NGORONGORO CRATER SAFARIS TOURS - HOLIDAYS TRIPS TO NGORONGORO
The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most exclusive safari destinations in the world.
There are bigger and wilder parks, but a Ngorongoro Crater safari can provide some of the easiest and most rewarding game viewing in East Africa.
The Ngorongoro Crater, a must-see stop on Tanzania’s star-studded Northern Safari Circuit, offers a classic Big 5 safari in the unique environment of an ancient volcanic caldera.
The crater’s surprisingly diverse habitats are exposed on a Ngorongoro safari on all-day guided game drives; the scenery is stunning, predators are plentiful, and seeing the Big 5 in a single day is not uncommon.
There’s incredible lodging on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, with some of the best views in Africa, if not the world.
If you stay at one of these prime-location lodges, you’ll be first in line to drive down to the crater floor in the morning, but for a more accessible Ngorongoro safari experience in a similarly peaceful and scenic setting, head to Karatu, which is located 20 kilometers south of the crater in the green rolling hills of the Karatu Highlands.
There are several excellent lodges here, several of which are located on working coffee plantations and offer a variety of additional activities not available to tourists staying on the crater’s rim.
From game drives to nearby Lake Manyara and local bird watching to cultural tours and mountain biking, there’s something for everyone.
TOP NGORO NGORO CRATER SAFARIS
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TOP NGORONGORO SAFARI PICKS
A hassle-free, perfect destination for first-time safari tourists and families, the Ngorongoro Crater safari is also an obvious choice for wildlife photographers due to the wide variety of resident wildlife and the ease with which the animals can be observed.
The romantic cliff-top lodges are ideal for a Ngorongoro honeymoon, and tourists who want to get the most out of their Tanzania safari will appreciate how well the Ngorongoro Crater integrates with the Serengeti, Tarangire, and Lake Manyara.
More about Ngorongoro crater
A Ngorongoro Crater safari is normally combined with a safari in the Serengeti National Park, which is nearby.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area preserves the volcanically formed Crater Highlands, which are riddled with deep volcanic craters, the most famous of which is Ngorongoro, the world’s largest intact caldera and a rare natural wildlife reserve. In Tanzania, Ngorongoro safari tours include the best opportunity to see all five of the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and black rhino) in one game drive.
It’s also known for the breathtaking scenery of the verdant plains of the lake-studded crater floor juxtaposed against the formidable 600m/1968ft cliffs that surround it on all sides. The Ngorongoro Crater has permanent water, which is unusual in Africa, and its lush grasslands support a large population of wildlife, making it Africa’s most densely populated wildlife habitat.
Since the Ngorongoro Crater is such a special safari destination, a Tanzania safari that includes a safari in the Ngorongoro Crater is highly recommended. Game viewing in the crater is excellent due to the wide concentration of animals and small grasslands. The Ngorongoro Crater is situated along the Serengeti’s southern edge.
The crater (610 meters deep and 260 square kilometers) is a microcosm of East African scenery; woods and dense bush cover the crater rim, but as one descends deeper into the crater, the forest abruptly ends, and the scenery of trees, then vast open plains, with Lake Magadi far in the distance, is literally breathtaking.
This natural wonder of the world is known for its incredible wildlife viewing in the most picturesque of environments. The Crater also has a diverse range of wildlife, including large herds of Wildebeest and Zebra, as well as Rhinos, Buffalo, Elephants, Warthog, Hyena, Eland, and a variety of plain game.
NGORONGORO CRATER INFORMATION
With massive black manes and huge muscular bodies, the Male Lions in Ngorongoro Crater are a photographer’s dream. Since there are so many predators in such a small area, it’s not unusual to see Cheetahs stalking gazelles, Lions and Buffaloes interacting, and Lions and Hyenas fighting over a kill.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a breath-takingly stunning setting and the best place to see the Big Five in East Africa. It’s a fantastic way to get your African safari adventure started.
