Nearly three million years ago Ngorongoro towered alongside Mount Kilimanjaro as one of the highest peaks in Africa. Forged during the tumultuous birth of the Rift Valley, its volcanic top erupted at the time that ancient man first walked the plains
Today, Ngorongoro’s caldera shelters the most beautiful wildlife haven on earth. The rich pasture and permanent water of the Crater floor supports a resident population of some 20,000 to 25,000 large mammals. They are not confined by the Crater walls, and can leave freely; they stay because conditions are favourable. Since most of the Crater floor is grassland, grazing animals predominate: gnu, zebra, gazelles, buffalo, eland and kongoni (Coke’s hartebeest) and warthogs. The swamp and forest provide additional resources for hippos, some of Tanzania’s last remaining black rhinos, giant-tusked elephants, waterbucks, reedbucks and bushbucks, baboons and vervets.
The steep inner slopes provide a habitat for dikdiks and the rare mountain reedbuck. Towering euphorbias cling to the crater walls and on the floor, Fever tree and Fig tree forests give shade to an awe-inspiring array of creatures. All these animals in turn support large predators such as Lion and Leopard, and scavengers such as Hyena and Jackals. For the best viewing and photography, approach the animals slowly and quietly and stay on the official tracks.
What you can see of birdlife depends greatly on the season of the year, because there are resident birds and migrant birds. You are certain to see many residents, like ostriches, bustards and plovers all year round. In wet season they share the Crater with European migrants such as White Storks, Yellow Wagtails, swallows, etc. The migrants pass through from November through May, coinciding with the rains in Africa and the winter in Eurasia.
There are also local migrants such as flamingos, storks and ducks which come and go depending on the state of the lake and ponds. Other birds you can see are Stonechat, Anteater Chat, Schalow’s Wheatear, Fiscal Shrike. Augur Buzzards, Verreaux’s Eagle and other raptors live in the Crater.