Located 180 km west of Arusha in Tanzania, the Ngorongoro crater is a large circular caldera. Located in the heart of the Ngorongoro massif in northern Tanzania, in the eastern branch of the Great Rift Valley. This now extinct crater was formed after the collapse of a huge volcanic building that originally reached 5,000 meters in height.
The Ngorongoro crater is a closed oval of about 20 km in diameter with an area of about 300 sq km. The crater is about 600 meters deep with respect to its edges. Inside the crater there are several lakes. The largest of which is Lake Magadi located on the western side. The base of the crater is about 1,800 meters high, while the edges of the crater are located about 600 meters higher.
A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE AREA
The area where the Ngorongoro crater is located is protected by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. A protected natural area that covers about 8,300 sq km of surface. This high altitude savannah area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The territory of the reserve is made up of vast expanses of plateaus, savannas, wooded savannah and forests. The reserve extends between the plains of the Serengeti National Park, to the northwest, and the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley.
To the south, the protected area extends to Lake Eyasi, while to the north-east it includes the volcanic crater of Empakaai with its lake. The boundary of the area reaches, but does not include it, the imposing stratovolcano of Ol Doinyo Lengai, which reaches 2,962 meters in height. The gorge of the Olduvai Gorge falls instead within the park boundaries. The highest mountain located within the protected area of Ngorongoro is Mount Loolmalasin which reaches 3,682 meters high and is the third highest mountain in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru.
A PARADISE FOR ANIMALS
Over 25,000 large animals and around 500 bird species live within the protected area. There are lions, gazelles, zebras, wildebeests, hyenas, rhinos. Hominid remains dating back 3.7 million years have been found in this area.
The Ngorongoro crater area is one of the most important and visited tourist sites in Tanzania. Tourists come here mainly to see the wildlife, but the suggestive landscapes of the African highlands that characterize the area and the prehistoric sites where traces of hominids dating back to millions of years have also been very popular. The most important prehistoric sites are those of: Olduvai Gorge, Laetoli, Lake Ndutu and Nasera Rock.
The Ngorongoro crater area is subject to a tropical climate where two distinct rainy seasons are highlighted: the small rainy season, between November and December, and the heavy rainy season, from March to May. The dry seasons include the months between January and February and between June and October.
The crater plateaus on the side facing the east trade winds receive between 800 and 1,200 mm of rain per year and are largely covered by mountain forest vegetation. The west wall of the crater, on the other hand, receives only between 400 and 600 millimeters of rain and is covered with vegetation of meadows and bushes. The bottom of the crater is largely covered by grassy areas suitable for grazing with small wooded areas where acacia grows.
Official page of the Ngorongoro Park Authority.
This post is also available in: German