The Ngorongoro Crater, situated 2,286 meters above sea level, is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. Surrounded by very steep walls rising 61 0 meters from the crater floor, this natural amphitheatre covers an area of about 260 square km and is home for up to 25,000 larger mammals, almost half of these being zebra and wildebeest. Gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest and warthog are also to be found. Such vast numbers attract plenty of predators and lion and hyena are easily spotted, while cheetah and leopard are a bit more difficult to find.
The late Professor Bernhard Grzimek wrote in his introduction to the Ngorongoro guidebook: “It is impossible to give a fair description of the crater, for there is nothing with which one con compare it. It is one of the wonders of the world.”
Nestling at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment the Lake Manyara National Park is noted for its incredible beauty. As visitors enter the gate they enter the lush ground water forest, whose tall trees are home to troops of baboons and blue monkeys.Further along the forest opens up into woodlands, grasslands, swamps and beyond, the soda lake itself, covering 390 square kilometers and sanctuary to over 350 species of bird including flamingo, storks, pelican, sacred ibis, cormorants and Egyptian geese. It is a bird watchers paradise. The park is also noted for its numerous buffalo, elephant, giraffe, impala, hippo and a great variety of smaller animals. Most famous spectacle in the park are the tree-climbing lions which ore sometimes found spread out on the branches of acacia trees six to seven meters above the ground.
Only 120 km from Arusha lies the Tarangire National Park which borrows its name from the river that threads its way through the length of the park.
It is famous for its dense wildlife population which is most spectacular in the dry season between June and October. During this period thousands of animals – wildebeest, zebra, eland, elephant, hartebeest, buffalo and fringe-eared oryx – migrate in search of water from the dry savannah in the west to the Tarangire River. As the watercourses fill up, animals start drifting away and soon only the resident species – giraffe, rhino, waterbuck, impala, kudu and dik-dik are left.
The Serengeti National Park is one of the best known wildlife sanctuaries in the world. “Serengeti” is the Masai term for “endless savannah,” and is home to more than 3 million large mammals living in total freedom. About 35 species of savannah animals con be seen here. In May or early June, huge herds of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra begin their spectacular annual migration in search of greener pastures in Masai Mara in Kenya and west of the park. Columns of wildebeest 40 km long have been seen – a truly awe-inspiring sight.
In their wake follow the predators; lion, cheetah, hyena and hunting dogs with vultures circling-overhead. Other common species found here include hippo, giraffe, eland, impala and other antelope and a profusion of almost 500 bird species.