Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
Safari suitability: 9/10Write a review
The park has all of the big five, but its small, limited size means that one or two days will suffice.
What YAS members think
- Black-maned lions
- All of the big five
- No giraffe on the crater floor
- UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Proximity to other great parks, such as the Serengeti and Lake Manyara.
About Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Crater was originally part of the Serengeti National Park, until it became its own park in 1959. In 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most-visited regions of Tanzania and is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. The crater is actually the world’s largest intact caldera, with the walls of the crater being roughly 670m (2000ft) high and the crater floor measuring roughly 18km (10 miles) in diameter. The crater floor has its own ecosystem and environment and it is not uncommon for the temperature to be significantly warmer on the crater floor than it is at the rim of the crater. The elevation of the rim is around 2280m (7500ft) and the base is around 1680m (5500ft).
Because the crater floor is small in size, it can also become very crowded with vehicles. The high concentration of safari vehicles on the crater floor means the animals are more accustomed to seeing these vehicles and are less timid when they approach. This may make for better photo opportunities but it also can be a bit of a negative point for those looking for a more authentic safari experience.
There are no lodging options on the crater floor and all guests must overnight on the rim. In general, the standard of accommodation is extremely high, with five-star lodges overlooking the caldera. A Ngorongoro Crater safari is recommended for all levels of safari goers and it is a great addition to a Serengeti safari. It is also close to Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks.
Ngorongoro Crater wildlife
Between the crater rim and floor it is possible to see all of the big five at Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is one of the best places to see the endangered black rhino. Giraffes are absent from the crater floor. It is thought that the banks of the caldera are too steep for them to ascend. They can be spotted around the rim. Lions have adapted to the cooler temperatures of the crater by growing thicker, darker manes. Lion mane color can vary within the year, depending on ambient temperature. Mane color is thought to also darken with age. The annual wildebeest migration passes by the crater highlands around the months of December through MarchAt the base of the crater is a large soda lake called Lake Magadi or Lake Makat. It is home to thousands of brightly-colored flamingos and is very popular for photo opps.
When to visit Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater can be visited year-round. During the driest months, June through October, the lake can turn into a large, white salt bed. The crater bottom is also home to a very high concentration of wildlife, and visitors are not disappointed at the quality and quantity of animals. The annual wildebeest migration also passes by the crater highlands, and guests visiting around the months of December through March may get to witness the migration in this part of Ngorongoro Crater.
I was really excited to see Ngorongoro Crater. It's a World Heritage site and gets so many accolades. The first thing I noticed about the crater is how crowded it is. Firstly, there are a finite amount of lodges on the crater rim. We stayed at the Serena Lodge and felt like cattle. Not special in the least. The next day, we were up early and headed down into the crater. The park opens at 7, I think, and there's only one entrance, so we wanted to be one of the first to get through the gate. There was still a queue when we arrived and it took a good 45 minutes to get through. Once we got to the crater bottom it was a pleasure to see the zebra and flamingos and warthogs. But, due to the large masses of people who pass through this confined area, the animals were not scared of the vehicles. The warthogs were so close I could have taken one home with me. It was not like the Serengeti and I was a bit sad. The highlight was definitely seeing some rhinos and the black-maned lions. Oh, and the view over the crater rim from our hotel. Amazing!
We took a trip to Ngorongoro Tanzania in February of 2021 with some colleagues. This was during the Covid pandemic and we had an amazing experience coming close to wildlife during this period there are fewer travelers out on safari. On the descent road we came across two male Lions and spent quite sometime alone watching them sleep and move towards the Crater floor. The Ngorongoro Crater was amazing with lots of wildlife and the greenery and more so especially with few people in the crater meant we had the crater to ourselves. We enjoyed the serenity and this is one location i would highly recommend while in Tanzania.
This crater, now extinct, was formed following the collapse of a volcano on itself when its magma chamber emptied during a volcanic eruption. The Ngorongoro is the largest intact, unsubmerged caldera in the world.
