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Ngorongoro Conservation Area Guide


The Ngorongoro Crater and Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the Great Rift Valley in northern Tanzania is unique as it is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, a cauldron-like hollow formed in the volcano with a crater floor covering over 100 sq. miles and 0.4 miles deep.

This incredible crater, a UNESCO world heritage site in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, is often referred to as ‘Africa’s garden of Eden’, due to the sheer volume of animals and wildlife found there.

It is also one of the best places to spot critically endangered animals like black rhinos, golden cats, and wild hunting dogs and see the amazing colors, an abundance of wildlife, and a huge variety of flora that makes the crater a natural wonder.

Why visit the Ngorongoro Crater?

Safari in Ngorongoro Conservation Area

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, a safari at Ngorongoro is a must-do on a trip to Tanzania due to the incredible landscape and wildlife on display.

The crater was formed when a large volcano erupted and collapsed on itself with this explosion creating a caldera. Thousands of animals are attracted to the crater to feed on the abundant green grass and water with birds also attracted in their droves to the lush vegetation along the lakesides.

There are few places that have wildlife variety on this level and it is not so unusual to see the Big Five in one day at Ngorongoro Crater with over 25,000 large animals found in the crater. The crater floor is also home to old elephant bulls that boast some of Africa’s largest tusks. The giant creatures are often found flaunting their ivory tusks near the Lerai Forest.

In addition, the accommodation here is excellent with numerous options from tented camps, and luxury lodges to camping grounds.


Visitors will be amazed by the variety and numbers of animals they will encounter including the big five namely the African bush elephant, the lion, the rhinoceros, the leopard, and the African buffalo.

Over 20,000 large animals can be found here including 7,000 wildebeest, 6,000 black spotted hyenas, 4,000 zebras, 300 Elephants, 55 Lions, and much more wildlife.

The crater is one of the few places where visitors can easily see black rhinos in close proximity to their natural habitat.

Animals are free to enter or leave the crater, but many of them stay for plentiful water and graze on the crater floor. Also on the crater floor, there are swamps, providing water and habitat for elephants and hippos as well as numerous smaller creatures such as frogs, snakes, and serval cats.


Over 500 bird species can be found here including the black kite, black-winged lapwing, Hildebrandt’s spurfowl, lesser flamingo, and the Kenya rufous sparrow.

Open grassland covers most of the crater floor, turning yellow with wildflowers in June. The Makat soda lake is a great attraction for flamingos and other water birds.


Visitors can find long grasslands, high open moorland, and the remains of dense evergreen montane forests covering the steep slopes. Highland trees include peacock flower Albizzia gummifera and yellowwood.

Elephants often graze in the forest shade during midday, emerging into the open plains during the early morning.

The small forest patches on the crater floor are home to leopards, monkeys, baboons, and antelopes such as waterbucks and bushbucks.


Other activities at the Ngorongoro Crater

There are multiple activities and things to do in Tanzania that can be added to your safari including walking safaris. Here are some other activities which visitors can consider during their visit:

Photo safaris: As safari destinations go, visitors on a photo safari will be in dreamland at Ngorongoro where small groups of just 3 travelers can share a luxury photography tour with like-minded individuals and enjoy big game viewing whilst capturing their favorite moments.

Meet the Maasai Community: Discover the homes and traditions of the Maasai people and attend traditional dance performances and meet the elders.

Walking safaris: Explore wildlife and private concessions on foot, an authentic and economical means of exploring wildlife in the Ngorongoro and Lake Eyasi.

Experience Bushmen in Tanzania: Discover how bushmen live and fight for food as well as their culture and food, an authentic Tanzania safari experience.

Hike the Empakaai crater: A full day hike exploring the Empakaai crater wandering through beautiful forests and exploring incredible birdlife.

Ngorongoro luxury safari tours: With excellent game viewing, Ngorongoro also offers some of the very best luxury lodges in the world. With incredible décor, modernly decorated suites, excellent views, superb service, and food, these intimate safari experiences have it all.

4×4 safari: A stunning self-drive Ngorongoro journey will allow visitors to enjoy the very best wildlife at their own pace.

Hot air balloon tour: A scenic hot air balloon flight over the landscape offers a unique perspective on the incredible wildlife and crater.

Useful information

Geography: Located in the north of Tanzania, a trip to Ngorongoro Crater is often combined with a trip to the Serengeti National Park.

Weather: Day-time temperatures range from 21C/69F to 25C/77F with the last of the rain falling in May.

Best time to visit Ngorongoro: Wildlife game viewing inside the Ngorongoro Crater is superb at all times. Grass on the crater floor is shorter in the Dry season (June through September) making animal viewing easier. The scenery is lush and spectacular in the Wet season months (from November to May).

Understanding the best time to visit Tanzania is useful as this impacts flight prices and availability.

Health: Ngorongoro lies in a lower-risk area however visitors pass through areas where malaria is prevalent in order to get there. Antimalarials may be required.