Little-known facts … about the Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater, centerpiece of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area World Heritage Site, is the world’s largest inactive, unbroken and unfilled volcanic caldera. A trip down into the Crater, 2,800 feet below the rim, is an unforgettable experience.

Find out 10 little-known facts before being amazed by its beauty!


1. The Maasai people originally names Ngorongoro, El-Nkoronkoro. The name means “Gift of Life”.

2. Austrian explorer and cartographer Oscar Baumann first visited the crater in 1892. A few decades later, foreign travelers’ frequent visits to Ngorongoro began to destroy it’s fragile eco-system, which necessitated its designation as a conservation area in 1959.

Oscar Bauman's route on the Ngorongoro Crater area


3. In 1979, the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area joined the UNESCO World Heritage site list to protect its unique ecosystem and vast biodiversity. Today, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area’s more than a half million annual visitors require a permit and a guide to visit the Crater.

4. To control traffic and protect the delicate environment, the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area authority issues 6-hour permits to visit the Crater floor.

5. Settling inside the Crater is strictly forbidden. Only the Maasai people are allowed to descend the Crater to water their livestock during transit.

Maasai and their livestock in the Ngorongoro Crater


6. The Ngorongoro Conservation area is home to nearly 30,000 animals, creating highest density of wildlife anywhere in Africa. The rarely seen, endangered Black Rhinoceros lives in an inaccessible part of the Crater, protected from poachers by park rangers.

Black Rhino in the Ngorongoro Crater


7. The Ngorongoro Crater offers Tanzania’s best opportunity to see “the Big Five” (Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhino) during the wet season, but vast herds of elephants leave the area during the dry season, so it is all about time!

8. Typically, the manes of the male lions found in the crater are darker than the manes of lions living elsewhere in Tanzania. This is thought to be due to the cooler weather at the Crater floor.

9. The Norongoro Conservation Area, located a mere three hours (driving) from the Arusha gateway. It allows visitors with limited time to easily access the Big Five in this “Garden of Eden”.

10. A famous movie was filmed on-location in the Ngorongoro Conservation area. In “Out Of Africa”, there is a celebrated scene of Robert Redford flying over the Maasai Mara and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Out of Africa movie scene



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