The Ngorongoro Crater, as one of the world’s most amazing and well-known natural wonders, does, however, get busy, and at times very busy. Due to the crowds, we suggest only staying here for two nights and then moving on to the Serengeti for a quieter, more private safari experience.
Important information about Ngorongoro crater
The Ngorongoro Crater is home to some of Africa’s finest wildlife viewing. Many of the big safari animals can be found in large numbers. The resident black rhino population is a real treat, as rhinos are extremely rare elsewhere in Tanzania.
The crater is also host to several massive elephant bulls with enormous tusks. Big flocks of flamingos frequent Lake Magadi.
The scenery in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is breathtaking. Empakaai and Olmoti craters, in addition to the well-known Ngorongoro Crater, are scenic highlights. Flamingos flock to the Ngorongoro and Empakaai craters on a daily basis.
The Ngorongoro crater’s forested crater rim contrasts sharply with the crater floor, which consists mostly of grassland. Another feature on the crater floor is Lerai forest, a beautiful, atmospheric, yellow fever tree forest.
Weather & Climate
The conditions vary due to Ngorongoro’s altitude.It can get very cold at night, particularly up on the top, higher up in the crater. However, it remains very warm in the greater conservation area. There are few clouds in the sky during the area’s dry season (June to October).
You’ll encounter two cycles of rain separated by a brief dry spell during the wet season (November to May).
Best Time to Visit Ngorongoro crater
At any time of year, you can see wildlife on the crater floor. However, viewing is best during the dry season (June to October), when the undergrowth has died down and animals congregate around waterholes and rivers. The only benefits of the rainier months are fewer people are not so crowded in the crater area.
But in short, any time of year is a good time to book a Ngorongoro safari holiday.
The dry season runs from June to October, providing decent visibility and wildlife viewing opportunities, but the crater is at its most spectacular from November to May, when large numbers of migrant, water-associated birds from the northern hemisphere arrive.
The crater’s more charismatic wildlife – elephants, rhinos, and lions – are mostly permanent residents, but seasonal grazers like wildebeest and gazelle are more abundant during the rainy season. While May is usually the slowest month, it is actually a fantastic time to visit the Ngorongoro Crater because of the low tourist numbers. Ngorongoro safari prices may also drop from April to June as lodges offer discounted rates to attract more business.
What opportunities are there to meet local Maasai people?
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a biosphere reserve, not a national park, where a diverse range of species coexists with the popular Maasai. Their signature toga-like red checkered shuka cloths and fondness for intricate beadwork jewelry distinguish these traditional pastoralists.
You’re unlikely to spend much time in Ngorongoro without seeing Maasai cattle herders walking alongside the road, but if you want to connect with them, and particularly photograph them, it’s customary to visit one of the manyattas (villages) that now welcome tourists for a fixed fee.
Is there accommodation inside the Ngorongoro crater?
No, it’s not true. It is not permitted to spend the night on the crater floor.
The crater rim is the best place to stay for Ngorongoro safari tours, with everything from basic campsites to mainstream Sopa and Serena lodges, as well as a few exclusive tented camps and the famed ‘bush baroque’ of the exclusive & Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.
Alternatively, in the pretty hills around Karatu, an ever-growing cluster of lodges and hotels can be found immediately outside of Ngorongoro. Accommodation on the rim is usually more scenic (the views over the crater are spectacular) and better placed for game drives, but due to their prime location, they charge significantly more than lodges in the Karatu region.
Why visit Ngorongoro Crater?
Our Tanzania and Ngorongoro Crater Safaris allow you to visit the crater’s forests, which are home to monkeys and elephants, as well as the savannah plains, which are home to lions, and the crater’s lake region, which is home to a variety of bird species, including flamingos.
The massive Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to Africa’s highest density of mammalian predators, with a staggering population of about 25 000 large animals. The Ngorongoro Crater is Tanzania’s best place to see ‘The Big Five.’
The prize spots are a stable population of black rhino and some of Africa’s largest tusker elephants, but the crater also has healthy populations of lions, leopards, and hyena, as well as healthy herds of wildebeest, buffalo, and zebra.
