Ngorongoro Crater was originally part of the Serengeti National Park, until it became its own park in 1959. In 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most-visited regions of Tanzania and is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. The crater is actually the world’s largest intact caldera, with the walls of the crater being roughly 670m (2000ft) high and the crater floor measuring roughly 18km (10 miles) in diameter. The crater floor has its own ecosystem and environment and it is not uncommon for the temperature to be significantly warmer on the crater floor than it is at the rim of the crater. The elevation of the rim is around 2280m (7500ft) and the base is around 1680m (5500ft). Between the crater rim and floor, it is possible to see all of the ‘big five’ at Ngorongoro Crater. The big five are: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino.
At the base of the crater is a large soda lake called Lake Magadi or Lake Makat. It is home to thousands of brightly-colored flamingos and is very popular for photo opps.
Because the crater floor is small in size, it can also become very crowded with vehicles. The high concentration of safari vehicles on the crater floor means the animals are more accustomed to seeing these vehicles and are less timid when they approach. This may make for better photo opportunities but it also can be a bit of a negative point for those looking for a truly ‘wild’ safari.
There are no lodging options on the crater floor and all guests must overnight on the rim. In general, the standard of accommodation is extremely high, with five-star lodges overlooking the caldera. A Ngorongoro Crater safari is recommended for all levels of safari goers and it is a great addition to a Serengeti safari.
Ngorongoro Crater can be visited year-round. During the driest months, June through October, the lake can turn into a large, white salt bed. The crater bottom is also home to a very high concentration of wildlife, and visitors are not disappointed at the quality and quantity of animals. The annual wildebeest migration also passes by the crater highlands, and guests visiting around the months of December through March may get to witness the migration in this part of Ngorongoro Crater.