Visiting Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is like stepping into a scene from a movie: a vast, forested volcanic crater teeming with lions, cheetahs, and flamingos! The densest concentration of wildlife in Africa can be found stretching out before you in this near-perfect blue-green caldera. You only need to descend the crater walls with your guide to enter one of the continent’s most extraordinary habitats.
The Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area is said to be the best place to see all five of the “Big Five.” Where else can you find the highest predator density in Africa, as well as giant tusker elephants and seas of fuchsia pink birds? The 25,000 large animals that live in the world’s largest, intact volcanic caldera have earned the titles of World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve.
Standing atop the 610m (2000 ft) crater rim, you may catch your first glimpses of the wildlife below – black rhino, hippo, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, hyena, jackal, and gazelle – grazing and stalking over the grasslands, acacia forests, and swamps that fill the crater floor.
It’s time to descend into this extraordinary Eden and begin an extraordinary day of exploration.
The Volcano – Life Begins
How did this seemingly magical Ngorongoro crater come to be? Millions of years ago, a volcano the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro erupted in this location. A violent eruption blew the top off, causing it to collapse in on itself. What remained was the massive Ngorongoro crater. As the crater-rim forests grew, their streams fed into the caldera, forming springs, swamps, and woodland and attracting large populations of wildlife.
You’ll come across a wide range of animals as you explore the crater’s various habitats. Look for baboons, vervet monkeys, waterbucks, and great tusker bull elephants in the Lerai Forest. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot an elusive leopard. Hippos can be found at Ngoitoktok Springs, which also serves as a great picnic spot.
Birdlife at the Ngorongoro Crater
The birdlife in the crater is abundant and diverse, just like the terrestrial creatures. There are avocets, egrets, ostriches, wallows, grebes, fire finches, and starlings. Keep an eye out for raptors such as the marsh harrier, augur buzzard, tawny eagle, and white-backed vulture. During the rainy season, migratory flamingos flock to Lake Magadi.
The high crater walls have created their own eco-system in this dynamic environment, protecting the vast amount of wildlife below. And, while some animals migrate, the vast majority live in the crater all year.
Visiting the Ngorongoro Crater is a truly unforgettable experience when guided by experienced travel experts like Shanjoy Tours and Safaris.
The park is located in northern Tanzania, southeast of the Serengeti National Park.