Imagine you’re seated on your comfortable sofa on a freezing winter evening. You’re zapping furiously with your remote and then, out of the blue, you land on one of those channels full of exotic animals in a fairy tale surrounding. The setting is a vast grassy plain, the sun is shining, the animals are quite, but attentive. A pride of lions here, a group of zebras there. There’s a lake nearby and some yellow acacias. All around a rim surrounds this paradise. You are watching a documentary about Ngorongoro Crater. If you want a real emotion you have to look out from the Crater View Point at 2,200 meters over this immense caldera. There and only there you can understand what nature is capable of. What you are witnessing is the largest caldera existing on Earth, originated from the massive explosion of a big volcano which collapsed on itself and created this wonder, some 2.5 million years ago. More than three thousand mammals, birds, all the big five, including some black rhinos, the sighting of which is as rare as fortunate. Pay attention, though, to respect the strict rules of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area that allow the visits only for six hours a day in order to maintain safe the ecosystem. A great idea!
We thoroughly enjoyed our day down in the Ngorongoro Crater organized by Mgalaa Expeditions. Since the abundant wildlife is confined within the area of the crater, and since the crater area actually contains many different types of terrains (plains, woodlands, hills, lakes, etc....), you are likely to see everything during your day there, from lions chasing wildebeests, to baboons and monkeys in the woodlands, to hippos at the Ngoitokitok Springs, to rhinos in the plains, etc... A truly memorable experience. A TIP: get there at six when the park opens; there will be no lines, you will have the wildlife virtually to yourself, and you will avoid the heat of the midday.
We visited Ngorongoro before going to Serengeti. We were descending to the floor of the crater. Just as we reached the bottom we were met with lioness and the lion king having honey moon and was great welcome for the game in the crater. Wildlife game was great with leopard on a tree in the acacia forest.
We did an amazing safari with Masai Warrior Adventures in Jan 2019 to the northern parks of Tanzania namely; Tarangire, Ngorongoro, Serengeti and Lake Manyara. I can say that Ngorongoro is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. It's hard to comprehend its scale, vitality, diversity, and sheer beauty all at one time. Where else can you see lions, elephants, rhinos, wildebeest, African buffalo, secretary birds, flamingos, zebra, water-bucks, gazelles, ostriches, warthogs, and hippos all at the same time, from a single vantage point, on the floor of a crater. Apparently the leopards are there as well, hiding in the trees.
If you plan a safari in Tanzania, don't miss the Ngorongoro! The area of Ngorongoro is small if you compare it to Serengeti, but the wildlife is very rich. During a couple of hours you can see hundreds of gnus (wildebeest), buffalo, zebras and gazelles and its predators, like lions, leopards and hyenas in their nature lifestyle. The natural pools are good place for the hippos, in the forest part there are elephants, and if you are really lucky, you can meet rhinos too... (we were!)
When I started planning our African safari, I knew the Serengeti was near the top of my list. I was, unfortunately, not aware of the magnificence of Ngorongoro Crater. When I read about the crater (and its proximity to the Serengeti), I was sure this was where my African safari would need to take place. And when I learned how much Tanzania is working towards conservation, that sealed the deal for me. Ngorongoro Crater is compact by many safari standards (about 100 square miles inside the caldera). The game and the scenery are both breathtaking. I would suggest a stay on the rim for the views, but also plan on getting up as early as possible and being one of the first into the crater. We spotted the nocturnal bat-eared fox right off the bat (sorry, couldn't help myself). A fairly rare sighting when the sun was up. Paul (our extraordinary guide from Earthlife Expeditions) helped us not only see that small animal off in the brush, but also: a leopard's larder, rhinos, lions on the (unsuccessful) hunt, magnificent birds, hyenas, elephants and jackals. It is a wonderful treasure with quite a varied landscape. If you love giraffes or are on the prowl for cheetah, this is not the place. Neither of those animals favor the crater. But it is an incredible place. You can spend the whole day there and retire back to your lodge on the rim for the sunset, or be packed when you leave on that early morning adventure to head to your next destination after lunch. Depends on your time frame and itinerary. We spent two nights on the rim as we were on the way to the Serengeti, so it would be a longer drive the next day. Many folks go to Ngorongoro after the Serengeti so they can leave that afternoon to be at Tarangire or Lake Manyara by nightfall.
