The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is located in the Crater Highlands Area about 190 km west of Arusha City lies between Lake Manyara and Serengeti National Parks. It has an approximately 8,292 sq. km coverage area consisting of the four distinctive attractions; the Ngorongoro Crater itself, the Olduvai Gorge and Ndutu, the Empakai Crater and the Oldonyo Lengai Mountain.
Ngorongoro National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since its establishment in 1959 as a special multiple land-use for both wildlife and semi-nomadic Maasai Pastoralists who are the main residents of Ngorongoro Area. The Ngorongoro Craters and the Crater of Empakai are exclusively reserved for wildlife activities while the rest of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is shared people, livestock and wildlife.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the central unique attraction in the area considered to be the world’s largest intact walls caldera and one of the seventh natural wonders of Africa. The Ngorongoro Crater Floor is home to between 20 and 30,000 wild animals including the very highly endangered Black Rhino. Other plains animals found includes gazelles, zebra, wildebeest, elands, and a large predator population of lions, hyena and jackal which can all be viewed at close quarters, and if you are lucky you can see cheetah and leopard. Although animals are free to move in and out of the contained crater, the rich volcanic soil, lush forests and spring source lakes on the crater floor mean that both grazers and predators tend to remain here throughout the year. This makes the Ngorongoro Crater a great area for game viewing.
The rainy season is between November and May. The altitude at the crater rim is about 2286 metres above sea level, and temperatures can get quite chilly in the evening, especially between May to September.
Located in the Ngorongoro Conversation Area, the Ngorongoro Crater lies in an exceptional geographical position, forming a spectacular bowl of 265 km2 with a heavily forested rim rising to 600m. The crater is thought to have appeared 2.5 million years ago from a large active volcano whose cone collapsed
The Gorge is found in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where human has been part of the Ngorongoro landscape for millions of years. The findings of Dr. Louis Leakey have scientifically proved that, the earliest man has lived here. The hominid footprints preserved in the volcanic rock dated way back to 3,600,000 years old. Useful information and education can be obtained from the Gorge Museum and on-site interpretations.
The conservation area is also famous for its ‘endless plains’ of the Serengeti. It is also home to Olduvai Gorge, where fossil remains of the one of the earliest known specimens of the human genus, Homo Habilis, and 3.5-million-year-old human footprints have been discovered. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is an extraordinary volcanic landscape. It is rich and fertile, with lush forests, stunning craters and beautiful lakes, including Lake Makat, a central soda lake filled by the Munge river.
Ndutu is located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, in the south-eastern plains of the Serengeti ecosystem. The plains around Ndutu are the main holding ground for migratory animals where vast herds congregate and linger for more than four months, from December to April, before they start moving across the Serengeti in search of greener pastures and water.
Ndutu area forms an important part of the Serengeti ecosystem, in particular the short grass plains which provide calving grounds for wildebeest and other migratory animals.
Empakai Crater (sometimes spelled Empakaa Crater) is just what you’re looking for among unique natural wonders of Africa in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
With support and accompanied from armed ranger, you’ll trek up to the crater rim for a spectacular view of the Ngorongoro Highlanders and surrounds before descending into a verdant lost world sheltered by the ruined walls of a former volcano. It’s like something out of cinema, and it can be added to any itinerary including the Ngorongoro region.
It is a collapsed volcanic caldera that stands at 300 metres in height and more than 6 kilometres in width. At its heart likes Empakai Lake, a deep alkaline lake that stretches to depths of around 85 metres and covers three quarters of the crater’s floor. From Empakai Crater’s towering rim, it is possible to see landmarks such as Mount Kilimanjaro, the Great Rift Valley, and Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano.
An Empakai Crater trekking tour is a fantastic add-on to a safari to Ngorongoro, but can be added to any itinerary with minimal fuss. Itlies roughly 3-4 hours’ drive from the majority of Ngorongoro accommodations, so treks are a full day activity.
Once you’ve arrived, the walk from the crater rim to the crater floor is relatively short – little more than half an hour. Completing a circuit of Empakai Lake takes approximately four hours, although you can spend as little as an hour on the crater floor if you’re pressed for time.
Climbing back up to the crater rim takes 45 minutes to one hour, with a return drive possible if you’d rather not camp in the area.
Trekking tours of Empakai Crater can also be combined with trekking to Ol Doinyo Lengai or Olmoti Crater upon request.