Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania; The Ngorongoro Crater is one of Africa’s most famous sites and is said to have the highest density of wildlife in Africa.  Sometimes described as an ‘eighth wonder of the world, the Crater has achieved world renown, attracting an ever-increasing number of visitors each year.  You are unlikely to escape other vehicles here, but you are guaranteed great wildlife viewing in a genuinely mind-blowing environment.  There is nowhere else in Africa quite like Ngorongoro!

The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera.  Forming a spectacular bowl of about 265 square kilometres, with sides up to 600 metres deep; it is home to approximately 30,000 animals at any one time.  The Crater rim is over 2,200 metres high and experiences its climate.  From this high vantage point, it is possible to make out the tiny shapes of animals making their way around the crater floor far below.  Swathes of cloud hang around the rocky rim most days of the year and it’s one of the few places in Tanzania where it can get chilly at night.

The crater floor consists of several different habitats that include grassland, swamps, forests and Lake Makat (Maasai for ‘salt’) – a central soda lake filled by the Munge River.  All these various environments attract wildlife to drink, wallow, graze, hide or climb.  Although animals are free to move in and out of this contained environment, the rich volcanic soil, lush forests and spring source lakes on the crater floor (combined with fairly steep crater sides) tend to incline both grazers and predators to remain throughout the year.

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Ngorongoro Crater: Wildlife Highlights
Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most likely areas in Tanzania to see the endangered Black Rhino, as a small population is thriving in this idyllic and protected environment. It is currently one of the few areas where they continue to breed in the wild. Your chances of encountering leopards here are also good, and fabulous black-maned lions.  Many flamingos are also attracted to the soda waters of Lake Magadi.

Ngorongoro Crater: Maasai village trips
Part of the reason behind the Ngorongoro Conservation Area has been to preserve the environment for the Maasai people diverted from the Serengeti Plains.  Essentially, nomadic people, build temporary villages in circular homesteads called bomas. There are possibilities to visit a couple of these now, which have been opened up for tourists to explore.  Here you can see how the huts are built in a strict pattern of order according to the chronological order of the wives, and experience what it must be like to rely on warmth and energy from a fire burning at the heart of a cattle dung dwelling with no chimney. These proud cattle-herding people have a great history as warriors, and even though they are no longer allowed to build villages inside, they continue to herd their cattle into the crater to graze and drink, regardless of the predators nearby.

Where to Stay (Accommodation)

Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania
Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

Visitors to Ngorongoro can stay in luxury lodges, Simba A public campsite, community campsites, special campsites and permanent tented lodges within Ngorongoro. Camping is permitted at designated sites such as Ngorongoro Crater Rim, Ndutu, Lemala and Empakaai Crater Rim. Camping fees must be paid for 24 hrs periods. It is best to make booking for established campsites well in advance as they are very popular! There are four lodges situated on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater namely; & Beyond Ngorongoro, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge and Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. Others are Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge, Ndutu Lodge, Oldupai Tented lodge, Tanganyika wilderness camp, Highland camp and Esidai Community Lodge. In addition, outside the NCA in the nearby town of Karatu there are guest houses, lodges, inns and campsites which are more variable in the facilities they provide. We have included a link on our website which has a handful of reputable tour operators and hoteliers who can help you make the most of your safari in Ngorongoro and indeed in Tanzania