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Ngorongoro Conservation Area

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Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area includes Olduvai Gorge (site of some of the most noteworthy fossil finds), the alkaline lake of Masek, a string of volcanoes, and the famous Ngorongoro Crater. The crater, which covers 102 square miles, formed when a large volcano exploded and then collapsed in upon itself two to three million years ago. The steep, unbroken walls now ring grasslands, forests, and swamps that teem with reedbucks, lions, leopards, Thomson's gazelles, elephants, and the elusive black rhino. The popularity of the area—second only to the neighboring Serengeti National Park—makes for crowded wildlife viewing during high season. It's best to arrive at the crater as early in the morning as possible.—Collen Clark

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