The Ngorongoro Crater is part of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. One of the natural wonders of the world, it is a National Park enclosure that sits at over 3000m high, in the crater of an extinct volcano. Most impressively it contains an entire ecosystem that is operates almost independently from the rest of the world. As proof of this the giraffes and elephants can no longer climb out of the crater due to its steep sides!

Not actually a part of the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater is in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, adjacent to the Serengeti. Ngorongoro is unique both in terms of the land as well as the animals. Called a crater, Ngorongoro is actually a caldera. At 18km across, it is the largest unflooded and intact caldera in the world! The animals are unique as well. While not an isolated ecosystem, there are many animals in the crater, some live there permanently. This is due to the permanent water source. The lions especially, have been shown to be extremely inbred.

Ngorongoro Crater is also known as a great place to see elephants. There is a herd of elephants in the crater, and they are all very impressive to see. It is a bachelor herd, made up of old male elephants - driven away from their herds when they got old. The elephant families stay in the highland forests around the crater, and do not often venture into the crater. Males leave their herds at 12 years old or older, associating only with other bulls from then on (except when mating is an option).

While Ngorongoro is not by any means independent from the rest of the world (animals come and go regularly - meeting an elephant who is leaving the crater while you are entering the crater can be a harrowing experience!) it is somewhat isolated. This, combined with the amount of water always in the crater has made Ngorongoro an attractive place for animals of all sorts (including tourists).

There are several lodges on the rim of the crater, which rises to around 2300 meters. They range from the (normal, 3 star) Wildlife Lodge to the (insanely expensive and rediculously posh) Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, with chefs who are reknowned in New York and Paris.

Ngorongoro Crater is normally visited en-route to the Serengeti, from Arusha or Nairobi. It is one of the premier tourist locations in Tanzania. All in all, Ngorongoro is a beautiful place with amazing wildlife that is worth visiting if at all possible!

I have to say that the awesome beauty of Ngorongoro crater must be mentioned in its Node. Even if there wouldn't have been a single animal on its crater floor it still would be a place worth the plane ticket. I've rarely seen such a beautiful place. Then again, I'm Dutch so, I'm easily awed.

jcfeser already named the ridiculously posh Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. I've slept there for one night and it was an experience never to forget. It's situated at the very edge of the crater rim, about 700m above the crater floor. Each room has a view of the crater floor which is literally filled with wildlife and the view is especially stunning when the morning sunrays touch the caldera floor (did I mention it's ridiculously posh?). I'm not a rich, spoiled brat at all, in fact I'm a backpack travel at a budget. I did visit Tanzania in low season however, in my case late April and safari agencies have a hard time filling up these resorts, so they cut back prices from astronomic heights to something even within my reach. I paid $25 extra, pretty damn cheap for such an experience.

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