Ngorongoro Conservation Area Tanzania
One of Tanzania’s most beloved conservation areas; Ngorongoro is justifiably a true wonder of Africa and probably in the whole world. This conservation area provides a rich adventure to every visitor and should on no account be missed during your Tanzania tours. One of its uniqueness lays in the fact that the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is where man, livestock and wild animals live in peace. UNESCO also recognized the uniqueness of Ngorongoro and declared it a world heritage site of global importance in 1979.
The main feature of the conservation area is the Ngorongoro Crater; the world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera. This highly visited safari attraction which is 2,000 feet deep and 260 km2 wide was formed when a volcano exploded and collapsed on itself some 2 to 3 million years ago. The Crater is truly awe-inspiring and will surely be one of the highlights of your Tanzania safaris.
The wonders of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area do not limit to Ngorongoro Crater. Lying within the boundaries of the 8,292-sq-km of this spectacular site are some of northern Tanzania’s greatest sights, including Oldupai or Olduvai gorge. Often referred to as “Cradle of Humankind”, this mystical archaeological site is where the first human evolution remains on earth were discovered by paleoanthropologists Louis Leakey and his wife Mary Leaky in the 1950s. This gorge has become one of the reasons why travellers must visit Tanzania during their safaris in Africa.
Besides its geological wonders, Ngorongoro is a wildlife paradise. A Tanzania wildlife safari to the area is an opportunity to see a staggering array of unique wildlife species. Ngorongoro area contains 115 animal species with 25,000 large mammals. During the rainy season (around December to May) over 1.7 over 1.7 million wildebeests and 260,000 zebras and 470,000 gazelles move to calve in the short-grass plains around Ndutu that straddle the Conservation Area. Another huge drawcard is the chance to see the critically endangered black rhinos and giant-tusked elephants. Six of Africa’s wild cat species including lions, leopards, cheetahs, caracals, servals and African wildcats also call this area home. African wild dogs spotted hyenas as well as the special canine species; the African golden wolf resides in the Ngorongoro. More than 500 bird species have been recorded within the conservation area, including the ostrich and the Kori bustard, the world’s heaviest flying bird.
Location of Ngorongoro Conservation Area Tanzania
A Tanzania wildlife tour to Ngorongoro can be conveniently combined with a number of the wider region’s other unmissable safari gems. Ngorongoro is located in the northern region of Tanzania about 153 km west of Arusha town (the Tanzania safari capital) in the Crater Highlands area. The confluence of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the southern part of the Serengeti National Park is in the Ndutu region. The area is part of the Serengeti ecosystem and, to the northwest, adjoins the Serengeti National Park. Ngorongoro is situated about 50km from Lake Manyara National Park, 139 km from Tarangire National Park and 213 km from Arusha National Park.
History of Ngorongoro Conservation Area
“Ngoro-ngoo-ngoro”-were the sounds produced by the bells of the cows grazing in the northern parts of Tanzania. These sounds made the Maasai pastoralists name the entire area as Ngorongoro. The Conservation area was established in 1959 as a multi land-use area where today semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists continue with age-old traditions of livestock grazing while co-existing with the flourishing and diverse wildlife. Based on fossil evidence found at the Olduvai Gorge, various hominid species have occupied the area for 3 million years. Hunter-gatherers were replaced by pastoralists a few thousand years ago. The Mbulu came to the area about 2,000 years ago and was joined by the Datooga around the year 1,700. Both groups were driven from the area by the Maasai in the 1800s.
Massive fig trees in the northwest of the Lerai Forest are sacred to the Maasai and the Datooga. Some of them may have been planted on the grave of a Datooga leader who died in battle with the Maasai around 1840. No Europeans are known to have set foot in the Ngorongoro Crater until 1892 when it was visited by Oscar Baumann. Two German brothers (Adolph and Friedrich Siedentopf) farmed in the crater until the outbreak of World War I. The brothers regularly organized shooting parties to entertain their German friends. They also attempted to drive the wildebeest herds out of the crater.
In 1921, the first game preservation ordinance was passed, which restricted hunting to permit holders throughout Tanzania. In 1928, hunting was prohibited on all land within the crater rim, except the former Siedentopf farms. The National Park Ordinance of 1948 (implemented in 1951) created the Serengeti National Park. This, however, caused problems with the Maasai and other tribes within the area, resulting in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Ordinance (1959) that separated the conservation area from the national park. Maasai pastoralists living in Serengeti National Park were systematically relocated to Ngorongoro, increasing the population of Maasai and livestock living in the Crater. The area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Tanzania Safari Attractions in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
1) Animals Ngorongoro conservation area
The wildlife-packed Ngorongoro is one of the greatest destinations for a Tanzania wildlife tour. There have been 115 species of mammal recorded in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The conservation area’s Ngorongoro Crater harbours about 25000 large mammals. The main wildlife areas, apart from the crater include 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 Park. These 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.
Another huge drawcard is the chance to see the critically endangered black rhino – around 19 inhabit the crater floor, and they’re most often seen between the Lereal Forest and the Lemala ascent-descent road. There are also plenty of hippos around the lovely Ngoitoktok Springs picnic site. Lerai Forest, the starting point for the Lerai ascent road is good for elephants, of which there are 200 to 300 in the crater.
Predators in Ngorongoro include around 600 spotted hyenas, 55 lions (at last count), cheetahs, leopards, and both golden and black-backed jackals. Leopards are very secretive though the best place to see them is in the trees that line the Munge stream. Less commonly seen are elands, warthogs, hartebeests, bushbucks, waterbucks, and bohor reedbucks. In the eastern section of the Crater are the longer grasslands where thousands of buffaloes roam. One of the smallest carnivores, the serval cat, is commonly found here in the tall grass. The Gorigor swamp is also a regular haunt for serval cats and also for lions and hyenas which use the thick cover to ambush other animals when they come to drink.
Giraffes, impalas, and topis are strangely absent from the Crater floor, but they are common in the nearby Serengeti. Although giraffes may find the descent into the Crater difficult, it is more likely that they are absent because there is no enough acacia to browse. It is not clear why topi or impala are missing. Primates include baboons and vervet monkeys.
- a) Elephants in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The elephants in the Ngorongoro crater are very impressive and will be the largest you encounter on your Tanzania safari. All the elephants are predominantly old bulls flaunting giant ivory tusks. These elephants survived the pre-ivory ban days in the 1980s when many large tuskers outside the relative safety of the crater were poached. There are no breeding herds in the crater and no females are known to inhabit the Crater floor. The best place to see these massive elephants is in the early morning in Lerai Forest.
About elephants: Locally known as Tembo in the Swahili language, elephants are the largest terrestrial mammal on earth and have distinctly massive bodies, large ears, and long trunks. They use their trunks to pick up objects, trumpet warnings, greet other elephants, or suck up water for drinking or bathing, among other uses.
