One of Tanzania's top safari spots, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area offers safari-goers and wildlife enthusiasts outstanding wildlife sightings and breathtaking scenery. A game drive on the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater with its incredibly diverse range of birds and animals including the Big Five is a bucket-list experience on any Tanzanian safari itinerary.
- Diverse scenery and spectacular bird- and wildlife
- Abundant wildlife concentrated within a small area
- Densest population of Maasai Lion found inside Ngorongoro Crater
- Great opportunities to interact with and learn from local Maasai
- Spectacular accommodation both on the rim of the crater and throughout the Ngorongoro Crater region
- Walking safaris, mountain biking and trekking in the area
Spanning just over 8,000 km², the Ngorongoro Conservation Area includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the Olduvai Gorge, vast highland plains, forests and mountains stretching to the Serengeti in the northwest. It is known for its beautiful scenery, archaeological and geological significance and concentrated wildlife, especially within the Ngorongoro Crater.
The area is unique in that it is a conservation area that allows human habitation. The local Maasai tribe still live on subsistence farming within the area. This also means that the area is not only a wonderful place to see the animals of Africa but also to get to know its people.
The Ngorongoro Crater region's main wildlife attraction is Ngorongoro Crater, a caldera, or collapsed volcano, with walls 610 m high and a floor covering 260 km². 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 crater floor is a vast grassland with a couple of acacia forests, the salt-lake Lake Makat, and Ngoitokitok Spring, which creates a swamp in the east of the crater. The diversity of the habitat provides home to an incredibly wide range of animals and birds.
Southeast of the Ngorongoro Crater lies the Karatu area, in the highlands. It's a lush area with many coffee plantations and a variety of wonderful places to stay, a little away from the crater itself.
Animals of Ngorongoro
Within the Ngorongoro Crater, there is an incredible abundance of wildlife, including all of The Big Five. Hippo, zebra, crocodile, a wide range of antelope, leopard, cheetah and lion all live here. It's estimated that about 25,000 big animals live within this natural enclosure.
The salt lake in the crater is home to hundreds of beautiful pink flamingos and over 500 species of birds live in the area, making the Ngorongoro Conservation Area a birdwatcher's paradise.
Things to see and do in Ngorongoro Crater Region
- Game drives within the crater
- Hiking, trekking and safari walks within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area
- Meet the Maasai and learn about their culture and traditions
- Hike to Oldoinyo Lengai, an active volcano known as the Mountain of the God
- See Empakaai Crater, the lesser-known, smaller sister of Ngorongoro Crater
- Mountain biking
When to visit Ngorongoro Crater Region
The wildlife living in the Ngorongoro Crater itself is there all year, so from an animal viewing point of view, it's good all year. Due to its size, the crater may get crowded during peak tourist seasons which are the dry season from July to September and the baby season after the first rains between December and February. March and April are generally the wettest seasons and heavy rains can make some roads unpassable.
By car - Ngorongoro Crater Region 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 is a scenic 1h30min trip to the crater itself. Arusha is served by two airports; Arusha Airport has daily flights from numerous local destinations and Kilimanjaro International Airport has daily flights from local, African and international airlines.
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Experience the vast expanses of true wilderness and perhaps some of the best game-viewing areas on the African continent. Our 7-Day Taste of Tanzania Safari Tour takes in the untamed Tarangire, the world-renowned Serengeti (famous for the Great Migration) and Ngorongoro National Park. Accompanied by some of the country's best guides, your safety and comfort will be in excellent hands, leaving you to enjoy the safari of a lifetime at the best possible price.
This fly-in 5 Day Luxury Serengeti Safari explores one of Tanzania's hidden gems, the big cat region of Soit le Motonyi. The safari includes a flight from Arusha to the Serengeti, game drives in a prime game-viewing area far from the jostling crowds and accommodation in a luxury, eco-friendly tented safari camp with uninterrupted views of the endless savannah. Speak to us about the best time to book if you also want a glimpse of the Great Wildebeest Migration.
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.