Ngorongoro National Park
Ngorongoro is the largest unbroken caldera in the world, which is un-flooded. The crater is about 3188 m above sea level, and was formed several million years ago by the collapse of the cone of the volcanic mountain into the empty magma beneath the crust.
The crater is about 610 meters deep, 20 kilometers in diameters, covering an area of 325 square kilometers. This area now has one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. Designated as a World Heritage Site, the Ngorongoro is home tosome endangered species, like the black rhino. The crater walls act as a natural cage, the depth making it difficult for some animals to leave; most have no need to leave, being able to find enough resources inside.The Ngorongoro Crater has been called the 8th Wonder of the World, and with good reason. It is an unspoilt Eden, where one can easily see most of the Big 5 - rhino, buffalo, elephant, lion and giraffe within minutes of descending into the Crater.
As with most lakes in the Rift Valley area, the small lake in the crater is a soda lake, and is the seasonal home for thousands of flamingoes. The crater floor is a self-contained world apart, likened to Noah's Ark for its preservation of animal diversity in a relatively contained area. An estimated 30,000 animals make their home here. There are numerous habitats within the crater ranging from the Yellow-barked acacia forests of Lerai to the swamps around Ngoitokitok Springs to the pink flamingo mantle of the soda Lake Magadi, each supporting a distinct ecosystem.
The Ngorongoro Crater is part of a larger eco-system called the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This is a multiple land use area, and a distinct phenomenon of this area is the manner in which the Maasai tribe with their cattle coexists peacefully with the wildlife. It is a common sight where the young Maasai morani (young warriors) leading their cattle to watering places in the crater, carrying spears for protection against the wild animals.
Within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, on the Naabi Plains that unfurl between the Crater and The Serengeti, lies Olduvai Gorge, popularly known as "The Cradle of Mankind". It was here that Dr. Louis Leakey and his wife Mary first discovered the remains of Zinjanthropus Bosei, a distant ancestor of man believed to be 1.8 million years old and Australopithecus Bosei, the 'Nutcracker Man', a species that became extinct about 1 million years ago. There were also fossilized footprints, remains of ancient tools and bones from various prehistoric species, which are now extinct.