The African elephant is the largest of all elephant species and weighs up to eight tones. Due to their massive size, even the largest most intimidating predators usually leave adult elephants alone. The only exception would be babies; only 80 cm tall at birth, these little tikes would be easy targets for lions if they were not so well protected by their family. At the first indication of danger, elephants will huddle together and place the calves in the centre of the adult herd. Depending on the reaction of the threat, the herd will either retreat or the largest matriarch female will put on a show to intimidate the intruder. During the display, the demonstrating elephant will spread her ears wide and shake her head dramatically from side to side. Sometimes, a dummy charge will follow accompanied by loud trumpeting. This tactic usually works as there are not many natural things on this planet that are more intimidating than a large, angry, charging elephant!
Both male and female African elephants grow tusks and each individual can either be left- or right-tusked, and the one they use more is usually smaller because of wear and tear. Elephant tusks serve many purposes. These extended teeth can be used to protect the elephant’s trunk, lift and move objects, gather food, and strip bark from trees. They can also be used for defence. During times of drought, elephants even use their tusks to dig holes to find water underground. Elephants seem to be the only species intelligent enough, and with enough size, to be capable of such excavations, although other animals have learned to take advantage of them. Amazingly, adult elephants drink between 90-140 litres of water per day.
- b) Black rhinos in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Black Rhinos are highly endangered and have been poached to near extinction. The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the last places in Tanzania where you can still reliably see wild black rhinos. In 1965 there were 100 rhinos in the Crater. By the mid-1980s, poaching had reduced the population to just a couple of remaining animals.
The rhinos are now under 24-hour ranger watch and numbers have been increasing, though slowly because of the rhino’s long gestation period. As of 2004, the number of rhinos in the Crater stands at 17. The only other spot to see rhinos during your Tanzania tours is the Moru Kopjes area of the Serengeti, which as of 2004, is home to 12 rhinos. However, the rhinos in the Moru area are very difficult to see. Many of them were slaughtered for their horns, which are used as aphrodisiacs in Asia and as dagger handles in the Middle East.
The black rhinos are regularly seen just east of Lerai Forest, specifically in the area between Lerai and Gorigor Swamp. It is likely that you will see one on a single game drive and with two separate game drives, your chances are very good. The best way to track down the rhinos is with an early AM game drive.
Once down on the floor in the early morning, head immediately through Lerai Forest to its eastern outskirts. The rhinos usually spend the night in Lerai Forest and the move to the area immediately to the east in the early morning.
About rhinos: Rhinos locally translates as Kifaru in the Swahili language. Both black and white rhinoceroses are actually grey. They are different not in colour but in lip shape. The word “white” in the name “white rhinoceros” is often said to be a misinterpretation of the Afrikaans word wyd (Dutch wijd) meaning wide, referring to its square upper lip, as opposed to the pointed or hooked lip of the black rhinoceros.
The black rhino has a pointed upper lip, while its white relative has a squared lip. The difference in lip shape is related to the animals’ diets. Black rhinos are browsers that get most of their sustenance from eating trees and bushes. They use their lips to pluck leaves and fruit from the branches. White rhinos graze on grasses, walking with their enormous heads and squared lips lowered to the ground.
Black rhinos boast two horns, the foremost more prominent than the other. Rhino horns grow as much as three inches a year and have been known to grow up to five feet long. Females use their horns to protect their young, while males use them to battle attackers.
The prominent horn for which rhinos are so well known has also been their downfall. Many animals have been killed for the hard, hair-like growth, which is revered for medicinal uses in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The horn is also valued in North Africa and the Middle East as an ornamental dagger handle.
The black rhino once roamed most of sub-Saharan Africa, but today is on the verge of extinction due to poaching fueled by commercial demand for its horn.
- c) Zebras in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
A zebra is locally known as Punda milia in the Swahili language. Zebras are among the most beautiful and fascinating animal species that everyone would wish to see during their Tanzania wildlife tours. Watching thousands of these striped creature match together across Ngorongoro is a remarkable natural spectacle that you will never forget.
During the rainy season (December to May) the short-grass plains west of the Gol Mountains, northwest of Ngorongoro Crater, and the surroundings of Lake Ndutu become the feeding and breeding ground for over 260,000 zebras.
When it comes to zebras, it’s not all black and white. These beautiful and spirited horses of Africa lead fascinating and complex lives. To a casual observer, zebras appear to move in large homogenous groups similar to wildebeest, but in fact, the zebra community is composed of many family units, each controlled by a dominant stallion with 2 to 6 mares. Looking closely at a large group of zebra one will note a patchy distribution of small groups as opposed to a plain filled with wildebeest in which they are evenly distributed. The stallion always brings up the rear of its harem when being pursued which makes it much more susceptible to predation.
Once a maiden mare is claimed by a stallion and joins a harem, the mare will stay with this tightly knit family group for life. Astonishingly, stallions often form alliances with other males, standing together or fondly greeting one another with playful nips. Mares also form bonds with one another, staying together even if their lead stallion dies and is replaced by another. It is common to see zebras standing in pairs, with one’s head facing the other’s tale or head casually resting over the other’s back. In this buddy stance, the zebras watch for predators and will mutually groom each other by nibbling the hair on the other’s neck and back.
The mutual grooming develops and preserves their strong family bonds. Zebras also look out for one another and will actively search for a lost family member if it becomes separated from the rest of the herd. The herd also adjusts its travelling pace to accommodate the old and the weak so they don’t get left behind. An animal of great strength and spirit, zebras are quite swift and graceful. They have rock-solid hooves and a strong kick that can kill a lion.
A striking contrast of black and white streaks drape themselves over the zebra’s glossy coat in surreally perfect patterns that resemble modern art more than a naturally occurring phenomenon. It is interesting to note that no two zebras have the same stripe pattern – they are the snowflakes of the Ngorongoro with each individual unique. These stripes are thought to be a form of cryptic colouration intended to mislead an attacking predator by making it unable to single out a specific target. Zebras are conspicuous in broad daylight, but at night, dawn and dusk – the hours when most predation occurs – the stripes seem to blend and zebras become well camouflaged in the dark shadows and glinting moonlight.
2) Birdlife in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro highlands together with the crater provide wonderful Tanzania birding safari experience. 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.
The forests of Ngorongoro are also abundant with birds, including species of turaco and hornbill. Raptors such as the goshawk and harrier are common on the plains of the Conservation Area.
There are also several resident specialized grassland bird species within the crater. Most visible are the Ostriches, Kori bustards, crowned cranes plus the secretary birds. Other bird species in the conservation area include African spoonbill, Anteater chat, Augur buzzard, Capped wheatear, Eastern double-collared sunbird, Egyptian vulture, Fan-tailed widow bird, Greater flamingo, Hartlaub’s turaco near-endemic to Tanzania, Hildebrandt’s spurfowl, Hildebrandt’s Starling, Jackson’s widowbird near-endemic to Tanzania, Kenya rufous sparrow, Livingstone turaco, Namaqua dove, Red-and-yellow barbet, Rosy-throated longclaw, Rufous chatterer, Rufous-tailed weaver endemic to Tanzania, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Schalow’s wheatear, Speke’s weaver, Verreaux’s eagle, White-eyed slaty flycatcher, and the White-naped raven
3) Ngorongoro Crater in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
At 19km wide and with a surface of 264 km2, Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact and unfilled volcanic caldera and is indeed the flagship Tanzania tourist attraction of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In fact, when enumerating the most fascinating places to leave open-mouthed whenever you go for a tour in Tanzania, then it is obvious that Ngorongoro Crater will outnumber them.
