NCCA chief conservator Dr. Freddy Manongi recently revealed that United Nations Education, Social and Cultural Organisation made a proposal to include Oldoinyo L’engai on the list of globs geo-parks. The proposal marks the active volcano as a feature of geological heritage.
The size and awesomeness of this mountain is only eclipsed by Mt Kilimanjaro and mount Meru, in Tanzania. This is a positive development for tourism in Tanzania. Since it will soon be part of the international ‘Geo-parks’ network. Oldoinyo L’engai is found in Ngorongoro district. It is Tanzania’s third highest peak and It raises up to about 3190m above sea level. It is located in the Gregory rift, adjacent to Lake Natron which is a Ramsar wetland site making it an important feature as well.
Oldoinyo L’engai which means “mountain of God” is an active volcano, with frequent eruptions that are beginning to have some serious effect on the surrounding area. Oldoinyo L’engai’s volcanic eruptions have resulted into a number of quakes and tremors in East Africa and central Africa. In the period between 1880 and 2008, Mount L’engai erupted almost 20 times!
UNESCO gives the geo-park status usually in an effort to raise awareness of important issues that a society may be facing. Usually these are issues concerning earth and geology. An active volcano is such an issue. Other examples could be tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, etc.
Geo-parks serve as world alarm clocks. Oldoinyo L’engai for example as an alarm clock, will help the surrounding communities get pro-active and prepare disaster preparation and mitigation strategies and inspire them to keep track of the climatic changes happening in their vicinity due the volcanic activity of the peak. It will also help them perhaps come up with the best approach to utilize the renewable energy available to them.
Although the main aim for marking off these sites is to create awareness, it is an advantage for the Tanzania tourism industry because it draws attention to a feature that is a tourist attraction in the country. People on Tanzania safaris are always looking for outstanding landmarks and sites to see, Oldoinyo L’engai is definitely one of those.
Mount L’engai’s geo-park status, if achieved, will promote tourism in Tanzania in a more geographically sustainable way. This will not only add to the geographical importance of the mountain, but will boost tourist activity on the Tanzania Northern circuit. This is another boost to Tanzania tourism in recent months.