It is a
place of superlatives. The crater is the largest unbroken caldera
in the world, and is home to one of the largest concentration of
predators on the planet. It is a perfectly formed circular
caldera, 12 miles across capable of holding the bulk of
London inside its
3,000 ft walls. It was “discovered” by Europeans little more than
a hundred years ago, but it has been the home of Maasai
pastoralists who have lived in relative harmony with the wildlife
for hundreds of years. Ngorongoro Crater has been described as a
“Garden of Eden.” Within its walls you can find the whole of
There are forests and plains, hills and valleys, lakes and swamps.
When the rains start, wildflowers bloom across the landscape.
Giraffe, wildebeest, impala and fat zebra graze there providing
amble prey for the lions, cheetah, hyena and other predators.
is not a national park. It is a conservation area. It once was a
part of the Serengeti
because it had been an important grazing land for the Maasai
people, it was re-designated as a conservation area so that the
traditional lifestyle of the Maasai could continue within its
2,400 sq. mile boundaries.
Most parks, including the Serengeti do not allow any
hiking trips within their boundaries, for obvious reasons, but
here in the highlands surrounding Ngorongoro Crater, you can hike
in some of the most beautiful and inspiring countryside in the
world, and visit the Maasai communities that still practice a way
of life basically unchanged for a thousand years.
The Ngorongoro highlands are just that, open
forested and heather highlands ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 ft in
elevation. Due to the elevation it can be quite cool at night and
visitors are advised to wear warm clothes for the early morning
games drives and chilly nights around the campfire. Ngorongoro
also has some of the most spectacular and luxurious wildlife
lodges built right on the rim of this magnificent crater. Camping
is also possible on the rim of the crater at Simba Camp, and it is
common to have elephants, bush pigs, baboons and other wildlife
stroll through and around the camp.