Its steep walls soar 400m to 610m and over the course of time, streams of water made their way down the crater to form little ponds, and vegetation developed all over providing a setting for an incredible natural drama, as prey and predators graze and stalk their way around the open grasslands, swamps and acacia woodland on the crater floor. It’s such an impressive sight that, other vehicles aside, you’ll wonder whether you’ve descended into a wildlife paradise.
The crater, which formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago. Estimates of the height of the original volcano range from 4,500 to 5,800 meters high. The crater was voted by Seven Natural Wonders as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in Arusha, Tanzania in February 2013. The Ngorongoro volcano was active from about 2.45 to 2 million years ago. Before it collapsed, geologists estimate, its height was about 4,587m above sea level.
The main route into the crater is the Seneto descent road, which enters the crater on its western side. To come out, use the Lerai ascent road, which starts south of Lake Magadi and leads to the rim near park headquarters.
4) Empakaai Crater in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Empakaai Crater may not be as famous as Ngorongoro, but many travellers consider it to be its match in beauty. Empakaai is about 8km in diameter and holds a beautiful; round lake that occupies nearly half its floor. The crater is a perfect spot for Tanzania birding tours in Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The lake draws flamingos and other water birds and is surrounded by steep-sided, forested cliffs at least 300m high. When flamingos are there, from the rim it looks like pink beaches around the lake.
On the outside, the elevation of Empakaai on the western side is 3,200m above sea level and on the eastern side, 2,590m above sea level. Because of this high altitude, Empakaai is almost always shrouded in mist, and the lake appears emerald or deep blue in colour.
Visitors to Empakaai can walk to the rim to catch the appealing scenery or hike down into the crater. From the rim, visitors can view the volcanic cone of Oldonyo Lengai (mountain of God) to the northeast, and even the alkaline Lake Natron shimmering in the distance.
A trail descends from the rim to the floor of the crater through the mountain forest hosting birds and monkeys.
The descent to the bottom of the crater takes between 30 and 50 minutes and might take twice that time to climb back up. Visitors hiking down Empakaai are required to be accompanied by an armed ranger. There are special campsites on the rim of the Empaka crater available in booking in advance. Campers at Empakai should bring their own drinking water as well as camping gear.
5) Olmoti Crater in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Olmoti Crater is to the North of Ngorongoro Crater and south of the Empakaai Crater. The floor of Olmoti is shallow and grassy, and it is the source of the Munge River, which feeds the Ngorongoro Crater. Though not as famous as Ngorongoro and Empakaai, Olmoti Crater is worth visiting while on a safari in Tanzania. Trekkers can start a two-day walking safari from Olmoti to Empakaai.
It is also possible to climb to the rim and descend down the floor of Olmoti. The highest point at Olmoti is 3,080m and the crater is about 6.5km in diameter. There is a short trail that leads to the Munge Waterfall. Beware of dangerous games along the way and visitors should be accompanied by an armed ranger.
6) The Archaeological Sites in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
- a) Oldupai gorge in Ngorongoro
Oldupai Gorge was named after Oldupaai, the Maasai word for “the wild sisal plant”. It is (sometimes spelt Olduvai) is the most famous archaeological location in East Africa and has become an essential stop for travellers during their long Tanzania safaris in the northern region. Actually, this gorge is a must-see to make your Tanzania holiday a complete experience. It is located about 40km northwest of Ngorongoro Crater, just a few kilometres off the main Serengeti road. Olduvai Gorge stretches about 50km and is up to 90m deep.
It is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and research there has been instrumental in furthering understanding of early human evolution. It lies in the rain shadow of the Ngorongoro highlands and is the driest part of the region. Over the last 30 years or so, it has become increasingly apparent that Africa is probably the “Cradle of Mankind”. From Africa, they spread out to populate the rest of the Earth. Remains of the earliest humans were found in Oldupai Gorge. Thus, Oldupai makes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area an important place in the world for the study of human origins and human evolution.
The first European known to have seen Olduvai Gorge was a German butterfly collector, Professor Wilhelm Kattwinkle. In his notes in 1911, he described Olduvai as containing “the book of life” and he took back to Berlin a considerable number of fossils including the teeth of an extinct three-toed horse known as Hipparion. However, Olduvai was made famous by the excavations over the middle of the last century by the palaeontologist Louis Leakey, and his wife, Mary Leakey.
Louis Leakey first visited Olduvai Gorge in 1931. He and Mary discovered Zinjanthropus boisei in 1959, then the oldest significantly intact hominid fossil from Olduvai Gorge. This skull, plus other archaeological finds from Olduvai Gorge are housed in the national museum in Dar es Salaam.
Bones of hominids belonging to the Homo lineage that includes Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens have also been excavated at Olduvai, as well as hundreds of other fossilized bones and stone tools dating back millions of years, leading palaeontologists to conclude that humans evolved in Africa.
- b) Laetoli Footprints in Ngorongoro
The Laetoli Footprints are undoubtedly one of the most astounding and important scientific discoveries of our time. They are the oldest known footprints of the early ancestors of humans in the world. The site of Laetoli is 25 miles to the southwest of Olduvai Gorge in the Conservation Area. About 3.6 million years ago in Laetoli, two early ancestors of humans walked through wet volcanic ash. When the nearby volcano erupted again, subsequent layers of ash covered and preserved the oldest footprints of early humans.
According to archaeologists, the Laetoli Footprints present three separate tracks of an upright walking hominid named Australopithecus afarensis. The entire footprint trail is almost 27 meters long and includes impressions of about 70 early human footprints. Replicas of these footprints are displayed at Olduvai Museum.
The Laetoli area was first studied by the German entomologist Kohl Larsen in the 1920s and yielded a few fossils. In 1974 a team led by Mary Leakey made the discoveries of the hominid footprints, and excavations were carried out in 1978 and 1979.
- c) Nasera Rock in Ngorongoro conservation area
Nasera Rock is a huge monolith jutting out from the plains to an elevation of 100m on the western side of the Gol Mountains, 27 kilometres north of Olduvai Gorge.
The site of the rock has yielded archaeological resources since the 1930s when excavations started around it. Most of the findings at Nasera consist of stone artefacts, bone fragments, and shreds of pottery dating back to about 30,000 B.C. Nasera Rock is also a spot for climbers and Tanzania bird-watching safaris. The eastern side of the rock is gentler and enables climbers to reach the top.
There is a rich birdlife all the time around the lower part of the rock. During the wet season, the surrounding plains are green and full of wildebeests which makes it an ideal area for a Tanzania wildlife safari.
