highlights and main attractions of ngorongoro crater conservation area

Often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. Almost with the appearance of a natural amphitheatre, it is world renowned for being the most incredible sanctuary for wildlife, enjoying the highest density of mammals in Africa across its crater floor.

The first view of the 600-metre crater below is likely to take your breath away; tusker elephants, leopard, rhino and lion all roam the depths of the crater, which measures approximately 16 miles in diameter. It is a place where wildlife and game viewing is easy and excellent year-round, making it one of Tanzania’s most popular places to visit, and the best location in the country to view the ‘Big Five’. 

The ease of photographing iconic wildlife also makes it a photographer’s dream destination and some would say incorporating this into an itinerary is a must.

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where is the ngorongoro crater?

eco-system and wildlife

Set in the Northern Circuit of Tanzania, the surrounding highlands of the crater create some of Tanzania’s most beautiful landscapes. The crater rim itself is over 2,200 metres high and is often shrouded in low, rolling clouds, whilst the floor is comprised of volcanic soil and with a perennial water supply. This combined with areas of forest, wetland and grassland makes it a perfect habitat for both grazers and predators and they tend to remain in the crater year-round. The wider conservation area is a dramatic range of volcanic peaks and craters on the Western side of the Great Rift Valley, which also includes the Olduvai Gorge, one of Africa’s most important archaeological finds and where the ‘Nutcracker Man’ was discovered after almost 30 years of excavation.

Wildlife

Amongst the prolific wildlife in the crater, drawn to the natural minerals, include some 25,000 big game and large herds of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, buffalo and wildebeest. Unsurprisingly, predators are equally visible, and lion, golden jackal, spotted hyena and cheetah are all to be seen. Large tusker elephants, black rhinos, hippos wallowing in muddy water and thousands of flamingos tiptoeing through glassy reflections are amongst other wildlife highlights.

Activities within the crater itself are limited to game viewing, whilst the wider conservation area offers a wider range of activities such as visits to local Masaai tribes, trekking and walking trails.

Low season months are less busy on the crater floor, so it can be a great time to visit as the wildlife is still highly visible.

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