The Ngorongoro Crater, at 2,286 m. above sea level, is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. Surrounded by very steep walls rising 610 metres from the crater floor, this natural amphitheatre measures 19.2 km in diameter and 304 sq km in area. It is home to up to 30,000 animals, almost half being wildebeest and zebra. Buffalo, elephant, hippo, hyena, jackal, lion, ostrich, serval, warthog, bushbuck, eland, hartebeest, reedbuck, waterbuck and huge herds of both Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle are easily seen on the crater floor. Thanks to anti-poaching patrols, the crater is now one of the few places in East Africa where visitors can be certain of seeing black rhino, with the number now approaching 25. Leopard may occasionally be seen in the trees of the forest surrounding the crater while cheetah are also present but rarely seen. Large herds of giraffe live on the rim of the crater and will be seen on the drive to Olduvai Gorge and the Serengeti.
Countless flamingo form a pink blanket over the soda lakes while more than 100 species of birds not found in the Serengeti have been spotted.
The crater, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which covers more than 8,300 sq km. It is bounded by Lake Eyasi in the southwest and the Gol Mountains in the north. Roughly in the centre are the Olbalal Swamp and the arid Olduvai Gorge.