Ngorongoro – Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater is part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area – one of East Africa’s most remarkable destinations! Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it will blow you away with its pure magnificence, its scenic beauty and its incredible geology. It was once a gigantic volcano and is today a sanctuary for Africa’s largest mammal population with more than 25.000 animals!

Part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

This unique area borders the Great Rift Valley to the East and South, Serengeti National Park in the West and Loliondo Game Reserve to the North. Its main topographical features include: the Gol Mountains; the Ngorongoro Highlands with various mountains, craters and calderas; the short grass plains and such archeological sites as the Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli.

Main Facts

established in 1959 with a crater size: 260 km²

Best Time

all year around – best during wet season

Common Animals

Antelopes: eland, gazelles, wildebeest
Big Five: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, rhino
Birds: more than 500 species incl. bustards, flamingos, ostriches, vultures
Cats: hyaena, jackals
Mammals: hippo, warthog, zebra
Primates: baboon, blue monkey

Activities

inside the Crater: game drives only
along the Crater Rim: walking safaris
withing Ngorongoro:
> archeological site visits
> cultural encounters

Expectations

Africa’s Garden of Eden – incredible wildlife variety throughout the year
UNESCO World Heritage Site – largest unbroken & unflooded volcanic crater
breathtaking scenery: open savannah & the densely forested wall
densest population of predators – especially lions
close encounters with large tusker elephants

Further Details – Ngorongoro Crater

Vegetation

The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest inactive, unbroken and unflooded volcanic caldera. Its highest point is on the southeastern side where it reaches 2440m above sea level. In diameter the crater measures from 16 to 19 km and its walls have a height of 400 to 610 m. The crater floor has formed its own ecosystem consisting of dry grassland, the Lerai Forest, the Munge River, the soda lake Magadi, the Ngoitokitok Springs and the Gorigor & Mandusi Swamps.

Wildlife

The Ngorongoro Crater is home to about 20.000 to 25.000 animals with slight fluctuations due animal movement in the dry and wet season. It is a great year-round destination that supports an incredibly rich variety of wildlife due the constant availability of fresh water. In addition, the volcanic soil supports the growth of phosphorous-rich plants, which have a high nutritional value.

It is one of the only places in Tanzania where it is possible to spot the rare black rhino, which has been pushed to near-extinction. Of course, the other ‘Big Five’ – buffalo, elephant, leopard and lion – are not far either. Whereas buffaloes, elephants and lions are regularly spotted, it is quite challenging to find leopards as the prefer the heavily wooded areas along the crater rim.

The crater is home to more than 500 bird species with Lake Magadi being an important sanctuary. Water birds include cormorants, egrets, herons, white pelicans and seasonally flocks of flamingos. But you can also spot bee-eaters, bishops, gray-crowned cranes, bateleur eagles, kites, lovebirds, ostriches, rollers, sunbirds and vultures.

Elephant bulls with large tusks are regularly seen – especially in the Lerai Forest and near the swamps. The open grass plains are dominated by elands, gazelles, wildebeest and zebras. The high number of herbivores supports a large predator population, namely prides of lions and spotted hyenas.

Cheetahs have been recorded but are rarely seen. Although the crater is home to a large variety of animals, giraffes, impalas and topi are not found within its boundaries.

Which travelers will particularly enjoy the Ngorongoro Crater?

  • travelers who are interested in a photo safari with a varied landscape and scenery
  • travelers who are looking for a daytrip destination
  • travelers who can only spare a few days for a safari (short journey from Arusha)
  • travelers who want to see a large variety of wildlife within a few hours