The Ngorongoro crater is actually not a crater but a caldera, a collapsed volcano. Once a mountain believed to be as high as Kilimanjaro collapsed in an enormous eruption creating the worlds largest unbroken caldera. Inside this caldera a haven for wildlife was created. With cooler temperatures than surrounding savannah, better rains and permanent supply of water the inside of this 21 km in diameter caldera is home to around 70 000 mammals. It is truly a natural wonder and is often described as the real garden of eden.
Highlights of Ngorongoro Crater
Black maned lions
Ngorongoro Crater is one of those few places where you find black maned lions. The gene is rare and has typically survived in areas where groups of lions from different areas seldom meet and mix.
Ngorongoro Crater is a Rhino sanctuary and one of the areas where they have been most succesfully protected from poachers. Ngorongoro Crater is the best place in Tanzania to see rhino.
Old elephant bulls
Old lone elephant bulls with enormous tusks favour Ngorongoro Crater since it has a lot of high grass that is easy to feed on for an old elephant.
The view from the rim of the crater
The view from the rim of the crater is one of those things that you wish you could see for the first time ever, more than once. It is just that amazing.
Wildlife and nature
In the Ngorongoro Crater the water supply is always good and the weather is a bit cooler than the surrounding areas. Because of this there is as many as 70 000 mammals inside the crater. Among the animals in the crater are hyena, elephant, hippo, wildebeest, zebra, baboon, buffalo and many other. Despite the fact that the crater is relatively small there are five prides of lions in the crater with an emstimated total of about 75 lions.
Despite the steep walls, the animals migrate in and out of the Ngorongoro Crater on a regular basis. However, the lions, which are territorial, does not follow but stays in the crater. The Ngorongoro Crater is also teh best place inb Tanzania to see rhinoceros. Rhino is now an extremely rare sight in East Africa because of poaching. The few rhinos that survived in the big parks have most often been moved to small national and private reserves such as Ngorongoro Crater. It’s simply too hard to protect them from continuing thief hunting in the big parks such as Serengeti.
Ngorongoro Crater is fairly cool large parts of the year but between late October and early March the floor of the crater can become very hot in the afternoons as the still air creates a warm air pocket. There are not many trees in the crater and lions have therefore learnt to seek shade next to safari jeeps. So if you are lucky you can see a lion comin g to your jeep to get some shade.
The floor of the Ngorongoro Crater is located at fairly high altitude, 1400 m above sea level and about 2000-2300 meters on the rim of the crater and this affects the climate. The warmest period is December until February and during these months it may get very hot down on the crater floor while it is still quite cool on the crater rim. The rainy season is March to May. During the coolest months netween May and beginning of September it can get quite chilly at nights on the crater rim where some lodges and camps are located. If you travel here during this period, we recommend that you take you bring a sweater or a jacket. The surrounding mountains give rise to more rain during the rainy periods than many surrounding areas, and the crater therefore has constant access to drinking water for the big animals.
Best time to visit
You can visit the Ngorongoro Crater all year round. Wildlife is quite persistent as the animals do not migrate from the crater in any larhe numbers. However, it may be very muddy during the rainy season and the roads up and down the crater can then be very difficult. Normally, we recommend safari to the Ngorongoro Crater between June and early March.
How to get there
You get to the Ngorongoro Crater by car from Arusha. The journey goes over paved road and takes about 3-3,5 hours. There is an airfield on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, located on the west side, but it has been closed for a few years now. This is due to the fact that the flight was often canceled because of high wind. If you want to fly to the Ngorongoro Crater, you can either fly to the airstrip by Lake Manyara or Ndutu (sothern Serebgeti) and from there drive a car to the Ngorongoro Crater (in both cases about an hour’s drive).
Safari to Ngorongoro Crater
It is doable to go to the Ngorongoro Crater during the day from Arusha, even though you spend quite a few hours in the care that day. The Ngorongoro Crater can also be combined with Tarangire and/or Lake Manyara on a shorter, two to three day safari, and/or with Serengeti on a longer safari 4-6 days.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a unique place that is home to the largest concentration of land mammals in the world. It is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and a place that should not be missed if you travel to Tanzania.
Lodges on the rim of the Crater
There are a few lodges on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater and a few thata are just off the rim of the crater, meaning there is not a viw of the crater from the lodge. The lodges below are either on or very close to the rim of the crater.
Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
A 4-star fairly large lodge on the souther-western side rim of the crater. The lodge has a great view of the crater and is in our opinion your best value for money of you want to stay in a lodge on the actual rim of the crater.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
A large lodge on the eastern side of the rim with amazing views of the crater. The view is amazing but the location means the drive to and from Serengeti is longer. Th eprice is almost the same as Serena but Serena is a better product in our opinion. Still Sopa Lodge offers great views at a reasonable price.
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Often described as the best lodge on the rim of the crater. It is most certainly the most upmarket one. The view is great and so is the lodge. While there is no doubt this is a better lodge than Ngorongoro Serena we still feel Serena offers more value for money.
Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge
Prime location and maybe the best view of any lodge at the rim of the crater. Unfortunately in every other respect not a great place. The standard of rooms, service and food is decent but at a slighlty higher price you get a much better lodge if you book Serena instead.
Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge
This is a great place! Simple, rustic and basic, yes! Luxurious, no! But it has amazing staff and offers great value for money. If you a looking for luxury this is not for you but if you want a nice, well maintained rustic place in amazing surroundings this is perfect. The lodge is just a few minutes from the rim of the crater overlooking the highest mountains in southern Ngorongoro Highlands; Oldeani and Lemagrut. Read more about Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge.
A high end tented camp just off the rim on the northern side of the crater. Th elocation is perfect if you want to explore other parts of Ngorongoro Highlands. Lemala offers a genuine, rustic yet luxurious atmosphere and is the perfect place to stay for those of you looking for the true luxury tented camp safari style.
Lodges near the crater
Good value for money mid-range lodge located just otside the town of karatu on the eastern sida of Ngorongoro Crater. Read more about Octagon Lodge here.
Ngorongoro Forest Tented Lodge
Rustic and charming tented camp on the edge of the rainforest on the east slopes of the Ngorongoro Highlands. Good value for money alterntive for those who want to stay in a tented camp.
Ngorongoro Farm House
All though fairly large Ngorongoro Farm House feels small. The lodge is spread out on a large estate and has two restaurants/dining areas ad two pool areas so it never feels crowded. The room sare spcious and all have a porch with a view of the surrounding fam lands. We really like Ngorongoro Farm House. It is a great place if you prefer walls and and a roof to canvas tent.
Ngorongoro farm House’s posh sister is a lovely place that is in many ways like Farm House but better. Rustic luxury at it’s best and a gret achoice for those of you who want the adventures of a safari but prefer to stay comfortably and eat very well.
One of those places where you can really say it is one of a kind. An ecological farm and a fantastic lodge. Th elodge grows almost everythin git serves in the restaurant. The food might be the best we have ever eaten in Tanzania. Don’t go here for a quick overnight coming late leaving early. You need a day here to participate in the activities and enjoy the surroundings.
The Manor at Ngorongoro
One of the best high end options if you value the best service, food and rooms over the best view. The Manor does not have a view of the crater but all else is absolute top class here.