Ngorongoro weather and Climate
subtropical, since it is influenced by altitude. The temperature is mild during the day and cool (or even a little cold) at night, and it’s higher from September to April and lower from May to August, although the difference is not remarkable. The crater’s rim is located at about 2,300 meters (7,500 ft) above sea level: in the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, the average daily temperature is about 16 °C (61 °F) from October to April, while it drops to 13/14 °C (55/57 °F) from June to August; at night, it’s a bit cold, and drops below 10 °C (50 °F) from May to October, but sometimes also in the rest of the year.
Inside the crater, the altitude is a bit lower, around 1,700 meters (5,600 ft), so the temperature is 3/4 degrees Celsius (5/7 °F) higher. Here, there is a lake, called Magadi or Makat (not to be confused with Lake Magadi in Kenya), inhabited by thousands of pink flamingos, while to the north-east, there is a smaller lake, Embagai. In contrast, both to the west and east of the crater, there are areas where the altitude even exceeds 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) above sea level: they are colder and wetter, often covered with clouds and occupied by forests.
Precipitation around the crater amounts to about 1,000 millimeters (40 inches) per year and is higher than in surrounding areas, which, as mentioned, are located at lower altitudes and are more arid as well as warmer. Anyway, in this area, there is a dry season from June to September, which is also the coolest period, and a rainy season from October to May. Within the latter season, we can identify two rainy periods: the “short rains” from October to December, and the “long rains” from March to May, with April as the rainiest month of the year.
However, the rains are abundant enough also in January and February, around 90/110 mm (3.5/4 in) per month. On the contrary, in the dry period, from June to September or October (until the short rains begin), there is little rain.
The amount of sunshine in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is good, but not great, since in addition to the rains, which occur in the form of showers and thunderstorms, a bit of cloudiness can form also in the dry season. However, the sun is very strong (we are just south of the Equator, and also at high elevations), so it requires appropriate protection.
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).