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Ngorongoro Crater

Overview

Wildlife

Birds

Best Time To Visit

Weather & Climate

Getting There

Malaria & Safety

Overview – Ngorongoro Crater
Exploring the Ngorongoro Crater provides an unparalleled adventure. This unique caldera, the world’s only complete one, stands as the crown jewel of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, spanning 8,292 square kilometers (3,202 square miles). The area boasts one of the highest concentrations of wildlife on the planet, making it possible to witness all members of the Big Five in a single day. The experience is further enhanced by the spectacular scenery, framed by the towering walls of the crater, which rise to 600 meters (1,968 feet).
ngorongoro crater
Best Time To Go
The prime time for wildlife viewing is from June to October.
High Season
July to March sees crowds throughout most of the year.
Size
260km² / 100mi²
Altitude
1,027-3,522m / 3,369-11,555ft
Pros & Cons
Year-round Wildlife Spectacle: Witness the captivating wildlife in all seasons.
Ideal for observing predators.
Easily sighting Black Rhinos.
A cultural excursion to a Maasai village is available for arrangement.
Accommodation along the crater rim provides spectacular views of the crater's interior.
Stunning landscapes.
Admission to the crater comes at a high cost.
Consistently crowded year-round.
Wildlife
The Ngorongoro Crater stands out as a premier wildlife observation site in Africa. Dominated by lions and spotted hyenas as key predators, the area is also a well-known habitat for leopards. A highlight of the crater is its resident population of black rhinos, a sight rarer in other regions of Tanzania. Moreover, the crater is populated by several impressive old elephant bulls, notable for their sizable tusks. These gentle giants are often remarkably serene around vehicles, making for unforgettable encounters.
Scenery
The beauty of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is breathtaking. Beyond the famous Ngorongoro Crater, the area boasts hidden treasures like the Empakaai and Olmoti Craters, each offering their own unique vistas. The lush forests that encircle the Ngorongoro Crater sharply contrast with the open grasslands and marshes below, where the salty Lake Magadi attracts vast numbers of pink flamingos, creating a spectacular natural tableau.
Weather & Climate
The climate of the Ngorongoro Crater is comfortably mild. While the days enjoy moderate temperatures, the nights can become quite chilly, particularly along the crater’s rim. The Dry season, spanning from June to October, is characterized by predominantly sunny days. In contrast, the Wet season, which runs from November to May, brings cloudier skies and sporadic showers, offering a different ambiance to the landscape.
Best Time To Visit
Wildlife sightings on the crater floor are possible year-round. However, the visibility improves significantly during the Dry season, from June to October, when shorter grass makes it easier to spot smaller animals. Additionally, this period is marked by clearer skies, with mist and rain less likely to obstruct your safari experience, enhancing the overall enjoyment and opportunity for wildlife observation.
​Wildlife & Animals – Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater stands as a premier hotspot for the Big Five in Tanzania, bustling with an abundance of wildlife. This unique ecosystem is particularly renowned for its extraordinary predator encounters. Home to the highest concentration of lions globally, the crater also boasts a frequent presence of spotted hyenas. Visitors should keep an eye out for smaller predators, including golden and black-backed jackals and the elusive bat-eared foxes, which add to the area’s rich tapestry of wildlife. Fortune may further reward you with sights of these smaller carnivores in action, hunting rodents or birds, offering a complete and dynamic safari experience.

Wild Dog
Hyena
Cheetah
Leopard
Lion
Black Rhino
Wildebeest
Zebra
Buffalo
Hippo
Giraffe
Elephant
Wildlife Highlights

The Ngorongoro Crater is a sanctuary for many of the safari circuit’s most iconic species. The black rhino, a highly sought-after sighting, takes center stage among the crater’s inhabitants. Large herds of buffalo roam the expansive grasslands, painting a classic African savanna scene. While elephant herds seldom venture into the crater, several solitary bulls with impressive tusks have adopted the crater floor as their domain, adding to the area’s allure. Outside the crater, giraffes roam freely across the broader conservation area, yet they remain absent from the crater floor itself, likely deterred by the steep encircling walls that present a formidable obstacle.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

Observing wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater is a rewarding experience all year round, with the Dry season (June to October) offering the best conditions for spotting animals, thanks to the shorter grass. During the Wet season (November to May), the crater’s landscape transforms into a lush, vibrant spectacle, offering stunning scenic views. However, the taller grass during this period may make it more challenging to catch a glimpse of the crater’s smaller inhabitants. The months of March and April, in particular, see the highest levels of rainfall, further enhancing the verdant beauty of the environment but possibly hindering visibility of wildlife.

