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Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area

49 reviews

Safari suitability: 9/10

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The park has all of the big five, but its small, limited size means that one or two days will suffice.

Found in: Tanzania
Companies: 2015
Tour packages: 3884
Wildlife: 29 animals listed
Total area: 8292 km² (3202 mi²)
Year established: 1959
Anti-malarial: Not required

What YAS members think

Quality of wildlife:
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Most-visited month:
August
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Highlights

  • Black-maned lions

  • All of the big five

  • No giraffe on the crater floor

  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Proximity to other great parks, such as the Serengeti and Lake Manyara.

About Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area

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). 

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 more authentic safari experience. 

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. It is also close to Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks. 

Ngorongoro Crater wildlife

Between the crater rim and floor it is possible to see all of the big five at Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is one of the best places to see the endangered black rhino. Giraffes are absent from the crater floor. It is thought that the banks of the caldera are too steep for them to ascend. They can be spotted around the rim.  Lions have adapted to the cooler temperatures of the crater by growing thicker, darker manes. Lion mane color can vary within the year, depending on ambient temperature. Mane color is thought to also darken with age. The annual wildebeest migration passes by the crater highlands around the months of December through MarchAt 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. 

When to visit Ngorongoro Crater

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. 

"Overwhelming. Feel like a kid at Disney World."

Safari enthusiast
Top contributor
Safari guru
African traveller
United States United States
217 kudus
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Reviews (18)
Visited: Mar. 2009 Reviewed: May. 28, 2013

This place is too much. We paid our $150 extra to drive our car in, and at the rim of the crater, this massive maned monster of a lion strutted by and gave us the look. Like perhaps the car was just a bun and we the burger. Descending into the crater, it begins. Long, sloped views of plains and forest and lake splashed with brown of wildebeest and pink of flamingo. Herds moving this way and that. We had a wildebeest set its forehead against our driver's window. Just seemed curious is all. A herd of wildebeest ran across the road while we drove. We stopped and they stormed all around us. What?! The flamingos against the lake make for great photography. We say a hyena bathed red in blood. Those things are terrifying. Some lions were feeding on a kill, and the land rovers descended. This is why it's nice to have your own vehicle. We nudged info a view, and then got the heck out of there. The crater is enormous...why join the crowd? Elephants in the forest on the far side of the crater were peaceful and far from the tourist routes. A very focused high-density wildlife safari location. You will never forget a single moment spent here. Wondrous.

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Safari guru
United States United States
Visited: Mar. 2009
Reviewed: May. 28, 2013

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"The big 5 animal zone"

Tanzania Tanzania
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Reviews (3)
Visited: Feb. 2024 Reviewed: Mar. 28, 2024 Submitted in:

Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a remarkable testament to the awe-inspiring beauty and ecological richness of Tanzania. Ngorongoro conservation area is located within its boundaries is the iconic Ngorongoro Crater, a natural wonder with diverse wildlife against the backdrop of a stunning volcanic landscape. Exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a journey into the heart of African wilderness, where encounters with lions, elephants, rhinos, and countless other species living in this breathtaking panoramas. Beyond its wildlife spectacle, the area is also a cultural treasure trove, home to the Maasai people whose traditional way of life harmonizes with the natural environment. Ngorongoro Conservation Area offers an unforgettable safari adventure, natural beauty, and cultural experience, making it an essential destination for any traveler seeking to experience the wonders of East Africa.

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By: linton
None
Tanzania Tanzania
Visited: Feb. 2024
Reviewed: Mar. 28, 2024

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"A tapestry of nature's grandeur: Ngorongoro Conservation Area"

Top contributor
Safari guru
African traveller
Tanzania Tanzania
534 kudus
Reviews (13)
Visited: Oct. 2022 Reviewed: Nov. 24, 2023 Submitted in:

