1. The largest unbroken caldera in the world
A caldera is a specific kind of crater – one caused when a volcano mouth collapses in on itself.
2. Viewed from the rim, the crater looks empty
A whopping 25,000 to 30,000 large mammals live in Ngorongoro Crater.
3. The crater has several different ecosystems
The steep and forested crater wall . This wall of Ngorongoro Crater is mostly covered in thick montane forest, with the shallower western wall being dominated by euphorbias. The wall's forest is a favourite haunt for leopards, so be sure to look for them when driving down and back up out of the crater. The alkaline and seasonal salt Lake Magadi and its surrounding soda flats. These are home to many waterbirds, including greater and lesser flamingos. Mandusi and Gorigor Swamps . They’re a sanctuary for elephants, hippos, lions, other mammals big and small, and all sorts of waterbirds. Hippo Pool . Located on the edge of Gorigor Swamp, this is a popular picnic site among safari-goers. Lerai Forest . This is a small woodland comprising primarily acacia and yellow fever trees, and is popular with monkeys, baboons, elephants and Fischer’s lovebirds. Extensive grasslands . These are populated with large numbers of lions, elands, wildebeests, plains zebras, black rhinos, spotted hyenas, and more.
When to visit
4. Ngorongoro Crater boasts 300 animal species
Black rhinos – they’re critically endangered, as there are only around 5,000 left African golden cats – they’re listed by the IUCN as vulnerable African wild dogs (or painted dogs) – these beautiful carnivores are endangered
The most popular game
Lions Bush elephants Spotted hyenas Serval and caracal cats African civets Black-headed and golden jackals Bat-eared foxes Cheetahs Leopards African buffaloes Blue wildebeests Burchell's zebras Grant's and Thomson's gazelles Coke's hartebeests Bushbucks Elands Defasse waterbucks Vervet monkeys Olive baboons Hippos
5. The crater has the Big Five, but no giraffes
Giraffes live in the area, just not the crater
6. It has the world's highest density of lions
7. Its lions are the world's best-studied population
Interesting fact: female lions have been proved to be more attracted to males with dark manes than to males with blonder manes!
8. Over 550 species of birds can be seen here
A real drawcard of Ngorongoro Crater is that it allows you to see many rare, beautiful, migrant and endemic birds in a short space of time.
Cool fact: the Egyptian vulture knows how to hold a stone in its beak and use it like a little hammer to crack open ostrich eggs!
Some of the most exciting birds
Augur buzzard Egyptian vulture Black kite Martial eagle Secretary bird Kori bustard Hildebrandt’s spurfowl Hildebrandt’s starling Hildebrandt’s francolin Hottentot and blue-billed teals Black crake Kittlitz plover Rufous-tailed weaver Grey crowned crane Adbim’s stork Green wood hoopoe Fischer’s lovebird Rosy-throated longclaw Black-winged lapwing Kenya rufous sparrow
9. Three discrete tribes have historic roots here
Maasai – 98% of the resident population Datooga – 2% of the resident population Hadza – Only a handful of families living near Lake Eyasi
On the western shore of Lake Magadi in Ngorongoro Crater are very old stone burial mounds believed to belong to the Datooga people.
10. It's a natural and cultural World Heritage Site
The presence of globally threatened species (like the black rhino, wild hunting dog and golden cat) and the need to protect them. The fact that the NCA has the highest density of mammalian predators in Africa and the desire to protect them. The incredible density of wildlife within the NCA’s borders in general, including over 500 bird species, and the importance of conserving them and their habitat. The presence of the Great Wildlife Migration herds at certain times of the year in the northwest of the NCA. The stunning landscape of the NCA, particularly that of Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge. The incredible archaeological importance of the NCA – and Olduvai Gorge in particular – in terms of human evolution, stone technology, and human–environment development.