Featuring volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and forests is the Ngorongoro conservation area. The centerpiece, of the conservation area is the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater and often called the eighth wonder of the natural world, the Crater is the largest intact crater in the world. About two million years ago, the Ngorongoro volcano erupted and its walls collapsed.
Featuring volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and forests is the Ngorongoro conservation area. The center piece, of the conservation area is the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater and often called the eighth wonder of the natural world, the Crater is the largest intact crater in the world. About two million years ago, the Ngorongoro volcano erupted and its walls collapsed. The volcano floor sank to create a natural enclosure surrounded by 600m high walls and over 19 kilometers wide, this natural amphitheater is full of acacia forest, hippo-filled swamps and wide open grasslands. These different habitats contain over 30,000 animals – including elephants, warthogs, flamingos, magnificent birds, the rare black rhinoceros and all the predatory cats. Another attraction in the crater is the Munge River that cuts across the crater before falling hundreds of meters in one of the most picturesque waterfalls inside the and one of few that can be seen from miles away.
The crater sits inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which covers more than 8,000 sq km. It is called a ‘Conservation Area’ and not a ‘National Park’ because animals and people live together here (people are not allowed to live in National Parks). The Maasai live around the Ngorongoro Crater and can often be seen grazing their livestock in peaceful co-existence with the wildlife as if stuck in a capsule that has defied the passage of time.
In addition the area has made an exceptional contribution to our understanding of human evolution. Fossil evidence from various locations within the Conservation Area, notably Olduvai Gorge, provides a remarkably complete picture spanning a period of almost four million years. One of the most remarkable finds was a series of hominid footprints (known as the ‘Laetoli’ footprints), preserved in wet volcanic ash, that proved that our ancestors (Australopithecus afarensis) were walking upright long before anyone had imagined – some 3.75 million years ago.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority was established in 1959, establishing multiple land use in which conservation, tourism and pastoral activities co-exist in carefully managed harmony.