A contender for any global shortlist of natural wonders, this volcanic caldera provides sanctuary for some of Africa’s densest large mammal populations.

Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania by Ariadne Van Zandbergen Africa Image Library

Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and listed as an International Biosphere Reserve, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) extends over 8,292km² to the southeast of the Serengeti National Park, with which it shares a border of roughly 80km. Its dominant feature is the geological marvel known as the Ngorongoro Crater – the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, and a shoo-in contender for any global shortlist of natural wonders thanks to its gobsmacking scenic beauty and the wildlife that teems across its verdant 260km² floor. The rest of the NCA can be divided into two distinct parts. The eastern Crater Highlands comprise a sprawling volcanic massif studded with craggy peaks and gaping craters, while the lower-lying western plains are essentially a continuation of the Serengeti ecosystem, supporting a cover of short grass that attracts immense concentrations of grazers during the rainy season.

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