Two-and-a-half million years ago a volcano the size of Kilimanjaro imploded, creating the vast crater known as Ngorongoro. Now blessed with a staggering variety of wildlife, Ngorongoro is one of the wonders of the natural world. Thick forest surrounds the crater, whose floor contains tracts of practically every habitat found in East Africa: open grasslands, acacia woodlands, swamps, fresh water pools, sand dunes and a small soda lake with flamingos.
Large game is wonderfully abundant and includes elephants, buffalo, zebra, gazelle, impala, eland, waterbuck, lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena. Smaller species also often seen in the crater include serval, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, dwarf and slender mongooses and olive baboons. The crater is regarded as one of the very best places in all of Africa to see the now highly endangered black rhinoceros which finds a relatively safe refuge there.
Masai tribesmen live on the crater rim where walking tours are also permitted. In nearby Olduvai Gorge the Leakeys found important hominid remains, giving rise to their theory that East Africa was the birthplace of modern man.