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Ngorongoro National Park

We drove 190 km from Arusha to Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area through the small villages of Mto Wa Mbu and Karatu with wonderful views of the high altitude rain forest surrounding the Ngorongoro ring. We visited the Maasai village on the rim of the crater where we were entertained with traditional dance and educated on their culture. Overnight we stayed at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge on the crater rim (2,400 metres). Nights can get icy cold but one of life’s great pleasures is to sit around the roaring fire, drink in hand, re-living the day’s activities.
This is quite possibly the most famous of all Africa’s conservation areas, and is worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. It is one of Africa’s best places for viewing game. As a world heritage site, it is the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world, and some scientists maintain that before it erupted, it stood higher than Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa.

Covering a mere 260km², the 600 metre deep crater is home to a permanent population of more than 30,000 animals, and is one of the only places in Africa where you stand a very good chance of seeing the “big five” (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant) in the course of a game drive. There are around 100 lions in the crater, and about 20 black rhino. The spectacular Lerai Forest is one of the best places in Africa to spot leopard. Lake Magadi is home to thousands of flamingos.
Unique to the crater is that the local Masai tribesmen who graze their cattle on the floor, and it is not unusual to see Masai cattle and buffalo grazing together, with a lion kill just a few hundred metres away.
The 260km² crater forms but a small part of the 8 300km² Ngorongoro Conservation Area Visitors should visit Olduvai Gorge, the “Cradle of Mankind” with its fascinating archeological history and also do a circuit heading north west to Olmoti Crater, Empakaai Crater, and, with time and a tough vehicle, to Ol Donyo Lengai, the periodically active volcano that the Maasai believe is the home of their god.