Ngorongoro Crater Safari Holidays : The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, frequently referred to as the “eighth natural wonder of the world,” combines some of the best wildlife and scenery the nation has to offer with the Maasai culture and the history of its archaeological sites. The Ngorongoro Crater, the center of attention, is located within the 8288 sq. km conservation area, which also includes the eastern half of the Serengeti Plains, highland plateaus, volcanic mountains, craters, and gorges.
When Ngorongoro first erupted about 8 million years ago, it was a massive active volcano that was probably bigger than Mount Kilimanjaro, The largest Mountain in in Africa. Its cone collapsed, leaving a crater, or, more properly, a “caldera,” that is 600 meters deep, 16 kilometers wide, and 265 kilometers in size.
Some of the 20,000 large animals that live in the crater, such as lions, cheetahs, elands, zebras, and gazelles, can be seen congregating around water sources during the dry season. You can also see Some of Tanzania’s last remaining black rhinos as they graze on the crater’s open grassland floor. At Makata Soda Lake, flamingos and other bird species are frequently spotted feeding. Leopards can be seen lurking around Lerai Forest best in the early morning and late afternoon, while elephants prefer the forest’s plentiful shade during the heat of the day.
Maasai people continue to herd their cattle and goats as they have for years outside the crater in the highland hills. Zebra and wildebeest can be seen walking alongside Maasai people dressed traditionally and pulling loaded donkeys. What sets apart Ngorongoro Conservation Area from other national parks and is essential to the allure of hiking in the region is human habitation in the highlands.
Hikes in the highlands take visitors from Ngorongoro Crater to two smaller craters, Olmoti and Empakai, as well as the active volcano Oldonyo Lengai, also known as the Maasai people’s “mountain of God,” and Lake Natron. Visitors can interact with the Maasai in their natural environment and learn about their culture by spending most of their time hiking on cattle trails next to the warriors and their herds and spending their nights camping among Maasai bomas. This is a little-traveled area of the country, so exploring it is an adventure of a lifetime.
NGORONGORO CRATER SAFARI
The Ngorongoro Crater, which was formed when a sizable volcano erupted and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago, is without a doubt the conservation area’s centerpiece. It is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.
It has walls that are 400–610 meters high and a diameter of roughly 16–19 kilometers. Whatever criteria you use, the Crater is a strong contender for any list of the greatest natural wonders in the world. It is well-known for its stunning geology as well as for being a natural reserve that is home to some of the densest populations of large mammals in all of Africa.
NGORONGORO WILDLIFE SAFARI
The crater has essentially developed its own ecosystem due to its enclosed nature. One of the main draws of this region, in addition to the breathtaking scenery, is the variety of flora and fauna that can be found year-round in a remarkably small area. The Lerai Forest, which is primarily made up of yellow fever trees (a member of the acacia family), is located in the southwest corner. A shallow soda lake known as Lake Magadi is located to the north of the forest, and Gorigor Swamp and the Ngoitokitoki Springs, where hippo pods can be found, are to the east. The open grasslands that make up the crater floor can be found in the north of the crater, which is generally much drier and home to the majority of the local game.
Any Ngorongoro safari comes with the assurance of seeing lots of game. Large herds of zebra and wildebeest frequent this spectacular bowl’s mineral-rich floor, which is mostly flat, open, and covered in nourishing grasses. Along with herds of buffalo, Thomson’s, Grant’s, and tsessebe (also known as topi) live on these vast open plains. Here you’ll also find the largest population of black rhinos in East Africa, which are frequently spotted in wide-open grasslands. Rarely do breeding herds of elephant pass directly through the Ngorongoro Crater, but you may encounter a few old bulls, including some of the largest tuskers still living in Africa. Impala and giraffe are the only unexpectedly absent species from the crater, which is thought to be due to a lack of open woodlands and browsing tree species, which these two species prefer to thrive in.
