Geoparks Africa
World Heritage Sites

Mummies in Crater? Ancient Caldera Tombs in Volcanic Crater of Tanzania

You probably didn’t know that there are old tombs inside the Ngorongoro Crater, burial sites that have become an attraction in their own right

Geoparks Africa

Old tombs in which members of the Datooga communities, used to bury their dead join the list of unique geological heritage sceneries to feature in the country’s Geoparks.

The old burial places are found in the heart of the wildlife filled Ngorongoro Crater.

The Old Days of Ngorongoro Crater

The Crater was essentially formed from volcanic action, a million of years ago.

Later people and wildlife moved into the Caldera including the ancient Datoga People who exist even today.

Of course, nobody lives in the caldera now. The Datoga moved away to upper walls and outside the now conservation area.

The Ngorongoro Crater, which is part of the Lengai Geopark is now home to more than 30,000 different wild beasts. However, in the past the natural bowl used to be home to the Datooga people.

The spot for the old burial grounds is located adjacent to a large fig tree in the crater.

That section still serves as the Datooga sacred altar, where sometimes the remaining members of the endangered tribe are permitted to perform their customary rituals.

The rocky marked, ancient graveyard is among the attractions now mapped within the ‘Ngorongoro-Lengai’ Geopark, the first such Geopark in both Tanzania and Sub-Sahara African Region.

Managed under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Tanzania’s first Geopark is listed among the hundreds of other standout geological sites under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The maiden sub-Saharan Geopark covers an area of 12,000 square kilometers of rocky hills, lengthy underground caves, lake basins, hominid discovery sites will feature sites of Geological Heritage, Natural Heritage and Cultural heritage into which the Datooga Tombs fit.

The Datooga, are a pastoralist Nilotic people mainly found in Mara, Arusha, Manyara, and Singida Regions with a population of nearly 88,000 members spread among seven Datooga tribes.

The tribes include; Bajuta Gisamjanga (Kisamajeng, Gisamjang); Barabayiiga (Barabaig, Barabayga, Barabaik, Barbaig); Asimjeeg (Tsimajeega, Isimijeega); Rootigaanga (Rotigenga, Rotigeenga); Buraadiiga (Buradiga, Bureadiga); Bianjiida (Biyanjiida, Utatu)

The Datooga once lived in the crater and left behind the ancient graves.

Datooga tombs thus form part of the Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark Caldera Route covering, among other sites, Irkepus Village, Old German House, Hippo Pool and Seneto spring, Active Oldonyo-Lengai Volcano, the Empakai Crater, the Magadi Lake, Lerai Forest, Ngoitoktok Lake, the Acacia rim, Munge River and the ‘Round-Table Hill,’

 The European Union had previously pumped in 1.8 million Euros, as initial funding towards the proposed Tanzanian Geopark while China pledged US $ 10 million towards the initial project.

 The dubbed ‘Ngorongoro-Lengai,’ Geopark is the second on the African Continent after Morocco’s ‘M’Goun Geopark,’ which is located in the middle of the Central High Atlas Mountains in North Africa.