Sands in The Ngorongoro Conservation Area

1 Day

The black sand dunes that occur in the eastern Serengeti Plain near the Olduvai Gorge hominid site within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania are mainly identified as volcanic sand dunes. The migratory dunes, also known as the Shifting Sands, are located at least twelve kilometers north-west of the Museum at Olduvai Gorge and nearly two kilometers from the Gorge’s bank.

It is one of the most spectacular moving ash dunes in the world, gradually blown westward across the plains at a rate of approximately 15 to 29 meters annually and has scoured lighter portions of the ash from the area, leaving behind the heavier dark colored iron-rich minerals that formed the dune. It is a remarkable crescent-shaped black dune made of volcanic ash from the active Oldoinyo Lengai, reaching exactly 5 meters in height and stretching 100 m (328 ft) long along its curves.

    Overview

    The Mysterious Shifting Sands

    There is a mysterious and beautiful volcanic ash dune of Shifting Sands situated near Olduvai Gorge. These crescent-shaped mounds are a remarkable phenomenon. Technically they are known as barkan, and they are created when there is sufficient dust on the ground and a unidirectional wind to blow it. The dust collects around a stone, and continues to accumulate until it literally forms a small dune. The process continues and the dune moves. In this case, the Shifting Sands move around 10 meters every year. The crescents have their two sharp arms pointing the way the wind is going, and the whole shape is beautifully symmetrical. The local Maasai believe the shifting sands originated from their most holy of places – Ol Doinyo Lengai or “Mountain of God”, which you can just see from Olduvai on a clear day.
    When you first come upon it, it looks like aliens must have left it behind. Especially as the sand is not only very fine and black, but also highly magnetized due to its high iron content. When you toss it up in the air, it sticks together and falls back onto the dune almost like a boomerang, rather than blowing away on the wind. Here’s a picture of Yvette’s guide Hillary illustrating the phenomena.

    Locating the Shifting Sands

    Be prepared to go off road when looking for the mysterious shifting sands, as it moves and there are no sign posts! You may find yourself driving straight through the seemingly endless grass plains, avoiding the occasional giraffe, zebra, termite mound, and Maasai cow. But it’s totally worth the detour. When Anouk’s guide took her to see it, two young Maasai boys showed up with their faces painted white after their recent circumcision ritual. It made for the most ethereal experience, quite on a par with the wildlife she witnessed later that day in the Serengeti!

    Given a sufficient amount of time, this little mound can become a dune.

    The local Maasai believe the shifting sand dunes have come from the nearby sacred mountain Oldoinyo Lengai, loosely translated as the Mountain of God (where God resides).

    As a consequence, these dunes are also considered sacred by the Maasai, who convene by the dunes in cases of prolonged drought.

    On these occasions, a goat is sacrificed to the gods so that rain may come soon. Understandably, climbing the sand dunes is inappropriate.

    Note: The dunes are located near Olduvai Gorge within Ngorongoro Conservation Area, along the road to Serengeti National Park.

    The trails leading to the area where the shifting sand dunes roam require a 4×4 vehicle in the dry season and visiting the dunes shortly after rainfall is not recommended, as the trails can turn into impassable mud pits.

    What to See

    • Volcanic ash dunes

    What to do

    • Game drive
      What are the shifting sands in Olduvai?

      Located near Olduvai Gorge lies the spectacular, yet mysterious, ash dunes of Shifting Sands. Formed from volcanic ash, these crescent-shaped dunes are a rare phenomenon, and are technically referred to as barkan.

        What is the shifting sands?

        phrase [oft PHR of n] If you refer to the shifting sands of a situation, you mean that it changes so often that it is difficult to deal with. The Probation Service has adjusted its strategies and practice to meet the shifting sands of government policy. See full dictionary entry for sand.

          How was shifting sand formed?

          It is said that the dune was created over 3,000 years ago from a massive eruption at Oldoinyo Lengai – an active volcano, that is located about 60km north east. Throughout the years, the dune has slowly crept along, sometimes changing shape and even direction.

            Why is the cradle land of mankind linked to Olduvai Gorge?

            The Olduvai Gorge or Oldupai Gorge is a paleoanthropological site in the eastern Serengeti Plain, near northern Tanzania, in East Africa. The gorge is nicknamed the “Cradle of Mankind” because it is believed to be the site of found remains of the first human beings to walk on Earth.

              What is shifting sand in Olduvai Gorge?

              There is a mysterious and beautiful volcanic ash dune of Shifting Sands situated near Olduvai Gorge. These crescent-shaped mounds are a remarkable phenomenon. Technically they are known as barkan, and they are created when there is sufficient dust on the ground and a unidirectional wind to blow it.

                Explore The Shifting Sands in The Ngorongoro Conservation Area

                You can send your enquiry via the form below.

                Explore The Shifting Sands in The Ngorongoro Conservation Area
                From $500
                / Adult

                Let’s view Tanzania.

                Is the most significant joint partner company for all your travels. It will take you to the mother land of KilimanjaroZanzibar and to the extension of East Africa on request for individuals and groups.

                Tanzania is best county for Tourism Attraction, When to start name TANZANIA and literally puts the “ L” and “V” in Lets view Tanzania

                 

                Why Book With Us?

                Translate »