NGORONGORO CRATER

Ngorongoro Crater

Once part of the huge Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area covers a staggering 8,000km2 of wildlife sanctuaries. The biggest feature of this incredible landscape is the Ngorongoro Crater, the world's largest unfilled volcanic caldera.

The crater was born from a huge volcanic eruption 2-3 million years ago. It's floor covers 260 square kilometres of open grassland, with two small wooded areas populated with the green-leafed Fever Tree. Near the eastern crater wall sits one of the major water sources, the Ngoitokiitok Spring. Rainwater flows down from the western crater supplying vital fresh water and providing good grazing all year round. This area is inhabited by hippopotamus, elephants, wildebeests and many other wildlife species. The Ngorongoro crater also has one of the densest known population of lions on earth. Lake Magadi provides another water source within the crater, thousands of flamingos can be seen wading alongside the myriad of birdlife.

A Ngorongoro wildlife safari provides one of the best opportunities to see the animal species East Africa is famous for. The Great Wildebeest Migration creates breath taking scenes. During the early months of the year the area is inhabited by enormous herds of wildebeests and zebra. An estimated 400,000 wildebeest are born during late January through to March. The concentration of the herds attracts lion, cheetah and hyena, whilst in the wooded areas giraffe, elephant and buffalo are easily spotted.

The ancient origins of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are there to see. At Laetoli, west of the Ngorongoro Crater, hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 million years old. These represent some of the earliest signs of mankind on the planet. A couple of hours north takes you to the Olduvai Gorge, the most famous archaeological location in East Africa. It was here that Louis and Mary Leakey discovered four different kinds of hominid, the first being 'Zinjanthropus' who lived 1.75 million years ago.

The Ngorongoro Crater is a spectacular place with history dating back to the earliest signs of man. Staggering landscapes and wonderful wildlife make this one of the most special places on the planet.

Places To Stay Near The Ngorongoro Crater

Kitela Lodge

20 rooms, 1 family unit

Kitela Lodge is an exclusive lodge situated on top of a valley overlooking a coffee plantation, the Eastern wall of the Ngorongoro crater and a beautiful waterfall, affording visitors a 'non-safari' perspective on Tanzania. It consists of 20 spacious rooms in cottages built in the style of an old colonial farm offering guests a relaxing, quiet atmosphere surrounded by beautiful gardens. Includes pool and African spa.

Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge

75 rooms

This lodge is on the rim of the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater, one of Africa's best-known wildlife arenas and has been designed to blend into the landscape - it is largely invisible from the crater floor 600 metres below. All rooms enjoy uninterrupted views over the crater, each with its own balcony, and the dining and bar area also overlook the crater below, with a broad viewing terrace. Location, location, location!