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).
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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