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 enjoys easy access to Ngorongoro, with its breathtaking scenery and teeming wildlife, especially at Ngorongoro Crater.

Highlights
  • Easy access to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Ngorongoro Crater
  • Prolific wildlife viewing and spectacular scenery at Ngorongoro Crater
  • Beautiful, lush surroundings with many established coffee plantations
  • An array of spacious and private accommodation in the area to suit all budgets
  • Plenty of activities in and around Karatu, including tours, walks, trekking and biking
  • Village walks and visits to meet local people and learn about their culture and traditions

The bustling town of Karatu lies about 20 km south of the gate into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. From the gate, it is less than 10 km to the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater. Surrounding the town are well-established coffee plantations and forests, providing a spectacular setting for a wide array of accommodation.

Ngorongoro Crater Karatu Area Game drive in the crater Yun Hsiang Wang

Game driving inside Ngorongoro Crater

(Image: Yun Hsiang Wang I Unsplash)

Many people opt to stay in this area rather than on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. Accommodation at the crater and daily park fees for staying in Ngorongoro may not suit everybody's safari budget and the area outside the park offers some beautiful, more affordable alternatives.

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is up there on the Tanzanian must-see list. The biggest intact caldera (collapsed volcano) in the world covers 260 km² and boasts an incredibly diverse array of habitats that attract huge numbers of animals, including the Big Five. This makes for incredible wildlife viewing.

Things to see and do in the Ngorongoro Karatu Area

  • Visit nearby Ngorongoro Crater with its teeming wildlife
  • Spectacular walks both in and out of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Mountain biking
  • Guided treks in the area, length, duration and difficulty to suit all fitness levels
Ngorongoro Karatu Area Guided tour of coffee plantation Gibbs Farm

Guided tour of coffee plantation in Karatu

(Image: Gibbs Farm)
  • Visits to local villages to learn about the customs and culture of the people
  • Walks around the coffee plantations discovering the origins of Tanzania's famous coffee

When to visit Ngorongoro

The wildlife living in the Ngorongoro Crater itself are there all year, so from an animal viewing point of view, it's good all year. Due to its size, the area may get crowded during the peak tourist season which is pretty much all year round. Major rains generally fall in April and May, which make some roads unpassable, but this is the quietest season if you wish to avoid the crowds.

Getting there

By car - Karatu is about 150 km from Arusha by road. The trip generally takes just over two hours.

By air - There are daily flights from Arusha to Lake Manyara Airstrip. Arusha has two airports; Arusha Airport is the domestic option with daily flights from numerous local destinations. Kilimanjaro International Airport runs local, intercontinental and international flights.

Ngorongoro Farm House
Ngorongoro Farm House - Ngorongoro Karatu Region - Tanzania

With easy access to the spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife of Ngorongoro Crater, Ngorongoro Farm House has cottages spread out over beautiful gardens and a coffee plantation in the Karatu area. It's a working farm with an organic garden. Expect fresh, delicious food and the tantalising aroma of the farm's own coffee beans which are grown, picked, roasted, ground and enjoyed right there.

The Plantation Lodge
Plantation Lodge - Ngorongoro Crater Region - Tanzania

Set just 12 km from the entrance to Ngorongoro and with easy access to the spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife of Ngorongoro Crater, Plantation Lodge is the perfect spot to lay your head. With a range of different rooms set in a tranquil garden on a coffee plantation, it's hard not to relax here. Go game viewing in Ngorongoro, meet the local people, go for walks both in and around the Ngorongoro Conservation Area; the options are endless.

Gibb's Farm

A historic farmhouse with elegant and comfortable guest cottages.

Oldoinyo Lengai

Maasai for Mountain of the God, Oldoinyo Lengai is an active volcano which can be spotted on a hike into Empakaai Crater.

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.

Empakaai Crater

On an Empakaai Crater hike, you can expect to see buffalo, hyena, blue monkeys and the occasional elephant.

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