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Ngorongoro Crater

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Ngorongoro Conservation Area

The Ngorongoro Crater – with its lush green plains, woodland trees and wildflowers – is one of the most popular travel destinations in Tanzania. A stunningly beautiful place, it’s often referred to as the ‘Garden of Eden’. Ngorongoro has been the site of numerous archaeological discoveries over the years, and it’s now one of the best places for safari in East Africa.

The Ngorongoro Crater, at a glance

Millions of years ago, a volcano the size of Mount Kilimanjaro rose from the highlands of northern Tanzania. Its eruption formed the largest unflooded caldera in the world, the Ngorongoro Crater. Now inactive and filled with wildlife, the crater is a playground where you can enjoy game drives in search of the Big Five. Our Africa specialists have been on safari here and in the wider Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Using their own experiences, they can help plan your time in and around the crater.

The natural protection of the crater’s 600 m (1,968 ft) high walls helps many species to thrive. This is the best place in Tanzania to see critically endangered black rhino. Wildebeest, zebra, eland and gazelle carpet the short grassland, watched hungrily by lion, cheetah, wild dog and hyena. And the waters of Lake Magadi are often mottled pink by flamingos.

best time to visit Ngorongoro?

Wildlife viewing inside the Ngorongoro Crater is superb at all times. However, grass on the crater floor is short in the Dry season (June through September) and this makes animal spotting easier. The scenery is lush and spectacular in the Wet season months (from November to May).

VISITING TANZANIA IN JANUARY

There is a chance of rain, the temperature is getting higher and the humidity is building. It’s still a good time to go as rates are lower and safari is excellent. At this time of year, the migration herds are in the southeast of the Serengeti for calving season, so the Ndutu Plains are busy but it is amazing to see so many animals in one place.

Events & Festivals

  • Green Season (November to March): Tanzania’s Green Season offers superb birdwatching opportunities, with migratory birds arriving in their thousands. Read more

VISITING TANZANIA IN FEBRUARY

Temperatures continue rising, and the migration is still on the Ndutu Plains. February is one of the optimal months for trekking Kilimanjaro, for safaris in the northern and southern parks, and for visiting Zanzibar for a beach holiday. Like January, there is still a chance of short rains, but they also usually occur at night.

Events & Festivals

  • Green Season (November to March): Tanzania’s Green Season offers superb birdwatching opportunities, with migratory birds arriving in their thousands.

VISITING TANZANIA IN MARCH

As the migration starts heading west towards the Grumeti River, the temperatures are still very hot. The beginning of the month is still great for trekking, safaris and beach trips. However, towards the end of the month, there is a higher chance of rain as Tanzania moves into the long rainy season.

Events & Festivals

  • Green Season (November to March): Tanzania’s Green Season offers superb birdwatching opportunities, with migratory birds arriving in their thousands.

VISITING TANZANIA IN APRIL – MAY

As the migration starts heading west towards the Grumeti River, the temperatures are still very hot.

The beginning of the month is still great for trekking, safaris and beach trips. However, towards the end of the month, there is a higher chance of rain as Tanzania moves into the long rainy season.

In April, the long rainy season is in full swing. Traveling in this period is not advised, as torrential rains can affect planned excursions.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is more dangerous during this season. Many lodges are also closed.

VISITING TANZANIA IN JUNE

This is the green season, bringing lush grasses and bush that can make spotting game more difficult. However, this is still a wonderful time to travel — particularly for bird watchers as parks are full of migratory birds; especially in the south. Migration should be in the Grumeti area of the Serengeti heading north.

VISITING TANZANIA IN JULY

This is the start of the peak season. The Migration is in the north of the Serengeti moving toward Kenya, and elephant start to gather in Tarangire. The land is getting drier and spotting game is becoming easier. Temperatures are in the 80°Fs and the humidity is low.

Events & Festivals

  • The Great Migration river crossings (July to September): This is your best chance to observe herds of animals in their hundreds as they cross Tanzania’s rivers on their epic migration across the continent.

VISITING TANZANIA IN AUGUST

Peak season. Migration is still in the north. As the land becomes more parched, the animals’ behavior becomes more predictable. The dense bush in Ruaha is drying out so game spotting here becomes much easier.

Events & Festivals

  • The Great Migration river crossings (July to September): This is your best chance to observe herds of animals in their hundreds as they cross Tanzania’s rivers on their epic migration across the continent.

VISITING TANZANIA IN SEPTEMBER

Peak season. The end of the migration is still in the north, with herds on both sides of the Kenya and Tanzania borders and high numbers of elephant in Tarangire. The northern circuit can be very busy, but it is less busy in the south, so for those who want to avoid crowds it’s best to visit the southern parks.

Events & Festivals

  • The Great Migration river crossings (July to September): This is your best chance to observe herds of animals in their hundreds as they cross Tanzania’s rivers on their epic migration across the continent.

VISITING TANZANIA IN OCTOBER

Although it is not peak season any more, October is still quite dry and a good time for trekking, safari, or enjoying Tanzania’s beaches.

The migration is now in Kenya, but there are still plenty of animals to see. Southern parks are particularly rewarding at this time of year.

The short rainy season sometimes starts by the end of October, so the start of the month is better for travelling.

VISITING TANZANIA IN NOVEMBER

Short rains. This is a great time to take advantage of low season rates and is still a popular time to travel. The rains tend to be overnight, but there is a risk of rain during the day as well. Migrating herds are starting to travel south from Kenya, so crossings can be seen in the north of the Serengeti.

Events & Festivals

  • Green Season (November to March): Tanzania’s Green Season offers superb birdwatching opportunities, with migratory birds arriving in their thousands.

VISITING TANZANIA IN DECEMBER

There is a chance of rain, but this is generally overnight. Temperatures and humidity start to build. Safari is good, with migrating herds in the north traveling south to Ndutu. The festive season can be very busy and needs to be planned well in advance to ensure availability.

Events & Festivals

  • Green Season (November to March): Tanzania’s Green Season offers superb birdwatching opportunities, with migratory birds arriving in their thousands.

Game drives inside the Ngorongoro Crater

Whether you’re staying in a lodge on the crater’s rim or just visiting for the day, guided game drives give you a chance to explore the crater and its wildlife. You can opt to join a shared game drive or have a private guide who’ll tailor the drive to your interests.

You start the day from the top of the crater, where you can gaze over the rim and see the 25 km (15.5 mile) hollow in the Earth stretching before you. Evergreen forest clings to the slopes, and clouds cast rolling shadows over the grassland and pockets of acacia trees. Far below, animals move like tiny ants. As you descend, you begin to make out what they are: antelopes, buffalo, wildebeest and Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles.

Once on the crater floor, your guide’s knowledge of the land comes into play to get you close to animals both common and, if you’re lucky, rare. Sightings of black rhino are far from guaranteed, but you’re in the best place to find them.

A drive over to Gorigor Swamp is likely to give you views of large-tusked elephant and hippo, while in Lerai Forest you might encounter baboons and leopard in the branches of yellow fever and acacia trees.

While the crater is usually busy with other safari vehicles (especially during the dry season, between July and October), staying on its rim means you can be the first into the crater and the last out, with day-trippers limited to six-hour visits. Alternatively, you could travel here outside the peak months, when it’s much quieter but there’s more chance of rain.

TANZANIA FEATURED SAFARI PACKAGES

The tours below showcase just some of what is possible. Use these itineraries as starting points, or to draw inspiration. Then get in touch, and let our expert team help craft the perfect itinerary for you.

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This African Big five safari features three of the popular Northern Circuit game parks. You will see flamingos and other
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