- d) Olduvai Gorge Museum in Ngorongoro
At the edge of Olduvai Gorge, there is a small museum, the Olduvai Gorge Museum, which exhibits numerous fossils and stone tools of our hominid ancestors, and skeletons of many extinct animals excavated in the gorge. The museum was founded by Mary Leakey and it is dedicated to the appreciation and understanding of the Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli fossil sites. Apart from the exhibitions inside the museum, there are also outdoor lecture areas where the museum curators give orientation presentations to visitors. At the museum, one can also plan a guided tour down the gorge.
7) Lake Magadi in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Lake Magadi is one of the most fascinating features in the world which attracts quite a big number of visitors on while on Tanzania trips. The name of this awesome lake originates from the Maasai society who is indigenous of Ngorongoro. It is conspicuously known as Lake Makat which is the Maasai name for “salt”. The Swahili word ‘Magadi’ means soda and hence the name translates to Soda Lake. Lake Magadi is an alkaline lake with dry soda pans covering a total area of 7 square miles.
This soda lake was formed in natural depressions from which there are very limited outlets and minerals like sodium build up quickly. The waters of Lake Magadi are covered with blue-green algae which are the main source of food for the beautiful flamingos. These blooms which float on alkaline waters make the clear water of the lake look cloudy. They can be seen throughout the year but with a clear and better vision during summer. Many different animals can also be found along the lakeshore including rhino, eland, and lion. The lakeshore is also a good place to spot golden jackals that regularly hunt the flamingos.
8) Central Plains in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Grasslands dominate the central areas of the crater and offer tremendous game viewing. Gazelle and buffalo, wildebeest and zebra, elephant and even the rare black rhino live in concentrated numbers on the central plains. With so many prey animals, carnivores are abundant including lions and hyena. Other predators include bat-eared foxes and serval cats. There is a realistic chance to see cheetahs hunting on the open plains while the scattered ponds and waterholes are good places to watch lions rest and lie in ambush.
9) Lerai Forest in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Lerai is a Maasai word referring to the tall yellow barked acacias. The magical Lerai Forest provides one of the reasons why Ngorongoro is a must-visit during a Tanzania Wildlife tour. It is a special refuge for many different species of animals. Look for sly leopards perched high in the tree boughs, hiding in the leaves and dappled light. Also, watch for massive bull elephants ambling through shady thickets. These beautiful trees are old, gnarled by years of growing back the bark stripped off by elephants. The forest is also a special bird habitat, providing food and nesting sites for hoopoes, cuckoos, and weavers.
10) Rumbe Hills in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
These long grasslands are where thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and buffalo roam. With so many prey animals available, several species of carnivores are also abundant in these hills and this is a particularly good area to witness lions hunting buffalos. Since the animals here are well habituated to cars, the Crater has been home to some significant field studies over the years. There are usually up to 100 lions and 400 or more spotted hyenas on the Crater floor, the densest population of large predators in the world.
11) Munge Stream in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
This scenic and meandering stream provides water and forage for a host of animals. The Munge stream cuts through the crater wall and wanders across the floor of the crater before emptying into Lake Magadi. Leopards are very secretive though the best place to see them is in the trees that line the stream. Further upstream where the stream flows through the Rumbe Hills, there are large herds of buffalo and flocks of crowned cranes. Beautiful fig trees mark the border of the stream offering scenic backdrops for photography.
12) Mandusi Swamp in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Mandusi Swamp is a marshy floodplain formed by the Munge stream. The swamp is a special habitat: a refuge for elephants and hippos, hunting ground for predators, cover for small animals, reserve grazing for the large herds of wildebeest and zebra and a nesting site for birds. There are about 70 different bull elephants that are regular visitors to the Crater floor and Mandusi Swamp while breeding herds of elephants (cows and calves) wander only through the rim forests and are rarely seen on the floor.
13) Gorigor Swamp in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Gorigor Swamp is a refuge for elephants and hippos, as well as a profusion of water birds. The swamp is a vast area that is fed by Ngoitokitok Springs and runoff from the Crater walls. The area is a regular haunt for serval cats and also for lions and hyenas which use the thick cover to ambush other animals when they come to drink. The area to the northwest of the swamp is favoured by the Crater’s black rhino population and it is a particularly good location to get close up photographs of this critically endangered species.
14) Ngoitokitok Springs in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Stretch your safari legs and listen to the grunts of the local hippos at this scenic spot. Ngoitokitok is the name for the springs that bubble forth is such abundance that a small lake has formed before spreading into the nearby Gorigor Swamp. A small rock outcrop with a single fig tree adorns the lake edge and offers a wonderful photographic backdrop. The grassy strip around the lake is a popular resting area and a lovely spot for a bush picnic though beware of the large brown hawks that swoop down to snatch unattended food.
15) Gol Mountains in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Gol Mountains lie in the remote northern end of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, rising from the open short-grass plains to a height of 915m. The mountains are a series of ridges described by geologists as some of the oldest geological formations in the area. They were formed millions of years before the formation of Ngorongoro Crater.
The surroundings of the Gol Mountains are lush green during the rainy season, from March to early June, hosting thousands of herbivores, and in the next dry months, the vegetation turns dusty brown. It remains one of the most traditional corners of Tanzania, home to Maasai who still kill lions as their rite of passage into warriorhood.
16) Mounts Lolmalasin and Losirua in Ngorongoro
Mount Lolmalasin is the highest crater mountain in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and indeed, it is the third tallest mountain in Tanzania, reaching a height of 3,700m above sea level. Attached to Lolmalasin, but rising as an independent mountain, is Mount Losirua (3,260m). The two mountains are located near the eastern border of the Conservation Area, opposite the Olmoti Crater on the way to Empakaai Crater.
Mount Lolmalasin can be climbed by first driving to the Maasai villages of Olturotowas or Nainokanoka near their base, and hiking from there towards its peak. Climbing the mountain normally requires a game ranger, and the whole trip takes a day. The peak of Lolmalasin provides attractive views of the surrounding features of the conservation area.
17) Lake Ndutu and Lake Maseke in Ngorongoro
Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek are close to the border with Serengeti National Park on the western side of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. They form shallow basins where water accumulates from the nearby areas of slightly higher altitudes. The water in both lakes is extremely saline, too saline for human consumption. Lake Ndutu becomes alive with animals during the migration because it is surrounded by the Ndutu woodlands and the Short Grass Plains, which provide ample cover and food.
The area around the lakes is the staging ground and take-off point for the animal migration because it is surrounded by woodlands and the short grass plains, which provide ample cover and food.
18) Oldonyo Lengai at Ngorongoro
Located just outside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the north-east near Lake Natron, this Volcano, whose Maasai name means ‘Mountain of God’, has had a major influence on the development of the area. It rises 1830m above the Valley floor. Its ash has been blown westwards onto the plains and helped shape the landscape and ecology. It is the only active volcano in the area, having erupted in 2006 and more recently July 2007.
