8,300 sq km
Located near to Arusha and Serengeti.
Described as one of the best-known natural landmarks of the world, Ngorongoro Crater is perhaps one of the most spectacular natural wonders that exist. As well as being the largest intact caldera in the world, the floor of Ngorongoro Crater offers unsurpassed game viewing, where vast herds of animals and even some extremely rare species such as the black rhino can be seen during an afternoon's game drive around the area. Ngorongoro is volcanic in origin and was created during the same fracturing process that formed the Rift Valley about 20 million years ago. At its peak in size it would have matched Mount Kilimanjaro at its current height. The rim is still high at roughly 2220m so a good fleece or jacket is essential
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and International Biosphere Reserve, covering almost 8,300 sq km with altitudes ranging between 1,020m to 3,577m. Frequently referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, the area encompasses a blend of landscapes, archeological sites, people and abundant wildlife that is unsurpassed in Africa. Featuring volcanoes, grassland, waterfalls and forests, it is home to the nomadic Masai. The centerpiece and major landmark of the Conservation Area is the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater, a natural amphitheatre surrounded by steep walls rising over 600 meters from the crater floor. It is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles whose magical setting and plentiful wildlife never fail to thrill visitors.
The crater is a natural sanctuary for some 30,000 animals including the `Big Five’ consisting of buffalo, elephant, leopards, lion, and rhino. It is also home to cheetah, hartebeest, hippo, hyena, jackal, reedbuck, serval, warthog, waterbuck, wildebeest, zebra and a great many bird and insect species. Close to Ngorongoro Crater there are two less famous, and less visited, craters ideal for walking and hiking safaris. Empakaai Crater is about 6 km wide with steep walls rising to almost 300m. Half of the crater floor is covered by a deep salt water lake where eland and waterbuck may be seen. The trail down to the crater floor offers spectacular views of a still active volcano, Oldoinyo Lengai, and, on a clear day, the snowy peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro. On the way down to the lake buffalo, bushbuck, blue monkeys and rare birds such as sunbirds and turacos may be seen.
Olmoti Crater’s floor is shallow and covered with grass where, in addition to the Maasai and their livestock, buffalos, eland, and reedbuck may be seen. The Munge River crosses the crater before falling hundreds of meters in a spectacular waterfall. Yet another attraction of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is Olduvai Gorge, the site where, in 1959, Dr Louis Leakey and his wife Mary discovered the remains of what was regarded as man’s first step on the ladder of human evolution. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority was established in 1959, to pioneer this multiple use in which conservation, tourism and pastoral activities co-exist in carefully managed harmony.
Source: Tanzania National Parks