Some maintain that, before it erupted, it would have been higher than Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. Long since having collapsed and eroded, this three-million-year-old caldera now shelters one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on earth.
The crater is also incredibly scenic, with towering euphorbia clinging to the crater walls, while fever and fig tree forests on the crater floor provide shade for an incredible array of wildlife. Lean Maasai, resplendent in their beads and furled in scarlet shuka robes, tend their herds on the crater floor. A burbling spring and a large soda lake quench the thirst of the crater’s inhabitants. Black rhino are protected within the crater rim, giant tusked elephant wander the forests, black-maned lion stalk the grasslands and flamingos crowd the soda lakes.
An estimated 25 000 large mammals are resident in this bowl of plenty, including a large population of lion. Cheetah move in and out of the crater, while leopard are most often encountered in the spectacular Lerai Forest. Among the smaller carnivores, both golden and black-backed jackal are abundant, while the normally shy and nocturnal serval are frequently seen during daylight hours. Vast numbers of buffalo, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle can be seen grazing the crater floor.