Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the larger wildlife conservation area, in which the famous Ngorongoro Crater is located. The Ngorongoro Crater in Northern Tanzania is also referred to as ‘the Aden of Africa’ due to abundance of wildlife; animals and birds. In the Ngorongoro Conservation Area lies the largest unbroken caldera in the world; The Ngorongoro crater famously known also as “the eighth wonder of the world”.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area at large covers 8292 Km sq and the area forms part of the larger Serengeti ecosystem, that spreads from Ngorongoro, through Serengeti National Park to Masai Mara in Kenya.

In this conservation area, unlike the National parks, controlled human habitation and activities are allowed but not on the Ngorongoro Crater’s floor.

Ngorongoro Crater at a glance

The Ngorongoro Crater is a marvel n itself; a large unbroken caldera (collapsed volcano) ,covering 250 Km sq, and 600 meters deep with Makat soda lake acting as a permanent water source all year round. The lake attracts many birds like flamingos, pelicans, the Egyptian geese and many other water birds. What amazes every visitor in this natures marvel is the abundance of wildlife with about 20,000 large animals within the confinement of the crater alone. The animals includes; Zebras, topis elands, hyenas lions leopards, the black rhino, gazelles, elephants and many other species.

The Olduvai gorge a prehistoric site and a world heritage site is also found in the Ngorongoro conservation area.

This site has earned Africa the name of “the cradle of mankind” and it is here where the Leakey family founding a river canyon 100 meters deep, the fossils of a hominid dating about 2 millions years old.

Walking with the Maasai in Ngorongoro

Walking Ngorongoro with Maasai

In this Ngorongoro conservation area , the Maasai have been living here successfully alongside the wildlife having arrived here more than 200 years ago. Today more than 45,000 Maasai people lie in this area.

A visit to Maasai homestead otherwise known as Boma is a perfect extra while visiting Ngorongoro.

Apart from the beauty of The Ngorongoro Crater, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Ngorongoro Highlands at large forms one of the most beautiful areas in Africa. The area boasts great hiking areas like Empakai Crater, a hike that takes one down to the crater lake where you will be amazed by the beautiful scenery and abundance of birds in the area. Olmoti Crater is another great place for hiking and both Empakai and Olmoti can he toured in one day.

Lions Ngorongoro Crater
Lions in Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Conservation Area is also where the Olduvai Gorge is located. This is an important archaeological site in the world; where Dr Richard and Mary Leakey made an important discovery of fossils of the early hominid called the Australopithecus Boisei ‘Zinjanthropus’.

The famous Laetoli Footprints believed to be of the early man called the ‘Australopithecus afarensis’, is also located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and so is the shifting sands site. These attractions and other important geographical formations in the area are some of the factors that led to Ngorongoro Conservation Area being declared not only a UNESCO world heritage site but a called The Ngorongoro Lengai UNESCO Global Geopark. First of its kind in this area.

Ngorongoro Crater boasts the highest animal density per area, with an estimated 25,000 large animals, mostly ungulates. Small as it may be, Ngorongoro Crater is a Big Five Destination. You may with luck spot all of them in a good safari day; The Elephant, Lions, Leopards, Buffaloes and Leopards.

Ngorongoro Crater – How to get There

Ngorongoro Crater is easily accessed by road through the Arusha – Dodoma Highway which you can follow and branch to the right at the Makuyuni Junction. It is a good tarmac road from Arusha to the main gate of Ngorongoro Conservation Area; Loduare Gate, from where you will proceed with a regularly graded earth road towards the Crater itself.

It is an approximately 3 hours’ drive from Arusha to Ngorongoro Crater, a distance of Approximately 180 Kilometers.

Ngorongoro Crater is also accessible by flight through the Manyara Airstrip where most bush flights operate scheduled flights. Flight companies that fly into Lake Manyara Airstrip, Ngorongoro Crater from Arusha or Zanzibar include Flightlink, Coastal Aviation, Regional Air and Auric Air.

Best time to visit Ngorongoro Crater

The best time to visit the Ngorongoro Crater for safari is July to September which are the dry season months in Tanzania, and therefore the best time to visit Tanzania for safari in general. Ngorongoro Crater however is an all-year-round destination, because very few animals leave the Ngorongoro Crater’s floor. There is an amazingly big number of animals in the Crater floor a fact that led to the Crater being nicknamed ‘the Eden of Africa’.

Roads down the Crater wall used to be bad during the rainy season but not anymore. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority embarked on a plan to pave the roads with paving blocks, making the road accessible in all seasons. A visit to the Ngorongoro Crater is usually an action-packed safari experience due to the abundance of ungulates on the Crater floor as well as many big cats.

History of Ngorongoro Crater’s formation

The Ngorongoro Crater is a caldera, geographically, contrary to how it is commonly referred as a Crater. Ngorongoro Crater is actually the largest unbroken caldera in the world. The UNESCO World Heritage site is believed to have formed after the collapse of a gigantic Volcanic Mountain that was bigger than Mount Kilimanjaro, approximately 3 million years ago. The Crater lake in the middle of the Caldera that is now Ngorongoro Crater is called Lake Makat , which is a soda lake. The lake is home to many aquatic bird species including the colorful lesser and greater flamingos. The Lake draws many animals all day, and therefore a must visit during your safari in the Ngorongoro crater.