Serval cats, cheetahs, jackals, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles, flamingos, and bat-eared foxes, as well as about 400 bird species, can all be found here. A safari in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is action-packed to say the least, and for such a small park, it has the highest concentration of wildlife in Africa.
Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s highest unbroken and un-flooded caldera, is home to Africa’s Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhino), as well as hippo, zebra, gazelle, warthog, and eland. On our wildlife safaris, we descend 2000 feet (over 600 meters) to the Ngorongoro Crater’s floor for half-day or full-day game viewing experiences in this special wildlife sanctuary.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, with 260km2/100mi2 of moist savannah hemmed in by sheer 600m/1968ft high walls capped by a thick montane forest canopy.
The crater would be one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders even if it weren’t for the wildlife, but it also serves as a special sanctuary inside a sanctuary with abundant wildlife and a vast scenic scale that has drawn comparisons to the biblical Garden of Eden.
There is nowhere else in Africa like Ngorongoro crater.
How to get to the Ngorongoro Crater
From Arusha, it’s a two-hour drive. Depending on the size of your group, sharing a private vehicle and a guide from the time you are picked up from your international flight at Kilimanjaro Airport until you fly out of the Ngorongoro region could be less expensive.
If you’re driving, you can spend a night either side of your crater descent, either in a camp on the crater rim or in the Ngorongoro Highlands, which is just a 20-minute drive away. This means you will beat the crowds by arriving early at the door!
Taking off from Arusha.
You can fly into Lake Manyara airstrip if you are staying at a “fly in” camp, which means your guide and vehicle are provided by your camp rather than a ground handler from Arusha. If your group is small, this is a good option since flying is less expensive than driving from Arusha in a private car.
It’s also needed for some of the more opulent camps, such as Nomad’s Entamanu or The Highlands Asila, which are owned by excellent safari companies.
On a Ngorongoro safari, what animals would I expect to see?
In a nutshell, there’s a variety. There are few locations where you can see such huge numbers of wildlife all year, including all five of the Big Five with a little luck.
The crater floor appears to be home to Africa’s densest concentration of predators, with lions and spotted hyenas in particular abundant. Leopards and cheetahs are also on the list. The crater’s elephant population, which is dominated by old male tuskers, frequently visits the fever tree-dominated Lerai Forest and nearby Gorigor Swamp.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the only location in Tanzania where black rhinos can be seen on a regular basis, usually near Lake Magadi. Wide herds of wildebeest and zebra, as well as buffalo, tsessebe, and Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, graze the open grassland that covers much of the crater floor.
Flamingos flock to Lake Magadi in large numbers, while hippos abound in other, less salty water bodies.
How long is the drive to Ngorongoro Crater?
The entire 150km/93mi road from Arusha to the main gate of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is paved and can be driven in under two hours. The short climb to the crater rim and associated lodges is unsurfaced but in good shape (allow 30 minutes to an hour from the gate, depending on the location of your lodge).
The roads leading to the crater floor are short but poorly maintained, necessitating the use of a 4WD and some caution behind the wheel. Many people take a night or two in the vicinity of Lake Manyara National Park to break up the drive from Arusha, which is a perfect addition to Ngorongoro safari trips.
Ngorongoro Crater Weather-When to go
There is no good or bad time to visit because the wildlife often remains in the crater all year. However, since the crater floor can become congested with vehicles during the peak season, it may be more fun to visit during the off-season.
Higher water levels in Lake Magadi (in the Crater’s heart) result in higher flamingo concentrations. You can count on great safari action whenever you visit Ngorongoro.
The uniqueness of a Ngorongoro safari is that it can be enjoyed all year due to its unusual microclimate.
How did the Ngorongoro Crater form?
The Ngorongoro Crater, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was created about 3 million years ago when a massive volcano erupted and collapsed. The volcanic caldera’s cone collapsed inwards, forming what is now known as one of Africa’s and the world’s most exclusive safari parks.
Now, Ngorongoro is a famously difficult destination to plan logistics for, but we can point you in the right direction based on our 6+ years of experience organizing such trips-so send us a call to explore your choices.
