Various hominid species have occupied the crater for more than 3 million years. The Mbulu came here around 2000 years ago, the Datoga followed 300 years later and the Maasai after them. The Hadza have been there sonce the beginning of time.
The Hadza, or Hadzabe, are an indigenous ethnic group of people inhabiting north-central Tanzania, living around Lake Eyasi in the central Rift Valley and in the neighbouring Serengeti Plateau since thousands of years, with relatively little change. They were drive out of the Serengeti by the Maasai and are today found solely in the region of Lake Eyasi. Fort Ngorongoro is situated in Maasai Lands but overlooks pristine Hadza country. There are less than 1500 Hadza left in the world and few still survive exclusively based on the traditional means of foraging. They are our closest link with genetic Adam. While traditionally classified with the Khoisan languages because Hadzane has clicks, the language appears to be an isolate, unrelated to any other. It is an entirely oral language. You must spend time with them and dwell into their world. It’s a world that knows no greed, and by spending quality time with these surreal people you will understand that the term logotherapy was created by a western philosophy that never understood the true existence of our forefathers.
The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group, forming part of the Bantu wave that spread south. They are also a part of the Nguni people. If we go by their traditions they are Bantu coming down from the Northern fringes of Coastal Africa but if you by the origins of “Maa” their language, they appear to originate from the lower Nile valley north of Lake Turkana and began migrating south around the 15th century, arriving in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Highlans (Maasai lands) between the 17th and late 18th century. This warring pastoral tribe displaced all the tribes that lived in these regions before them. They speak the Maa language, a member of the Nilo-Saharan family that is related to the Dinka, Kalenjin and Nuer languages. You must read a book called “Is it Possible” to try and truly comprehended the challenges ahead of this magnificent tribe. Fort Ngorongoro embraces their culture and works closely with the local Maasai in its quest of conservation. You most certainly will spend many hours in their presence.
Even these are part of the Bantu wave similar to the Maasai and are a pastoral people living in the Manyara, Arusha, Mara, Singida region of Tanzania. They are found on the shores of Lake Eyasi. The Datoga too are a glorious people like the Maasai and have over the years have their trysts with the warring Maasai. The Maasai always respected the Datoga as fighters. Linguistic evidence points to the their origin from the eastern Middle Nile Basin south of the Abbai River (South-east of present-day Khartoum).
Around the beginning of the second millennium BC, they are supposed to have moved southward into present-day South Sudan and pushed further on, reaching what is present-day north-eastern Uganda by 1000 B.C. Linguist Christopher Ehret suggests that around the fifth and sixth centuries BC, the speakers of the Southern Nilotic languages split into two major divisions - the proto-Kalenjin and the proto-Datooga. The former took shape among those residing to the north of the Mau range while the latter took shape among sections that moved into the Mara and Loita plains south of the western highlands. From there they moved along the Great Eastern Rift Valley to the region around Lake Eyasi. You may drive to these areas and visit these people.
The Iraqw or Irakw (also known as the Wambulu by Swahili speakers) are also a Cushitic-speaking ethnic group inhabiting the Great Lakes of East Africa. They live in the Arusha and Manyara regions of Tanzania, near the Rift Valley wall and south of Ngorongoro Crater.
They are believed to be the descendants of Neolithic Afro-Asiatic people peoples who practiced plant and animal husbandry in the Great Lakes region — a succession of societies collectively known as the Stone Bowl cultural complex. Most of these early northern migrants are believed to have been absorbed by later movements of the Bantu peoples and classified into Nilothic later on as the Bantu wave moved southwards. In the Kerio Valley of Kenya and among other neighboring areas, there are vestiges of the Neolithic tillers' civilization in the form of elaborate irrigation systems.
Additionally, the Iraqw's ancestors are often credited with having constructed the sprawling Engaruka complex in northern Tanzania. The modern Iraqw practice an intensive form of self-contained agriculture that bears a remarkable similarity to the ruins of stone-walled canals, dams and furrows that are found at Engaruka. Iraqw historical traditions likewise relate that their last significant migration to their present area of inhabitation occurred about two or three centuries ago after conflicts with sub-groups of the Datog Nilotes, herders who occupied the Crater highlands and were later displaced themselves by the Maasai. This population movement is reportedly consistent with the date of the Engaruka site's desertion, which is estimated at somewhere between 1700 and 1750. It also roughly coincides with the start of the diminishment of the Engaruka River's flow as well as those of other streams descending from the Ngorongoro Highlands; water sources around which Engaruka's irrigation practices were centered.
According to the Maasai Nilotes, who are the present-day occupants of Engaruka, the Iraqw also already inhabited the site when their own ancestors first entered the region during the 18th century. You may spend time with these people in and around Karatu.