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The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world’s largest volcanic caldera (collapsed volcano), and has become become an incredible “natural enclosure”, sheltering some 25,000 large animals from the outside world in an area little bigger than Crete (about 8000 km²).
The Crater itself (260km²) is the key point of interest within the larger Ngorongoro NCA, and formed when a huge volcano (between fifteen and twenty thousand feet high) errupted about 2.5 million years ago and collapsed. The resulting steep-sided bowl has since developed into a hugely fertile and abundant game sanctuary and is often heralded as the eighth wonder of the world for sheer beauty and animal numbers.
The crater’s edges are covered in woodland and forest, merging into an open, rich grassland of small streams and browsing animals. The drive down to Ngorongoro is remarked upon time and time again…from the nearby Karatu to the crater rim, gradually finding a way through dense forest and then being hit by the remarkable view; a panorama of the entire Crater, from forest to basin, with tiny strings of thousands of animals making their way across the floor 600 metres below…magic!
Reputedly having the densest population of lions in the country and possibly the world. Your chances of seeing all of the “Big Five” within a single day are as high as they get! The Ngorongoro has some of the country’s last black rhinos and is the only place in the Northern Circuit where the animals haven’t been hunted to extinction.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is leading the way in exploring means for humans and wildlife to co-exist, and is primarily different from the country’s other national parks (including the Serengeti) because it allows human habitation - there are approximately 42,000 traditional Maasai pastoralists living with their cattle, goats and sheep on the territory.
Their pointed insistence on maintaining traditional culture makes the area a great insight into their interesting culture, and visits to bomas and settlements can be arranged.
Many other attractions are nearby including Olduvai Gorge (3.6 million year old hominid footprints); Shifting Sands (magnetic black dune moving around 18m per year); Olmoti Crater, Empakaai Crater, Oldoinyo Lengai (active volcano); Nasera Rock and Olkarien Gorge. All of these attractions can be included in a tailor-made itinerary centering around Ngorongoro Crater.