Called the eighth wonder of the world and stretching across some 8,300 sq km, the Ngorongoro Conservancy in northern Tanzania boasts a blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archaeology that is unsurpassed in Africa. The volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and mountain forests are home to an abundance of animals and to the Masai.
Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles, its magical setting and abundant wildlife never fail to enthral visitors. It borders the Serengeti National Park to the north and west. A few hours drive to the east takes you to the town of Arusha which nestles at the foot of Mount Meru, within view of Mount Kilimanjaro. Arusha is known as the gateway to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Northern Parks.
To visit the Ngorongoro conservancy area, check out some of our Tanzania safari itineraries
A visit to the crater is a main attraction for tourists coming to Tanzania and a definite awe inspiring attraction. Within the crater perimeter, large herds of zebra and wildebeest graze nearby while latent lions doze in the sun. At sunrise, the endangered black rhino returns to the deep cover of the crater forests after grazing on dew-laden grass in the morning mist. Just outside the crater’s ridge, tall Masai herdsmen herd their cattle and goats on the green pastures across the slopes, living alongside the wildlife as they have for centuries.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area includes its famed crater, Olduvai Gorge, and huge expanses of flat terrain, scrub bush, and forests that cover approximately 8300 square kilometers. A protected area, only native tribe of the Masai are allowed to live within its precincts. Lake Ndutu and Masek, both alkaline soda lakes are home to rich wildlife populations, as well as a series of peaks and volcanoes and make the Conservation Area a matchless and stunning landscape.
The crater itself, actually a warped volcano called a caldera, is the chief attraction. Lodging is sited on the crater rims and after a striking descent down the crater brim, passing verdant rain forest and deep vegetation, the vegetation opens to grassy plains throughout the crater floor. The game viewing is truly incredible, and the topography and views of the surrounding Crater Highlands out of this world.
This truly magical place is home to Olduvai Gorge, where the Leakey family discovered the hominoid remains of a 1.8 million year old skeleton of Australopithecus boisei, one of the distinct links of the human evolutionary chain. In a small ravine just north of the crater, the Leakeys and their team of international archaeologists unearthed the remains of at least 3 distinct hominoid species, and also came upon a complete series of hominoid footprints projected to be over 3.7 million years old. Evacuated fossils show that the area is one of the oldest sites of hominoid habitation in the world.
The Ngorongoro Crater and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are without a doubt some of the most beautiful parts of Tanzania, rich in history and teeming with wildlife. Besides vehicle safaris to Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, and surrounding attractions, hiking treks through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are becoming more and more popular attractions. Whichever way you desire to vacation, the Crater Highlands are a memorable part of the Tanzanian safari experience.