African Ngorongoro crater

Ngorongoro crater
African Unique Facts about Ngoro Ngoro Crater

About Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater was originally part of Serengeti National Park until it became its own park in 1959. In 1979, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most-visited regions of Tanzania, and is often referred to as the world's eighth wonder. The crater is the world’s largest intact caldera, with the walls of the crater being roughly 670m (2000ft) high and the crater floor measuring roughly 18km (10 miles) in diameter. The crater floor has its ecosystem and environment and it is not uncommon for the temperature to be significantly warmer on the crater floor than it is at the rim of the crater. The elevation of the rim is around 2280m (7500ft) and the base is around 1680m (5500ft).

Because the crater floor is small in size, it can also become very crowded with vehicles. The high concentration of safari vehicles on the crater floor means the animals are more accustomed to seeing these vehicles and are less timid when they approach. This may make for better photo opportunities but it also can be a bit of a negative point for those looking for a more authentic safari experience.

There are no lodging options on the crater floor and all guests must overnight on the rim. In general, the standard of accommodation is extremely high, with five-star lodges overlooking the caldera. A Ngorongoro Crater safari is recommended for all levels of safari goers and it is a great addition to a Serengeti safari. It is also close to Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks.

Ngorongoro Crater wildlife

Between the crater rim and floor, it is possible to see all of the big five at Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is one of the best places to see the endangered black rhino. Giraffes are absent from the crater floor. It is thought that the banks of the caldera are too steep for them to ascend. They can be spotted around the rim. Lions have adapted to the cooler temperatures of the crater by growing thicker, darker manes. Lion mane color can vary within the year, depending on ambient temperature. Mane color is thought to also darken with age. The annual wildebeest migration passes by the crater highlands around December through March At the base of the crater is a large soda lake called Lake Magadi or Lake Makat. It is home to thousands of brightly-colored flamingos and is very popular for photo ops.

Unique Facts about Ngoro Ngoro Crater

1. The World's Biggest Intact Volcanic Caldera (That’s Not a Lake)

The Ngorongoro Crater is approximately 16 to 19 kilometres (10 to 12 miles) in diameter, and the height of its walls range between 400 and 610 metres (1,312 and 2,000 feet) – more than 1.5 times higher than the Empire State Building. There are a few calderas around the world, but the Ngorongoro Crater is unique because it’s the biggest one with fully intact (unbroken) walls and hasn’t filled up with water.

2. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa

The Ngorongoro Crater is one of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders, along with the Red Sea, Mount Kilimanjaro, Sahara Desert, Wildebeest Migration, Nile River and Okavango Delta. The Crater is located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a protected territory in Tanzania’s Arusha region and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Home to Africa’s Densest Populations of Predators

Thanks to the mineral-rich volcanic soil, the short-grass plains grow lush on the Crater’s floor, which provide nutritious grazing for a plethora of herbivores. These big herds in turn attract a remarkable number of predators – the densest populations found anywhere in Africa.

The Crater’s resident lion population is arguably one of the highest densities of prides in the world. This is one of the Ngorongoro Crater facts that makes it such a popular safari destination. Consequently, the lions here have a complete disregard of safari vehicles – they will hunt within metres of a vehicle and even seek respite from the sun beside one!

Completing the team of predators in the Crater are spotted hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, jackals and bat-eared foxes.

4. Almost 30,000 Large Mammals Live in the Ngorongoro Crater

You are guaranteed to see a lot of animals on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater. The fertile floor of the caldera is mostly flat, open, and covered in nourishing grasses that support large numbers of grazers like zebra, wildebeest, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, buffalo, and tsessebe.

East of Lake Magadi, a shallow soda lake in the Crater, you will find the Ngoitokitok Springs and Gorigor Swamp where pods of boisterous hippos marinate the days away. Ngorongoro Crater is also a fantastic bird-watching destination, home to over 500 species including ostrich, secretary bird, kori bustard, and greater flamingo.

5. East Africa’s Best Destination to Spot the Big 5

The Crater offers visitors a high chance of seeing all the members of the Big 5 in one place – arguably one of the best-known Ngorongoro Crater facts. The resident lion population is prolific, buffalo herds are healthy, leopards are generally seen around the forested areas, and large herds of elephants are present during the wetter months (November, December, April, and May).

But it’s the Crater’s small number of endangered black rhinos that makes it such a special place to visit. These odd-toed ungulates live in a section of the caldera that’s protected by park rangers but can often be seen on the open grasslands.

6. No Giraffe & Impala Live in the Ngorongoro Crater