How to Enjoy Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtakingly beautiful setting and the best place in East Africa to see the Big Five. It is a great way to start your African safari adventure. However, as one of the world’s most astonishing and renowned natural wonders, the Ngorongoro Crater does get busy, and at times very busy. Due to the crowds we recommend a two-night stay only here, then moving on to the Serengeti for a quieter, more private safari experience.
I have to say this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever searched for wildlife, and the only place where I’ve seen wild black rhinos. I saw four, to be exact.The crater is also home to one of the the densest known population of Masai lions, which I saw as well, playing in the grass.This was due to a combination of being lucky and doing a few key things right – though mostly the latter.
These are my tips for seeing the best of the best in the Ngorongoro Crater:
#1. Stay the night on the rim:
I suggest arriving at your lodging on the crater rim by the mid afternoon. This gives you a chance to watch as golden hour and then sunset come and paint the crater various hues of green and blue. It’s a beautiful sight. There are campsites and hotels of varying luxury. which is within the Crater Conservancy and In my 4 visits to Ngorongoro I stayed at: Ngorongoro Serena Lodge, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater lodge and Ngorongoro Wildlife lodge, all these have grea view of Crater, if you book early you can ask a nice room with the view of crater!
#2. Go early (I cant insist enough!):
Leave very early, I advice 5:55am for your game drive into the Ngorongoro Crater, and and thank me for this decision after your game drive! This is what happens when you do not start your game driver early: The animals get lazy and tired and try to hide from the heat, more and more cars arrive so the crater gets crowded, and the light gets quite harsh for photos.
#3. Get a good guide and let him drive:
#4. Talk to the guide about what you want to see the day before:
#5. You don’t have to eat at the picnic areas:
There are designated picnic areas where you can go and have your breakfast and lunch, sometimes with a little plaid table cloth over the hood of the car, if you fancy, but you can have even better breakfast view.
Another incentive for eating in the car is the aggressive birds. Every now and then, they make off with some of the tourist’s food and some are even brazen enough to grab your food right out of your hands! These are huge birds, and you don’t want those talons to meet your face.
How to get to Ngorongoro
Most people will visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as part of a bigger package, including a visit to the Serengeti. Conveniently, the conservation area lies en route and is only a three-hour drive on tarred road from the town of Arusha, the starting point of all safaris in northern Tanzania.
From Arusha, you can hop around the parks of the northern circuit by small aircraft on chartered or scheduled flights, or you can drive and do the whole circuit by safari vehicle. A popular option is to fly into the Serengeti and make your way back by safari vehicle via the Ngorongoro Crater, or the other way around. In most cases, your tour operator will pick you up from the airport.
Coming from the Seronera area in the Serengeti, the distance to the crater is about 140km/90mi and the driving time is about three hours. This can obviously take much longer allowing for wildlife viewing along the way. The 80km/50mi drive from Lake Manyara to the Ngorongoro Crater takes about two hours, and the 180km/110mi drive from Tarangire takes about four hours.
The best option to get to Arusha is to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is situated about 46km/29mi from Arusha. It is also possible to fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), near Dar es Salaam and fly on to Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).