For its varied and untouched geographical features coupled with vastness of the area, Ngorongoro Conservation Area can easily be mistaken for a heaven on earth. Located in the game rich northern circuit adjacent to the Serengeti National Park, this area filled with wildlife and is considered one of the best places to visit for a game drive.
What makes Ngorongoro different in a literal sense is that it is a conservation area and not a national park; that means the territory is also used by Maasai tribe people for grazing their livestock. It is among the world’s greatest natural wonders and now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The conservation area is vast in size stretching across an area of 8,300 sq km. Since its inception as a protected conservation area, it has enforced strict regulations on settlements, activities, and hunting inside of the park. In 2009, the regulations were reconstructed and any forms of human settlement were restricted only to the staff of the lodges present in the crater rim, but it was allowed for pastoralist to graze their livestock.
Absence of humans to such extent has resulted in the development of fairly tale like wilderness area which has to be seen to be believed. Hues of bright and light green can be seen running endlessly with swamps, lakes, and hills in between.
As it is part of the game rich Serengeti ecosystem and bordering the Serengeti National Park, there are wild animals in plentiful amount almost on par with that of Serengeti. Upwards of 25,000 large animals and 400 bird species call this place home.
The Ndutu Area which is present in the border of Serengeti and Ngorongoro is the gateway for wild animals to go back and forth between the two areas. There are soda lakes and it is an oasis lying in the middle of the grass plains. It is a year round wildlife concentrated place and this is where the wildebeest migration starts from every year.
This crater covers roughly 3% of the conservation area and spans a total area of 260 sq km. The crater formed millions of years ago because of a volcanic eruption which collapsed on itself leaving behind this giant depression. The whole crater floor and area is teeming with wild animals including the Big Five of Africa and records itself among the world’s largest density of large carnivores. The walls of the crater are 610 meters high. Thus the crater has its own distinctive climate and atmosphere. There are various lodges present in the rim which are always in high demand because of their rewarding picturesque view of the crater floor and beyond.
Another highlight of Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the Olduvai Gorge, which is also referred to as the cradle of mankind since the earliest known human specimens were discovered from this place. It is a steep ravine part of the Great Rift Valley and stretches along eastern Africa into the Serengeti plains. Because of such profound nature of the gorge which has been helpful in uncovering a lot about human evolution, it is an important prehistoric site. A museum has been constructed next to it to house important excavated materials.
The star attraction of the Conservation Area is the Ngorongoro Crater: an extinct volcano teeming with wildlife often compared to the Garden of Eden. Wildlife viewing in the crater is out of this world. All major animals are easily seen. The only exception is giraffe, which is present in the Conservation Area, but not in the crater because of the steep descent. Elephant are common, including some very big tuskers. All big cats can be spotted, and the density of spotted hyena is quite extraordinary.
The nearest international airport to the Serengeti is Kilimanjaro Airport near Arusha. Kilimanjaro and Qatar Airways offer flights directly into Arusha (daily from Amsterdam and Doha). Other airlines such as Swissair  will fly into Nairobi, Kenya, (from Zurich) or Dar es Salaam, from where you can get a connecting flight to Arusha
Best Time To Visit
Wildlife viewing inside the Ngorongoro Crater is superb at all times. However, grass on the crater floor is short in the Dry season (June through September) and this makes animal spotting easier. The scenery is lush and spectacular in the Wet season months (from November to May)
Most people will visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as part of a bigger package, including a visit to the Serengeti. Conveniently, the conservation area lies en route and is only a three-hour drive on tarred road from the town of Arusha, the starting point of all safaris in northern Tanzania.