Geological History of Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, the caldera of a now-extinct volcano, is widely known as a natural wonder. Home to some of the most exotic wildlife species, this beautiful crater is not just the world’s largest caldera, which has remained intact but it also remained unflooded.


Ngorongoro crater highlands

Where to find the Crater in Tanzania?

If you’ve happened to visit the Serengeti-Ngorongoro-Masai Mara ecosystem, you may have found the Ngorongoro Conservation area, within which the Ngorongoro Crater lies. Located within a breathtakingly beautiful setting between Lake Manyara and Africa’s highest mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro, this amazing spot is widely visited by tourists throughout the year.

The Highlands of Tanzania cast a magic spell on onlookers, with tantalizing sights and eclectic species of some of the world’s most attractive flora and fauna! Adjoining the Great Rift Valley and the world famous Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater borders along with the Ngorongoro Crater Lake entice tourists, who throng to this natural marvel.

It is commonly known that when the Rift Valley fell in many years ago, the cracks emerging from the eastern side of Africa softened the earth’s crust. This caused molten materials to easily thrust upon the earth’s surface, thereby shaping lava beds, which later became volcanoes. The present day caldera was formed when the molten lava from the volcano died down.

Famous Volcanoes Formed Around Ngorongoro Crater

The volcanic eruptions like that of Ngorongoro, which resulted in the formation of Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, were very common. Similar collapses occurred in the case of Olmoti and Empakaai, but they were very smaller in magnitude and impact.
Out of the two recent volcanoes lying to the northeast of the Empakaai caldera, Kerimasi and Ol Doinyo Lengai, the Doinyo Lengai is still active, and last erupted in 1983. This volcano is also known as the Maasai’s ‘Mountain of God’.

Some of the oldest volcanoes like Lemagrut, Oldeani, Sadiman, Olmoti, Sirua, Ngorongoro, Lolmalasin and Empakaai, lie within the Tanzania Ngorongoro crater area. They were all formed along the towering cliffs at Lake Eyasi.

Stunning Landscapes of Crater in Tanzania

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area was designated as the World Heritage Site in 1979, and included the Ngorongoro Crater in addition to the two other craters. Travelers can visit a Masaai Village on the way to Ngorongoro Crater. A visit to the beautiful Masaai Villages can be an interesting experience, as you get to observe how far our civilization is from these villages.

Masaai women at Ngorongoro

Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater area is truly unique, and it has formed its own ecosystem. If you take a Safari, you may be able to experience the exquisite beauty of different species of animals in this developing ecosystem.

Along with unique ungulates, you can find diverse game species grazing on the crater floors at the Ngorongoro National Park in Tanzania. Several predators like the leopards, hyenas or jackals can also be found in these short grasses. If you’re looking for a rendezvous with lions however, move towards the woodland pockets so you can come across a strong and healthy lion population!

Lion in Ngorongoro

The rich flora at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area can be attributed to the fertile soil, which is due to the ash formed by the lava, spewed from volcanoes. This ash also helps main the rich savanna grasslands and preserve precious fossils. The Olduvai Gorge, which lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, showed the initial stage of human evolution, as the first skeletal remains of ‘Handy Man’ were found here.

When you look at the Ngorongoro Highlands now, it may be hard to believe that it once rivaled the Kilimanjaro in size! Several ancient and modern geological processes coalesced to form these breathtakingly beautiful landscapes.


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