The Ngorongoro Crater, at 2286 meters above sea level, is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. Surrounded by sheer walls rising 610 meters from the crater floor, this natural 259 sq. km amphitheater provides a concert of life for all species.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area boasts of the finest blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archeological sites in the world. It is also a pioneering experiment in multiple land use. For NCA, the concept means best use of the resources to achieve the basic objectives of the establishment of the NCA. It entails the management and utilization of resources in the form for which it is best suited based on biological productivity and pertinent social and economic factors.
On the floor of this “Garden of Eden” roam over 20,000 large animals including some of Tanzania’s last remaining black rhino. Animals are free to leave or enter the crater but most of them stay because of the plentiful water and food available on the crater floor throughout the year. Some of the other species are mainly wildebeest, zebra, buffalo and gazelles. All these animals in turn support large predators such as lions and leopard, and scavengers such as hyena and jackals. More than a hundred species of birds reside within NCA including: ostriches, kori bustards, secretary birds, crested cranes, egrets, red-billed ox-peckers and countless flamingos forming a pink blanket over the soda lake.
Olduvai Gorge Between the great wildlife sanctuaries of Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti lies Olduvai Gorge. The “cradle of man”, as this stone-age site is popularly known, is where the skull of the “Nutcracker Man” (Zinjathropus bisei) was unearthed by Prof. Louis Leakey in 1959. Nearby is Laetoli where the footprints of humanoids (said to be 3.5 million years old) were discovered by Mrs. Mary Leakey in 1979. To the north is Oldonyo Lengai, a living volcano. Around these sites of man’s origin teem millions of wild animals. Archaeological work is still going on in this area. The theory exists that Homo sapiens originated in Africa and Olduvai Gorge provides the evidence.
Ngorongoro Crater is about 190 km. from Arusha, 60 km. from Lake Manyara and 145 km. from Serengeti.
Special treks are available via Olmoti Crater, Empakai Crater and to Lake Natron. For more information, see “Northern Safari Circuit” section.