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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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 February

As with January, February is one of the warmest months in this temperate destination, with an average daily maximum of 23°C, but night time temperatures typically drop around 10°C on the crater rim, so be prepared for cool evenings. February is the main cusp month between the so-called short rains and long rains, so rainfall is relatively low (the monthly average is 55m) but the…

Weather in Ngorongoro

Although Ngorongoro and the Crater Highlands stand in the heart of the tropics less than 200km south of the equator, the high elevation (mostly above 2,000m) means the climate is surprisingly cool, seldom rising above 25°C by day and more often than not dropping to below 10°C by night. It tends to be sunny by day, but cloudy weather is far from unusual and the gap in altitude between…

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…

Empakaai Crater

The second-largest crater in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Empakaai is almost 8km in diameter and its floor is dominated by a saline crater lake and enclosed by sheer 300m high walls that rise to an elevation of 3,200m on the eastern rim. On of East Africa’s most underrated and seldom-visited scenic gems, the crater lies about 90 minutes’ drive northeast of Ngorongoro Crater via…

Popular Ngorongoro Crater Safaris

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

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2019 Tanzania August to October Great Migration safari (Best for budget)

The wildebeest migration, is one of the “Seven New Wonder of the World” and also known as The World Cup of Wildlife. If there is a safari you should go on, this has to be it!...

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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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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....

 | Migration Safari in Kenya and Tanzania (8 days)

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

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

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

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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...

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

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