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Saying that the ethereal landscapes seen from the Ngorongoro crater are of immeasurable beauty is not stretching things too far, although nothing can compare to the magic of its lower zones which host, among the great numbers of animals in the wild, the highest concentration of lions and other predators in the world.
This real marvel, renowned the world over, is one of the main tourist attractions of Africa, designated by UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Being 19 km wide, with a surface area of 264 sq km (102 sq mi), the Ngorongoro crater is one of the biggest uninterrupted calderas the world over. Its steep slopes reach a height comprised between 400 and 610 metres above sea level and offer a unique view.
Numerous hippos roam the picnic area of Ngoitoktok Springs, whereas during the wet season the shallow waters of Lake Magadi are a gathering spot for flamingoes. In this area, there are about 200/300 elephants and, among the predators, 600 spotted hyenas and 55 lions, according to the latest census, as well as some golden black-backed jackals. The latter feed on the many herbivores that live in the crater, mainly wilderbeests, zebras, buffaloes and Grant's gazelles. Here the black rhynoceros can be spotted, an endangered species that is a major tourist attraction. As many as 30 rhynos live on the bottom of the crater and the most frequent sightings take place in an area between the leral (masai word for yellow-barked acacia tree) forest and the road to Lemala, that connects with the crater.
Access to the area
A paved road runs along the brink of the crater, excluding the northern part, offering amazing views through the trees.
As well as from the various lodges, typical african accomodation, the best views can be enjoyed from the starting point of the road to Seneto that leads down inside the crater. Another couple of recommended spots for beholding the landscape are the westernmost tip of the caldera and the point where the road and the brink of the crater meet, past the rise when coming from the Lodoare entrance.
Unlike other national parks, which the resident populations were forced to abandon, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is still today a part of the Masai territory. About 40,000 people still live here and have the legal right to graze their cattle (grazing rights). It is common to see them while looking after the cattle or selling necklaces and knives along the road.
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