Wildlife Photos
ngorongoro (26)
​Birds – Ngorongoro Crater
Birdwatching in the Ngorongoro Crater is unmatched, with pink flamingos in Lake Magadi visible from afar and a closer look revealing ducks, herons, storks, and waders. The grasslands boast ostriches, kori bustards, and grey crowned cranes, while picnic spots may attract food-stealing black kites. The crater rim’s forests offer sightings of unique birds like the white-eyed slaty flycatcher and Schalow’s turaco. Migratory birds enhance the area’s diversity from November to April.

Notable Birds in Ngorongoro Crater

Grey crowned crane
common
Kori bustard
common
Augur buzzard
Black kite
common
Greater flamingo
common
Best Time To Visit – Ngorongoro Crater

Jan

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Apr

May

Jun

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Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

The Ngorongoro Crater offers exceptional wildlife viewing year-round. During the Dry season, from June to October, the shorter grass on the crater floor facilitates easier observation of animals. Conversely, the Wet season, spanning November to May, transforms the crater into a verdant paradise, with the lush scenery providing a breathtaking backdrop for wildlife spotting, even though the taller grass may occasionally obscure smaller creatures.
Best Time
The optimal period for wildlife viewing occurs from June to October.
High Season
Throughout much of the year, from July to March, the crater experiences high visitor numbers.
Low Season
During April and May, visitor numbers decrease in the crater.
Best Weather
From June to October, rainfall is minimal or non-existent.
Worst Weather
March and April (Peak of the Wet season)
June to October – Dry Season
The area enjoys abundant sunshine with minimal rainfall, creating a predominantly bright and dry climate.
Spotting wildlife becomes more straightforward when the grass is shorter, offering clearer views of the animals.
As mornings and evenings can be quite chilly, it's advisable to pack winter clothing to stay warm.
The area tends to become busy with visitors.
November to May – Wet Season
Birdwatching reaches its peak between November and April, thanks to the arrival of migratory birds, enhancing the diversity of avian species.
April and May typically experience lower visitor numbers, making it an opportune time to enjoy a quieter experience with fewer crowds.
The landscape transforms into lush greenery, presenting a stunning and picturesque environment.
The Wet season still offers outstanding opportunities for wildlife viewing, with abundant animal sightings throughout.
Given the cold temperatures during nights and mornings, it's crucial to pack adequate warm clothing for your comfort.
March to April marks the pinnacle of the Wet season, characterized by increased rainfall and lush vegetation.
Wildlife Photos
ngorongoro (26)
Weather & Climate – Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater boasts a pleasant, temperate climate, characterized by distinct Wet seasons featuring two rainy periods: the short rains from November to December, followed by the long rains from March to May. Rainfall typically occurs in brief showers. Although daytime temperatures within the crater remain moderate, the crater rim tends to be chilly. Therefore, it’s essential to pack warm clothing for early morning game drives to ensure comfort.
Dry Season – June to October

Plenty of sunshine graces the crater floor, while mist often envelops the rim, creating a cooler atmosphere necessitating warm attire for game drives.

 

June, July, August & September – Expect afternoon temperatures around 19°C/66°F on the crater floor with clear skies. Nights can be cold, possibly freezing on the crater rim.

 

October – Typically sunny, although early arrival of short rains may occur, possibly starting in late October.

Wet Season – November to May

During the Wet season, daytime temperatures rise compared to the Dry season, yet mornings remain brisk. Afternoons typically reach around 23°C/73°F on the crater floor, while nighttime temperatures hover around 6°C/43°F on the crater rim.

