The Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtakingly beautiful setting and the best place in East Africa to see the Big Five. It is a great way to start your African safari adventure. However, as one of the world's most astonishing and renowned natural wonders, the Ngorongoro Crater does get busy, and at times very busy. Due to the crowds we recommend a two-night stay only here, then moving on to the Serengeti for a quieter, more private safari experience.
Any Northern Tanzania Safari should ideally include a visit to Ngorongoro Crater: it is one of the most beautiful natural wildlife safari sites in the world and an exceptional place to interact with people from the Maasai tribe.
The Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding highlands together form one of Africa's most beautiful regions. Volcanic craters form stunning backdrops to some of the most fertile and richest grazing grounds in Africa. The most famous such crater is without question Ngorongoro, the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera and home to the highest density of big game in Africa. Ngorongoro is justifiably one of the continent's most famous safari destinations.
How to get to the Ngorongoro Crater | Arusha to NgorongoroDriving from Arusha. Depending on your party size, it may be cheaper for you to all share a private vehicle and guide from when you are picked up from your international flight at Kilimanjaro Airport all the way until you fly out of the Ngorongoro region. If you are driving, it is essential to have a night either side of your crater descent either in a camp on the crater rim, or a 20 minute drive away in the Ngorongoro Highlands. This means you can get to the gates early to avoid the crowds!
Flying from Arusha. If you are staying at a “fly in” camp which means your guide and vehicle are provided by your camp, and not by a ground handler from Arusha, you can fly into Lake Manyara airstrip, and get picked up by the camp. This can be a good idea if there are less people in your party, making flying cheaper than driving in a private vehicle from Arusha. It is also essential for some camps which are usually the more luxurious ones owned by excellent safari companies such as Nomad’s Entamanu or The Highlands Asila.
Ngorongoro Crater Weather - When to goSince the wildlife mainly stays in the crater all year round, there is really no good or bad time to visit. However given that the crater floor does get busy with vehicles, it can be more pleasant to visit during low season. Higher water levels in Lake Magadi (in the centre of the Crater) also result in higher concentrations of flamingos. Whenever you visit to Ngorongoro, you are guaranteed excellent safari action. The beauty of an Ngorongoro safari is because of its unique micro-climate, it can be enjoyed year round.
How did the Ngorongoro Crater form?Now classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ngorongoro Crater was formed when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed around 3 million years ago. The cone of the volcanic caldera collapsed inwards and created what we know today as one of the most unique safari parks in Africa, and indeed the world. A one of a kind safari destination teeming with life. For further facts and explanations of the Ngorongoro Crater please follow the link to our blog post.
Now Ngorongoro is a notoriously difficult destination to work out logistics for, but from 20 years experience organising such trips, we can guide you in the right direction - so give us a call to discuss your different options.
Ngorongoro Safari | ActivitiesActivities inside the Ngorongoro Crater itself are limited to game drives; there are a couple of picnic spots in the park, but getting out of the vehicle is strictly limited to these areas. However, a full range of activities is on offer in the wider Ngorongoro Conservation Area, including walking, trekking, excursions to Olduvai Gorge and visiting the Masai and other tribes.
Where to stay in the Ngorongoro Crater?The choice is whether to stay at a hotel on the Crater rim for the phenomenal view, or a little way away from the Crater in nearby Karatu. Either way, where you stay does not impact the quality of your Ngorongoro safari. The advantages of Karatu include the comparative lack of crowds, and better-value, smaller and more intimate lodges which offer a range of activities such as walking and mountain biking.. On the rim, the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is by far the best luxury hotel and is absolutely world class, perfect for a Tanzania Honeymoon, but at approximately $3,000 a night it probably should be! The Serena and the Sopa have equally stunning views of the Crater floor and are much more affordable options, but they are large and fairly old hotels.
Away from the Crater rim in nearby Karatu in the highlands is a variety of small coffee plantations and guesthouses. For approximately the same cost as the Serena and Sopa, these are much more charming and characterful but obviously lack the fantastic Ngorongoro views. The best of these are Plantation Lodge, Gibbs Farm and The Manor.