19) The Shifting Sands in Ngorongoro
North of Olduvai Gorge on the plains is a spectacular moving ash dune, famously known as Shifting Sands. It is a remarkable crescent-shaped, black dune, composed of volcanic ash from the active Oldonyo Lengai, reaching about 9 meters high and stretching about 100 meters at the curves. The dune is being blown slowly westward across the plains, at the rate of about 17 meters per year.
20) Olkarien Gorge in Ngorongoro conservation area
The Gorge is ecologically important because it is a vital nesting site of the Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture. The best time to visit Olkarien Gorge is from March to April when the vultures are breeding. This coincides with a migration when there is plenty of food available.
21) People and Culture in the Ngorongoro Conservation area
In addition to the beautiful scenery, archaeological wealth and abundant wildlife, Ngorongoro Conservation Area is also blessed with a proud people – the Maasai – a pastoral tribe that has maintained their traditional culture a great deal. Therefore, an interesting part of a safari in Tanzania to this area is a visit to a Maasai village to hear about their stories and traditional ways of life.
Before the Maasai, there were other tribes that also occupied Ngorongoro, some as cattle herders, like the Datoga, and others as hunters, like the Hadzabe; and then moved on, sometimes forced out by other groups. The Maasai colonized the area in substantial numbers, their traditional way of life allowing them to live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment. Approximately 100,000 Maasai live in the conservation area today tending their livestock without harming wildlife.
Visitors to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area can learn about the culture of the Maasai and take photographs or buy original Maasai handicrafts at designated areas known as cultural bomas. In order to safeguard the livelihood of these people and at the same time conserve the flora and fauna of the area, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority supports and initiates community-based projects, such as ecotourism in the form of these cultural bomas. In partnership with the Maasai council known as Ngorongoro Pastoral Council, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority oversees the progress of these cultural bomas and also enables Maasai guides to conduct walking safaris and other part-time work at the lodges and at the headquarters of the Conservation Area.
Tanzania Safari Activities in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Conservation Area offers a variety of Tanzania trip activities to visitors. Game drives and walking safaris are among the major highlight of a Tanzania vacation to Ngorongoro. Other activities include bird watching tours, camping, and cultural visits. These activities are conducted after paying a park entrance fee. The park entry fees include; East African Citizens-Above the age of 16 (adults)-Tanzania shillings (T.shs) 10,000; Aged 5 and below 16 years-T.shs 2000; Expatriates living in Tanzania-Adults-$30 and Children-$10; Non-East African Citizens-Adults-$60 and Children-$20
1) Game drives in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro provides an opportunity for visitors to do Tanzania wildlife tours all year round. Game-viewing safaris around the conservation area, and particularly entry into Ngorongoro Crater, are by 4×4 safari vehicles only. The game drives are done after descending down through the lush forest, once you reach down into the crater floor, where you reach down the secrete of nature. Descending takes around 20 minutes.
Game drives in Ngorongoro are best done in the morning hours. Morning game drives are so rewarding in that most of the animals are more activities as each looking for food of the day, Big cats are on the hunt while grazers look for fresh grass with due especially during the hot dry season. It is easy to see most of the big games during morning game drives like Rhinos who prefer grazing during cold times of the day, elephants, buffalos, lion, leopard.
The main route into the crater is the Seneto descent road, which enters the crater on its western side. To come out, use the Lerai ascent road, which starts south of Lake Magadi and leads to the rim near park headquarters. The Lemala road is on the northeastern side of the crater near Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge and is used for both ascent and descent.
The gates open at 6 am and close for descent at 4 pm; all vehicles must be out of the crater before 6 pm. Officially, you’re only allowed to stay down in the crater for a maximum of six hours. Self-drivers are supposed to hire a park ranger (US$23.60 per vehicle) for the crater. All fees are valid for 24 hours, single entry only.
2) Bird Watching in Ngorongoro Conservation area
Ngorongoro is a wonderland for a keen ornithologist. It hosts over 550 species of birds of which some are resident and others are migratory. The mixture of forest, canyons, grassland plains, Lakes and marshes provide habitats for a wide range of birdlife. The wet months see the arrival of the Eurasian migrants at the pools; white storks, yellow wagtails, and swallows mingle with the local inhabitants: flamingos, stilts, saddle-billed storks, ibises, Rufus, and various species of duck. Lake Magadi, a Salt Lake on the floor of the crater, is often inhabited by thousands of lesser flamingos and other water birds.
The forests of Ngorongoro are also abundant with birds, including species of turaco and hornbill. Raptors and scavengers are common on the plains of the conservation area. There is also the presence of distinctive grassland birds: ostriches, kori bustards, and crowned cranes.
3) Walking Safaris in Ngorongoro
Walking in and around Ngorongoro is adventurous and rewarding. Short hikes can be organized by the lodges in the area, or at the headquarters of Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, or through a reliable tour operator. Short walks include trekking down Empakai or Olmoti Craters. Long walks need more planning and are easily booked through tour operators. Long walks include trekking from Olmoti to Empakai, and down to the floor of the Great Rift Valley; trekking in the Northern Highlands Forest Reserve; and trekking in the Eastern Plains around Nasera Rock, Gol Mountains, and Olkarien Gorge.
Crater rim walks: Start your walk early in the morning from the Lemala gate on the eastern side of the crater. The track takes you through thick forests following the contours of the Ngorongoro Crater rim with stunning views of the crater floor below. You walk on an easy animal trail and may encounter local Masaai with cattle, see Schalow’s wheatear and mountain white eye very clearly and lastly excellent birding route with sightings of African Cyrill, golden-winged sunbirds, mountain buzzard and white-eyed slaty flycatcher.
Climb the flanks of the Olmoti volcano; Starting directly from The Highlands camp, the Olmoti climb follows an ancient Maasai cattle trail through mountain forest, grasslands, and rocky outcrops. Make the most of outstanding birding opportunities and the chance to see a vast array of butterfly species. At the top, you are rewarded with a magnificent view of the crater below.
Hike the Empakaai Crater; This is an energetic full day hiking experience right from the beautiful forests that encircle the Empakaai crater to the fabulous birdlife, impressive strangler figs. Ardent birdwatchers will have paradise here, and you will also have an opportunity to sight the Grey-headed Negro Finch, Crowned eagles, Barred tailed trogon, Greater and Lesser Flamingo and Steppe Eagles
A walk along Lake Eyasi: Enjoy a half-day walk through Masai villages and open grazing lands which will get you to enjoy the culture as well as their lifestyle. This coupled with spectacular views of Lake Eyasi you can never go wrong.
All walking safaris in Ngorongoro must be accompanied by an armed ranger.
