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.