It was created as a result of an imploded volcano, establishing a unique caldera that stretches 20km in diameter, is home to its very own eco-system and is teeming with indigenous wildlife. Located right near the famous Serengeti National Park, it is ideally located for visitors to explore the variety of plant and animal life living within the crater walls.
This is one of the most magnificent tourist destinations in Africa unparalleled in its distinguished scenic beauty, wildlife and atmosphere. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is an area situated 180km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands region of Tanzania.
Land in the conservation area is multi-use, it is unique in Tanzania as the only conservation area, providing protection status for wildlife whilst allowing human habitation. The NCA is usually visited on the return journey from the Serengeti to Arusha. Stunning views and unique landscape are a certainty when visiting this spectacular region.
Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most spectacular and unique game reserves in the world. It is easily accessible by road or short flight from Arusha town and naturally forms part of the "northern safari circuit" which also include Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Serengeti.
Visits to the Crater floor are restricted to half day visits to allow for the large numbers of visitors who all want to see this small reserve. It is easy to cover the entire reserve in the half day allowed. Most camps then provide walking trips on the rim of the crater for the rest of the stay.
The views from the camps along the rim of the Crater spectacular, and it is highly recommended to spend some time relaxing and taking in the views and doing some bird spotting. Birds of prey can often be seen floating over the crater.
A population of about 25,000 large animals, including the highest density of mammalian predators in Africa, lives in the crater. These include black rhinoceros, hippopotamus which are usually very uncommon in the area. There are also wildebeest, zebra, eland, Grants and Thomson's gazelles.
The crater has the densest known population of lion. On the crater rim are leopard, elephant, mountain reedbuck and buffalo. Lake Magadi, filled by the Munge River in the centre of the crater is, like many in the rift valley, a soda lake supporting flocks of flamingo and a variety of other water birds.
More than a 100 species of bird not found in the Serengeti have been found in the crater including; ostriches, kori bustards, secretary birds, and crowned cranes as well as vultures, egrets, herons and geese.
Half-day game drives are conducted on the Crater floor, but there are no lodges located down there in order to preserve the wilderness and to keep it a pristine game viewing area.
Generally the main rainy season, or the 'long rains', lasts during about March, April and May. Afternoon tropical downpours are the norm, which are heavier and more predictable beside the coast and on the islands. The humidity is high and daily temperatures reach the low-mid 30s (degrees Celsius).
The long dry season lasts throughout June, July, August, September and October is when rainfall is unusual, even on the islands. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it's usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather.
During November and December there's another rainy season, which is known as the 'short rains'. These are much lighter than the main rains and less reliable. If it has rained during the short rains, then it normally dries up for a few months, January and February, which is Tanzania's 'short dry season', before starting to rain again in earnest in March. The rim of the crater is often shrouded in dense cloud that pours over the crater into the vastness below.
Gibb's Farm: Gibb's Farm is a perfect location to be based to visit Ngorongoro Crater. Even though it is outside of the reserve, it is easily accessible from the farm. We recommend Gibb's Farm as it offers a break from constant safaris, with walks in the forests above the farm, walks around the coffee plantations and community visits.
Plantation Lodge offers a peaceful haven among the vastness of the remote Northern Tanzania. Plantation Lodge offers a personal and intimate experience with superb service, delicious farm-style meals and luxurious accommodation in beautiful en-suite rooms and suites.
Pakulala Safari Camp is located on the edge of the popular Ngorongoro Crater offering breath-taking views of the Crater floor. The interior of the 11 tents are designed with a combination of modern and classic touches including the en-suite bathrooms.
Exploreans Ngorongoro Lodge accommodates in 20 Luxurious cottages are set amongst well-maintained gardens with lovely views over forested slopes.
Safaris in Tanzania begin at Arusha, which is situated close to the northern safari locations.
Sun Safaris will fly guests to Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is the primary receiving airport in Tanzania. This airport is only a few kilometres away from Arusha airport, which is the safari node of the country and where most light air transfers take off from.
Once guests have landed at Kilimanjaro, they will connect with a road transfer that will take them to Arusha airport. Depending on timing of guests' itinerary, they might spend a night in Arusha before heading off on a scheduled flight to an airstrip or airport nearer their safari destination.
Ngorongoro Crater is a spectacular northern Tanzania safari destination, neighbouring the Serengeti. Guests will fly from Arusha to an airstrip near the Crater and connect with a road transfer that will take them to the lodge.