Embarking on a journey into the heart of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area was a soul-stirring experience that transcended the bounds of ordinary travel. Nature, in all its majesty, unfolded before us like a timeless tapestry, weaving together moments of awe, wonder, and deep connection. Ngorongoro Crater, a true marvel of the natural world, revealed itself in all its splendor. As the first rays of sunlight painted the vast crater, we were swept away by the sheer magnificence of this ancient caldera. The diversity of landscapes, from lush grasslands to shimmering lakes, created a breathtaking panorama that spoke to the untamed beauty of the wild. The wildlife encounters within the crater were nothing short of magical. Witnessing the Big 5 in their natural habitat, each creature playing a vital role in the delicate balance of the ecosystem, left an indelible mark on our hearts. Lions lazing in the golden grass, elephants meandering gracefully, rhinos standing as ancient sentinels – it was a living, breathing spectacle that stirred a profound appreciation for the wonders of the natural world. Beyond the charismatic megafauna, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a sanctuary for a myriad of species, each contributing to the intricate web of life. The avian symphony, the vibrant array of flora, and the subtle dance of smaller creatures added layers of richness to the overall experience. Engaging with the Maasai communities dwelling harmoniously with the wildlife heightened the emotional resonance of our journey. Their deep connection to the land, shared through stories and traditions, provided a cultural tapestry woven seamlessly into the fabric of the conservation area. As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the landscapes, we were left with a profound sense of gratitude for the preservation efforts that make the Ngorongoro Conservation Area a haven for both wildlife and those seeking to connect with nature in its purest form. In conclusion, a visit to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is not just a trip; it's a pilgrimage into the soul of our planet. It's an emotional journey that leaves you humbled, inspired, and forever connected to the intricate dance of life that unfolds within this natural masterpiece. With deep appreciation, Dakado Tanzania Safari Nature Enthusiast

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Safari guru
Tanzania Tanzania
Visited: Oct. 2022
Reviewed: Nov. 24, 2023

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"Ngorongoro the heritage site"

By:
Tanzania Tanzania
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Visited: Sep. 2023 Reviewed: Oct. 28, 2023 Submitted in:

Visiting Ngorongoro was my first and foremost pleasure i pay my visit to Ngorongoro Crater few days the tour was amazing and superb awesome i come across all big five wild animal, viewing the caldera scene ,shifting sand and

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By: None
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Tanzania Tanzania
Visited: Sep. 2023
Reviewed: Oct. 28, 2023

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"Hidden treasure crater"

Uganda Uganda
29 kudus
Reviews (4)
Visited: Sep. 2023 Reviewed: Sep. 29, 2023 Submitted in:

Its was 9 days Tanzania safaris with a couple of my friends Michael and Gayle wanted to find out about the song that said the Kilimanjaro crosses over the Serengeti. and finally, we proved the song was wrong, even if you are in Serengeti you dont see Mount Kilimanjaro. The park is filled with lovely wildebeest, lion, rhinos and elephants. I describe it as the crater of wilderness.

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Uganda Uganda
Visited: Sep. 2023
Reviewed: Sep. 29, 2023

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"Incredible"

Safari guide
Safari guru
Tanzania Tanzania
97 kudus
Reviews (2)
Visited: Apr. 2023 Reviewed: Jul. 01, 2023 Submitted in:

Incredible place to visit and enjoy more than 6000 species of animals including big five animal welcome and explore the beauty of Ngorongoro crater and its nature

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Safari guru
Tanzania Tanzania
Visited: Apr. 2023
Reviewed: Jul. 01, 2023

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"4 days Ngorongoro Crater safari"

United States United States
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Reviews (2)
Visited: Jan. 2023 Reviewed: Mar. 01, 2023 Submitted in:

The 4 days Ngorongoro Crater safari was an experience I will never forget. It's a unique ecosystem, and we saw so many animals that we didn't see anywhere else. I would highly recommend this safari to anyone to enjoy more in life.

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Visited: Jan. 2023
Reviewed: Mar. 01, 2023

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"Amazing park"

Safari guru
Kenya Kenya
2 kudus
Reviews (8)
Visited: Aug. 2022 Reviewed: Feb. 01, 2023 Submitted in:

This is one of the greatest park whereby you get all the wildlife together in one crater. I definitely recommend this park to all my clients and people considering visiting Tanzania for safari.

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Safari guru
Kenya Kenya
Visited: Aug. 2022
Reviewed: Feb. 01, 2023

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"Unforgettable experience"

Non profit
Safari guru
Tanzania Tanzania
3 kudus
Reviews (2)
Visited: Aug. 2017 Reviewed: May. 26, 2022 Submitted in:

It was a lifetime experience to visit Ngorongoro Crater. I enjoyed seeing elephants, lions, zebras and varieties of birds. It was the game drive with a professional tour guide who taught me a lot about wild animals and birds.

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Tanzania Tanzania
Visited: Aug. 2017
Reviewed: May. 26, 2022

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"Ngorongoro Crater"

Safari guru
Tanzania Tanzania
1 kudus
Reviews (1)
Visited: Jun. 2021 Reviewed: Oct. 04, 2021 Submitted in:

Ngorongoro crater is the best place to see black rhinoceros, wildebeest, zebra, and gazelles. Nevertheless, one can see leopard, hyena, jackal, cheetah, elephants, hippos, waterbuck, baboons, antelope family, and small mammals. There are lots of colourful flamingos and a variety of water birds in this area too for bird lovers. The crater also has the densest known population of lions and can find the black-maned lion. This trip will give you an unforgettable memory to take home.

