Visit Ngorongoro crater
Visit the Ngorongoro crater which is the world’s largest inactive caldera which is found in the northern part of Tanzania.
The Ngorongoro crater is home to various wildlife species such as the big 5 like elephants, lions, buffalos, leopards and rhinos. The black rhinos are among the endangered wildlife species which can be seen during a Tanzania safari at the Ngorongoro crater.
The Ngorongoro crater was formed as a result of volcanic activity which led to the collapse of the volcano over 3 million years ago. The crater is made up of grasslands, montane forest, acacia woodland, a salt lake and also swamps.
Explore the Ngorongoro crater during your safari in Tanzania for an experience of descending about 600 meters to the crater floor which is inhabited by numerous wildlife species such as predators like lions, leopards and cheetahs.
Another funfact about the Ngorongoro conservation area is that the calving season of the wildebeest migration also takes place here. The wildebeest migration is one of the spectacular wildlife migrations which take place annually between the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.
Over 1.5 wildebeests migrate annually and can be seen in different destinations at different times of the year. In the Ngorongoro conservation area, the herds of wildebeests can be seen during the months of December to early March when the calving season takes place.
The calving seasons is a time when the wildebeests give birth to their young in the grass plains of the Ndutu area which is found between Serengeti national park and the Ngorongoro conservation area. About 8000 calves are born daily in the grass plains of the Ndutu area during the wildebeest migration.
The calving season in the Ngorongoro conservation area is also a good time to see predators like lions in action as they hunt these wildebeests.
There are over 25,000 wildlife species found in the Ngorongoro crater such as hippos, zebras, gazelles, warthogs, elands, lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, rhinos, hippos and many others which can be seen during a full day or half day wildlife viewing experience at the destination.
Around the Crater Lake, flocks of flamingos can be seen along the lake shores as well as numerous other bird species. The Ngorongoro crater also offers amazing views of the surrounding highlands and the neighboring craters also provide an amazing backdrop.
Safaris to the Ngorongoro crater are also a chance to interact with the Maasai people. The Maasai tribe makes up about 98% of the resident population of Ngorongoro and other tribes living in the area include the Hadzabe and the Datoga.
The Maasai practice agriculture and also have livestock and they live in harmony with the wildlife of the Ngorongoro conservation area. The Maasai dress up in shukas and the men can be seen with spears and the Maasai also have beautiful jewelry such as necklaces, earrings which they wear. During safaris to the Ngorongoro conservation area, tourists get to interact with them and get to know more about their way of life and culture.
The Hadzabe on the other hand is a tribe of haunter gatherers while the Datoga are blacksmiths and they make beautiful bracelets and arrow heads and the Datoga also consider themselves the oldest tribe in Tanzania.
Some of the highlights during safaris to the Ngorongoro crater include amazing wildlife viewing during the year, diverse scenery, dense population of lions, endangered black rhinos, and the Maasai people.
Places to visit around the Ngorongoro crater include the Ol duvai gorge, Lerai forest, Empakaai and Olmoti crater, Lake Magadi, flamingos, the big 5, the Maasai people and so much more which can be discovered during safaris to the crater.
Ol duvai gorge is an archaeological site where fossils were discovered by Dr Louis and Mary Leakey. The site is also referred to as the cradle of mankind.
Lerai forest is another attraction which is found in the Ngorongoro conservation area and is a good place to see elephants. It is made up of fever trees and walking safaris can also be carried out in the forest.
Empakaai and Olmoti crater are neighboring craters found around the Ngorongoro conservation area. These craters can also be visited during safaris and they have beautiful scenery and are similar in formation to the Ngorongoro crater.
Lake Magadi is an alkaline lake which is found in the Ngorongoro crater where you will see bird species like flamingos.
Things to do during safaris to the Ngorongoro conservation area include game drives in the crater, walking safaris along the crater rim, cultural interactions with the Maasai, visiting Olduvai gorge.
Game drives along the crater floor are an exciting experience of searching for the various wildlife species such as lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalos, leopards, cheetahs, zebras, hyenas, warthogs among others in the national park while enjoying the beautiful views at the destination.
For budget safaris during visits to the Ngorongoro crater, tourists also enjoy camping around the campsites of Ngorongoro where they can enjoy an experience of spending the night surrounded by the wilderness and also under the beautiful stars. Wildlife species as zebras and buffalos can also be seen close to these campsites.
Another option for accommodation during safaris to the Ngorongoro crater includes luxury, midrange and budget lodges and tented camps located around the crater rim and also in the neighboring town of Karatu.
Best time to visit Ngorongoro
The Ngorongoro crater can be visited all year however some months there are many tourists on safari at the destination while in April and May there are few tourists on safari and this favors tourists that prefer less crowds.
June to October is recommended for wildlife viewing in different destinations of Tanzania such as the Ngorongoro conservation area.
How to get to the Ngorongoro crater;
- The Ngorongoro crater can be accessed by driving from Arusha and it takes about 3 to 4 hours.
- By flight, the Ngorongoro crater can be accessed during safaris by flights from Kilimanjaro international airport or Arusha airport to Lake Manyara airstrip. Arusha airport offers domestic flights while Kilimanjaro international airport offers both domestic and international flights.