Walking safari fees
East African Citizens
Short walks (1-4hours)-Adults T.shs 5000 and Children T.shs 2500
Long walks (above 4 hours)- Adults T.shs 10000 and children T.shs 5000
Endoro Trail and Elephant caves Adults Tosh 5000 and Children T.shs 2500
Non-East African Residents
Short walks (1-4hours)-Adults $20 and Children $10
Long walks (above 4 hours)- Adults $25 and children $15
Endoro Trail and Elephant caves- Adults $15 and Children $10
4) Archaeological Tours in Ngorongoro National Park
Special guided tours to archaeological sites, mainly the excavation sites at Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli, are rewarding for those who want to trace the life of the ancestors of man. It is required to have an official guide to visit the excavation sites. Both Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli can be visited at all times of the year.
Olduvai Gorge is an archaeological site and the cradle of Mankind mostly known as the home of the most primitive remains of Homo sapiens. From here you will then move to the crescent-shaped volcanic ash ridges famously identified as shifting sands that amazingly creep athwart the desert ground in response to the prevailing winds.
This amazing adventure is a must go to if you are looking for an unforgettable Tanzania holiday experience in the wild. It will get you to your toes and fill you with ecstasy. You also have a chance to visit the Olduvai Gorge Museum. One room is dedicated to Oldupai, the other to Laetoli. It’s a fascinating collection. You can then walk (or drive) into the gorge (where a small stone signpost marks the place where the fossils were discovered). You can also head out to the shifting sands, a 9m-high, 100m-long black dune of volcanic ash that has blown across the plain from Ol Doinyo Lengai. The turn-off to the museum is 27km northwest of Ngorongoro Crater’s Seneto descent road, and from the turn-off, it’s a further 5.5km along a rutted track to the museum.
Olduvai Gorge, Laetoli footprint and shifting sand tours fees include; East African citizens -Adults-Tanzania shillings 5000 and Children -Tanzania shillings 1000; Non-East African Citizens -Adults $ 30 for adults and $10 for children
5) Camping safaris in Ngorongoro Conservation area
Within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with the exception of Simba near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority headquarters, the campsites are all classified as “special campsites”. This means that they are for exclusive use and generally have no facilities. Usually, they are designed for self-sufficient safari operations which bring everything with them. Most are large sites, but a few of them, e.g. on the rim of Empakaai Crater, are designed for small numbers of backpackers. Camping generally is not allowed in the Crater itself. Book campsites through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority headquarters’ office or in Arusha – Ngorongoro Information Center.
Camping safaris fees:
Public campsite – East African citizens
|Age group||Rates per person per day (T.shs)|
|of or above the age of 16 years||10,000|
|children aged 5 years and below 16 years||5,000|
|children below 5 years||free|
T.shs (Tanzania shillings)
Special campsite – East African citizens
|Age group||Rates per person per day (T.shs)|
|of or above the age of 16 years||15,000|
|children aged 5 years and below 16 years||7,500|
|children below 5 years||free|
Public campsite –Non East African citizens
|Age group||Rates per person per day ($)|
|of or above the age of 16 years||30|
|children aged 5 years and below 16 years||10|
|children below 5 years||free|
Special Campsite – Non-East African Citizens
|Age group||Rates per person per day ($)|
|of or above the age of 16 years||60|
|children aged 5 years and below 16 years||30|
|children below 5 years||free|
6) Cultural Tours Ngorongoro Conservation Area
One can visit the Maasai Cultural bomas in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to learn more about their unique culture, to take photographs, and to buy souvenirs. There is uniqueness, beauty, classy unwritten story about the Masai people that anyone gets heterogeneously in perceptions. The best way to perceive the real story about this Masai people is by taking a Tanzania cultural tour to the Ngorongoro area. There is much more to deal with practically liken their dances, foods or unique dishes, cattle keeping, dressing and several others that you can only encounter on the ground, unlike the one who reads documentaries. These visits enrich any Tanzania cultural safari experience. There is an entrance fee to be paid but it is well worth it. Please be sensitive to the fact that it is considered bad manners to take photographs of people along the roadside.
The entry fee to cultural bomas is $20 per vehicle.
7) Photography and Filming Tourism in Ngorongoro
Photographers are advised to come with all the equipment desired for filming and photography. Cameras with telescopic lenses for telephotos are recommended because off-road driving is not allowed at all in the Area. At times the environment can be very dusty and therefore we recommend you bring with your protective gear such as dust cover, etc.
The best time for photography is early in the morning and late in the evening. Taking pictures of the Maasai along the road is strictly prohibited. This can be done with permission at designated places such as cultural Bomas. Remember to bring several fully charged batteries and devices with enough storage capacity.
Filming/ Photographic Fees: Every filming crew (Technical crew/personnel hired or involved directly in film production such as director(s), producer, cameramen, soundmen, lighting crews among others irrespective of his/her nationality) shall pay $ 300.00 per day or an equivalent amount in Tanzania shillings whereas payable fees cover entry, camping, guiding and filming but excludes crater service fee and aircraft motor vehicle fees. NCAA will receive a free copy of each film produced in addition to charges above and master tape for commercial films.
Tanzania Safari Accommodation in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
a) Ngorongoro Crater Lodge-Luxury
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is located on the edge of the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara National Park. The Lodge is in Ngorongoro Conservation Area and set just a few miles to the west of the crater ascent road.
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge Accommodation comprises;
Three (3) separate and intimate camps. The North camp has 12 suites, the south camp also contains 12 suites and the Tree camp features 6 suites.
Each suite consists of double rondavels with one section being the bedroom and the sitting area and the other being completely dedicated to the carnivorous bathroom.
The eccentric and creatively decorated interiors combine silver, gold and ruby colours under banana-leaf ceilings.
Furnishings and fixtures are bewildering and include a beaded chandelier, voluptuous raw silk curtains, various antiques, and handcrafted wooden structures. Every room comes with Crater Lodge’s exclusive butler service.
Your butler will discreetly tend to your every need including serving your meals in-suite, stoking your fireplace or mixing your drinks. The rooms at Crater Lodge are massive and magnificent.
First of all, every part of the room provides breathtaking views of the below Crater with floor to ceiling glass windows.
Just off from the bedroom is the sitting area complete with fireplace, two large leather-backed chairs, small table, and footstools. Directly in front of the bedroom is your own private wooden viewing deck.
The second section of your suite consists of the bathroom area, which is separated by an intricately carved wooden divider. The highlight of this section is the glorious bathtub and above are two-dozen red roses placed in an ornate vase.
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge Facilities and services include;
- Food and drink: The food at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is simply wonderful; extravagant, delectable, and stunningly presented with Crater Lodge flair.
- Private game drives into the wildlife-teeming amphitheatre of the Ngorongoro Crater
- Explore the famous archaeological site and museum at Olduvai Gorge
- Bush breakfasts
- Picnic lunches
- Well stocked safari boutique and gift shop
- Internet access at an additional fee
- A full library of books on Africa and a wide range of board games
- Full housekeeping services
- Hairdryers in all rooms
- Crater Lodge massage services at an additional fee
- Laundry service is included in your safari package
- All beverages such as soft drinks, beer, house wine, spirits are included in your safari package.
