3 million years ago the Ngorongoro Crater was a volcanic mountain taller than Kilimanjaro. It exploded and collapsed, becoming the world’s largest complete crater. With crater walls going down to a depth of 610 meters and the base area covering 260 square kilometers, it is a perfect place to see everything – lions, leopards, hippopotamus, buffalo, elephant, warthogs, and migrating wildebeest.
The alluring and endangered black rhinoceros is only visible in the acacia forest at dawn in the crater.
Within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are many attractions – the Empakai and Olmoti Craters and Oldupai Gorge near which the oldest footprints of man have been found. Created through tumultuous volcanic activity and linked to the origins of mankind, the Ngorongoro area is extraordinarily beautiful and unlike any other natural sight in the world.
The Ngorongoro Crater circuit can be completed in one day or done in detail on multiple days.
Wildlife & crater highlights
With 25,000 animal species, there is more than enough to be seen in the Ngorongoro Crater area.
Gnu, zebra, buffalo, warthogs, hyenas, hippos, baboons, dik dik, reedbucks, and buskbucks live in the crater. Wildebeest, lions, and leopards are also present.
Vibrant birdlife passes through the crater, many en route to other locations. Flamingos, white storks, and swallows are popular from November to May. Verreaux’s Eagle, buzzards, and other predatory and scavenger birds are some of the larger birdlife in Ngorongoro crater.
The black rhinoceros can only be found in Ngorongoro Crater. Arrive early during sunrise hours to catch the elusive black rhinoceros amongst the yellow acacia tree forest.
Walking Safaris through Empakai Crater
A unique ‘O’ shaped crater contains a circular lake formed by volcanic activity. The only way to enter is through a walking safari where you will see an untouched habitat. On foot you will walk among wildlife from buffalo, leopards, antelope, and flamingo.
Explore Olmoti Crater
The crater was created through water erosion, and at one end a beautiful cascading waterfall is indicative of its origins. Journey on foot through a natural microcosm
Conservation Area history
The Ngorongoro Crater Area is a UNESCO cultural heritage site because of its concentrated population of unique wildlife and as an archeological site containing clues to mankind’s history and development.
Now as a protected area, the NCA Conservation Authority is in charge of working toward a harmonic relationship between managing the lands for protection of the natural environment and maintaining a traditional way of life for the Masaai people who have inhabited the area for generations. The balance is not perfect, as climate changes and regulatory mandates have taken away from the Masaai cattle herding lifestyle and thus their income-generating ability.
Climate & when to visit
Ngorongoro Crater has two seasons – the dry season and the wet season – and both seasons are good times to visit.
June through November is the dry season and the time when predator and prey relationships are honed in a game of survival.
January through May is the wetter season and the opportunity to see a green and growing environment in the crater. Travelers are fewer, and nature photographers will be delighted.
Ranging from 1700m to 2600m above sea level, The Ngorongoro Crater rim is often cool and foggy but warm down in the basin of the crater.
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