Visiting the Ngorongoro Crater is more like stepping into an adventure movie. This world heritage site is full of beauty and wildlife. It comprises of three spectacular volcanic craters, the Olduvai Gorge, endless plains of iconic savanna and surprisingly a lush forest. The Ngorongoro Crater is part of the Serengeti Plains. It is a conservation area located about 110 miles (180 kilometers) west of Arusha.
The main draw to the Ngorongoro is the Crater. The crater covers a region of 102 square miles and is home to more than 25,000 large animals which include the black-maned lion, black rhino, and over 100 species of birds. This is one of the best places in Northern Tanzania that you can find the highest density of predators as well as giant tusker elephants. While the crater can only be explored during the day, there are several camps and lodges that offer amazing views of the crater and wildlife at night.
When to Go on a Ngorongoro Crater Safari
The wildlife mainly stays around the crater. This means there is no good or bad time to head to the Ngorongoro Crater. However, considering this is a popular tourist destination, it pays to take a safari on the low season when there is less traffic. The peak seasons are July and August and around the Christmas season.
The micro-climate of the Ngorongoro Crater makes it possible to enjoy the region any time of year. The park is open all year-round and is easy to access.
Wildlife at Ngorongoro Crater
One of the main attraction at the Ngorongoro Crater is the beautiful flamingos. The lake is covered with a blue-algae which is the main source of food for flamingos. Flamingoes can be seen throughout the year. Higher levels of water during the rainy season (November to April) in Lake Magadi lead to a higher flamingo concentration.
The grassland in the north attracts so many mammals which include black rhinos, zebras, Grants Gazelles, buffalos and wildebeests. The Ngorongoro is inhibited by approximately 4,000 zebras, 3,000 elands, 3,000 gazelles, 700 wildebeests, 30 large elephants, 26 black rhinos and a range of other species like lions, jackals, buffalos, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, wild dogs, blue monkeys, hippos, and more. About 25,000 large mammals live within the crater.
How to Get to Ngorongoro Crater
The best way to get to the Ngorongoro Crater is from Arusha. If you choose to drive, the best way to save money is by sharing a private vehicle with friends from the time you are picked up at Kilimanjaro Airport. When flying from Arusha, you can fly to Lake Manyara airstrip and get picked up by your selected ‘fly in’ camp. Flying makes sense when your party size is small thus making flying cheaper than driving a private vehicle.
Ngorongoro Crater Safari Camps & Lodges
When visiting the Ngorongoro Crater you can either stay in accommodations on the rim of the Crater or on the escarpment of the Rift Valley. There are no accommodations within the crater. If you are searching for accommodations with the best views, here are the best ones.
Elewana The Manor at Ngorongoro
The Elewana the Manor at Ngorongoro is located adjacent to the Ngorongoro conservation area. It has 9 luxurious cottages (18 suites), a family cottage as well as a main Manor House. Every aspect of The Manor is designed for comfort. Each cottage is positioned to maximize views of the verdant hills.
As you tour the Eighth Wonder of the World (Ngorongoro Crater), there is no better feeling than knowing you will return to an amazing dinner in The Manor and a relaxing night in a cottage designed for comfort. Thanks to its 1,500-acre of Arabica coffee estate, The Manor is evocative of a stylish up country farm home built with Cape Dutch-style of architecture.
Lake Ndutu Luxury Tented Lodge
This is a beautiful tented lodge located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The lodge offers 22 perfectly appointed sleeping tents with a combination of individual guest tents and family suites. The best thing about the Lake Ndutu Luxury Tented Lodge is that it features lake views, an outdoor swimming pool, shared lounge and terrace and also includes Wi-Fi and free private parking. Each unit has a private bathroom, a hairdryer and free toiletries. Every morning guests are treated to a continental breakfast. Car rental services are available.
Opened back in 2013, the Lake Ndutu Luxury Tented Lodge is the newest base for game viewing. It offers an authentic African safari experience with a blend of luxurious living.
Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge
There is a certain magical feeling that comes with spending the night on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater. That is what you get with the Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge. The lodge offers the most magical views of the Ngorongoro Crater. As a guest you will be appointed with king bed in your bedroom, sitting room that is furnished with a stocked mini-bar as well as a digital multi-channel TV. The stone-built balcony is huge and offers the best views of both the Ngorongoro Crater and the wildlife. You also get 24-hour room service.
The Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge is an achievement of architectural and ecological fusion. This is one of the best places you can stay while on a Ngorongoro Crater safari.
The Gibb’s Farm is located on the picturesque coffee estate outside Karatu town and midway between Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara. It has convivial cottages with private verandas and stone fireplaces. The guest areas include two dining rooms, and a lovely living room. The lodge further offers Maasai-inspired spa, guided walks into the Ngorongoro Forest and afternoon tea on a private veranda.
Everything from the architectural design to the organic cuisines at the Gibb’s Farm is designed to help you experience the traditions of East Africa life. This is an amazing place to stay while on Ngorongoro Crater Safari.
Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp
The Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp is located in the rim valley of the Ngorongoro Crater. Its location offers easy access to the Crater floor. It is the best place to stay if you are planning for early morning safaris.
There are three large communal tents that offer a dining area and a large area for afternoon relaxation. There is also a lounge bar for pre-dinner drinks. Every main area offers amazing views of the scenery.
There are also 10 luxury safari room tents. Each has ensuite bathroom, indoor bucket shower and a personal tent attendant. The room tents also have plug points, hairdryers and a sitting area where you can enjoy breakfast before starting your day.
andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
This lodge has often been referred to as the game lodge at the top of the world. This is thanks to the natural riches of the Ngorongoro Crater that are spread on its feet and the remarkable architecture of the lodge. The lodge creates the sensation of entering a pure fantasy.
The andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is divided into 30 suites with each having grass roofs and banana leaf ceilings. This unique design offers an exclusive experience regardless of whether you are purely on safari or on your honeymoon. Each camp has its own dining and sitting areas as well as private butlers. This is an amazing place to stay. You will be forgiven for losing track of which continent or era you are in.
How Long to Visit Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater can be explored in just one day. Adding an extra day or two at the crater will be fine if you are on a seven-day safari of the northern circuit.
More about the Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater is a perfect place to start your safari across Northern Tanzania through the Serengeti and into the Masai Mara if you have the time. This protected area offers two options for safari lovers.
The crater was created after the explosion of a huge volcano which collapsed on itself about three million years ago. The area was established in 1959 and declared in 1978 a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. It has a diameter of 10 to 12 miles (16 to 19 kilometers). This geological splendor will definitely make your list of the world’s natural wonders.
Due to the fact that the Crater is enclosed, it has its own unique ecosystem. In addition to the amazing scenery, the area has a wide range of flora and fauna. The Lerai Forest is in the southwest corner and Lake Magadi (shallow soda lake) is in the north of the forest. Lake Magadi is conspicuously known as Lake Makati. Makati is the Maasai name for salt.
The north side of the crater is drier and only has open grasslands. Most of the game resides here. The north is where you will see large concentrations of wildlife. The huge population of herbivores supports a dense population of predators than any other park in Africa. This makes Ngorongoro Crater safari very exciting as predators will hunt just yards from a vehicle.