The Ngorongoro Crater offers some of the best wildlife viewings in Africa. This wildlife hotspot is home to almost 30,000 animals, including the Big Five. The crater is also known as the ‘Garden of Eden’, due to the abundance of wildlife, ever dancing clouds and beautiful colors of the landscape. Because of its natural beauty, the Ngorongoro Crater is chosen as one of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest volcanic crater. More than 2,5 million years ago, Ngorongoro was a volcanic mountain, the size of Kilimanjaro, and one of the highest peaks of Africa. When its top collapsed it transformed into a gigantic inactive volcano. Today the crater forms a bowl of 20 kilometers (12,5 miles) wide with sides up to 600 meters (2,000 feet) deep. Enjoy the phenomenal views from the rim over the crater floor, before you drive in.
The crater is a dynamic ecosystem with diverse vegetation. Woodland and forest cover the edges of the crater, which merges into the wide grassy savannah of the crater floor. There are two forests in the crater, named The Lerai forest and Laiyanai forest, which mainly consist of yellow fever trees. In the north is also a shallow soda lake called Lake Magadi, which is 3,2 km (2 miles) wide.
With lush vegetation, desert plants, scrub heath, peacock flowers, yellow-wood, Kousso, and sweet olive all present in the area, Ngorongoro is truly the dream safari for both wildlife and flora admirers.
Other plants that beautify the area are; Acacia, yellow fever trees, Africana trees, zebrawood, and pillar wood are all available in Ngorongoro making a lovely mixture with open short grass plains to make the scenery excellent in everyone eyes.
Ngorongoro crater is reputed to have a stunning number of animals where about 25,000 large animals live in this natural wonder of Africa.
If you’re a rhinoceros lover, there is no better place in the region to see the endangered black rhinos than in the Ngorongoro crater where it is reported to exist at least 26 rhinoceros.
Also, if there are best places to see lions, it is in the Ngorongoro crater as it is the place with the densest population of lions where more than 60 lions dwell in the area.
With other cats like cheetahs and leopards, spotted hyenas, jackals, and rare wild dogs, the Ngorongoro crater is also full of ungulates as it is inhabited by at least 7,000 wildebeests, a whopping 4000 zebras and 3000 for the eland and Grants gazelles each.
Buffaloes are also available in a good number as the area is known to have over 4,000 of them.
Apart from 260,000 zebra in the area, Ngorongoro is reported to have more than 470,000 gazelles and over 500 species of birds like ostrich, white pelican, and flamingo just to name a few and these plus the other many species of birds can be stunningly viewed on Lake Magadi within the crater, Lake Ndutu which is outside crater as well as in the Empakaai Crater Lake.
Ngorongoro, which is the flagship of Tanzania’s tourism industry, isn’t short of things to do. And the best thing you would like about the Ngorongoro crater is that it can be explored within one day to greater satisfaction.
A safari to Ngorongoro crater can even be done as a day trip from Arusha, which is the tourist center of Tanzania as almost all the safari tours to the unique national parks of Tanzania in the Northern tourism circuit starts at this region.
If you going to visit Ngorongoro crater, the following are the best things to do and see;
- Game Drive
- Guided Nature Walks
- Birding Safari
- Big 5 Experience
Surprisingly, there is no best time to visit the Ngorongoro conservation area, neither the bad time to visit as the area is the best throughout the year.
Regardless of the month of the year you decide to visit Ngorongoro, you won’t regret your time there as almost all of the crater animals are residents and they don’t move too much as everything is available at their disposal starting from water, prey, and greener pasture.
Just like other tourist destinations of Tanzania, there are no fixed costs for a Ngorongoro safari trip. It all depends on several factors like;
- Number of days in Ngorongoro trip and your safari, in general,
- How many people are you going to travel with in your group, the important to note here is the more people in a group will reduce cost per person through cost-sharing than when the safari is done solo.
- Nature of the accommodation, budget? Mid-range or luxury accommodation?
- Time of the year – In the low season (April & May) you are likely going to get the best deals for your Ngorongoro and generally your whole Tanzania safari