- The Crater Lodge can provide some of the best game viewing drives into the crater and Ngorongoro Conservation Area that
- East Africa can offer. Bushwalks around the lodge are also available, as well as excursions to Olduvai Gorge.
- For those that want to take some “time out” from the rigours of a game drive, you are invited to use the Library and indoor board games.
- Other facilities include a central dining area/lounge, a craft, and curio shop and a kart for ferrying luggage/guests to the camps
b) Lemala Ngorongoro Tented Camp-Luxury
Lemala Ngorongoro is intimately set in a delightful ancient acacia forest close to the rim of the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater. As it is located next to the quiet Lemala crater access road on the eastern side, a key advantage of staying at Lemala Ngorongoro is the quick and easy drive down on to the crater floor in the morning.
Lemala guests usually have an hour’s head start over others descending via the far busier Seneto crater access road on the western rim. Game drives from camp may start as early as 6.15 am and guests can be down among Ngorongoro’s abundant wildlife on the floor within 10-15 minutes – crucial for photographers who demand the best light conditions.
Accommodation at Lemala Ngorongoro Tented camp comprises;
9 spacious tents that are positioned carefully to provide privacy and with minimal impact on the pristine forest environment.
They accommodate 2 queen-size beds, and as it can get cool on the Ngorongoro Crater rim at night, little luxuries like warm winter-weight duvets, hot water bottles, and gas heaters ensure a cosy night’s sleep.
The roomy en-suite bathrooms contain a dressing area, flush toilet, and a large safari-style shower.
The mess tent is beautifully furnished with grand sofas, lamps, bookshelves, and corner cabinets in old wood, chests, and rugs.
Facilities and services at Lemala Ngorongoro Tented camp comprises;
- 24-hr solar electricity with a back-up generator
- Mess tent with adjoining lounge and bar
- Complimentary internet in the lounge and bar
- Complimentary laundry (limited services only)
- Charging facilities for devices in the lounge and bar
- 4×4 game-viewing vehicles
- The nearest airstrip is Manyara, just a 75-minute drive away
- Complimentary drinks (except for premium wines and spirits)
- In the evening, guests can gather around the campfire to exchange tales of the day’s safari followed by a sumptuous hearty meal.
c) Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge-Luxury
Facing the always magnificent sunsets to the west, and located at the highest point on Ngorongoro crater’s entire rim, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge stands well over half a kilometre above the crater floor and offers unparalleled views across this enormous caldera. Themed around traditionally circular African houses with conical roofs, and decorated with examples of Africa’s rich tapestry of artistic traditions by way of rich woodcarvings and sculptures, the lodge harmonizes perfectly with its dramatic surroundings. But the drama does not just stop with the great outdoors: it also flows through the split level interiors of the main building which all offer an unsurpassed generosity of space while somehow managing to combine an almost magically welcoming ambience of both warmth and cosiness.
Accommodation at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
97 rooms. Includes 5 interconnecting rooms & 1 wheelchair accessible room. Each room has central heating; hot water bottles are placed in every bed during our evening turndown service; and the luxuriously appointed bathrooms have extremely spacious showers under which you can reminisce about the wonders of this awesome, almost magically mystical place called Ngorongoro. Rooms include a single suite, double suite and triple suite.
- TV in the conference room,
- out-door dining
- swimming pool
- gift shop
- WiFi in public areas.
d) Serena Ngorongoro Lodge-Luxury
Clinging to the Crater rim beneath river stone and a cloak of native vines, our accommodation is so seamlessly entwined with the landscape, guests can’t help but feel as one with the natural surroundings. With a private stone balcony opening onto the blue-green vastness of the Crater floor below, it’s like you’re living alone in the “cradle of mankind.”
Accommodation at Serena Ngorongoro Lodge include;
74 guest rooms and one suite at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge blend the almost indescribable beauty and magnitude of the Ngorongoro Crater with unparalleled standards for comfort and service. Interiors feature brass lamps, embossed leather headboards, wildwood mirrors, Maasai carvings, and stylized cave paintings. The guest experience is enhanced with modern comforts like complimentary wireless Internet and 24-hour room service.
Standard Rooms at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge feature elegant interior spaces infused with a locally inspired décor and private stone balconies overlooking the Crater.
- Free Wi-Fi
- Coffee/tea making station
- Mineral water
- Work desk and chair
- Bathrobe and slippers
- 24-Hour room service
- Private balcony
- Eco Boutique bath amenities
- Laundry, valet, and shoeshine services
- 24-hour medical service
- Children’s meals, beds, babysitting
The spacious bedroom is luxuriously appointed with a king bed with walk-in mosquito net, sumptuous furnishings, a dressing area, and a natural stone ensuite bathroom. The elegantly appointed sitting room enjoys panoramic views and is tastefully and relaxingly furnished while offering a fully stocked mini-bar, digital multi-channel TV and direct dial telephone. The room also features a generous stone-built balcony overlooking the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater. 24-hour room service is available and fruit and wine will be laid out to welcome you.
- Bedroom with king bed
- Welcome gift of fruit and wine
- Sitting room with mini-bar
- Flat-screen TV with cable and satellite channels
- DVD player
- Free Wi-Fi
- Coffee/tea making station
- Mineral water
- Work desk and chair
- Bathrobe and slippers
- 24-Hour room service
- Private balcony
- Eco Boutique bath amenities
Facilities and services at Serena Ngorongoro Lodge include;
Restaurant: The Main Restaurant at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge is beautifully designed in the traditional style and décor of Tanzania to create an enchanting dining experience. Savour a delightful range of local and international cuisines crafted from the finest and freshest meats, produce and ingredients. Featuring charming stone-built architecture, a glowing fireplace and walls adorned with prehistoric cave paintings and flickering torchlight, the elegant yet relaxed dining space is ideal for any taste and occasion. Floor-to-ceiling windows and double doors leading out on to an expansive terrace complement each meal with panoramic views of the Ngorongoro Crater.
Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style and feature a wide range of international choices. In typical safari style, we offer a full English breakfast as well as European options while our lunch menus include meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian options. The table d’hôte dinner menus feature a salad buffet, soup, entrée, pudding, cheese and biscuits, and tea or coffee. Vegetarian options are always available. The majority of our meat and dairy products, as well as our fruits and vegetables, are sourced from local communities. Kindly note that our restaurant caters to any special dietary requirements our guests may have.
- Rock built dining room and bar with a central fire
- Extensive viewing terraces
- Game drives into the Crater daily
- Wedding planning and honeymoon venue
- Gift shop and business centre
- Tented conference centre
- An extensive selection of sports and activities
- Cultural dance and music
- TV room with satellite TV
- Safe-deposit box in room
- Coffee/tea maker station
- Telephone in room
e) Ang’ata Ngorongoro Camp-Luxury
The camp is set on the Eastern side of the Ngorongoro Crater’s rim close to the Crater Lodge. Just inside the park boundaries, our location permits early game drives down to the crater leaving you almost alone to discover this World Heritage Site. Up to 25.000 animals call the crater their home except for the Maasai Giraffes who cannot cope with the steep slopes of the crater. The main attraction, and also the most elusive are the 23 Black Rhinoceroses that live inside the crater, maybe the one and only chance to see them in the wild. Massai Bomas is located a few kilometres away for those who wish to meet the Maasai.
