The Nature Zoo Famous Ngorongoro Crater, 2,286 metres above sea level, is the largest un broken caldera in the world. Surrounded by very steep walls rising 610 metres from the crater floor, this natural amphitheatre covers 260 square km. That's 100 square miles and is home to over 25,000 large mammals. About half of the animals are zebras and wildebeests.
There are also gazelles, buffaloes, elands, hartebeests, warthogs, and the rare rhinoceros. Occasionally Maasai can also be seen bringing their cattle down the crater walls to the lake below.
Such vast numbers of animals attract many predators, including lions, hyenas, cheetahs, and leopards. More than 100 species of birds not found in the Serengeti can also be spotted here. Countless flamingoes from a pink blanket over the soda lakes.
The Crater has been declared a World Heritage site. The Ngorongoro crater lies within Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which covers more than 8,000 square km.
It is bounded Lake Eyasi in the southwest and the Gol Mountains in the north. Roughly in the center is the Olbalal Swamp and the arid.
History and geography
Based on fossil evidence found at the Olduvai Gorge, it is known that various hominid species have occupied the area for 3 million years. Hunter gatherers were replaced by pastorialists a few thousand years ago. The Mbulu came to the area about 2,000 years ago, and were joined by the Datoga around the year 1700. Both groups were driven from the area by the Maasai in the 1800s. Massive fig trees in the northwest of the Lerai Forest are sacred to the Maasai and Datoga people. Some of them may have been planted on the grave of a Datago leader who died in battle with the Maasai around 1840.
No Europeans are known to have set foot in the Crater until 1892, when it was visited by Dr. Oscar Baumann. Two German brothers farmed in the Crater until the outbreak of World War I, after leasing the land from the German colonial administration then in control of East Africa. Dr. Baumann shot three rhinos while camped in the crater, and the German brothers regularly organized shooting parties to entertain their German friends. They also attempted to drive the wildebeest herds out of the crater.
The Ngorongoro area originally was part of the Serengeti National Park when it was created by the British in 1951. Maasai continued to live in the newly created park until 1959, when repeated conflicts with park authorities over land use led the British to evict them to the newly declared Ngorongoro Conservation Area.