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Ngorongoro Crater

The 8th Wonder of the World
Standing on the rim of the crater and looking over the edge: will take your breath away and never leave you. This is the world's most perfect view.
TripAdvisor 5/5 from 3,291 reviewsSafariPlace 4.6/5 from 324 reviews

This is what safari is all about – endless plains, endless animals and the famous migration.

Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater was once part of the enormous Serengeti National Park. However, thanks to the unique eco-system created by the dominating geological feature the separate and present Ngorongoro Conservation Area encompasses a large area of  short-grass plains on the southern side of the Serengeti Plain as well as a range of largely extinct ancient volcanoes on the west side of the Great Rift Valley known as the Ngorongoro Highlands.

 

The Ngorongoro Crater itself is a large volcanic caldera: a remnant of a three million year old explosion that saw a volcano collapse upon itself. It is the largest untouched caldera in the word, measuring up to 19km in diameter and walled in by slopes up to 600m high. The coincidence of the crater’s location amid the cradle of life and its unique size make Ngorongoro host to one of the densest populations of large mammals and game to be found anywhere in anywhere in the world.

Safari tours in the Ngorongoro Crater regularly get to see the “big five”: Lion, Elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhino. The only surprising absentees from the Crater are Impala and Giraffe; it is thought this is perhaps because of the lack of open woodlands and browsing species of trees which these two tend to thrive on.

 

Alongside the wildlife, the Conservation Area is stunning in its beauty, featuring the Empakaai and Olmoti craters as well as Ngorongoro itself. The forested crater rim of the Ngorongoro crater is in stark contrast with the crater floor, which consists mostly of grassland. Another feature on the crater floor is Lerai forest full of beautiful yellow fever trees.

 

A special highlight in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the Olduvai Gorge. Ngorongoro is critically important to the study of human origins and at Olduvai Gorge, countless fossil digs have revealed that Hominid species thrived there for over 3.5 million years. The 30 mile long Gorge is a steep ravine in the Great Rift Valley and perhaps the most important prehistoric site in the world.

 

Perhaps the only negative about Ngorongoro Crater is that its small size and popularity draw a sometimes over crowded safari population of humans. This can spoil the wildlife experience of those looking for quieter and more personal safari but it mitigated by the sheer abundance of flora and fauna.

Our Top Tips For Ngorongoro Crater

Black rhino is easily seen

Staying on the crater rim offers great views into the crater

Empakaai Crater – hiking with the Maasai

Cultural visit to a Maasai village is available

Olduvai Gorge: earliest footsteps of man, can be seen at the museum

Safari Team Rating of Ngorongoro Crater
  • Remoteness 10% 10%
  • Family 90% 90%
  • Animal Viewing 100% 100%
  • Landscape 100% 100%
  • Flora 95% 95%
  • Birding 75% 75%

Safaris In Ngorongoro Crater

Hotels & Lodges in Ngorongoro Crater

CAMP SITES

1

 

SAFARI LODGES

8

 

LUXURY CAMPS

2

 

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Activities In Ngorongoro Crater

WALKING SAFARI

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BIRDWATCHING

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GAME DRIVES

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Photos of Safari In Ngorongoro Crater

Wildlife In Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater Flora & Fauna

The Ngorongoro Crater and greater Conservation Area host some of the best flora and fauna wildlife experiences of any of the Tanzanian parks thanks to the unique eco-system supported by the crater. There is an abundance of big game including the resident black rhino, which is virtually un-seen in the other parks, and can be spotted around the Lerai forest area where it spends the night among acacia yellow fever trees. Huge tusked elephant bulls are another treat to see as are the commonly spotted hippo, buffalo, golden jackal, lion, and cheetah. Abundant populations of zebra, wildebeest, and hyena are also part of the Eden-like Ngororngoro Crater experience

 Up around the Ngorongoro highlands and inside the crater there is also an excellent bird watching opportunity. The area plays host to over 500 recorded species including the white-eyed slaty flycatcher and the Livingstone turaco. Special grassland birds are also thriving in the crater such as Ostrich, Kori bustard, crowned crane, and the secretary bird. Migratory birds are present from November to April which include huge flocks of flamingo that dot the alkaline Lake Magadi area which includes pods of hippos amongst the Gorigor Swamp and Ngoitokitok Springs.

Ngorongoro Crater Vegetation

MOMBO

MOUNTAIN

Map Of Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater Location & Map

The Ngorongoro Crater is held inside the larger Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Northern Tanzanian region of Arusha. While people tend to visit Ngorongoro Crater as part of a bigger safari package, it is a renowned location only a 3 hour drive from Arusha town that offers a stunning diversity and range for safari goers. 

Arusha is the starting point for most safaris to Ngorongoro which can be seen after Lake Manyara National Park and is conveniently on the way to Serengeti. Arusha is served by its own regional airport (ARK) that can be reached via Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyere International Airport, or the closer by Kilimanjaro International Airport where regular KLM flights from Amsterdam land as well as new Qatar and Turkish Airlines routes.

 Alternatively, a shuttle bus can take you from Kenya to Arusha but most safari operators will pick you up at the airport and take you from there.

 The Ngorongoro Conservation Area has a mild, temperate climate with two wet seasons from October to November and March to May.  However, the geography of the infamous crater which most people visit creates its own climate: inside the crater, which descends to 1,700m,  it is relatively cool throughout the day, whereas the rim, which reaches 2,300m gets cold and even freezes in the nighttime, so warm clothing for early morning safaris is an absolute recommendation.

Ngorongoro Crater Map

Fast Facts On Ngorongoro Crater

Total Land Area

8288 sq km About the same size as Puerto Rico

Elevation above sea level

1500 -3648m

About 665 stacked giraffes

Nearest Major City & Airport

ARUSHA
About 199 km East

When To Visit Ngorongoro Crater

Jan    Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Jun

Jul    Aug    Sept    Oct   Nov    Dec

View Other Northern Circuit Safari Parks

Arusha National Park

Lake Manyara National Park

Tarangire National Park

Serengeti National Park

Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area

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