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