Ngorongoro Crater – Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

Africa’s Garden of Eden

The volcanic Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest unflooded, intact caldera, is acclaimed as one of the natural wonders of the world, both for its unique topographical beauty and for the staggering concentration of animals that live there.

This natural amphitheater is the Serengeti in miniature, with wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles migrating from one side of the 12-mile-wide crater to the other as the seasons change. Elephants, buffaloes, hippos, and lions are also plentiful, and Ngorongoro is possibly the best place on earth to see the rare black rhino. In the middle of the crater is the mirrorlike Lake Magadi, a year-round supply of fresh water that makes this a spectacular wildlife oasis.

Most of the time the lake is ringed with masses of flamingos. Unbashed comparisons with Noah’s Ark and the Garden of Eden are inevitable. The compact presence of so many animals also makes it a predator’s paradise: safari goers couldn’t ask for more.

The human species is beginning to outnumber the wildlife, but reputable outfitters can furnish you with deluxe mobile tents and a crackerjack staff with encyclopedic knowledge and a knack for avoiding herds of fellow gazers.

Alternatively, stay at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, one of East Africa’s most luxurious permanent camps. It’s owned and run by the Conservation Corporation, a respected South African safari company. Check into any of the thirty thatched cottages perched at the crater’s edge, ask your butler to draw your bath in time for a firelit dinner of pan-African cuisine and Cape wines, and watch from your tub as the sunset’s magic unfolds.

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