Ngorongoro Crater Safari
Ngorongoro Crater sits within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and area of outstanding natural beauty in Northern Tanzania. In 1979 the region was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site to ensure that its unspoilt environment would be preserved. The land is also home to the Maasai people, making it a unique environment where humans live in ecological harmony with animals. The highlight of visiting here is a safari at the Ngorongoro Crater, the only fully intact, inactive volcano crater in the world. The scenery here is nothing short of breathtaking and arguably one of the most beautiful places in all of Africa.
If you’re visiting Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro it is well worth adding some time to your trip to visit here on a wildlife safari. The landscape is lush and framed by highlands making for a picture impossible to describe with words. It is one of the densest areas for big game in Africa, especially what is referred to as the big five. Highlights include black rhino, Africa’s largest tusked elephants, buffalo, and zebra. This large concentration of game attracts the most sought after predators – cheetah, lions, and jackals. Hundreds of bird species can be sighted including the beautiful flamingo.
The highlands on the crater’s east facing side receives a huge amount of rain which has nurtured a dense forest, while other areas are vast open spaces rich in grassland and bushland. In all Ngoroongoro covers 8,292 square kilometres. The crater area is the main safari location and it can get very busy with visitors. It is best to give yourself two days exploring here and then spend some time discovering the Serengeti. The crater itself covers 300 square kilometres and is unflooded with the exception of a central salt lake, several fresh water lakes, and marshes. The crater was formed about three million years ago when the massive volcano here exploded and fell in on itself. Had this not happened it is thought that it would stand as high as Kilimanjaro.
In addition to the fantastic array of wildlife and stunning scenery Ngorongoro is also of extreme historical significance. It was here in the Olduvai Gorge where the oldest human remains, known as Zinjanthropus, were found. Also at this archaeological site remains of Homo-habilis were found. It is known as the ‘cradle of mankind.’ Human species have been living in this area for a staggering three million years.
Ngorongoro Crater Safari has excellent accommodation. With six lodges to choose from visitors can be assured of finding one that suits their needs and budget. All lodges are located on the crater rim, the first to be built is Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, which opened in 1939. Finally, you will get the rare chance to interact with the Maasai people who have lived here for centuries by visiting their settlements.