 

November & December – ‘Short rains’ – These brief showers, occurring mainly in the afternoons, are unlikely to disrupt your safari plans. Lasting approximately one month, they may fall anytime between November and December.

 

January & February – The interval between rains is unpredictable, but a period of dry weather often occurs.

 

March, April & May – ‘Long rains’ – Rainfall is common during this period, usually not persisting throughout the day. April and May may experience notably cold conditions due to cold fronts.

Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater Photos
ngorongoro crater
​Getting There – Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater is a key destination on the Northern Circuit safari, often visited en route to Serengeti National Park. Conveniently located just a 3-hour drive (180km/112mi) from the town of Arusha, the starting point for safaris in northern Tanzania, Ngorongoro is easily accessible via a well-maintained tarred road.

 

Travelers have various options for exploring the Northern circuit. They can hop between parks using small aircraft on chartered or scheduled flights departing from Arusha. Alternatively, they can embark on a safari vehicle journey, either covering the entire circuit or specific parts of it. A popular itinerary involves flying into Serengeti and returning by safari vehicle via Ngorongoro Crater, or vice versa. In most cases, the safari guide from Bush 2 City Adventure will meet visitors at the airport and handle all further arrangements.

 

For those traveling from the Seronera area in Serengeti, the journey to the crater spans about 140km/90mi and takes approximately 3 hours by road, although the duration can extend considerably due to wildlife sightings along the way. The drive from Lake Manyara National Park to the crater covers 80km/50mi and typically takes about 2 hours, while the route from Tarangire National Park spans 180km/110mi and requires approximately 4 hours.

 

The most convenient gateway to Arusha is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), located approximately 50km/31mi away. Travelers can also opt to fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam and then connect to Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).

Estimated driving times serve as a general guideline, but it’s crucial to anticipate potential delays during your journey.
Main Park Map
Tanzania Travel Guide Map
Airlines & Ticket Prices

To explore flight options to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), please visit Skyscanner. There, you can find a range of airlines and ticket prices to suit your travel needs.

Domestic Flights

Charter flights between parks are typically arranged by safari consultants as part of the safari tour package. Additionally, we offer the option to book your safari package inclusive of domestic flights on a scheduled basis. Some of the airlines servicing Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro Airport include:

 

> Coastal Aviation: (Flies to Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro Airport)

> Air Excel: (Flies to Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro Airport)

> Regional Air: (Flies to Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro Airport)

> Safari Air Link: (Flies to Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro Airport)

> Auric Air: (Flies to Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro Airport)

> Air Tanzania: (Flies to Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro Airport)

> Precision Air: (Flies to Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro Airport)

> ZanAir: (Flies to Arusha Airport)

> As Salaam Air: (Flies to Arusha Airport)

Passport, Visa & Other Entry Requirements

For comprehensive information on passport, visa, vaccination, and other entry requirements for Tanzania, please refer to our FAQ page dedicated to Tanzania.

​Malaria & Safety – Ngorongoro Crater
Safety

In our assessment, the Ngorongoro Crater is considered a highly secure destination. Incidents of crime within Tanzania’s parks and reserves are rare. While some cities may have instances of crime, exercising standard safety measures is advisable when visiting urban areas like Arusha town, which serves as the entry point to the Northern safari circuit. Although occurrences of crime involving visitors are exceedingly uncommon, we recommend reviewing the ‘Cities & Urban Areas: Safety Precautions’ section below for further guidance.

Malaria & Vaccinations

It’s essential to take precautions against malaria when visiting the area. We recommend using a DEET-based mosquito repellent, as it is the most effective, and consider taking antimalarial medicine as a preventive measure. Additionally, covering exposed skin in the evening can help reduce the risk of mosquito bites. Before your travel, we advise consulting with a healthcare professional to discuss appropriate vaccinations for your trip.

Wildlife Viewing

Observing wildlife is a safe and rewarding experience as long as you follow the guidance of your tour guide and respect the regulations of the park. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with our ‘Wildlife Viewing Safety Precautions’ outlined below for added safety during your excursion.

Photo Gallery of Ngorongoro Crater

Map of Ngorongoro Crater

Photo Gallery of Ngorongoro Crater

Main Park Map

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