Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world's greatest natural spectacles, its magical setting and abundant wildlife never failing to enthrall you. However the crater is just a small part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which offers a whole range of attractions for the adventurous traveler. Superb accommodations—from excellent campsites to luxury lodges—ensure that you can relax at the end of each day in style. Everything about the Ngorongoro experience is designed to make your visit a real authentic and memorable African journey.
Set in the nothern Tanzania, sharing part of the Serengeti plains to the northwest and with the towns of Arusha, Moshi and Mount Kilimanjaro to the east, Ngorongoro forms part of the unique Serengeti ecosystem.
The terrain embraces several distinct habitats from open grassland to mountain forest, and from scrub bushland to highland heath. The area contains sites of international paleontological and archaeological importance. Around 25,000 animals live in the crater throughout the year.
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The Ngorongoro Crater is actually a caldera or collapsed crater that has formed a kind of natural wildlife park. The animals have everything they need and no real desire to climb out of the caldera. Because of this, one can see a great variety of animals up close. On our trip with Shidoyla Safaris we saw Lion, Rhino, Hippo, Buffalo, Elephant, Zebra, Giraffe, Hyena, Flamingo, Crane, Pelican, Yellow Basketweaver, to name a few. This is the place to go if you don’t have time to hit all of the national parks, as you can’t drive anywhere in the caldera without seeing animals on all sides. It can be expensive, because there are numerous fees, including a $40 fee to drive into the conservation area, and another $200 to drive down into the crater, plus another $50 per person fee. Rates may change, so check them before going. If you are looking for solitude, this is not the place. Anywhere that there is an animal, there will be land cruisers parked taking pictures. But if your goal is to see animals this is the place! It is also recommended that you hire a tour guide. The park will require you to have a guide with you even if you drive your own vehicle. My understanding is that they want to make sure vehicles are staying on the roadways to protect the environment. Having a local with you helps with spotting animals that might have been missed otherwise, gives great ecological and cultural insight into the area, and supports the local economy.
The Ngorongoro Crater was easily the most spectacular of all the locations we visited in Tanzania. It is teaming with wildlife and all within a setting that inspired the film Madagascar 2: Return to Africa. We spent an entire day from dawn to dusk looping around the national park, seeing pretty much everything on an African wildlife checklist with the exception of leopard. The only drawback here was the number of other jeeps enjoying the same thing. At one particularly interesting lion sighting (they were being chased around a watering hole by a group of aggressive buffalo), we counted 27 other jeeps in the area, all jockeying for an optimal position. We joked that it felt like we were in Brooklyn. During busier times, I was told you could find up to 50 jeeps in one spot . . . yikes. Fortunately, this size crowd seemed to be an exception, and we spent most of our remaining time in content isolation.
I cried when I stood on top of the crater looking down into Ngorongoro. I thought I'd reached the pinnacle of anything I could hope for on my trip to Africa. Who would have thought an hour later I be watching lions mate from only 15 feet away. I guess its really rare. A once a year thing. You never know where life may take you, but when you go, take pictures.
I just returned from a safari in Tanzania. What an amazing trip. We saw so many animals and were lucky enough to see the Big 5. Lions, Leopards and Hippos are exciting, however I really just loved watching the zebras. They were pretty common and all over but, I just couldn't get enough of them. In the Serengeti, the zebra seemed skittish when they saw or heard a vehicle. Not so in the Crater...they could almost care less about us. We stopped to watch a herd in the plains and noticed that they were all sort of hugging. Of course my friend and I thought they were in love but, our driver told us that they are resting in each others shade. It was a perfect day and I couldn't believe how nice this photo came out after I returned home and saw it developed. My favorite photo out of 598!
Ngorongoro Tanzania is the best place to see so many different animals. Just driving along we stumbled upon this group of playful happy hippos. I can still hear them honking away and it makes me smile each time.
We spotted this lioness, maybe half a mile away, walking slowly but determinedly across the immense flat plain of the Ngorongoro Crater floor, with something in its mouth. A kill, we thought, but our safari guide suspected a cub, so, we drove ahead to a dense thicket where we anticipated she might head. Sure enough, she passed right in front of our vehicle. Only then did we realize it wasn't just a cub, but also a newborn! Still stunned, I managed to shoot this close-up with a 100-400 mm zoom. I showed it to our guide and asked, "That red thing dangling... Is that its umbilical cord?" With an excited laugh, he exclaimed," YES... OH, YES IT IS!" He'd never seen a lioness carrying a newborn cub before, he told me, explaining his overjoyed reaction. We then watched the lioness disappear into her den in the nearby vegetation, as she brought "mtoto wa simba" (baby lion, in Kiswahili) home for the first time. To get a shot like this all to yourself, as I did: 1) Visit Ngorongoro before the tourists arrive, which means staying overnight at a tented campsite inside the Crater's entrance. Few outfitters can deliver this, so ask specifically before you book your safari. 2) Work with your guide/driver to get in the position YOU want. This is your trip, after all, not theirs. You're in charge of where the vehicle goes (within reason) and when it stops. 3) Be curious and patient. Wild animals can be unpredictable, but knowing their behavior can pay off, if you take time to learn.
The lioness spots a herd of zebra (it’s a dazzle, my guide reminds me — she is one of only three female guides in all of East Africa and very talented). She masterfully rounds up the zebra to send them in the direction of her waiting pride. We are almost as anxious as the zebra. And then at the last minute, the zebra find new energy or a brilliant leader or something that makes them take a united front and flee.
The zebra will live another day.
The descent into Ngorongoro caldera, around 610 meters deep, is so steep that giraffes with their large hearts, are unable to make the journey. It is mostly large ungulates living in the crater such as the buffalo, hippopotamus, wildebeest, zebras, eland, and gazelles. Indeed, it is rare to spot the critically endangered black rhino while on safari. Their solitary lifestyle makes them particular vulnerable and slows the mating process as finding a mate is another difficulty for these loners. The crater is like a scene out of the Lion King, it is home to one of the densest populations of lions on earth.
It was mid-September and there were no jeeps but us. Perfect weather, all the animals were out and celebrating having the crater almost to themselves. We stayed at the Serena Lodge and relished the difference between being there and not surrounded by common old oak trees in our NH home.
After climbing on Kilimanjaro we took a safari to Ngorongoro Crater and the wildlife there was incredible. There was an elephant on duty to greet us as we descended into the crater. Probably the most unexpected sight was th hippos in the lake at the far end. We stayed at Serena Lodge and sipped a cool drink as the sun went down knowing we were privileged. We were there two nights but the second day we chose to walk the grounds and take in the magnificent view from the top of the crater. The next day we stopped by Lake Manyara and on to Tarangire. Totally different from the Crater, very flat and . This time there was a pair of zebras welcoming us into the park. Saw lions taking a respite from the heat of the day; rock hyrax to the right and elephants to the left. Came upon a young male elephant sparring with an old male and when they saw us the old one charged our Landrover--scary but we had the best driver ever and he made a quick turn and got us out of there in a hurry! We had two days there as the wildlife was scattered over huge plains and forests. We saw all of the big 5 except for leopards. Our Safari was with Kiliwarriors which we booked our Kili Climb before the safari and Zanzibar afterwards.