Top Ngorongoro Safari | Activities
Game drives are the only activities available within the Ngorongoro Crater; there are a few picnic areas in the park, but getting out of the vehicle is restricted to these areas.
In the larger Ngorongoro Conservation Area, however, a wide variety of activities are available, including walking, trekking, excursions to Olduvai Gorge, and visits to Masai and other tribes.
What are the best places to stay in the Ngorongoro Crater?
The option is between staying at a hotel on the rim of the Crater for the spectacular views, or staying in nearby Karatu. The standard of your Ngorongoro safari is unaffected by where you stay. The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, located on the rim, is by far the best luxury hotel and is completely world class, ideal for a Tanzania Honeymoon, but it probably should be at about $3,000 per night!
The Serena and the Sopa both have similarly beautiful views of the Crater floor and are far more affordable options, but they are both big and older hotels.
A number of small coffee plantations and guesthouses can be found in the surrounding Karatu highlands, away from the Crater rim.
These are much more charming and characterful for roughly the same price as the Serena and Sopa, but obviously lack the amazing Ngorongoro views. Plantation Lodge, Gibbs Farm, and The Manor are the best of these.
What lodges or camps do you recommend for a Ngorongoro tour?
If your budget allows, remain on the rim, as it is better situated for game drives and provides a more immersive Ngorongoro experience than staying outside of the conservation region.
I choose Sopa as a base for Ngorongoro safaris, not because it is necessarily better than its rivals, but because it is located near a combined descent and ascent road that is ideal for early-morning game drives. If you prefer to sleep under the stars, Lemala Ngorongoro is close by and has a beautiful setting among lichen-streaked flat-topped red-thorn acacias.
Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania | Further Reading
If you want to combine your Ngorongoro Crater safari with a trip to another Tanzanian park, we recommend Serengeti National Park or Tarangire National Park (or both, if time allows). Both have a diverse range of flora and fauna that are ideal for an African safari.
Is it worth to go to Ngorongoro Crater?
According to some estimates, the Ngorongoro Volcano would have been higher than Africa’s tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, before it erupted. Ngorongoro Crater still holds the record for the world’s biggest intact caldera! If you’re considering a Serengeti safari, this is a must-see destination.
Volcanic craters provide a breathtaking background to some of Africa’s most green and abundant grazing lands. Ngorongoro, the world’s biggest intact volcanic caldera and host to Africa’s maximum density of big game, is without a doubt the most prominent of these craters.
What is the distance between Arusha and the Ngorongoro Crater?
For short, it is approximately 191 kilometers. The distance between Arusha and the Ngorongoro Crater is about 191 kilometers, so it is not a long trip. The Ngorongoro crater can be reached by road or air, with regular and scheduled flights departing from Arusha and Kilimanjaro international airports, respectively.
What is the distance between Serengeti and Ngorongoro?
It’s approximately 99 KM. Ngorongoro is 99 kilometers from Serengeti, so if you fly at a constant pace of 50 kilometers per hour, you can arrive in Serengeti in 2 hours and 12 minutes. Your Serengeti travel time may differ based on the pace of the bus, train, or vehicle you use.
Why is the Ngorongoro Crater a world wonder?
In February 2013, the Ngorongoro crater was named a natural wonder of the world in Arusha. Because of its unusual shape, the Ngorongoro crater is a natural wonder of the world. The world’s largest caldera, the Ngorongoro crater, was created around 2 million years ago when an ancient volcano collapsed on itself.
Is the Ngorongoro Crater home to giraffes?
The Ngorongoro Crater is the Conservation Area’s main attraction: an ancient volcano teeming with animals. Many of the big species are visible. The sole difference is the giraffe, which can be found in the Conservation Area but not in the crater due to its steep decline.
How deep is the Ngorongoro Crater?
610 meters in length. The crater is 610 meters (2,000 feet) wide and spans 260 square kilometers. It was created when a massive volcano erupted and fell on itself two to three million years ago (100 square miles).