Ngorongoro Crater

game drive ngorongoro crater tanzania safari

People visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is to see the eponymous crater. Ngorongoro is the world’s largest intact and unflooded caldera, the relict of a massive volcano formed by the same tectonic activity associated with the creation of the Great Rift Valley. In its prime, Ngorongoro would have towered as high as Kilimanjaro does today, but it collapsed in on itself around one- to two-million years ago, leaving behind a gaping caldera that extends across some 260 square kilometres and is hemmed in by steep but lushly vegetated walls that rise up to 600m above the floor to a maximum altitude of 2,388m. The views over the crater from the various viewpoints and lodges that line the forested rim are truly immense. But the crater also doubles as one of Africa’s most iconic and photogenic Big Five safari destinations, providing sanctuary to elephant, lion, leopard, black rhino and buffalo along with a host of other safari favourites: large herds of wildebeest and zebra, significant numbers of cheetah and spotted hyena, yawning pods of hippos, and a wide variety of antelope.

hippo wildlife ngorongoro crater tanzania safari

Casual visitors are almost certain to encounter three of the so-called Big Five on any given game drive in the crater. Large herds of buffalo are common and might well be seen from the rim, marching ant-like along the crater floor even before you make the descent. The fever trees of Lerai Forest and the nearby Gorigor Swamp are the favoured haunt of the crater’s legendary population of veteran elephant bulls and their outsized tusks. An ample supply of prey means that the crater floor supports one of Africa’s densest concentrations of lions, with up to 100 very relaxed individuals scattered across various prides in suitable conditions. Black rhinos are a less certain attraction, but Ngorongoro is still one of the best places in East Africa to look for these endangered creatures. An altogether more elusive member of the Big Five is the leopard, which is resident on the crater floor as well as on the forested rim, but seldom seen due to its furtive nocturnal habits.

Big Game is the main attraction of the crater, but it also hosts an impressive bird life, most memorably the flamingo flocks that provide a pink tint to the fringes of saline Lake Magadi. Other Ngorongoro ‘specials’ include the handsome auger buzzard, the hulking Kori bustard, seasonal concentrations of grey crowned crane and various migrant storks, and the gorgeous rosy-throated longclaw and locally endemic rufous-tailed weaver. By contrast the crater rim is known as a good place to seek out such colourful highland forest birds as bar-tailed trogon, cinnamon-chested bee-eater and golden-winged sunbird.


Our Recommended Itinerary

February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

day 1

First day of your African adventure
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

day 2 to 3

Tarangire offers unparalleled game viewing
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

day 4 to 5

Ngorongoro Crater safari won't disappoint
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

day 6 to 8

Home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)
  • February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

day 9

End of calving safari!

View Full Itinerary

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Affordable safari in the Ngorongoro

Affordability is a relative thing when it comes to Ngorongoro and the other parks along the northern Tanzania safari circuit. All the parks are serviced by mid-range lodges but these tend to charge rack rates that would be considered upmarket in most other contexts. With Ngorongoro specifically, a good way to keep things affordable is to stay in or around Karatu - although it is less…

Luxury safari in Ngorongoro

Northern Tanzania boasts some of the most luxurious, exclusive and expensive lodges anywhere on the African safari circuit. Typically, these offer packages inclusive of world-class cuisine, house wines and beer, and game drives with guides who boast a higher level of expertise and far greater local knowledge than the average jobbing safari driver. These all-inclusive lodges also tend to…

Ngorongoro in November

Ngorongoro Crater tends to be relatively warm and wet in November, with an average daily maximum temperature of 22°C, a nightly minimum of 10°C, and around 110mm of rainfall. These short rains are usually not so heavy as to have a negative impact on tourism, and they create an spring-like aura of regeneration to the landscape following the long dry season. Wildlife is plentiful, with…

Welcome to the Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the largest unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera in the world. It is a scenic showstopper that extends across an astonishing 260 square kilometres. The crater is hemmed in on all sides by sheer craggy walls that rise up to 600m above the floor. The view from the lushly forested rim is utterly stupendous and would justify a visit to Ngorongoro in its…

Maasai visits

Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the last places in Africa where large herds of wildlife still roam alongside people. The people in question are the pastoralist Maasai, staunch traditionalists renowned for their ongoing adherence to a cattle-herding lifestyle and distinctive attire of toga-like red blankets, ochre-dyed hair and beaded jewellery. Several Maasai ‘cultural…

Ngorongoro in June

June is arguably the optimum month to visit Ngorongoro Crater. The long rains should be over, but the scenery will still be green and lush, and the safari circuit remains relatively uncrowded, as peak tourist season only starts to kick in towards the end of the month or into July. Looking further afield, it is also a good month for Zanzibar beach holidays and Kilimanjaro climbs, and…

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