Ngorongoro travel tips

lion wildlife ngorongoro crater tanzania safari

  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area can only realistically be explored in a solid 4x4. The 150km road from the northern Tanzanian ‘safari capital’ Arusha to Lodware Entrance Gate, the only access point along the eastern border, is now surfaced in its entirety, and can be covered in less than three hours. All roads within the conservation are unsurfaced, however, and most - including the bumpy descent and ascent tracks to the crater and corrugated strip of fine compacted ash running west to Serengeti National Park - are pretty rough going. Tanzania’s safari industry is not really geared towards a self-drive approach, and the roads are unsuited to large coach tours, which means that almost all visitors to Ngorongoro either join a bespoke or small-group safari with a local driver-guide, or fly from Arusha to a camp offering a package inclusive of game drives. In theory, Ngorongoro Crater could be visited on a standalone one or two-night safari out of Arusha, but in practice it usually forms part of a longer (5-14 day) safari taking in some or all of the other highlights of the northern Tanzania safari circuit i.e. Serengeti National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park and Arusha National Park.

  • A day trip to Ngorongoro Crater is worth planning carefully. Vehicles are forbidden from entering the crater before 07h00, and they must leave before 18h00, and a hefty ‘crater service fee’ is payable every time a vehicle enter the crater. This combination of rulings has forged a situation where most safaris breakfast at their lodge before going on a game drive and carry a picnic lunch. Far preferable, however, to take a packed breakfast and lunch, allowing you to get down into the crater as early as possible, partly because early morning offers the best photographic light, but also because the place is at its most magical before the tourist hordes descend, with the main procession usually starting the descent from 08h00 onwards.

credit the highlands ngorongoro tanzania safari 4x4 drive The Highlands Ngorongoro

  • The conservation authority forbids tourists from staying overnight within Ngorongoro Crater. But several tourist lodges and tented camps are perched on the lofty crater rim, offering fine views over the floor and its teeming wildlife, and there is also a campsite. Plenty of accommodation is also available in and around the town of Karatu, which straddles the main surfaced road from Arusha about 15 minutes’ drive from Lodware Entrance Gate. The lodges on the crater rim are preferable in terms of views and for placing you as close as possible to the heart of the action, but accommodation in and around Karatu tends to offer better value for money. Either way, the elevated altitude of the crater rim and Karatu largely negate their near-equatorial location and nights can be decidedly chilly, so bring plenty of warm clothing to wear in the evening and early morning game drives.

Popular Ngorongoro Crater Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | HerdTracker August to October 2021 Wildebeest Migration safari (Value-for-money)

HerdTracker August to October 2021 Wildebeest Migration safari (Value-for-money)

This is the stage on which the greatest wildlife show on earth and plays out, as it is by far the greatest mass movement of land mammals on the entire globe....

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Group Safari into Northern Tanzania (7 days)

Travel is so much better with friends. Experience the best parts of Tanzania through breath-taking landscapes, nature and wildlife at its best...

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Honeymoon Safari in the Serengeti National Park (6 days)

Enjoy a romantic honeymoon at the Ngorongoro Crater where you can spot the Big Five and experience the wildlife-rich Serengeti National Park...

 | Migration Safari in Kenya and Tanzania (8 days)

Migration Safari in Kenya and Tanzania (8 days)

See the beauty of nature's greatest wildlife spectacle in two countries...

 | Great Migration Safari in the Serengeti (9 days)

Great Migration Safari in the Serengeti (9 days)

Join HerdTracker on a Tanzania migration safari in the Serengeti National Park....

 | Tanzania June/July 2021 Great Migration safari (Best for budget)

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Explore the wonder of the great wildebeest migration from the best Tanzania has to offer...

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Tanzania Classic SkySafari (8 days)

The ultimate African adventure...

Close up view of Wildebeest | Medium Budget, Maximum Game Viewing in Tanzania’s North (11 days)

Medium Budget, Maximum Game Viewing in Tanzania’s North (11 days)

Visit Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorogoro Crater and Serengeti for a four-in-one safari you'll remember forever...

Stopping for drinks | Affordable Green Season Safari in Tanzania (8 days)

Affordable Green Season Safari in Tanzania (8 days)

From Lake Manyara to the Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti, this Tanzania safari offers real value and shows off the burgeoning green world of Tanzania's rainy season migration ...

Game viewing | Green Season Wildebeest Migration Safari (11 days)

Green Season Wildebeest Migration Safari (11 days)

This four-in-one calving season safari includes not only the Serengeti, but Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Ngorogoro Crater...

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