Ngorongoro Crater is such a unique safari destination. With a large concentration of animals and short grasslands, game viewing in the crater is excellent as animals are everywhere!
- Spectacular views
- Volcanic landscape
- Abundance of wildlife on the crater floor
- Year round game viewing with 25,000 resident animals
- Bird watching
- Ngorongoro Crater is 304kms2
- The Ngorongoro Crater forms part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, part of the northern circuit of Tanzania.
The jewel in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area’s crown is a deep volcanic crater, which happens to be the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera(collapsed crater) in the world. The crater, which formed when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed on itself some 2-3 million years ago is 610 metres deep and its floor covers 260km2. Estimates of the height of the original volcano range from 4,500 to 5800 metres high. The steep slopes of the caldera are dominated by scrubs and remains of dense montane forests, while open grassy plains, swamps and acacia trees occupy the plains of the crater.
The steep slopes of the crater have been providing protection and natural settings for wildlife such as elephants, while the crater floor has been home for more than 25,000 large mammals such as wildebeest, zebra, hyena, cheetah, rhinos, elephant, buffalo and lion which are supported by the availability of year round water patches and alkaline in Lake Magadi. The Lake is home for both greater and lesser flamingo accompanied by seasonal migrant birds who normally arrive here during the wet months.
Around 25,000 animals(predominantly grazing animals) live in the crater throughout the year, whilst in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area the numbers can swell to 2.5 million, depending on the season. Resident populations include wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, buffalo, eland, kongoni and warthog. The swamps and forest provide additional resources for hippo, elephant, waterbuck, reedbuck and bushbuck, baboons and vervet monkeys. The steep inner slopes provide a habitat for and the rare mountain reedbuck. Jackals thrive in the crater and bat-eared foxes live in the short grass areas. Predatory animals such as lion, leopard, cheetah and serval cats live off the abundant wildlife and large packs of hyena roam the crater.
Black Rhinoceros are to be found in the Crater. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the few places in East Africa where visitors have a chance of seeing this truly magical creature. Lions and bull elephants are also abundant in the Crater with the bull elephants descending regularly to the Crater floor. The large breeding herds can be found wandering throughout the forest rim searching for food.
What you see of the birdlife depends greatly on the season of the year as there are resident and migratory birds. Resident birds are ostrich, bustard and plovers and can be seen year round. In the summer they share the Crater with European migrants such as white storks, yellow wagtails, swallows and many more. The migrants pass through from November through to May, coinciding with the rains in Africa and the winter in Eurasia. Other birds you can expect to see are flamingo, storks, ducks, stonechat, anteater chat, schalow’s wheeteater, fiscal shrike, auger buzzards, verreaux’s eagle and many other raptors.
Ngorongoro Crater is the largest unbroken volcanic caldera(collapsed volcano) in the world. It was formed by geological faulting in the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley 2-3 million years ago. The volcano created was probably larger than Mount Kilimanjaro, the quick withdrawal of molten lava beneath it made the centre collapse, creating the crater we see today.
There is much variation in climate within the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area due to the altitude differences throughout the region. There is a dry season from June to October and a wet season from November to May. The wet season is divided into the ‘short rains’ from November to December, and the ‘long rains’ from February to May. It is often cloudy on the highlands and in summer it rains almost everyday. Ngorongoro’s annual rainfall varies from 450mm on the plains in the north-west to over 1600mm on the highlands.
Temperatures in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area vary from 3 degrees to 35 degrees. Frost occurs on the highest mountain tops and temperatures are always lower along the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater than on its floor. The coldest months are from June to August.
WHEN TO VISIT
In the Ngorongoro Crater you can witness game at any time of the year. During the rainy season the animals congregate on the short grass plains to have their young. In turn, this attracts large numbers of predators. Birds abound and wild flowers are in bloom. The rainstorms are dramatic and usually short lived. The cloud formations are compelling to watch as they develop with speed before exploding into a rainstorm.
The dry season also holds it’s own beauty. It is generally accepted that the dry season is a better time for game viewing because the animals are more concentrated along permanent water sources. Within the Crater game viewing is excellent during this time. However, keep in mind that the short grass plains become completely devoid of game during this season.
The southern and northern parts of the crater both have seasonal swamps that attract large amounts of hippo and many species of water birds. Thousands of buffalo roam on the eastern side of the crater where the long grasses are dominant.
Accommodation at Ngorongoro Crater
Kirurumu Ngorongoro Camp is a luxury camp set in one of the most strategic and beautiful areas on the crater rim on the eastern side of the Ngorongoro caldera.
Nowhere else on earth can you wake up among all the trappings of an elegant baroque chateau – brocade sofas, gilt mirrors, beaded chandeliers and panelled walls.
The lodge is constructed from local river stones and camouflaged with indigenous vines. Designed to blend completely into the landscape, it is entirely invisible from the floor of the Crater 600 metres below.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge boasts large, well-equipped rooms with breathtaking views of the crater floor far below. It has an imposing lobby and dining room/observation deck.
The lodge is elegantly built predominantly from natural stone and local wood, harmoniously merging with its natural surroundings.
The Rhino Lodge offers quality and affordable accommodation in a spectacular setting. Its location is very convenient, being the first lodge as one enters the Ngorongoro Conservation Area from Arusha.
Simba Campsite lies on the very rim of Ngorongoro Crater and has an excellent view across the caldera. A fantastic sunrise over the crater rim opposite makes a fine breakfast scene. Often there are elephants wandering around the camp!