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 home 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.

Highlights
  • 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 flamingo 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, it's good all year. Due to its size, the area may get crowded during peak tourist season which lasts most of the year, excluding April and May when major downpours make some of the roads hazardous and unpassable.

Getting there

By car - Ngorongoro 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 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.

Ngorongoro Karatu Area
Africa Tour Guide Tanzania Ngorongoro Karatu Area Guided Bush Walk

Accommodation and park fees within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area can be high. Just 20 km out of the park lies the bustling town of Karatu, surrounded by beautiful coffee plantations. It is here that comfortable, affordable accommodation in spectacular settings can be found. The area has easy access to Ngorongoro, with its breathtaking scenery and teeming wildlife, especially at Ngorongoro Crater.

Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge - Ngorongoro Crater - Tanzania

Situated on the eastern side of the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge offers comfortable accommodation with breathtaking views. Watching the sun set over the crater from your private balcony or the welcoming central lodge area is an experience not to be missed. With easy access to the road down to the crater floor and its concentration of wildlife, including the Big Five, this lodge is a great base at Ngorongoro Crater.

Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge
Rhino Lodge - Ngorongoro Crater - Tanzania

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.

Lake Manyara National Park
Africa Travel Guide Lake Manyara National Park Tanzania Flamingo Game Drive

The spectacular alkaline Lake Manyara forms the centre point of this small and very beautiful park with surprisingly diverse fauna and flora. A circuit drive through the park passes through forest, wetlands, grassy plains and acacia forests, offering views of different animals and multitudes of birds. Elephant, hippo, giraffe, tree-climbing lion and baboon are just a few of the game that call Manyara home.

Ngorongoro Safari Lodge

Safari lodge with banana leaf ceiling and grass roof luxury suites.

Tarangire National Park
Africa Travel Guide Tanzania Tarangire National Park Ancient Baobabs Of Tarangire

Tarangire National Park is traversed by the Tarangire River which never dries up. Being the only source of water during the dry season from July to October, it draws hundreds of animals to the park, making for spectacular wildlife and bird spotting. The landscape is varied, with grassy savannahs, swamps, hills and spectacular baobabs.

You may also want to look at
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge - Ngorongoro Crater - Tanzania
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

Situated on the eastern side of the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge offers comfortable accommodation with breathtaking views. Watching the sun set over the crater from your private balcony or the welcoming central lodge area is an experience not to be missed. With easy access to the road down to the crater floor and its concentration of wildlife, including the Big Five, this lodge is a great base at Ngorongoro Crater.

Rhino Lodge - Ngorongoro Crater - Tanzania
Rhino Lodge

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.

Share