Ngorongoro Crater Travel Guide
Ngorongoro Crater Travel Guide
Ngorongoro is a Tanzanian must-see. The Ngorongoro Crater, a caldera or collapsed volcano, while only covering 260 km², includes a diverse range of habitats including montane forest, grasslands, acacia forests, a salt-lake and swamps. The diversity of the habitat provides refuge to an incredibly wide range of birds and animals, including the Big Five, in a concentrated area. Accommodation around the rim of the crater provides spectacular views and easy access to the crater.
- Incredible game spotting opportunities
- Diverse scenery and wonderful bird- and wildlife
- Densest population of Maasai Lion in the crater
- Home to the critically endangered black rhino
- Spectacular accommodation on the rim of the crater
- The fascinating archaeological site at nearby Olduvai Gorge
- Great place to meet and interact with the Maasai
While the Ngorongoro Conservation Area spans just over 8,000 km², the Ngorongoro Crater, the area's most well-known feature, spans only 260 km². And it's precisely its small size that makes it a Tanzanian must-see!
Being a caldera, or collapsed volcano, it has steep walls 610 m high, creating a bowl in which vast numbers of animals roam. Within this small area is a diverse range of habitats; montane forest on the rain-facing wall and grassland on the drier west wall. The floor is a vast grassland with a couple of acacia forests, salt-lake Lake Magadi, and Ngoitokitok Spring, which creates a swamp in the east of the crater.
Due to the diversity of the habitats on the crater floor and sides, an incredible number of different birds and animals, including the Big Five, call Ngorongoro Crater home and provide visitors with spectacular game viewing in gorgeous surroundings.
Around the rim of the crater are various accommodation establishments, mostly high-end, top-class luxury, that provides visitors with incredible views across the crater floor.
Animals of Ngorongoro
Within the Ngorongoro Crater, there is a huge concentration of wildlife, including the Big Five. Hippo, crocodile, zebra, a wide range of antelope and plains game live here, too. Regular sightings of the critically endangered black rhino have been reported.
It's estimated that about 25,000 big animals live within this natural enclosure. Expect to see many animals within a short space of time in the fertile bowl created by the caldera.
Ngorongoro Crater is also a special place for birders. The salt lake in the crater is home to hundreds of beautiful pink flamingos and birds of prey soar through the skies above.
Things to see and do in Ngorongoro
- Game drives within the crater
- Walks along the crater rim
- Meet the Maasai and learn about their culture and traditions
- Day trips to the fascinating Olduvai Gorge, known as the 'Cradle of Man'
- See Empakaai Crater, the lesser-known, younger sister of Ngorongoro Crater
When to visit Ngorongoro
The wildlife living in the crater itself are there all year, so from a game viewing point of view, Ngorongoro Crater is good all year. Due to its size, the area may get crowded during the peak tourist season which lasts most of the year, excluding April and May when major downpours make some of the roads hazardous and unpassable.
By car - Ngorongoro Crater is about 185 km from Arusha by road. The trip can take between two and four hours.
By air - There are daily flights from Arusha to Lake Manyara Airstrip. From there, it's a scenic one-and-a-half hour trip to the Ngorongoro Crater. Arusha is served by two airports. Domestic Arusha Airport has daily flights from numerous local destinations while Kilimanjaro International Airport has daily flights from local, African and international airlines.
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Situated a few hundred metres from the southern rim of the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, Rhino Lodge offers comfortable accommodation and friendly staff. While not on the rim of the crater itself, the lodge has beautiful surroundings and provides easy access to the road into the crater. Here, one can marvel at Ngorongoro's concentration of wildlife, including the Big Five, and breathtaking scenery.