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The Ngorongoro Crater was created when a large volcano erupted and collapsed in on itself around two to three million years ago. The crater covers 260 square kilometres and is 610 metres deep, creating a microcosmic environment for an abundance of vegetation and wildlife, as well as the Maasai people, all of which call the crater home.
Today, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) has UNESCO World Heritage Status and the region is unique in that it’s the only conservation area in the country to protect wildlife while allowing human habitation. The Maasai people have lived here for the past few hundred years, the latest in a long line of traditional pastoralist tribes which have inhabited the crater.
The world’s largest unbroken caldera, the crater holds a global significance due to the concentrated biodiversity and density of globally threatened species.
Once you’ve taken in the epic views from the crater rim and descended to the crater floor, you’ll see wildebeest and zebra, grazing gazelles, as well as pods of hippos bathing in the waters of Lake Magadi, among countless other species.
Predators include spotted hyenas, lions and both black and golden-backed jackals. With so many herbivores and carnivores living in close proximity, it’s likely that you’ll see some hunting interactions during a game drive.
Another big attraction is the opportunity to see one of the 30 critically endangered black rhino which live in the crater. They can sometimes be seen between Lemala Road and the Lerei Forest.
You’ll also encounter some of the 40,000 Maasai people who live around the crater, as they go about their day herding cattle or selling handicrafts along the roads. Many children come to the roads to interact with tourists, but be mindful not to encourage this behaviour, as it turns the children into a tourist attraction and discourages them from attending school.
A genuine Garden of Eden filled with a fertile pool of life, the Ngorongoro Crater is a must-visit for any trip to Tanzania and a humbling experience for even the most seasoned of safari enthusiasts.
The spectacular lush scenery made available by the rains between November and May provide verdant views of the lush caldera, especially from the crater’s rim. The low season in April and May means fewer tourists and better rates. These are some of the wettest months, though rains are often just short downpours in the afternoons and may not interfere too much with your trip. The dry season (June to October) shrinks the water sources and the foliage peels back, making wildlife spotting much easier. However, this period is the most popular with tourists, so it can be busy.
Our Northern Tanzania Safari & Zanzibar Tour and our Tanzania Great Migration Safari holiday both feature time at Ngorongoro Crater, where you can take part in game drives and experience everything the natural phenomenon of the crater has to offer. The itineraries listed include a full day and two night’s stay in this area, though more time can be added to your tailor made tour should you request it.
Our overnight stays at Ngorongoro Crater can include accommodation at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, which rests right at the top of the southwest side of the crater’s rim and therefore offers breathtaking views of the caldera below. A stay here is truly the height of luxury and includes a private fireplace (for cold mornings and evenings), organic fine dining, an opulent rose petal bubble bath and a personal butler at your service during your time here. On the remote western side of the crater and away from any other lodge is the understated luxury of Entamanu Lodge- the only place in the world where you can enjoy sunrise over the Crater and sunrise in the Serengeti.