Approximately 20,000 animals take haven in 'Africa's Garden of Eden.' The Ngorongoro Crater is a world heritage site, the world's largest intact volcanic caldera and is commonly referred to as the 8th wonder of the world. The 2,000 feet high walls of the approximately 10-mile wide Crater form a natural amphitheater for the densest populations of large animals anywhere. The Crater is truly awe-inspiring and game viewing here is among the very best Africa has to offer.
Witness thousands of pink flamingoes preening and reflecting in the still waters - a fantastic sight. A blue-green algae flourishes in the alkaline waters and is the sole source of food for the thousands of flamingos that can be found here. The flamingos travel in and out of the Crater at night, and you may hear them honking like geese as they pass over. Many different animals can be found along the lakeshore including rhino, eland and lion. The lakeshore is also a good place to spot golden jackals which regularly hunt the flamingos.
Grasslands dominate the central areas of the Crater and offer tremendous game viewing. Gazelle and buffalo, wildebeest and zebra, elephant and even the rare black rhino live in concentrated numbers on the central plains. With so many prey animals, carnivores are abundant including lions and hyena. Other predators include bat-eared foxes and serval cats. There is a realistic chance to see cheetahs hunting on the open plains while the scattered ponds and waterholes are good places to watch lions rest and lie in ambush.
The magical Lerai Forest is a special refuge for many different species of animals. Look for sly leopards perched high in the tree boughs, hiding in the leaves and dappled light. Also, watch for massive bull elephants ambling through shady thickets. Lerai is a Maasai word referring to the tall yellow barked acacias. These beautiful trees are old, gnarled by years of growing back the bark stripped off by elephants. The forest is also a special bird habitat, providing food and nesting sites for hoopoes, cuckoos and weavers.
Gorigor Swamp is a refuge for elephants and hippos, as well as a profusion of water birds. The swamp is a vast area that is fed by Ngoitokitok Springs and runoff from the Crater walls. The area is a regular haunt for serval cats and also for lions and hyenas which use the thick cover to ambush other animals when they come to drink. The area to the northwest of the swamp is a favored by the Crater's black rhino population and it is a particularly good location to get close up photographs of this critically endangered species
This scenic and meandering stream provides water and forage for a host of animals. The Munge stream cuts through the crater wall and wanders across the floor of the crater before emptying into Lake Magadi. Leopards are very secretive though the best place to see them is in the trees that line the stream. Further upstream where the stream flows through the Rumbe Hills, there are large herds of buffalo and flocks of crowned cranes. Beautiful fig trees mark the border of the stream offering scenic backdrops for photography.
Stretch your safari legs and listen to the grunts of the local hippos at this scenic spot. Ngoitokitok is the name for the springs that bubble forth is such abundance that a small lake has formed before spreading into the nearby Gorigor Swamp. A small rock outcrop with a single fig tree adorns the lake edge and offers a wonderful photographic backdrop. The grassy strip around the lake is a popular resting area and a lovely spot for a bush picnic though beware of the large brown hawks that swoop down to snatch unattended food.