Our Guide to
Ngorongoro Crater Safaris
Volcanic crater with sensational wildlife
Ngorongoro is one of the largest unbroken calderas in the world that isn’t a lake yet is home to an abundance of wildlife. At 19 kilometres wide and with a surface of 264 square kilometres it is truly impressive. Its walls soar 400 metres to 610 metres and provide the setting for an incredible natural arena boasting a blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archaeology that is unsurpassed in Africa.
The Ngorongoro Crater is certainly one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles; its magical setting and abundant wildlife never fail to enthral visitors. It borders the Serengeti National Park to the north and west. A few hours’ drive to the east takes you to the town of Arusha which nestles at the foot of Mount Meru, within view of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The entire conservation area stretches some 8,300 square kilometres through the Crater Highlands, in which local tribes are permitted to maintain their traditional lifestyles in as natural environment as possible.
A safari to the Ngorongoro wouldn’t be complete without a game drive in the stunning Ngorongoro Crater. Experience the unique ecosystem within the crater that has developed due of centuries of near isolation from the caldera’s towering and encompassing walls.
We always recommend a private safari to ensure you get to explore all the areas you wish, and be able to head off at a moments notice to view a new animal sighting. Pack a picnic lunch and head out with your guide to spend all day exploring the crater floor.
The animals that reside in the Crater won’t disappoint, with large concentrations of game species that are constantly shadowed by their predatory counterparts.
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Top Five in Ngorongoro Crater
- Ngorongoro is home to the classic safari, so our number one is of course a full day game drive with private guide, vehicle and a stop somewhere scenic with picnic basket to the brim
- Not to be outdone by the grandeur of the Crater, the Olduvai Gorge is another fascinating destination that is always worth a visit. Trace the evolution of humankind in one of the most important archaeological and paleoanthropological sites in the world, and learn more about the Leakey’s famous discoveries of early human fossils, and their contribution to the understanding of human evolution and early human life.
- Get out on foot and Trek to Olmoti Crater and swim in the waterfall or simply trek around the Ngorongoro Crater rim itself and marvel at the views.
- Visit the Hadzabe tribe and Lake Eyasi for a truly authentic and different experience.
- The conservation area surrounding the crater is also great for game drives and safari experiences, and often the journey through the area on your way to the Crater will be just as scenic and full of exciting animal encounters.
Accommodation in Ngorongoro
There are three choices of accommodation when considering Ngorongoro Crater. Firstly you can stay high up on the crater rim with views down into the caldera, or below the crater in the Karatu township area, or lastly you may choose to stay in one of the surrounding bush properties within the conservation area. Most accommodation on the rim and surrounding the crater is within an easy few hours drive of Arusha, otherwise you may chose to fly into Lake Manyara airstrip and enjoy a scenic drive from there into the conservation area.
Properties on the crater rim offer the most spectacular views into the caldera; perfect for enjoying an evening gin and tonic on the balcony. These properties come in two categories: Extreme luxury or chain hotels. Perched on the crater rim are some lavish properties that offer the height of luxury, style, and personalised experience. They are perfect for those wishing to indulge for a night or two while experiencing Tanzania’s crowning jewel. While the chain hotel many be larger and have more guests, they are a great affordable option for the mid-range budget, that don’t skimp on style and provide those excellent crater views.
For those looking for a lovely community based and cultural experience, the properties within the Karatu region are a fantastic choice. Located in the agricultural districts of Karatu, these properties are immersed in the lush surrounds with great views of the Crater walls in the distance. Some properties operate their own farms that provide fresh fruit and vegetable for their kitchens, and employment for the local community.
The third property type available are those set outside the crater and Karatu area, within the wider Ngorongoro Conservation Area. While these properties don’t have those lovely crater views, they are nestled within the beautiful wilderness, away from the crowds of the Crater properties, and offer a combination of great luxury and service. Enjoy game viewing both within the conservation area and the Crater itself.
Best time to visit Ngorongoro
The high density of wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater makes it a great year round destination, with a population of around 30,000 animals at any given time.
The wet season, January to May, is a stunning time to visit, as the Crater and Conservation Area are lush and green, and the scenery is simple beautiful. Our favourite time to visit is during the wet season, specifically between April to May as it is the best time to avoid the large crowds of tourist that descend on the region in the later months.Get Started