Imagine a giant bowl teeming with wildlife, in the middle of the African bush and you are close to an idea of the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, which is a vast and unbroken volcanic crater ring known as a caldera. (approx 20kms wide).
About 2.5 million years ago the young Ngorongoro Volcano became filled with molten rock that then solidified into a crust or roof. As the lava chamber emptied, the solid dome collapsed and from this was formed the largest caldera in the world.
Thanks to a permanent water and pasture source, the crater floor plays host to nearly every species of African animal. Zebra, buffalo, black rhino and wildebeest graze amongst the predatory lion, cheetah and hyena. The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the last remaining areas in Tanzania where you can see the endangered Black Rhino. A small population is thriving in this idyllic environment, and it remains one of the few wild places where they continue to breed.
The crater lies within the huge Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which contains vast expanses of highland plains, scrub bush, and forests that cover thousands of square kilometres. Just outside the crater’s ridge, tall Masaai herd their cattle and goats over green pastures through the highland slopes, living alongside the wildlife as they have done for centuries. As it is a protected area, only indigenous tribes like the Masaai are allowed to live inside it.
Nearby is the fascinating Olduvai Gorge, also known as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ as excavations carried out not far from there, have resulted in the discovery of the 1.8 million year old remains of one of our more distant ancestors, Homo habilis.
Below is a selection of tours that offer the chance to visit this wildlife paradise. On our Short Safaris the visit to the Crater is included in the price, on the Longer Safaris it is offered as an optional excursion.