NGORONGORO CRATER CONSERVATION AREA
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a protected area and a World Heritage Site located 180 kilometers west of Arusha in the crater highlands of Tanzania. The main feature of the conservation area is the Ngorongoro crater, the world's largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. Ngorongoro is thought to have formed about 2.5 million years ago from a large active volcano whose cone collapsed inward after a major eruption, leaving the present vast, unbroken caldera as its chief remnant.The crater is 610 meters deep and its floor covers 260 square kilometers. It is known as the "Eden of Africa" and was voted by Seven Natural Wonders as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. The western portion of the park abuts the Serengeti National Park, and the area comprising the two parks and Kenya's Maasai Mara game reserve is home to Great Migration, a massive annual migration of millions of wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, and other animals. The conservation area also contains Olduvai Gorge, one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world.
The Ngorongoro crater floor is predominantly open grassland. The local Massai people also graze their livestock in the crater. Lake Magadi, a shallow soda lake ringed by extinct volcanoes, is renowned as a habitat for great flocks of pink flamingos. Approximately 25,000 large animals, mostly ungulates, live in the crater. Mammals in the crater include the black rhinoceros, cape buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, eland, gazelle, elephant, spotted hyena, jackal, and hippopotamus. Waterbucks occur mainly near Lerai forest. Absent are giraffe, impala, topi, and crocodile. Cheetah, East African wild dog, and leopard are rarely seen. The crater has one of the densest known population of lions. By April 2020 there are a total of 65-75 lions on the crater floor. There are eight prides, of which five consists of only 2-3 adult females. The proportion of adult lions (4 years and older) is 47%. A side effect of the crater being a natural enclosure is that the lion population is significantly inbred. This is due to the very small amount of new bloodlines that enter the local gene pool, as few migrating male lions enter the crater from the outside. Those who do enter are often prevented from contributing to the gene pool by the crater's male lions, who expel any outside competitors.
What is the best time to visit Ngorongoro Crater?
My most favorite member of the antelope family is the eland, which also happens to be the world’s largest antelope. Though heavy, it has the endurance to maintain a trot and can jump a 4-feet fence from a standstill. My first encounter with an eland was in October 2011 in a lodge adjoining a national park in Arusha. The lodge has a watering hole and various types of animals would go there in the afternoon to drink water especially during the drier months...
Driving in the parks is allowed between 6 am and 6 pm only.
The speed limit in the parks is 50km/h and 25km/h in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Animals always have the right of way.
Never feed animals. It will upset their diet and lead to an unnecessary dependence on people.