The largest un-flooded and unbroken volcanic caldera on the planet – the Ngorongoro Crater – lies on the border of the Serengeti National Park. Inside its ancient walls is a mosaic of grassland, forest, marsh and lakes, home to 25,000 large animals including all the “Big 5”, as well as spectacular birdlife. At various points the crater walls reach up to 400m in height. The rim sits around 7,500 feet above sea level and is covered in ancient forests draped in lichen.
There is no accommodation within the crater itself but a number of outstanding lodges and safari camps are located on its rim, offering sweeping views of the landscape. Visitors can also stay in Karatu, a pretty area of flower farms and coffee plantations. Many of the lodges here are styled to resemble colonial homesteads and offer an insight into the life of early European settlers.
Visitors can enjoy game drives in 4WD vehicles into the crater, however, off-road driving is not permitted. Stay in a property close to a park gate to get a head start on everyone else in the morning, or choose a tented camp set in a more remote section of the rim.
Aside from wildlife viewing, things to do in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area include interactions with local Maasai or Hadzabe tribespeople, farm tours in Karatu and even volcano climbs. Visitors can also tour archaeological sites where early hominid fossils have been found such as Olduvai Gorge.