12 Interesting Ngorongoro Crater Facts

Ngorongoro Crater, often referred to as “Africa’s Eden” and the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” is a unique natural wonder located in Tanzania. It is part of the larger Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which spans over 8,292 square kilometers. Here are 12 fascinating facts about this incredible destination:

  1. World’s Largest Inactive, Intact, and Unfilled Volcanic Caldera

Ngorongoro Crater holds the title of the world’s largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater was formed around 2-3 million years ago when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself. Today, it measures about 19 kilometers in diameter, covers 264 square kilometers, and is about 610 meters deep.


  1. UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 1979, Ngorongoro Crater was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This recognition was due to its unique geological features, biodiversity, and significant archaeological sites.


  1. Home to the Big Five

The crater is one of the few places in Africa where you can see the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) in a single game drive. It is particularly famous for its dense population of lions and the critically endangered black rhinoceros.


  1. Incredible Biodiversity

The crater hosts over 25,000 large animals, including wildebeest, zebras, hippos, and hyenas. Its varied ecosystems, from dense mountain forests and woodlands to lakes and open grasslands, support this rich biodiversity.


  1. Ngorongoro Crater Lions

The lions in the crater are known for their unique behavior and genetics. Due to their relatively small population and the crater’s isolated environment, these lions have a higher rate of inbreeding, which has led to specific genetic traits.


  1. Maasai Community

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is unique because it integrates wildlife conservation with human habitation. The Maasai people have lived in harmony with the wildlife here for centuries. Visitors often see Maasai herdsmen grazing their cattle alongside wild animals.


  1. Olduvai Gorge

Located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Olduvai Gorge is one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world. It has provided invaluable insights into early human evolution, with numerous fossil discoveries, including early hominid footprints and tools.


  1. Lake Magadi

Within the crater lies Lake Magadi, a shallow, alkaline lake that attracts a myriad of bird species, including flamingos. The lake’s high soda content creates a strikingly beautiful pinkish hue, especially when flamingos gather in large numbers.


  1. Cultural Heritage

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a cultural heritage site as well. It houses over 300 Maasai archaeological sites, including ancient burial mounds and rock art, showcasing the rich cultural history of the indigenous people.


  1. Conservation Efforts

Conservation efforts in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are robust and multifaceted. They aim to balance the needs of wildlife, the Maasai people, and the thousands of tourists who visit each year. These efforts ensure the preservation of the area’s natural and cultural resources.


  1. Climate and Weather

The crater’s climate varies with altitude. The rim, standing at an elevation of about 2,200 meters, can be quite cool, especially in the early morning and evening, while the crater floor is warmer. The region experiences a bimodal rainfall pattern, with the long rains from March to May and the short rains in November and December.


  1. Tourism and Accessibility

Ngorongoro Crater is a popular destination for safari enthusiasts. It is easily accessible from Arusha, a major city in northern Tanzania, which is about a 3-4 hour drive away. The crater’s spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife, and unique cultural experiences make it a must-visit on any Tanzanian safari itinerary.


Ngorongoro Crater is a natural marvel that offers an unparalleled wildlife experience. Its rich history, vibrant ecosystems, and harmonious coexistence of humans and wildlife make it a unique destination. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, a history buff, or a cultural explorer, Ngorongoro Crater has something special to offer. Visit with African Big Cats Safaris to explore this remarkable wonder and create unforgettable safari memories.