The Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and International Biosphere Reserve, covering almost 8,300 sq km with altitudes ranging between 1,020m to 3,577m. Frequently referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, the area encompasses a blend of landscapes, archaeological sites, people and abundant wildlife that is unsurpassed in Africa. Featuring volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and forests, it is home to the nomadic Masai.

The centre-piece, and major landmark of the Conservation Area is the breath-taking Ngorongoro Crater, a natural amphitheater surrounded by steep walls rising over 600 meters from the crater floor. It is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles whose magical setting and plentiful wildlife never fail to thrill. The crater is a natural sanctuary for some 30,000 animals including the ‘big five’ of buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino. It is also home to cheetah, hartebeest, hippo, hyena, jackal, reedbuck, serval, warthog, waterbuck, wildebeest, zebra and a great many bird and insect species.

Close to the Ngorongoro Crater there are two less famous, and less visited, craters ideal for walking and hiking safaris. Empakaai Crater is about 6 km wide with steep walls rising to almost 300m. Nearly half of the crater floor is covered by a deep salt water lake but eland and waterbuck may be seen. The trail down to the crater floor offers spectacular views of a still active volcano, Oldoinyo Lengai, and, on a clear day, the snowy peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro. On the way down to the lake there are buffalo, bushbuck, blue monkeys and rare birds, such as sunbirds and turacos. Olmoti Craters’ floor is shallow and covered with grass where, in addition to the Maasai and their livestock, buffalo, eland and reedbuck may be seen. The Munge River crosses the crater before falling hundreds of meters in a spectacular waterfall.

Yet another attraction of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is Olduvai Gorge, the site where, in 1959, Dr Louis Leakey and his wife Mary discovered the remains of what was regarded as man’s first step on the ladder of human evolution. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority was established in 1959, to pioneer this multiple land use in which conservation, tourism and pastoral activities co-exist in carefully managed harmony.


For further information, contact:

The Conservator
Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority
PO Box 1, Ngorongoro Crater,
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255 27 253 7019/06
Fax: +255 27 253 7007