Ngorongoro Crater

Lioness contemplating buffalo

Lioness contemplating buffalo

Ngorongoro Crater is the largest inactive unflooded caldera in the world, located in Tanzania, Africa.


An adventurous 112 mile (180 km) drive west from Arusha–half of which is a gravel road–took us to the rim of the Crater, where we stayed for three nights.


Part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Crater was formed three millions years ago when a volcano exploded and collapsed.  Crater info here.


African Ostrich

African Ostrich

Pronounced  en-gor’en-goro, it is 2,000′ deep (610m), with a floor of 100 square miles (260 sq. km).



Ngorongoro Crater, hippos and cattle egrets

Ngorongoro Crater, hippos and cattle egrets

Although it has been occupied in past centuries by hunter-gatherers, and pastoralist groups, no humans live here now.  Mammals, birds, and plants live inside the Crater–approximately 25,000 mammals, mostly ungulates.


NCA has formed a unique harmony here between wildlife, indigenous residents, and visitors to conserve this valuable land.


Zebra, juvenile is brown

Zebra, juvenile (ctr) is brown

Local Maasai are allowed to bring their cattle into the Crater to graze, but only for the day.  A limited amount of visitors are also allowed to visit, but only for the day, accompanied by guides.




Ten miles across, the Crater floor is open grassland; there are also acacia woodlands, and both fresh and alkaline lakes.


The rim elevation is approximately 8000′, and the descent into this unique ecosystem was majestic for its expansive, pastoral vista.


Some mammals migrate into the Crater, but mostly they do not come and go, because it is enclosed.  Unlike the adjacent Serengeti plains, the savanna is not endless due to the Crater walls, so some animals (like impala and crocodiles) do not live here.


Elephants in NC Lerai Forest

Elephants in NC Lerai Forest

A few of the residents include:  rhinos, hippos, buffalo, elephant, zebra, jackals, hyena, wildebeest, lions, and flamingos.


Due to the wild and dangerous nature of the animals, we stayed in the vehicles at all times, except for bathroom breaks and lunch time.


At lunch time the guides strategically parked the vehicles beside a hilly area, to have better sight of potential wildlife dangers.  Even then we had to eat quickly because the hawks swooped close to our heads for our food.


Farmer on the road to the crater

Farmer on the road to the Crater

To watch the lions stalking, the zebras dust bathing, hearing the buzz of hundreds of flamingos; listening to the howling hyenas in the dark morning — it’s remarkable.


Resting lioness


Ngorongoro, a Maasai word, translates:  Gift of Life.  And it truly is.



Photo credit:  Athena Alexander



54 thoughts on “Ngorongoro Crater

  1. Oh my goodness, you’ve provoked so many memories of my visit to the Ngorongoro Crater many, MANY years ago. One of these days I’d like to think I can take my family there to share the experience of this gift of life. What an experience you had!😊

  2. I like the fact that they only allow visitors in with supervision. The same was true at Canyon de Chelly with visitors to the canyon required to be accompanied by a Navajo guide. It helps to keep the mischief down to manageable levels in places that are fragile and worth preserving.

    • I completely agree, Gunta. People who are not accustomed to wild animals think they can get close for photos or feed the animals, or other such nonsense, and it often creates circumstances dangerous for both the human and the wild animals. A guide helps keep balance. Glad to have you along on the safari today!

  3. What an enchanting place, quite incredible! Once again, wonderful information and photographs, describing an abundant and beautiful cauldron of life. Why is it so funny to see the egrets and hippos…?
    Thanks for this great adventure, Jet!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the Ngorongoro Crater adventure, pc. I know, it is funny to see the egrets and hippos together, they’re so incongruous as partners. Enjoy your adventures this weekend, and a salute to Mrs. pc too.

  4. Amazing views of an incredible experience! I’m also glad that tourism is regulated. Thanks much for sharing. Maybe my husband and I will a chance to go someday. We dream about it 🙂

    • For me there are many places I am quite certain I will not have a chance to visit, and just having photos and stories makes for a pleasant vicarious visit. What a pleasure it is, then, to share Ngorongoro Crater with you, SWI.

    • Many thanks for your kind words, Sue, so glad you enjoyed the Ngorongoro Crater and Athena’s photos. Athena was very excited about capturing the stalking lioness. The lioness crept up a little more after that, but eventually she changed her mind and did not pursue the kill. So happy to have you along for the safari.

  5. “An adventurous drive…” That description — and your delight in taking it — are what make you so special, Jet. As always, thank you for sharing your adventurous spirit with us.

    • It’s great that you noticed my description of the drive, Nan. Many people do not go to the Crater because of that road, but that would be unthinkable. Many thanks for your warm comment.

  6. What a stunning example of a successful conservation project, and what a ride it must have been! I always look forward to reading about your adventures, Jet. This one made my day. Have a great weekend!

    • Thanks so much, Elisa. The Ngorongoro Crater adventure was one of my favorite of all time, and I am delighted you enjoyed it too. BTW I like your new blog.

  7. You saying that you “stayed there for three nights” makes so jealous already. To see the animals in pictures make me even more to dream of being there in Africa. You are so rich of nature knowledge, experience and memories.

    • I’m smiling as I type, Rommel, because your travels around the world are so very extensive. But no matter how far any of us sojourn, it’s the nature of adventure that we just want to see more. I am glad I could treat you to the Ngorongoro Crater, and hope that someday your travels take you to this wonder of the world. Many thanks for your visit and kind comment….

    • So glad you enjoyed the Ngorongoro Crater, Sylvia. There’s this buzzing that flamingos do, communicating, when they are in large groups like that. There was a jackal on the outskirts of the group making them nervous. Thanks for your comment today, and your frequent visits. 🙂

  8. Indeed, “Gift of Life” with rich wildlife and extraordinary spacious land over the Crater!Beauty came up from the depths of the earth and the little confined paradise was created,after.Thrilling your descriptions and Athena’s photography,dear Jet!Each post of yours,a big page from the Natural History of our planet.Thank you dear friend for the pleasure I get each time I visit your multifarious blog 🙂 (+/+)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s