Referred to as "Africa's Garden of Eden" Explanations for the name Ngorongoro are as diverse as the area's wildlife. It is also a pioneering experiment in multiple land use, where mankind, wildlife and livestock are allowed to co-exist in a natural setting. Traditional African Pasturalists co-operate with Tanzania's government bodies in preserving the natural resources of the area and help to ensure a fantastic experience for tourists.
Ngorongoro is a huge calderas, or collapsed volcano, 260 sq kms in size, 610 metres deep and 16kms across. The crater forms part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which covers 8,300sq kms (3,200 sq. miles). Its spectacular setting and abundance wildlife combine to make it one of the wonders of natural world. It supports up to 25,000 large mammals. No fences or boundaries border the crater walls – animals are free to enter or leave the crater, but many of the stay for the plentiful water and grazing available on the crater floor throughout the year. Much of the bird life of Ngorongoro is seasonal. The wet months see the arrival of Eurasian migrants at the open pools. Also influencing the variety of bird species is the ratio of soda to fresh water on the crater floor.
Open grassland covers most of the crater floor, turning yellow with wild flowers in June. The soda lake Makat is a great attraction for flamingoes and other water birds, while predators hide in the marsh to ambush animals that come to drink from the river that feeds the lake. Also on the crater floor are swamps, providing water and habitat for elephant and hippo as well as numerous smaller creatures such as frogs, snakes and serval cats.
The small forest patches on the crater floor are home to leopard, monkey, baboon, and antelopes such as waterbuck and bushbuck. Elephant often graze in the forest shade during midday, emerging into the open plains during the early hours of the morning and in the evening.