The Ngorongoro Crater is a natural amphitheater created about 2 million years ago when the cone of a volcano collapsed into itself, leaving a 100 square mile (259km²) caldron-like cavity. This caldera, protected by a circular unbroken 2,000-foot high rim (610-metres), contains everything necessary for Africa's wildlife to exist and thrive.
Ngorongoro is on Tanzania's 'northern safari circuit', and receives a good number of visitors who stay in lodges around the crater. Game viewing vehicles descend the steep crater wall every morning and spend the day on grass plains that are teeming with animals.
However, the dark of night belongs to the animals, and all vehicles must leave the crater floor by sunset. Early man also flourished around here at Olduvai Gorge, not far from the Ngorongoro Crater. This is known because in 1960, Mary Leakey discovered a 1.75 million-year-old Homo habilis (nicknamed 'The Handyman' for his tool making skills), who represents mans first step on the ladder of human evolution.
The Masai are the current human inhabitants and are at liberty to live within the sprawling 2,500 square mile (6,480km²) conservation area around the crater.
The Masai never cultivate land as they consider it demeaning. Instead they graze cattle, which hold a god-like status in Masai culture, and in return the cows provide almost everything necessary to live; meat, skin, milk, dung for the walls and floor of their huts, and warm blood extracted from the neck of a live cow and mixed with milk as an iron rich food.
Ngorongoro Crater Seasons
As the rim of the crater is 333 feet (2,235m) above sea level it is cooler at the top than down on the crater floor, where it can get extremely hot.
Rainy Season: Short rains are November and December when it gets hot and humid, and the long rains are from March to May.
Dry Season: typically it is dry from June to October and it can get quite cold during these months on the rim of the crater.