Located in northern Tanzania, the Ngorongoro Crater is one of the best places for interacting with the Maasai, seeing Africa’s big game, and going on unique safaris that showcase the area’s breathtaking sites. The conservation area covers 8,300 square kilometers and is named both a Man and Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Providing protection for wildlife while allowing human habitation, the Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact caldera, with walls reaching up to 600 meters high.
As the home to more than 25,000 large animals, the Ngorongoro Crater is a famous safari destination. Visitors to the crater will likely see everything from black rhinos and wildebeest to Thompson’s gazelles, hyenas, and cheetahs. The area also welcomes close to two million zebras and wildebeest during their annual migration north between the months of December and June. Given its volcanic past, Ngorongoro maintains both desert plants and rain-watered vegetation. The crater’s slopes are covered in evergreen forests, while the basin is filled with lakes, marshes, and short-grass plains.
For around 200 years, the area has also been home to tribes of cattle herders called the Maasai. There are currently around 42,000 Maasai individuals living with their cattle, sheep, and goats near the crater, and they are allowed to take their livestock into Ngorongoro for water. Visitors are welcome to visit the Maasai bomas (villages) near Sopa Lodge and on the way to Serengeti for a view of how the tribes live.