What’s special about Ngorongoro Crater? First of all, the name. To say it correctly, press your tongue to your top front teeth and make a long “Nnn” sound like you are humming but with an “n” instead of an “m”. Then roll right into the “goro” and repeat. The cadence is like “red rover, red rover…” Nnnn-GO-ro-nnn-GO-ro.
Ngorongoro Crater is a nearly perfect caldera — a collapsed volcano almost 100 square miles in diameter — which is home to some of the best game viewing in Tanzania, if not all of Africa. Here, you’ll find 25,000 large mammals including lions, hyenas, jackals, elephants, cheetah, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, and eland, just to name a few. Importantly, it is one of the few places visitors can see the rare black rhinoceros in Tanzania. It is also home to many interesting plant and bird species such as lesser flamingos, greater flamingos, secretary birds and much more.
Ngorongoro Crater is so special that it has been declared a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Outside the crater in the surrounding Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) there are active and dormant volcanoes and vast plains which are home to millions of animals during the Great Migration.
The NCA includes Olduvai Gorge, site of many significant archaeological finds by the Leakey family and others. You can also visit Laetoli, a site where early hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 million years old.
Traditional culture also abounds in the NCA, most significantly with the brave and majestic Maasai. The Maasai in this area live traditional lives in small group compounds, wearing colorful robes and jewelry and carrying spears to protect their cattle.
There are many wonderful places to stay in the NCA, from intimate tented camps to luxury lodges, so be sure to spend some time here when you visit Tanzania.