Details of Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Size: 8,300 square kilometres.
Location: Between Lake Manyara National Park and Serengeti National Park.
Best Time: Year round.
To Do: Game drives, Olduvai Gorge, visits to nearby Empakaai Crater or Olmoti Crater, and cultural visits.
Known For: Rhinoceros, the starting point of the Great Migration, and stunning views.
Your first glimpse of stunning Ngorongoro will likely come from the heavily forested viewpoint that looks down upon its sun-drenched, cloud dappled magnificence. Ringed on all sides by the tropical forest draped walls of the caldera, Ngorongoro looks like something out of myth. One of the best places in the country to see the endangered black rhinoceros, the park is home to the entirety of the big five and is a particularly good place to see lions and cape buffalo year round.
The verdancy of the park means that animals can be seen here year round, although a large number of them participate in the Great Wildebeest Migration as it emigrates north to the distant Masai Mara in Kenya. As you wind your way down into the vast bowl of the collapsed caldera, you're immediately able to see vast herds of buffalo, wildebeest, gazelles, and zebra moving about apparently unphased by the stalking hyenas, the prowling lions, and the opportunistic jackals.
In the great alkaline Makat Lake, a vast flock of colourful flamingo can be seen, while the Ngorongonro Picnic Area is highlighted by a hippo pool where you can observe these deceptively peaceful looking creatures while eating your lunch. On the fringes of the crater, where the forest hugs the steep walls, leopards and the black rhino can occasionally be seen moving through the undergrowth. Playful baboons can also be seen going about their foraging all day long.
Another fascinating aspect of the Crater is that it is also home to the Maasai people, and they live in harmony with the wildlife as they raise their cattle and go about their daily lives. Nearby landmarks such as Olmoti Crater, Empakaai Crater, Lake Ndutu, and the Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano also offer exciting day trips for those who wish to remain in the area for more than a single day.