Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the pioneering experiment in multiple land use. The park has the multiple purposes of integrating the protection of the local people with that of wild nature, The area is part of the Serengeti ecosystem and, to the northwest, adjoins the Serengeti National Park and is contiguous with the southern Serengeti plains. These plains also extend to the north into the unprotected Loliondo division and are kept open to wildlife through transhumance pastoralism practiced by the Maasai. The south and west of the area are volcanic highlands, including the famous Ngorongoro Crater and the lesser-known Empakaai Crater. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the East African Rift wall, which also prevents animal migration in these directions.
The main feature of the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority (NCAA) is the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater, which formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago, is 610 meters (2,000 feet) deep and its floor covers 260 square kilometers (100 square miles). Estimates of the height of the original volcano range from 4,500 to 5,800 meters (14,800 to 19,000 feet) higher than the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro which is 5895 meters. The crater floor is 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) above sea level. The crater was voted by Seven Natural Wonders as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in 2012. The Ngorongoro volcano was active from about 2.45 to 2 million years ago.
The volcanic eruptions like that of Ngorongoro, which resulted in the formation of Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, were very common. Similar collapses occurred in the case of Olmoti and Empakaai, but they were much smaller in magnitude and impact.
Ngorongoro Crater is one of the Natural Wonders of the world. It is a crater that is the awesome natural sanctuary for almost all large mammals species essential to the East African plain. Remarkably it includes one of Tanzania’s critically endangered black rhino; also the density of predators headed by lions and hyenas is amazing in the world. Get to visit the only remaining primitive society in Africa that migrated to Tanzania about 300 years back, the Maasai, the king of the jungle grazing their cattle in the middle of the park as the only mercy for their thousands of cattle starving for water and pasture. Easy and fast accessible throughout the year, the park is 177 km from the town of Arusha.
With wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practicing traditional livestock grazing, it includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera. Ngorongoro has global importance for biodiversity conservation due to the presence of globally threatened species, the density of wildlife inhabiting the area, and the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, and other animals into the northern plains. Extensive archaeological research has also yielded a long sequence of evidence of human evolution and human-environment dynamics, including early hominid footprints dating back 3.6 million years.