For thousands of years a succession of cattle herding people moved into the Area, lived here for time, and then moved on, sometimes forced out by other tribes.
About 200 years ago the Maasai arrived and have since colonized the Area in substantial numbers, their traditional way of life allowing them to live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment. Today there are some 42,200 Maasai pastoralists living in the NCA with their cattle, donkeys, goats and sheep. During the rains they move out on to the open plains; in the dry season they move into the adjacent woodlands and mountain slopes. The Maasai are allowed to take their animals into the Crater for water and grazing, but not to live or cultivate there. Elsewhere in the NCA they have the right to roam freely.
Visitors are welcomed at two designated Maasai cultural bomas one on the road to Serengeti and another close to Sopa Lodge at Irkeepusi village.
The Datoga, Nilo-Hamitic-speaking pastoralists, who arrived more than 300 years ago and were subsequently forced out of the Serengeti-Ngorongoro area by the Maasai, today they live just outside the NCA, in the Lake Eyasi basin and beyond.
One can visit the Maasai Cultural bomas in the NCA to learn more about their unique culture, to take photographs, and to buy mementos. There is an entrance fee to be paid but it is well worth it. A visit to one of the following is highly recommended:
Situated on the main road to Serengeti, 7 km south-west of the Olduvai Gorge Information Center
Situated on the main road to Serengeti, 10km before the turn-off to Olduvai Gorge
Situated 2km north-east of Lemala mini gate, on the main road to Empakaai
Situated just west of the Seneto Gate, within the Malanja Depression