Ngorongoro Crater & Conservation Area

The Ngorongoro Crater, at 2,286m above the sea level, and is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. Ngorongoro is 199km away from Arusha town, which is surrounded by very steep walls rising at 600 meters from the crater floor. The crater as been declared a world Heritage Site. Ngorongoro Crater lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which covers by Lake Eyasi in southwest and the Gol Mountains in north. Olduvai Gorge is located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, it here that Dr Louis Leakey discovered the remains of Homo habilis or "handy Man" regarded as mankind's first step on the ladder of human evolution. The gorge is about 50km long, and at its deepest, close to where the main archaeological sites, visitors viewing platform and museum are located. It is about 90km deep. To the north of this, the gorge becomes shallower. The best time to visit the crater is throughout the year.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a huge area containing active volcanoes, mountains, archeological sites, rolling plains, forests, lakes, dunes and of course, Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge.
The views at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater are sensational. On the crater floor, grassland blends into swamps, lakes, rivers, woodland and mountains - all a heaven for wildlife, including the densest predator population in Africa. The crater is home to up to 25,000 large mammals, mainly grazers - gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest and warthog. You will not find giraffe as there is not much to eat at tree level, or topi, because the competition with wildebeest is too fierce, nor will you find impala. The crater elephants are strangely, mainly bulls. There are a small number of black rhinos here too. The birdlife is largely seasonal and is also affected by the ratio of soda to fresh water in Lake Magadi on the crater floor.

Three Rhinos— Ngorongoro, Tanzania. January, 2007
In the northern, remote part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, you will find Olmoti and Empakaai Craters, Lake Natron and Oldoinyo Lengai, Mountain of God, as named by the Maasai. Lake Natron is the only known breeding ground for East Africa's flamingoes.
The ruins of a terraced stone city and complex irrigation system lie on the eastern side of Empakaai - the Engakura Ruins. Their origins are a mystery as there is no tradition of stone building in this part of Africa
ITINERARY
CRATER HIGHLANDS 6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS
Days 1 and 2. Ngorongoro
Drive to Lake Manyara, famous for its tree-climbing lions lounging in its scenic acacia trees. Into the Ngorongoro Crater, the extinct volcanic caldera famous for its numerous animals - elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and countless bird varieties. It really is a sight to behold and the views from the crater rim looking down onto the expanse below are unforgettable. Camp at a small Maasai village.

Days 3 and 4. The Empakaai Crater
Walk across the Embulbul depression through beautiful desolate scenery following cattle trails along grasslands to the Empakaai Crater rim. Again, the views from here looking down into the crater are stunning with densely forested walls dropping steeply to the turquoise lake filling the floor below. Descend into the crater - there is a good chance of some excellent wildlife spotting as the Maasai's herds are not allowed to graze here and the lake is often surrounded by huge flocks of flamingos. Walk on to Naiyobi, a chance for close contact with the locals in this isolated village. This is an area seldom visited with no vehicular access. Continue along grassy ridges, and rocky escarpments passing remote Maasai huts through really harsh, wild and beautiful landscapes to the soda lake, Lake Natron and its colourful resident birdlife. Plains Zebra drinking, Ngorongoro Crater

Day 5. Oldoinyo Lengai
Optional climb up Oldoinyo Lengai. For those that feel fit enough it is an early start (in darkness to avoid the midday heat) up the challenging, hot climb along exposed paths and gullies to the ashy rim of the volcano. The views of the Crater Highlands are awe-inspiring and the 360 degrees landscape creates a very beautiful setting. Alternatively, there are some wonderfully refreshing waterfalls and the whole of the Lake Natron area to explore.

Days 6. Homeward
Return to Arusha through further rugged scenery.

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