Ngorongoro Wildlife | Ngorongoro Guide
There have been 115 species of mammal recorded in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The two main areas for game-viewing, apart from the crater, are the short-grass plains west of the Gol Mountains, northwest of Ngorongoro Crater, and the surroundings of Lake Ndutu close to the border with Serengeti National Park.
The two areas become the feeding and breeding ground for over 2 million animals during the rainy reason as they support the great annual wildebeest migration that spans the Serengeti ecosystem. From around December to May (depending on the rains), over one million wildebeests and thousands of zebras and gazelles move south to calve in the short-grass plains around Ndutu that straddle the Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park.
Elephants, elands, hartebeests, and the endangered rhinos are among the residents of the crater. There are also resident zebras and wildebeests in the crater that do not take part in the annual migration. Hippos are found in the permanent fresh water pools and the swamps in the crater. Other non-migratory herbivorous mammals that are found in the Conservation Area include buffalos, waterbucks, warthogs, and kudus and other species of antelope. Giraffes live in the surroundings of Lake Ndutu, where acacia trees are abundant.
The carnivores found in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area include lions, cheetahs, hyenas, leopards, jackals, serval cats, and the endangered wild hunting dogs.
There are over 550 recorded species of birds in the Conservation Area, of which some are resident and others are migratory. Lake Magadi, a salt lake on the floor of the crater, is often inhabited by thousands of lesser flamingos and other water birds. These birds can also be observed around Lake Ndutu and in the Empakaai Crater Lake.
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).