Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Conservation area includes the Ngorongoro Crater at its centre and extends through the Crater Highlands. It is here that in local tribes live and are permitted to maintain their traditional lifestyles in as natural an environment as possible. In addition to tourists, Maasai villagers grazing their sheep and cattle are a common sight. Ngorongoro Crater is sometimes regarded as the 8th Wonder of the World. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1978, this deep volcanic crater is the largest unbroken caldera in the world and is 19.2 kilometer in diameter, 610 meters deep and 304 square kilometers in area. The crater was formed some eight million years ago when the cone of an active volcano estimated to be larger than Kilimanjaro collapsed. The crater floor consists of a number of ecological environments that include grassland, swamps, forests and Lake Makat, a central soda lake filled by the Munge River.

Although animals are free to move in and out of this contained environment, the rich volcanic soil, lush forests and spring source lakes on the crater floor tend to incline both grazers and predators to remain here throughout the year. The extraordinary volcanic landscape is extremely fertile and the high altitude creates a malaria-free climate.The rich pasture and permanent water of the Ngorongoro Crater floor supports a large resident population of wildlife including wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest and warthog. The swamps and forest provide additional resources for hippo, elephant, waterbuck, reedbuck, and bushbuck, baboons and vervet monkeys. The steep inner slopes provide a habitat for dik dik and the rare mountain reedbuck. Predatory animals in the Ngorongoro Crater like leopards, lion, cheetah, serval cat, live off the abundant wildlife; large packs of hyena roam the Crater, making their own kills and scavenging from others. Although they are commonly seen in the nearby Serengeti National Park, giraffe, impala and topi are not seen in the Crater. It is not apparent as to why the later are missing, but giraffes are not found in the Crater due to the lack of acacia trees in which they graze as well as the steep descent into the Crater which giraffes may find to be difficult.

Although there are no lodges located within the Crater, the Ngorongoro safari lodges are situated on the rim of the crater, which is approximately 7,264 feet above sea level. It can get very cold at night in the winter months of June to August, and even though it is cool in the morning is hot down in the crater during the day. The weather is usually dry from June to November. July is the coldest month and highland temperatures may fall below freezing.
A visit to this magnificent crater is recommended anytime of the year, with the main rainfall occurring between November and May with the longer rains in April to May. The amount and pattern of rainfall varies and a dry period in January and February may split the rainy season into short and long rains. The rain usually arrives in stormy showers usually during the afternoons and nights which cleans the air to provide clear views.

Even though you will find many tourist and other vehicles in the Crater, the opportunity of spending a few hours or longer on the floor of the Crater is one not to be missed. Our itineraries usually start the descent into the Crater at 6am to avoid the crowds and make the most of game viewing in the “big five” territory.


Earth's Wonders Safaris take you to:
Serengeti National Park
Ngorongoro Crater
Tarangire National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Zanzibar Island
  ... and more ...

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