Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Crater © Judith Duk
Rising above the plains of the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a vast, UNESCO-listed protected area that includes the important archaeological site of Olduvai Gorge and its main attraction, the Ngorongoro Crater. Once the site of an active volcano, the crater was formed about two million years ago when its cone collapsed on itself. Today the crater floor, supplied with permanent water and ringed with towering forested sides, serves as a natural cradle for an astounding abundance of wildlife. With an incredible width of 12 miles (20km) and a depth of 2,001ft (610m), the crater is the largest caldera in the world and is home to tens of thousands of animals, including rhino, buffalo, and large herds of zebra and wildebeest. There are also dense concentrations of predators attracted by the large variety of grazers, and prides of lion with magnificent black-maned males are one of the highlights. The lakes attract a rich variety of birdlife, including flamingos, and wallowing hippos, while some animals can be found surrounding the crater rim or on the forested slopes, such as giraffe and elephant. The views from the crater rim are spectacular and all the lodges are situated along its edge affording superb vistas over and into the crater. Access onto the crater floor is by four-wheel drive only and a game ranger must accompany all vehicles.