The world renowned Ngororngoro Crater (NCA) is just one part of a much larger area of interrelated ecosystems consisting of the striking beautiful crater Highlands together with vast stretches of plains, bush and woodland. The 8,300km2 Ngorongoro Conservation Area is named after its central feature, the Ngorongoro crater, the world's largest intact volcanic caldera, and arguably its most spectacular natural arena.
The entire NCA covers about 8300 sq km and encompasses Oldvuvai gorge, the alkaline lakes Ndutu and Masek and a long string of volcanoes. Just outside the NCA's eastern boundary is the archaeologically important Engaruka, and to the south is Lake Eyasi. To the northeast of the NCA on the Kenyan border is the alkaline lake natron.Ngorongo Conservation Area (NCA) boasts the finest blend of landscape, wildlife, people and archaeological sites in Africa.
Ngorongoro Crater is set in northern Tanzania, sharing part of the Serengeti plains to the north-west and with the towns of Arusha and Moshi, and Mount Kilimanjaro, to the east forming part of the unique Serengeti ecosystem. Ngorongoro is also a pioneering experiment in multiple land use. For Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the idea of multiple land use means the idea of allowing the co-existence of mankind and wildlife in a natural setting. Traditional African pastoralists co-operate with Tanzania's government bodies in preserving the natural resources of the area and help to ensure a fantastic experience for tourists.
The Crater and its Wildlife:
The jewel in Ngorongoro's crown is a deep volcanic crater – the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world!
Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world's greatest natural spectacles, its magical setting and abundant wildlife never failing to enthrall visitors. The rich pasture and permanent water of the crater floor supports a large resident population of wildlife of up to 25,000-predominantly grazing animals. These include wildebeest, Zebra, Gazelle, Buffalo, Eland, Kongoni and warthog. The swamp and forest provide additional resources for these animals. The steep inner slopes provide a habitat for dikdik and the rare mountain reedbuck. Lerai Forest is found in the south west of the crater and it shelters Eland, Elephant, Vervet monkeys, bushbuck, tree hyrax, francoline, saddle-billed stork, vulture and eagle. A picnic site is located in the forest. Lions are abundant in the crater. There are five main crater prides of between 10 and 20 animals, each defending its own territory. The bull elephants descend regularly to the crater floor. The large breeding herds wander throughout the forest rim where they find the most suitable food.
Leopards are found in the forest and along the munge stream, but they are solitary, secretive and hard to sport. The Ngorongoro crater is the single most visited site. The rest of the Ngorongoro Conservation area offers many rewards for those visitors prepared to explore further a field.
Open grassland covers most of the crater floor, turning yellow with wild flowers in June. The soda lake Makat is great attraction for flamingos and other water birds, while predators hide in the marsh to ambush animals that come to drink from the river that feeds the lake. Also on the crater floor are swamps, providing water and habitat for elephant and hippo as well as numerous smaller creatures such as frogs, snakes and several cats.
Best time to Visit:
It can be surprisingly cool at the top of the mountain even in summer so be prepared with a pullover. Thunderstorm activity occurs in November - December and saturating rains fall from March to May.