Africa Travel News

Why you need to see the Ngorogoro Crater on your tour of Tanzania

There are many places to enjoy an African Safari, and even within the country of Tanzania there are dozens of opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the world's most iconic animals. The Ngorogoro Conservation Area, however, is perhaps the most unique place in the world to enjoy wildlife.

Millions of years ago, a massive volcano collapsed on itself, forming the crater that creates Ngorogoro. Dubbed "The Gift of Life" by the native Massai, this area is home to an impressive array of animals as well as some of the most well-preserved remains of prehistoric history. During your tour of Tanzania, you won't want to miss the opportunity to take an African safari in this special place.

Geologic wonder
Roughly 2 million years ago, a giant volcano explored, carving the area that is now Ngorogoro. The largest volcanic crater - called a caldera - in the world, it covers nearly 100 square miles and is in some places 2,000 feet deep. This gives Ngorogoro one of the must rugged and interesting places to visit in the world.

Despite its violent past, Ngorogoro is a bountiful, welcoming place. The floor of the crater is very fertile as a result of the volcanic ash. The grassland is vibrant and can support huge herds of mammals, as well as smaller species. 

At the same time, the crater is also inviting to human visitors. For example, the Ngorogoro Farm House is a quaint lodge where guests can hang their hat, enjoy a bit of rustic luxury or cool of by the pool. Guided safaris will make your tour of Tanzania informational and illuminating. According to the United Nations, it is the only UNESCO World Heritage site where humans and animals live in harmony. 

Breath-taking wildlife
While the floor of the crater is vast grassland, Ngorogoro is also home to scrub forest, stands of bamboo, marshes and other diverse ecosystems, all taking advantage of the crater's fertile soil. This habitat gives cover to the area's smaller residents, as well as places for the more than 500 species of bird that call Ngorogoro home to nest.

Out on the plains, the Ngorogoro Conservation Area reported that 25,000 large animals patrol the savannah. Famous hoofed-mammals such as wildebeest, gazelle's, elands and zebra form herds in the thousands. As part of the great migration of mammals in East Africa, Ngorogoro may be visited by a total of 1.7 million wildebeest, zebra and other animals in a given year. Among the scrub forest and wetlands, visitors may be able to spot elephants, buffalo, reedbuck and elephants. 

With so many prey animals around, Ngorogoro also has many of Africa's most famous predators for lucky guests to enjoy. There are leopards, cheetahs and spotted hyenas found within the crater. Likewise, the NCA stated that Ngorogoro has one of the highest densities of wild lions in the entire world. Rare African painted dogs also prowl the grasslands and scrub forest.

Ancient hominids
Within Ngorongoro is the Olduvai Gorge, which houses one of the world's most famous archeological sites. Here, the bones and footprints of some of mankind's earliest relatives have been preserved in the rock.

Roughly two million years ago, Homo Habilis?, known as "The Handy Man" was a human ancestor in a rapidly changing world. As East African forests were continually loosing ground to savannah and grassland, formerly arboreal apes needed to stand up-right to see over the tall grass. This early human likely used tools, and the archeological sites at Olduvai Gorge reflect this.

Even older, more primitive human ancestors have been found in the Ngorongoro Crater. Zinjanthropus, perhaps more ape than man, laid footprints roughly three million years ago in the sediment in Olduvai Gorge, and these impressions have lasted into modern times, according to the NCA website.

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