The largest populations of predators to be found anywhere in Africa are supported by an abundance of herbivores. The dependability of these predators has contributed to the popularity of safaris in Ngorongoro. The lion population in the crater varies considerably over time, but one thing remains constant: they completely disregard cars. They will hunt within yards of a car, and when worn out, they’ll even find shade next to it. Here, spotted hyenas are even more prevalent and frequently engage in conflict with lions. There are also a few but increasing numbers of cheetahs. Leopards are common, particularly near the Lerai Forest. Bat-eared foxes are less common to see than the lovely golden jackal and the side-striped jackal.
The reality of safaris in the Ngorongoro Crater is always as amazing as it sounds after waxing poetic about its wildlife. Any sense of wilderness can be destroyed by the sheer volume of vehicles in the crater and its open setting. It might seem congested and active. Amazing game sightings will frequently offset this, but not always. The Ngorongoro Crater safari experience is always as good as you might expect, due to the incredible wildlife there.
ACCESS TO NGORONGORO SAFARI
It is easy to reach the Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding conservation area. A safari guide would then be waiting for you in a close-sided pop-top 4×4 safari vehicle in Arusha, which is accessible daily by light aircraft from Dar es Salaam (along with other airports in Tanzania). Your guide will accompany you the entire time you are in the crater, if not longer. The trip to the start of an Ngorongoro Crater safari from Arusha takes about 4 hours.
Flying to the Manyara airstrip, which is about an hour away from the crater, is an additional option. Depending on where you are staying, the lodge may meet you there, or a private driver guide may pick you up.
WHERE TO STAY
There are generally two options for lodging because there is no lodging inside the Ngorongoro Crater: either staying on the crater rim or on the Rift Valley Escarpment. On the rim of the crater, there are a number of lodges that look down onto the interior. The prices of these lodges reflect the fact that they frequently have excellent views and convenient access to the crater. The most opulent choice is the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, which is also the priciest. The Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge, Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge, and Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge are the other lodges with views of the crater floor. These lodges are much bigger than most and have a beautiful view, but because of their size, they lack the unique character you can find in smaller accommodations. There are a few other lodges and camps in the Crater’s hills that lack the views but are still very convenient and reasonably priced; one such place is the Rhino Lodge.
As an alternative, you could decide to stay in Karatu, a neighborhood on the nearby Rift Valley Escarpment. In comparison to the aforementioned lodges, the lodges and camps located here are all less than about 20 km from the crater and have much more personality. This is also true of Gibb’s Farm, Plantation Lodge, and Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS OF THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
Empakai Crater, which is much smaller than the Ngorongoro Crater but still charming in its own right, is only 90 minutes’ drive away. About half of the caldera’s 6-kilometer width is covered by a deep soda lake. The emerald lake frequently has thousands of flamingos in the shallows, giving it an amazing pink tint. Before taking the 45-minute walk through the forested slopes to the crater floor, you can drive up to the crater’s outer rims. On exceptionally clear days, you can even see Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Natron from the rim of the crater, looking over Ol Doinyo Lengai. These views are among the most spectacular in all of Africa. If you’re staying in the Ngorongoro region for more than two nights, Empakai Crater is a fantastic day trip to take into consideration.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area attracts interest for reasons other than just its wildlife; it also arguably has the longest history of any location on earth. It has been demonstrated that there have been numerous hominid species living there for millions of years, and it has the longest history of any location on earth. It has been demonstrated that there have been numerous hominid species living there for millions of years. This was discovered thanks to 3.6 million-year-old fossils that were preserved in volcanic rock.
The Great Rift Valley contains the Olduvai Gorge, a 30-mile-long ravine with steep sides. One of the most significant prehistoric sites in the world, it has been helpful in understanding how humans have evolved. This is well explained in the museum, which also houses the Laetoli footprints, which are the oldest footprints ever discovered, as well as replicas of some of the hominid fossils found there. Additionally, it contains actual fossils of some of the extinct animals that once roamed the region. An interesting addition to an Ngorongoro safari is the day trip we can arrange to the gorge and the museum.
Check out our page on trip inspiration if visiting the Ngorongoro Conservation Area appeals to you, or get in touch with one of our Tanzania specialists Team, who will be happy to go over your options with you.