Ngorongoro crater, at 2286 m above sea level, is the world largest unbroken caldera surrounded by very steep walls rising 610 m from the crater floor. This natural amphitheater measure 19.2 km in diameter and 304 sq km in area. Ngorongoro Crater is the home to about 30000 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 Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelle are easily seen on the crater floor.
Ngorongoro crater has good numbers of black rhino which now approach 20 individuals and make it be among the few places in East Africa region where visitors can easily see these rare creatures. During the game drive in the Ngorongoro crater, leopard can also spotted on the trees of Elerai forest. Visitors may also spot cheetah on the plains withing the crater while Large herds of giraffe lives on the rim of the crater and will be seen on the drive to Olduvai Gorge and the Serengeti.
Thousands of flamingos can be seen soar over the soda lake at the centre of the Ngorongoro crater to form a pink blanket. The crater is also boasting other species of bird which exceed for more than 100 species of birds which found in Serengeti National Park. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area where the crater is located covers more than 8000 sq km and it bordered with Lake Eyasi in the southwest and the Gol Mountains in the north. The centre of the Ngorongoro Conservation is estimated to be the Olbalal Swamp and the arid Olduvai Gorge.
The Ngorongoro crater highlands on the Eastern side receives 800–1200 mm of rain a year and is covered largely in montane forest, while the less-steep west wall receives only 400–600 mm; this side is grassland and bushland dotted with Euphorbia bussei trees. The crater floor is mostly open grassland with two small wooded areas dominated by Acacia xanthophloea.
Ngorongoro Crater Water Sources
The Munge Stream drains Olmoti Crater to the north, and is the main water source draining into the seasonal salt lake in the center of the Ngorongoro Crater. This lake is known by two names: Makat as the Maasai called it, meaning salt; and Magadi. The Lerai Stream drains the humid forests to the south of the Crater, and it feeds the Lerai Forest on the crater floor – when there is enough rain, the Lerai drains into Lake Magadi as well. Extraction of water by lodges and NCA headquarters reduces the amount of water entering Lerai by around 25%.
The other major water source in the crater is the Ngoitokitok Spring, near the eastern crater wall. There is a picnic site here open to tourists and a huge swamp fed by the spring, and the area is inhabited by hippopotamus, elephants, lions, and many others. Many other small springs can be found around the Ngorongoro crater’s floor, and these are important water supplies for the animals and local Masaai, especially during times of drought.
Aside from herds of zebra, gazelle, and wildebeest, the Ngorongoro crater is home to the “big five” of rhinoceros, lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo. The Ngorongoro crater plays host to almost every individual species of wildlife in East Africa, with an estimated 25 000 animals within the crater.