Ngorongoro Crater is the best national park in Tanzania: Ngorongoro Crater is an experience of a lifetime. There are few places that have wildlife densities and variety on this level. It is not unusual to see the Big Five in one day & all this in the most amazing setting with a backdrop of the 600m -1,968ft-high crater wall.
Ngorongoro Crater offers some of the best wildlife viewings in Africa. All the major safari animals occur in great numbers. The resident population of black rhino is a real treat, as rhinos are very difficult to spot elsewhere in Tanzania safaris & Tours. The crater is also home to some very impressive elephant bulls with huge tusks. Lake Magadi often harbors large flocks of flamingo.
The star attraction of the Conservation Area is the Ngorongoro Crater: an extinct volcano teeming with wildlife. All major animals are easily seen. The only exception is a giraffe, which is present in the Conservation Area, but not in the crater because of the steep descent. Elephants are common, including some very big tuskers, and all the big cats are prominent as well.
A real special of the crater is the black rhino. Rhino is hard to see in Tanzania and usually sticks to thick vegetation. This is not so in the crater, where they have a predictable routine of spending the night in the Lerai forest, and the day in open grassland. The black-backed and golden jackal is equally common in the crater and the density of spotted hyena is quite extraordinary.
Wildlife safaris is excellent in the crater throughout the year. The scenery of the crater is most spectacular in the Wet season, from November to May, but at that time the grass might belong in places. This can interfere with seeing some of the smaller animals. March and April are the wettest months.
Both the Ngorongoro highlands and the crater offer excellent birding, with over 500 species recorded. Birdlife in the highland forest is rich and interesting. Among the birds to be seen are white-eyed slaty flycatcher and Livingstone turaco. A number of specialized grassland birds are resident in the crater. Most noticeable are ostrich, kori bustard, crowned crane, and the secretary bird. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
Birdlife is generally good throughout the year, from November to April migratory birds from Europe and northern Africa are present, and many resident birds are in breeding plumage. This makes it the best time for bird watching. The best time to watch wildlife is during the Dry season, which is June to October.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is stunningly beautiful. Aside from the well-known Ngorongoro Crater, Empakaai and Olmoti craters are scenic highlights as well. Both the Ngorongoro and Empakaai craters regularly have flocks of flamingo. The forested crater rim of the Ngorongoro crater is in stark contrast with the crater floor, which is consists mostly of grassland. Another feature on the crater floor is the Lerai forest, a beautiful, atmospheric, yellow fever tree forest.
Conditions at Ngorongoro vary depending on the altitude. Higher up, at the crater itself, it can get quite cold at night, particularly upon the rim. But down in the greater conservation area, it stays quite warm. During the area’s Dry season June to October, there’s barely a cloud in the sky. In the Wet season, November to May, you’ll confront two periods of rain separated by a brief dry spell.
You can spot wildlife down on the crater floor at any time of year. But the viewing is better in the Dry season (June to October) when the undergrowth has receded and animals tend to gather conveniently around waterholes and rivers. The only advantages the wetter months offer are fewer people and low-season accommodation rates.
Wildlife viewing inside the Ngorongoro Crater is superb at all times. However, grasses on the crater floor are short in the Dry season (June through September) and this makes animal spotting easier. The scenery is lush and spectacular in the Wet season months, from November to May.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a vast area with altitude ranging from 1,027 to 3,522m (3,369-11,555ft). Most people only visit the Ngorongoro Crater. They spend the night in a lodge or campsite on the crater rim and visit the crater floor for wildlife viewing. Both the rim (about 2,300m/8,530ft) and floor (about 1,700m/5,577ft) are at higher altitudes and are colder than the overall conservation area. Temperatures drop by about 6.5°C for every 1,000m you climb (or 3.5°F per 1,000ft). The difference is more noticeable during the night. Afternoons on the crater floor will be pleasant, but it can freeze on the crater rim at night. The rim also receives quite a lot of rain.
Dry season –June to October
June, July, August, September & October – Afternoon temperatures are usually around 19°C/66°F on the crater floor. Sunny, cloudless skies are normal, but if the ‘short rains’ arrive early, they could begin in October. It gets cold at night, and it can freeze on the crater rim.
Wet season –November to May
It gets warmer during the day when compared to the Dry season, but mornings are still cold. Afternoon temperatures are usually around 23°C/73°F on the crater floor, while night temperatures are around 6°C/43°F on the crater rim.
November & December Short rains, These rains are highly unlikely to impact your safari as it won’t rain all day. Showers usually happen in the afternoon. The ‘short rains’ last about one month and can occur anytime between October and December.
January & February: It isn’t possible to guess when it will happen with accuracy, but there is usually a time of dry weather between the Wet seasons.
March, April & May Long rains, It often rains, but it rarely lasts the entire day. April and May could experience very chilly conditions due to cold fronts.
Most people will visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as part of a bigger package, including a visit to the Serengeti. Conveniently, the conservation area lies en route and is only a three-hour drive on a tarred road from the town of Arusha, the starting point of all safaris in northern Tanzania.
From Arusha, you can hop around the parks of the northern circuit by small aircraft on chartered or scheduled flights, or you can drive and do the whole circuit by safari vehicle. A popular option is to fly into the Serengeti and make your way back by safari vehicle via the Ngorongoro crater, or the other way around. In most cases, your tour operator will pick you up from the airport.
Coming from the Seronera area in the Serengeti, the distance to the crater is about 140km/90mi and the driving time is about three hours. This can obviously take much longer allowing for wildlife viewing along the way. The 80km/50mi drive from Lake Manyara to the Ngorongoro Crater takes about two hours, and the 180km/110mi drive from Tarangire takes about four hours.
The best option to get to Arusha is to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport JRO, which is situated about 46km/29mi from Arusha. It is also possible to fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) near Dar es Salaam and fly on to Arusha Airport (ARK)
Ngorongoro Crater is a very safe destination in our opinion. Crime is very rare in Tanzania’s parks and reserves. There is some crime in the cities, so normal safety precautions need to be taken when visiting urban centers, such as Arusha town, the gateway of the Northern safari circuit. Although crime-related issues for visitors are extremely rare, you should read ‘Cities & Other Urban Areas,
It is important to take precautions against malaria. A DEET-based mosquito repellent (which is the most effective) and ant malarial medicine is recommended. It also helps to cover up exposed skin in the evening. Before you travel, seek advice from a doctor regarding appropriate vaccinations.