Ngorongoro Travel Guide
Ngorongoro District is one of the five districts of the Arusha Region of Tanzania. It is bordered to the north by Kenya, to the east by Monduli District, to the south by the Karatu District and to the west by the Mara Region. According to the 2002 Tanzania National Census, the population of the Ngorongoro Region was 129,776. By 2012, the population of the district was 174,278.
Within the district are the Ngorongoro Crater and active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai. The district plays host to parts of the wildebeest migration. While not part of the park, as such, much of the district is within the same Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, which is defined by the limits of the annual wildlife migration.
The entire southern half of the district is designated as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) which is governed by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA). The conservation area is the only one of its kind in Tanzania with all other of the country’s protected areas designated as game reserves and national parks.
The NCAA uniquely allows human habitation within the protected area, but places restrictions on land-use in the NCA, including cultivation and livestock grazing. Whilst watering of cattle is permitted, human habitation and livestock grazing are forbidden in the Ngorongoro Crater which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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).