Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater

Location: 180 km (110 mi) West of Arusha Map

Area: 100 sq mi (264 sq km)

Age: 2.5 million years


Description of Ngorongoro Crater


Ngorongoro Crater is a Conservation Area located 180 km (110 mi) West of Arusha in Tanzania. Ngorongoro Crater was formed 2.5 million years ago as a large volcanic caldera after collapse of a large volcano. Ngorongoro Crater covers an area of 100 sq mi (264 sq km). Ngorongoro Crater was formed 2.5 million years ago after collapse of a volcano. From above this unusual geologic formations looks like a chalice with its walls reaching a height of 1000 meters above the lowest point. Ngorongoro Crater covers an area of 100 sq mi (264 sq km) with a total diameter of 19 kilometers.


Due to the elevation and dynamics of the air masses, the microclimate in Ngorongoro varies greatly depending on the location. Higher areas are usually wet and foggy. The plain is subject to strong temperature fluctuations. Most precipitation falls in November and April; their amount also varies greatly depending on location. The edges of the crater are covered with shrubbery and are wet savannah with tall grass and residual evergreen mountain forests. At the bottom of the crater, the grass is shorter; there are sources for drinking and acacia forests.

About 25 thousand animals live in the crater; it has the highest density of predators in all of Africa. Especially often in Ngorongoro there are zebras, buffalos and various types of antelopes, such as wildebeest, cannons and gazelles. They are hunted by lions and leopards living in the crater. In addition to them, black rhinos, elephants and, which is unusual for these latitudes, hippos also live in Ngorongoro. Large migratory flows of animals from the Serengeti often pass through the Ngorongoro Crater.


At the beginning of the XX century, a German farmer Adolf Zidopf with his wife Paula settled in a deserted crater and began to engage in cattle breeding and wheat cultivation. At this time, a small group of Masai settled in the crater to mutually help each other in raising livestock and repelling the attacks of predators. At the end of World War I, Zidopf returned to Germany. The Masai also left the crater - they were evicted, since poachers could hide among them.

Since 1951, the crater has been part of the Serengeti National Park. In 1959, a special reserve was created outside the crater - the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, in which the Masai were allowed to settle and graze livestock. In 1975, agricultural activity in the crater was finally banned. In 1979, Ngorongoro Crater was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as an outstanding natural monument, and in 1981 it was recognized as a biosphere reserve.

In a 2006 report to the World Natural Heritage Commission, the administration indicates that the growing number of tourists' cars in the park is becoming an increasing problem. In the outer territories of the park, residents of neighboring regions try to settle every now and then, and repeatedly had to eliminate illegal agricultural land. Recently, in the whole national park there are up to 60 thousand shepherds with more than 350 thousand head of cattle. This is much more than it is possible to feed without illegal grain cultivation. The Tanzanian government is going to solve the problem by purchasing land outside the park.