Welcome to the Ngorongoro Crater

ngorongoro crater rhino wildlife tanzania safari

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 own right. But this spectacular crater also stands as one of Africa’s most alluring safari destinations, supporting solid populations of all of the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, black rhino and buffalo), plus a host of other iconic large mammals, in a lush and scenic landscape that frequently draws comparisons to the metaphorical “Garden of Eden”.

Extending eastward from its border with the Serengeti National Park, the 8,292-square-kilometre Ngorongoro Conservation Area forms part of the greater Serengeti ecosystem, and its western plains lie along a migration route followed annually by some 2,5 million wildebeest and other ungulates. The eastern part of the conservation area comprises the Crater Highlands, a geologically spectacular region of volcanic peaks and craters formed by the same tectonic forces that created the Great Rift Valley below. Most of the crater highlands stand above the 2,000m contour, and while the loftiest peak, Lolmalasin, only ranks third among Tanzania’s mountains (after Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru), there is no higher summit in any of the dozen African countries that lie to its south.

ndutu safari lodge birds lake Credit: Ndutu Safari Lodge

Ngorongoro Conservation Area was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It is one of only 38 such sites worldwide to be listed on mixed natural and cultural criteria. In addition to its staggering volcanic scenery and profuse wildlife, the conservation area contains many archaeological sites of great international importance. Most notable among these is Oldupai Gorge, where Richard and Mary Leakey discovered the game-changing , 1,75 million-year-old fossil jawbone nicknamed Nutcracker Man in 1959. Nearby, the three-million-year-old Laetoli footprints are the most ancient hominid tracks ever found. Another striking feature of Ngorongoro Conservation Area is that among African game reserves of comparable stature, it still supports significant human communities, comprised mainly of traditionalist Maasai and Datoga pastoralists and Hadza hunter-gatherers, all of whom co-exist reasonably harmoniously alongside the prodigious wildlife.


Our Recommended Itinerary

Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)

day 1 to 2

  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)
  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)
  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)
  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)
  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)
  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)

day 3 to 4 to 5

  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)
  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)
  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)
  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)
  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)
  • Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)

day 6

Departure

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Ngorongoro in August

August is one of the driest months in Ngorongoro Crater, and with the long rains having ended two to three months ago, the landscape will be looking parched, yellow and dusty. This makes it easier to see predators on the open plains, so it is great for wildlife spotting, but the hazy skies and starker scenery tends to be less rewarding than wetter time of year for photography. It is…

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…

Lake Eyasi and the Hadzabe

Bounding the southern Ngorongoro Conservation Area at the base of the Rift Valley Escarpment, remote Lake Eyasi is a shallow soda lake prone to large fluctuations in area and level depending on local rainfall. Possessed of a certain desolate beauty, the surrounding dry savannah is home to the Hadza, or Hadzabe, a tribe of nomadic hunter-gatherers that numbers fewer than 100 individuals…

Ngorongoro in December

The short rains that started in October continue into December, which is actually the third wettest month in Ngorongoro, receiving an average annual rainfall of 135mm. It is also relatively warm, with average daily temperatures ranging from a minimum of 10°C to a maximum of 22°C. Coming after the long dry season, the rain tends to feel rejuvenated, lending a fresh spring-like feel to…

Honeymoon safari in the Ngorongoro

credit: Ngorongoro Crater Camp Bespoke safaris are the name of the game in Tanzania, and probably half of the open-topped 4x4s you see in Ngorongoro and elsewhere on the northern safari circuit are occupied by one couple. In many respects, the best way to explore the area is with a like-minded partner rather than a larger group with more divergent interests and temperaments. It is also…

Wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater

The game viewing centre piece of Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the grassy floor that stands at an altitude of 1,800m. The crater is dominated by a cover of open savannah that looks lush and green during the rainy season but is altogether dustier and more windswept during drier months. Important micro habitats within the crater floor include the fever-tree forest at Lerai, the shallow…

Popular Ngorongoro Crater Safaris

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

 | Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)

Affordable Ngorongoro and Serengeti Safari (6 days)

We're offering our guests the chance to explore two world-famous destinations in under a week ...

 | HerdTracker August to October 2019 Wildebeest Migration safari (Value-for-money)

HerdTracker August to October 2019 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....

 | 9-day Calving Season safari with HerdTracker (Luxury)

9-day February Calving Season safari with HerdTracker (Luxury)

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

 | Nature, Romance and Exclusivity - A Complete African Honeymoon (14 days)

Nature, Romance and Exclusivity - A Complete African Honeymoon (14 days)

This exclusive African honeymoon through East and Southern Africa is the perfect way to celebrate the start of your new journey together...

 | 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...

 | Group Safari into Northern Tanzania (7 days)

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...

 | Tanzania couples safari

Tanzania couples safari

Enjoy the wildlife of Tanzania as well as the paradise of Zanzibar...

 | 9-day Great Wildebeest Migration safari (Luxury)

9-day Great Wildebeest Migration safari (Luxury)

These mass ungulate herds cross plains and rivers as the season's change and rain-ripened grass are depleted in their area, forcing them to move on to the next....

 | Honeymoon Safari in the Serengeti National Park (6 days)

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...

 | February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

Visit Tanzania during the calving season to see wildebeest calves join the massive herds making their way through the Serengeti for the great migration....

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