The Ngorongoro Conservation Area which lies between the Serengeti and the Lake Manyara National Parks boasts the largest unbroken, inactive, and unflooded caldera in the world. Perhaps having once been about the same size as Mount Kilimanjaro, when the volcanic activity subsided, it collapsed inward resulting in a crater 18 kilometers (11 miles) across. Surrounded by very steep walls 610 meters (2000 feet) deep, this natural amphitheatre covers an area of about 260 square kilometers (100 square miles) and is home for up to 25,000 larger mammals. Nearly half of those being zebra and wildebeest while other species found are buffalo, gazelle, eland, hartebeest, warthog, and the elusive black rhino. Lion, hyena, cheetah, and leopard are among the predators within the crater.
Lake Magadi, a soda lake centralized on the crater floor, is prolific with flocks of flamingoes in such great quantities, they may even be visible as a pink-colored mass from vantage points on the crater rim. Ostrich and kori bustard are the distinctive grasslands birds although the swamps, ponds, and rivers support an ever present population of water birds. The conservation area includes a wide variety of habitats such as highland forest, swamps, lakes, rivers, woodlands, and extensive grasslands. It is quite common to see Masai grazing their herds of cattle throughout the region.
Due to the extremely steep and scarce roads traversing in and out of the crater, only 4-wheel-drive vehicles are allowed onto the crater floor.
Ngorongoro Crater Highlands:
The crater highlands are part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This is a reserve where the local communities live alongside the wildlife. The highlands consist of a range of volcanoes – not all extinct – rising steeply from the side of the Great Rift Valley in Northern Tanzania. Hence, along with the Ngorongoro Crater, the highlands encompass a number of impressive peaks with steep escarpments, crater lakes, dense forest and grassy ridges, streams and waterfalls. One particular volcano, the Ol-Doinyo Lengai (2878meters / 9440 feet) is even active! This vicinity is also home to many Masai people who have grazed cattle on the grasslands here for hundreds of years. Most walking is done around the 3000 meters (9840 feet) mark