The Ngorongoro crater is the world’s largest inactive volcano. The (real) story behind the crater is the stuff of legend: once upon a time a mountain stood high and mighty, scraping the skies higher than any other. One day it imploded; a blast so violent, caving in itself and forming a crater 610 meters deep and 12 miles wide. Then came life in abundance: fresh water, lush vegetation and of course, wild animals. Plenty wild ones call this home – mostly the wildebeest, but also the Big Five, elands, graceful gazelles, hyenas, hundreds of the winged ones including vultures, buzzards and more. Further South is Lake Magadi, an alluring lake, all salty, where lesser and greater flamingoes alike have found sanctuary.
During the dry season, jackals, hyenas and others troop to the lake to lick off the delicious, crystalline saltiness of the lake.
The Ngorongoro crater lends its name to the larger Ngorongoro conservation area. Here is Olduvai Gorge, a steep canyon which takes after “Oldupaai” – what the local Masais call wild sisal. It’s here where the earliest evidence of humankind were discovered for the first time by the famous archaeologist Mary Leakey. Further down is Laetoli, which still holds human footprints from yore – incredibly preserved in volcanic ash. To the north east is Oldonyo Lengai, a volcano that’s still active. This is a religious site for the Masai, the grounds upon which they perform their very special prayers yet.