When to go to Ngorongoro
When To Go to Ngorongoro Crater?
Ngorongoro Crater is part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Authorities argue that as a conservation area, the restrictions and protections are stronger than a national park. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. The crater is in good company because Tanzania is home to three of the wonders of nature from Africa.
Ngorongoro Crater provides an opportunity for visitors to experience 5 of Africa’s Big 7, which include the lion, leopard, elephant, hippopotamus, and rhinoceros. Although the leopard is doubtful because it is usually atop the rim in the forest, you have a fair chance of seeing the other animals. The crater provides one of the most intimate encounters with wildlife and nature.
Tanzania, and Ngorongoro Crater, are near the equator which keeps temperatures fairly consistent throughout the year. However, during the months of June through August, temperatures can get chilly atop the rim of the crater can get a bit chilly. A light jacket will often take care of the evening.
The more important question is related to the rains. Ngorongoro Crater experiences rainy and dry seasons versus big changes in temperatures. October and November are the months that feature the short rains. The heavier and longer rains show up between the months of April and May. Both seasons of rain create challenges for vehicles, but the heavy rains deter travelers creating a true low season.
The short rains end at the close of November and for sure by December. The light rains create green and new life within the crater making January and February a pleasant time to visit. The Ngorongoro Crater season extends from June through November with the leading dry season occurring between August and September.
When to go to the Serengeti: Wildlife Viewing:
You can see animals in Ngorongoro Crater all year long. There is less of a problem of finding wildlife that might occur in the Serengeti or other open range areas. However there are times of the year where there are more wildlife on the floor of the crater.
The months of January and February are great months to visit the crater because the floor is full of wildlife. Even more noticeable is the abundance of babies following their mothers around. Ngorongoro Crater provides travelers with the most intimate encounters with wildlife and the babies running around during these two months only make it better.
Although not known for the migration, Ngorongoro Crater will witness an increase in the number of wildebeests when the herds are in this part of the Serengeti. Wildlife can enter and exit the crater, but there is always animals to experience once you are inside the rim of the crater and down on the floor.
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).
Where to Stay in Ngorongoro
There are 6 lodges along the crater rim, and 16 campsites. If you stay closer to the crater, you can often be the first to arrive at the crater the following morning, allowing for the best wildlife sightings and photo opportunities.
The Highlands is the one of the best accommodation options in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. With its stunning design, exceptional service, and beautiful views over the Ngorongoro plains, The Highlands has a tendency to over-deliver.
The Lemala Ngorongoro is a new camp on the rim of the crater. This area is known as Acacia camp because there are so many Acacia trees here. Each tent has a toilet and a traditional safari bucket shower with a dressing room. Thanks to its location on the rim of the crater, the camp is excellent for those wanting to get a head start the following morning.
The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, built in 1939, has topped many ‘best hotels in the world’ lists over the years. The hotel describes itself as ‘Maasai meets Versaille’, and can be reached by aircraft via the Manyara airstrip. The communal areas are adorned with huge fireplaces and chandeliers.
The Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is the only lodge on the eastern rim of the crater, and offers stunning views. The lodge retains a traditional African house style.
A more affordable option is the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge, which sits on the crater but is not quite as expensive as the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.
The Kirurumu Ngorongoro Camp is an example of a mobile camp that sets down in some of the most beautiful and strategic locations in the Ngorongoro highlands. The camp has 7 customised camping tents with solar panelled lighting and a campsite area. The camp organises day trips to Empakai to see the flamingos, and it is a great base for hiking.