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Tanzania Tanzania
Visited: Jun. 2021
Reviewed: Oct. 04, 2021

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"An epic place of attraction"

Safari guru
Kenya Kenya
67 kudus
Reviews (8)
Visited: May. 2017 Reviewed: Sep. 15, 2021 Submitted in:

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is considered the eighth wonder of the world. The so-called Garden of Eden is home to one of the largest permanent populations of animals in the crater/caldera of the volcano's 20-kilometer-long crater and 610 meters down, where of course, there are the Big Five and other animals that are very difficult to see, such as black rhinoceroses and not to forget the birdlife in its own Lake Magadi with flamingos.

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Safari guru
Kenya Kenya
Visited: May. 2017
Reviewed: Sep. 15, 2021

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Driving to Ngorongoro Crater from Arusha

Ngorongoro Crater is easily accessible from Arusha. The drive takes roughly three to four hours and conveniently passes by Lake Manyara NP and very close to Tarangire NP. The majority of the road is tarmacked, which allows for a relatively smooth ride. Driving from the Serengeti, depending on which part of the park you are in, takes around three to four hours.  

 

Domestic flights to Ngorongoro Crater

In addition to charter flights, which offer the ultimate in flexibility, but at a price, a few carriers offer regularly scheduled domestic flights to the Ndutu region, which is the closest airstrip to Ngorongoro Crater and which falls inside the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area.

The following airlines travel to Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area


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As Salaam Air has grown to be a leading air carrier between the Tanzanian Islands. Our experienced team understands that customer satisfaction is important to the creation of a successful flight operation. Thus, we go above and beyond to satisfy our clients. The airline plies eight routes to promote tourism within and outside the country. We have two fuel-efficient aircraft – Cessna 208B Grand Caravan and Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, which are good for the environment and the safety of our clients.We would like to help you discover more about our Islands here on our website and at every step of your journey Visit website

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Precision Air is a publicly-listed Tanzanian airline and a leader in providing scheduled flight services to over 10 destinations within and outside Tanzania from its main hub Dar es Salaam. The company operates on the principle that quick, comfortable and reliable service is the best way to serve its customers. Through its customer-focused approach, many have become part of the Precision Air family. Precision Air started with its headquarters in Arusha - the midpoint between the Cape and Cairo, which is the entry point to many of Tanzania's world-renowned landmarks and national parks. The headquarters of Precision Air are now Dar es Salaam, the business complex of the country, which is home to a vast size of traffic travelling within and outside Tanzania. Visit website

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Regional air is a recognized leader in the aviation industry in Tanzania, the airline began in 1997 with one pilot and one aircraft. They are affiliated to the long-established Nairobi-based domestic airline, Airkenya. We are based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. Arusha is the starting point of safaris into Northern Tanzania, as the airline also offers charters to these various parks and game reserves. Visit website

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TANZANAIR was formed in 1969 and pioneered aviation throughout Tanzania. Today it continues to live up to its slogan as the“Complete Aviation Company”. It was founded by Dinos J Samaras who managed the Company until he passed away in April 2010. It is now headed by his son John Samaras who was his deputy since 1983. With 45 years’ experience, TANZANAIR offers tailor-made air travel to suit the needs of its customers. With a modern fleet of twin and single-engine Cessna and Beechcraft turbine aircraft, TANZANAIR’s well-established reputation leads the way in air charter services throughout the region. TANZANAIR operates out of its own purpose-built Passenger Terminal located between Terminal I and II at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. The passenger lounge is adjacent to the two hangars. It is housed within a secure wall enclosed compound with ample parking facilities. Visit website

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ZanAir Limited is a domestic airline based in Zanzibar. Since their inaugural flight in 1992, ZanAir has continued to establish a quality reputation, serving esteemed clientele. ZanAir is an acknowledged expert within Tanzania serving all destinations, including remote unpaved bush locations. Visit website

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Flown by an international team of pilots, Zantas Air has one of the youngest fleets of Cessna Grand Caravans in Tanzania. These are maintained to the highest safety standards and comply with the ICAO, CESSNA, and TCAA directives. We have an exclusive lounge at Arusha airport. Guests can relax in our comfortable lounge while they wait for their flight. Our operations are designed to suit our client's needs with a customized itinerary based on their schedule. Zantas Air works with its sister company, Mbali Mbali Lodges and Camps, to offer shared charter flights. We fly passengers from Northern Tanzania to Western Tanzania twice a week on Monday and Thursdays. Visit website

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Ngorongoro Crater map