At 18 kilometres (11 miles) across, the Ngorongoro Crater is the largest perfect caldera in the world. This outstanding wonder is only one of the attractions within a vast and diverse conservation area. High mountain forest extends to the lip of the crater. Crotons dominate the low altitudes which blends into red thorn acacias, pillar woods and strangler fig as one moves higher. Among the branches of the dense green canopy, a variety of bird species search for food in the partial gloom. The forest then recedes to give breathtaking views of the crater's vertiginous void. Grasslands, swamps, lakes, rivers, woodlands, mountains and wildlife are all present in this wondrous microcosm of Africa.
As you descend, Lake Magadi is centre stage with Seneto Springs to the left, Gorigor Swamp to the right and the Terai Forest in the foreground. The Gol mountains nudge the far crater rim. Grazers dominate with zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest, warthogs and intriguingly, only bull elephant. Lion and hyena frequent the many ponds, with the nocturnal side-striped jackal predators. Ostrich and kori bustard are the distinctive grassland birds.
The swamps, ponds and rivers support an ever present population of waterbirds and during the wet months the open pools play host to a variety of Eurasian migrants.