Wedged between the Serengeti and the Great Rift Valley is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a sweeping landscape of grassy plains, forests, and volcanic craters. At the heart of this wilderness, andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge sits on the southern rim of its10-mile-wide namesake crater, the world’s largest intact caldera. An astonishing 20,000-plus animals populate the open grassland that spreads across the caldera’s floor. UNESCO calls the stunning combination of the landscape and its wildlife concentration “one of the greatest natural wonders of the planet.”
The wildlife density of Ngorongoro Conservation Area is rivaled by few other places on Earth. The walls of the crater harbor critically endangered black rhinos; and giant-tusked elephants, buffalos, spotted hyenas, and leopards wander the forests. Lions stalk the grasslands of the crater floor, pink flamingos crowd the soda lakes, and the legendary annual migration brings a whopping 1.7 million wildebeest, 260,000 zebras, and 470,000 gazelles through the area. More than 500 bird species have been recorded with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, including the ostrich and the Kori bustard, the world’s heaviest flying bird.
The region’s human presence dates back some 3.6 million years. For thousands of years, various pastoralist tribes have populated the area around the crater. Today, more than 40,000 Maasai people continue their traditional way of life here, grazing their cattle, donkeys, goats, and sheep in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The Hadza, an ancient hunter-gatherer people who speak a unique clicking language, live near Lake Eyasi.
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