Our time spent at the crater was magical. The view of the crater from the Ngorongoro Safari Lodge was breath-taking. We were overwhelmed by the animal life we were able to witness and every moment was better than we had anticipated. Perhaps the most amazing moment was when a very big male lion walked up to our jeep and rubbed himself on it from the front bumper to the rear bumper while we were at the hippo pond. We still talk of this as if it happened yesterday. Yes! We quickly shut the windows. We were fortunate to see a group of Maasai men come to the lodge the night we were there and watch them as they did their traditional dance of jumping in the air. No, this is not a nightly ritual. We were just lucky. The staff at the lodge were excellent. The best moment came when there was a knock on our room door, shortly upon our return after dinner, and when we opened the door we were presented with two hot-water bottles to warm our sheets!
The nature of the place itself is an experience. Visiting the kind Maasai people is great. It's difficult to believe that there are people living there.
Driving to Ngorongoro Crater from Arusha
Ngorongoro Crater is easily accessible from Arusha. The drive takes roughly three to four hours and conveniently passes by Lake Manyara NP and very close to Tarangire NP. The majority of the road is tarmacked, which allows for a relatively smooth ride. Driving from the Serengeti, depending on which part of the park you are in, takes around three to four hours.
Domestic flights to Ngorongoro Crater
In addition to charter flights, which offer the ultimate in flexibility, but at a price, a few carriers offer regularly scheduled domestic flights to the Ndutu region, which is the closest airstrip to Ngorongoro Crater and which falls inside the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area.
The following airlines travel to Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
As Salaam Air has grown to be a leading air carrier between the Tanzanian Islands. Our experienced team understands that customer satisfaction is important to the creation of a successful flight operation. Thus, we go above and beyond to satisfy our clients. The airline plies eight routes to promote tourism within and outside the country. We have two fuel-efficient aircraft Cessna 208B Grand Caravan and Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, which are good for the environment and the safety of our clients.We would like to help you discover more about our Islands here on our website and at every step of your journey Visit website
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Precision Air is a publicly-listed Tanzanian airline and a leader in providing scheduled flight services to over 10 destinations within and outside Tanzania from its main hub Dar es Salaam. The company operates on the principle that quick, comfortable and reliable service is the best way to serve its customers. Through its customer-focused approach, many have become part of the Precision Air family. Precision Air started with its headquarters in Arusha - the midpoint between the Cape and Cairo, which is the entry point to many of Tanzania's world-renowned landmarks and national parks. The headquarters of Precision Air are now Dar es Salaam, the business complex of the country, which is home to a vast size of traffic travelling within and outside Tanzania. Visit website
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Regional air is a recognized leader in the aviation industry in Tanzania, the airline began in 1997 with one pilot and one aircraft. They are affiliated to the long-established Nairobi-based domestic airline, Airkenya. We are based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. Arusha is the starting point of safaris into Northern Tanzania, as the airline also offers charters to these various parks and game reserves. Visit website
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TANZANAIR was formed in 1969 and pioneered aviation throughout Tanzania. Today it continues to live up to its slogan as theComplete Aviation Company. It was founded by Dinos J Samaras who managed the Company until he passed away in April 2010. It is now headed by his son John Samaras who was his deputy since 1983. With 45 years experience, TANZANAIR offers tailor-made air travel to suit the needs of its customers. With a modern fleet of twin and single-engine Cessna and Beechcraft turbine aircraft, TANZANAIRs well-established reputation leads the way in air charter services throughout the region. TANZANAIR operates out of its own purpose-built Passenger Terminal located between Terminal I and II at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. The passenger lounge is adjacent to the two hangars. It is housed within a secure wall enclosed compound with ample parking facilities. Visit website
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ZanAir Limited is a domestic airline based in Zanzibar. Since their inaugural flight in 1992, ZanAir has continued to establish a quality reputation, serving esteemed clientele. ZanAir is an acknowledged expert within Tanzania serving all destinations, including remote unpaved bush locations. Visit website
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Flown by an international team of pilots, Zantas Air has one of the youngest fleets of Cessna Grand Caravans in Tanzania. These are maintained to the highest safety standards and comply with the ICAO, CESSNA, and TCAA directives. We have an exclusive lounge at Arusha airport. Guests can relax in our comfortable lounge while they wait for their flight. Our operations are designed to suit our client's needs with a customized itinerary based on their schedule. Zantas Air works with its sister company, Mbali Mbali Lodges and Camps, to offer shared charter flights. We fly passengers from Northern Tanzania to Western Tanzania twice a week on Monday and Thursdays. Visit website
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