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What we love

The first time you look down on the crater floor from the rim is an experience you'll never forget!

Ngorongoro Crater Holidays

Tanzania

The destination

The Ngorongoro crater is without doubt one of the most spectacular natural phenomena on the planet and a truly unique location to go on safari.

The earth's largest intact caldera, the Ngorongoro crater is a huge cauldron-like depression caused by a massive volcano that collapsed in on itself millions of years ago. This would be breathtaking enough on its own, but add in an abundance of wildlife, including Africa's Big Five, and Ngorongoro crater is one of the most jaw-dropping locations you are ever likely to visit.

The Ngorongoro crater walls rise 600m above the crater floor, and descending down feels like an experience straight out of Jurassic Park. Wildlife is plentiful due to the rich volcanic soil, with a huge variety of species co-existing alongside each other. Lion and hyena are the top predators, with the hyena being particularly voracious hunters, whereas in most other areas they primarily act as scavengers.

The Ngorongoro crater is one of the few areas in Tanzania where rhino sightings are regular, as they are well protected from poachers, and the nature of the open crater floor means they are relatively easy to find.

Ngorongoro crater is an iconic safari destination and the first time you look down on the crater floor from the rim is one of those experiences that you will never forget!

MORE INFORMATION

WHERE TO STAY?

Due to the fact that Ngorongoro crater is a world-famous destination attracting large numbers of visitors each year, you won't be short of accommodation choices for your stay here. The first decision you will need to make will be whether you want to stay on the crater rim, or in an area nearby, such as Karatu.

The accommodation options on the rim understandably come at a premium, and many of the larger properties we would advise steering clear of, however, two in particular are favourites of ours, namely Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and Entamanu.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is an iconic property and the real 'old lady' of luxury safari lodges in Tanzania. The service and opulent accommodation are world-renowned, but it has a price tag to match! If this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, we recommend trying to stretch for it.

Also on the rim, but a more adventurous option, is the tented camp of Entamanu, run by Nomad safaris. Entamanu is an authentic safari camp, perched on the Western rim of the Ngorongoro crater, with views to the crater floor on one side, and the Serengeti on the other. You are exposed to the elements up here, and it can be pretty chilly and windy in July and August, but the staff will make you feel at home and you'll soon be relaxing by the fire trading safari stories with your fellow guests.

Slightly further afield, North of Ngorongoro Crater is The Highlands, a very modern tented camp run by Asilia. With its futurisitic domes, The Highlands offers a luxurious tented camp experience, away from the crowds.

In the nearby village of Karatu, there are many options to choose from, with The Manor being one of our favourites. Here you will be well taken care of after a long day of safari, and their delicious food and wine selection will ensure you go to bed feeling very content!

Ngorongoro crater has a wide variety of camps and lodges to choose from, with a selection of our favourites listed below. However, we have visited a large range, suitable for all budgets, so if you don't see something you like on our website, or you're not sure which is best for you, please don't hesitate to give us a call on 01993 899 430, or email inspire@oxfordprivatetravel.com, we would be delighted to craft your own tailor-made safari.

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GAME VIEWING

The Ngorongoro Crater is an excellent location to search for Africa's Big Five. Lion, buffalo and elephant are all easy to find, and with over 25 rhino in the crater, sightings of this critically endangered animal are common. The trickiest of the Big Five to spot, as with many locations, is the leopard. These big cats are never very active in the day, but can be seen from time to time on the slopes of the crater walls and the forested areas around the rim.

Whether you're a safari first-timer or an experienced Africa traveller, the number and variety of animals on the crater floor won't disappoint. An interesting behavioural adaption to the ecosystem is that hyena act as the main predator here, with lion often working as scavengers. This is a role reversal compared with most ecosystems, and is thought to be to due to the prevalence of open grassy areas, which benefits the high levels of stamina possessed by hyena. Lions on the other hand, are only good runners over short distances. On our first visit, we were fortunate enough to see hyena kill a wildebeest, which was a gory experience, but an unforgettable one nonetheless!

As Ngorongoro Crater is governed by the rules of Tanzania National Parks, off-road driving is not permitted and thus a good pair of binoculars should be an essential item on your packing list.

WHO SHOULD VISIT? 

The variety of accommodation options available means that a visit to Ngorongoro Crater is suitable for couple, honeymooners, families, or solo travellers. Whilst old safari hands may feel the destination has become too popular in recent years, losing some of its charm, the fact remains that Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most jaw-dropping places in the world to be on safari, and should be seen at least once. If you have a bucket list, make sure Ngorongoro Crater is on it!

WHEN TO VISIT?

As large numbers of wildlife are present on the crater floor year round, there isn't a bad time to visit, however, it should be noted that visitor numbers now get very high in the peak season of July and August.

Due to the popularity of Ngorongoro Crater, and the fact that it is an enclosed ecosystem, which is relatively small in comparison to some of the other larger parks, it can sometimes feel crowded when visitor numbers are at their highest, which can detract from the game viewing experience if you are sharing your sighting with over fifty other vehicles.

We always recommend starting your drives here very early in the morning, which will mean you see fewer other vehicles and animals will be at their most active. This is an added benefit of staying at a camp or lodge on or close to the crater rim.

Nevertheless, if you are a very experienced safari goer who is used to deserted wilderness areas, you may find the numbers of other vehicles overwhelming in July and August, so we would recommend steering clear of these months.

It is also worth noting that at over 2,000m above sea level, the crater rim gets very chilly in the winter months of June to August. If you are travelling during this time, make sure you bring a thick fleece and wrap up warm in the evenings! 

Location

Top tips

  • If you want to make your money go further, stay in Karatu rather than on the Crater rim. There are some wonderfully charming properties here.
  • For that once-in-a-lifetime experience, book yourself into Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and be spoiled beyond your wildest dreams.
  • Avoid July and August to miss the crowds.
  • Start your drives as early, or as late as possible. Go in at the same time as everyone else and it's just not the same experience. The crater floor at dawn has an ethereal beauty that will take your breath away
  • A walking safari in Olduvai Gorge is a peaceful way to explore the area on foot and get off the beaten track.
  • Local currency: Tanzanian Shilling
  • Accepted currency: USD
  • Accepted credit cards: Visa and MasterCard (most places)
  • Timezone: GMT +3 hrs

Hotels in Ngorongoro Crater

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