The steep slopes of an ancient, extinct volcano in northern Tanzania, covered with a tangle of wild plants betray little of what lies inside the crater walls. The silence of the thin air at about 5400ft (1800m) above sea level is only broken by the rustle of leaves as a breeze through the warm air rises from the surrounding plains and over the edge into the watery blue African sky.
On the crest of the crater the landscape changes dramatically. 1800ft (600m) below you can see the giant, pastel-colored, flat bowl which forms the crater floor. At first it is difficult to get used to the staggering dimensions of the crater. The only landmarks are the thin lines of the rivers that make their way to the crater Lake. This is the Ngorongoro crater, also known as "the garden of eden" or "the cradle of life".
The crater floor is dotted dark, only when the spots in these ever changing formations begin to move, it is clear what they really are - thousands of grazing wildebeest and zebras. In the shallow crater lake you can see huge flocks of flamingos.
One of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa can be observed here on the 100mi² (260km²) crater floor. The list of species occurring in the Ngorongoro Crater is huge. One can find 50 different species of large mammals, including lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, eland, impala, baboons, warthogs and hyenas. Also there are more than 200 species of birds, including ostriches, ducks and flamingos. In fact, the crater is a smaller version of the natural life in East Africa, surrounded by the 1800ft (600m) high crater walls. With such a diverse amount of animals in the relatively small space of this beautiful crater, with its lush green grasses and stunning blue water, it's easy to see where the Garden of Eden name came from!