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The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (809,440 ha) spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests, from the plains of the Serengeti National Park in the north-west, to the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley. The area was established in 1959 as a multiple land use area, with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastorals practicing traditional livestock grazing. It includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world largest caldera, and Olduvai Gorge, a 14km long deep ravine. The property has global importance for biodiversity conservation in view of the presence of globally threatened species such as the black Rhino, the density of wildlife inhabiting the Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding areas throughout the year, and the annual migration of wildebeest in the Southern part (Ndutu Area), zebra, Thompson and Grants gazelles and other ungulates into the northern plains.

Ngorongoro Crater/Caldera

The Best part of the conservation area is the Ngorongoro Crater which was created when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 and is the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world.
It measures about 16-19km in diameter, with walls of 400-610m in height. Due to the enclosed nature of the Crater it has virtually formed its own ecosystem. Besides the stunning scenery, one of the main attractions of this area is the variety of flora and fauna found in a remarkably compact area all year round. In the South west corner there is the Lerai Forest, which is mainly comprised of yellow fever trees (a member of the acacia family). To the north of the forest is a shallow soda lake called Lake Magadi and to the east you will find Gorigor Swamp and the Ngoitokitok Springs where pods of hippo are to be found. The north of the Crater is, on the whole, much drier and consists of the open grasslands which characterized the Crater floor.

These extensive open plains are also home to herds of buffalo, Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle and tsessebe (often called topi). You’ll also find East Africa’s best population of black rhino here, which are often seen in open grasslands. Breeding herds of elephant pass through the Ngorongoro Crater itself only rarely, but you will see a scattering of old bulls, including some of the biggest tuskers left alive in Africa today. The only surprising absentees from the Crater are Impala and Giraffe; it is thought that this is perhaps because of the lack of open woodlands and browsing species of trees which these two tend to thrive on.

Southern plains/Ndutu Area.

Vast short-grass plains cover the south of Serengeti National Park, stretching into the north of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the south-west Loliondo and Maswa Game Reserve. Occasionally there are small kopjes which, like the forests around Lake Ndutu, harbor good populations of resident game. However, around these oases of permanent wildlife, the majority of this area is flat and open. It’s alive with grazing wildebeest from around late-November to April, but can be very empty for the rest of the year.

Empakaai Crater

Only 90 minutes’ drive from the Ngorongoro Crater, Empakaai Crater is much smaller, yet endearing in its own way. A deep soda lake covers about half of the 6 km wide caldera. You’ll often find thousands of flamingos in the shallows of the emerald lake – giving it a spectacular pink tinge. You can drive up to the outer rims of the crater, before taking the 45-minute walk down the path through the forested slopes to the crater floor. The views from the rim over the crater to Ol Doinyo Lengai are thought to be some of the most spectacular in Africa – on very clear days you can even see Kilimanjaro and Lake Natron. Empakaai Crater is a great day trip to consider for those spending more than two nights in the Ngorongoro area. Ask us for more details.

Olduvai Gorge

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area does not only generate interest purely based on wildlife, the area has also got arguably the most extensive history of any place on earth. It has been proved that various Hominid species have lived there for millions of years. This has been discovered because of fossils preserved in volcanic rock, which date back to 3.6 million years ago. The 30 mile long Olduvai Gorge is a steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley. This is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and has been instrumental in understanding human evolution. This is well documented in the museum, which has replicas of some of the hominid fossils unearthed at the site, as well as the Laetoli footprints (the most ancient footprints ever found). It also has genuine fossils of some of the extinct animals that used to live in the area. We can arrange day trips to the Gorge and the museum, which is an interesting addition to an Ngorongoro safari.

People & Tribes

For thousands of years a succession of cattle herding people moved into the Area, lived here for time, and then moved on, sometimes forced out by other tribes.


About 200 years ago the Maasai arrived and have since colonized the Area in substantial numbers, their traditional way of life allowing them to live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment. Today there are some 42,200 Maasai pastoralists living in the NCA with their cattle, donkeys, goats and sheep. During the rains they move out on to the open plains; in the dry season they move into the adjacent woodlands and mountain slopes. The Maasai are allowed to take their animals into the Crater for water and grazing, but not to live or cultivate there. Elsewhere in the NCA they have the right to roam freely.

Visitors are welcomed at two designated Maasai cultural bomas one on the road to Serengeti and another close to Sopa Lodge at Irkeepusi village.

The Datoga, Nilo-Hamitic-speaking pastoralists, who arrived more than 300 years ago and were subsequently forced out of the Serengeti-Ngorongoro area by the Maasai, today they live just outside the NCA, in the Lake Eyasi basin and beyond.

One can make quick stop at Maasai Bomas to enjoy singing and dance Traditional Maasai dancing called “Adum” singing in “Maa” Maasai Language, with some cost additional from your safari price.

Where to stay inside the Conservation Area

There is no accommodation within the Ngorongoro Crater and so generally speaking there are two different options; either staying on the Crater rim or on the Rift Valley Escarpment. There is a collection of lodges perched on the Crater rim overlooking the floor. These lodges tend to have incredible views and easy access to the crater, however the prices reflect this. The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is the most luxurious & Expensive. Other Mid-Luxury Lodges that offers View to the Crater Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge, Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge and the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge. These benefit one will get from these Lodges is amazing Crater view, however their size means they’re lacking in the character you can find elsewhere. Your Most Affordable Option closes to the Crater but doesn’t offer the View will be Rhino Lodge.

If one will be interested with Tented Camps then there is Couple of Option in the Highland Ngorongoro like Lemala Entamanu Tented Camps, Ang’ata Camps and other in other like Pakulala Camps. 

Due to Great Number of people Visiting the Ngorongoro Area that may led to accommodation scarcity or if someone is travelling in Budget then near Ngorongoro less 20km from Loduare Gate lies a small safari town called Karatu that host great Number of Safari Hotels & Lodges in both Luxury, Mid Luxury & Budget one.

Luxury One include Rift Valley Escarpment, Gibbs Farm, Plantation Lodge, Kitela Lodge, Ngorongoro Farm House

Mid Luxury & Budget include Eileen Lodge, Octagon Lodge, Tloma Lodge, Farm Valley, Endoro Lodge, Bougainvillea Lodge and Many more.

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