Accommodation at Ang’ata Ngorongoro Camp comprises;
The smallest camp with 8 Guest Tents including a 2 tent Family unit, a lounge, and a dining tent. Each guest tent has an en-suite bathroom with a shower, vanity desk and flush toilets. Depending on request a Kingsize bed or 2 Twin beds or triples are available.
Facilities and services at Ang’ata Ngorongoro Camp include;
The lounge is the place to meet other travellers and share your day’s Safari stories while enjoying a complimentary cup of Tanzanian Coffee or Tea.
Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are served in the dining tent, freshly prepared by our Chefs on a daily basis.
Bush TV (local name for campfire) is lit when the weather permits.
f) Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge-Luxury
Set in 50 acres of virgin Tanzanian bush in the Ngorongoro volcanic landscape, this all-suites wood log cabin style retreat is located a few steps from the Game Reserve Gate and 20 minutes’ drive away from the Ngorongoro Crater that is said to have the densest concentration of wildlife in Africa.
This all-inclusive property features 20 spacious private log cabins with a fireplace, a restaurant, a bar, and conference facilities. Indulge in moments of relaxation at the swimming pool or at the Earth & Rain Spa after a full-day game drive.
Accommodation at Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge comprises;
20 luxury suites (130 m²) in individual cottages with open fireplaces in the bedroom and living room and large private viewing terraces with sofa and dining area.
Facilities in the luxury suite include:
- King Size canopy bed with fine linens
- Butler on call
- En- suite facilities with solar water heating
- Spacious bathroom
- Large shower
- Two hand washbasins
- Private WC
- Comfortable living room with armchairs, sofa bed and coffee table
- In-room safe
Restaurants and services at Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge comprises;
Restaurants: The formal dining room features an outdoor terrace and offers a healthy buffet option and à la carte for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with light and tasty Mediterranean cuisine fused with local dishes. The majority of the meat, fruits, and dairy products are sourced from our vegetable garden and from the communities that surround the conservation area
Pool dinner and sundowner cocktails are organized with reservation in the dedicated area around the lodge and are served around campfires to give guests the truly Neptune safari experience
Bars: Relax and enjoy your favourite drink or cocktail when reading one of the numerous safaris and Africa dedicated books available at the lodge. The traditionally decorated ambience offers a peaceful and calm atmosphere during the day and in the early evenings.
Spa: After a long day of exploration in the African wilderness, there is no better way of finishing the day than by indulging yourself in a pampering session that will immediately relax and soothe your mind and body. Earth & Rain Spa is an oasis of tranquillity where you can enjoy relaxing and invigorating massages, face and body treatments, and many other signature treatments while being captured into the curative atmosphere of the unspoiled African bush
Internet services-Free Wifi
Lounge-with a fireplace
g) Lion’s paw Camp-Luxury
Nestled beneath a quiet grove of red thorn acacia trees, high atop the eastern rim of the Ngorongoro Crater is Lions Paw Camp. One of the only a few tented properties located in the Ngorongoro Crater Area, this camp was carefully selected for its sense of privacy and intimacy with nature, its panoramic views of the Crater Highlands, and its proximity to the crater floor, a mere 10 minutes!
Throughout the year Lions Paw Camp provides the opportunity to view Lions, Cheetahs, Elephant, and Buffalo, but even more exciting is the chance to see the rare Black Rhino.
Accommodation at Lion’s paw camp comprises;
8 ample- sized heated canvas tents with large sleeping quarters. Rooms include single, double, twin, triple and family rooms. The Family tent is comprised of two separate bedrooms and a shared bathroom.
Camp facilities and services include;
- Ensuite Hot Shower
- Flush Toilet
- Mosquito Netting
- Laundry Service
- 24 Hour Electricity
- PowerPoints for Charging Electronics
- Separate Dining Area
- Lounge and Bar Area
- Beverage Supplement Available
- Special Dietary Considerations
- Nightly Campfires
- Radio Communication in Each Tent
h) Ngorongoro Forest Tented Lodge-Midrange
Ngorongoro Forest Tented Lodge is centrally situated on the northern safari circuit in Tanzania. Close to Lake Manyara National Park and the gate to Ngorongoro Crater, it’s the perfect stopover between the two. Using Ngorongoro Forest Tented Lodge as a base for a few days you can also visit Tarangire National Park (about 1hr 30mins away) and Lake Eyasi (30mins away) as well as explore the region around Karatu where there are many hiking/walking opportunities and possibilities for cultural exchanges.
Accommodation at Ngorongoro Forest Tented Lodge comprises;
12 en-suite tent situated under a canopy of acacia and other indigenous trees and connected by a wooden walkway. Some tents come with an outdoor shower as well as an indoor one. Triples are possible and we also have family tents.
Each tent has a spacious veranda where you can relax and enjoy the view of the Ngorongoro Forest, listening to the sounds of birds flitting through the trees. Comfortably furnished with double or twin beds, crisp linen, and warm blankets for our cool nights, you’ll find everything you need here.
- Ten large permanent tents set under a canopy of trees
- En-suite facilities
- Triples possible
- Family tents
- Private veranda
- Comfortably furnished
Facilities and services at Ngorongoro Forest Tented Lodge comprises;
- Food and Dining: Meals are continental style, prepared by talented chefs and served by competent staff in the rustic yet comfortable main area that’s a combined bar, lounge and dining room.
- Dining room and lounge
- Standby Room Steward
- Rooftop lounge
- View-point banda (available for private honeymoon dining)
- ‘Boma’ for evening campfires
- Professional guide on site
- 24-hour security team
- 24-Hour Standby Generator
- Swimming Pool
- Free Wi-Fi
- Complimentary Coffee & Tea Station
i) Hhando Coffee Lodge-Midrange
This property is located on 15 acres of coffee farm sailing like an ark along with the primaeval of the Ngorongoro Crater conservation area which is a world heritage site in the volcanic high land of Tanzania.
Accommodation at Hhando Coffee Lodge comprises;
10 superb cottages and 3 family Bungalows all with fireplace in each room and consists of a bathroom, bedroom, verandah offers clear forest air and superb forest viewing over the farmland. Enjoy nature, visit the coffee farm and experience the wild right from your room.
Facilities and services at Hhando Coffee Lodge comprises;
- Swimming pool,
- Restaurant with open fireplace allows panoramic views of the Ngorongoro forest and farmland
- Bar with 2 open fireplaces,
- Wakeup calls coffee/tea
- Room service available for unwell,
- Disable access,
- Laundry service
- Barbeques with born fire on request
j) Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge-Midrange
Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge is strategically perched on the rim of this ‘Garden of Eden’, affording unbelievable views plunging down over the crater floor, 7,500 feet above sea level. The Lodge is elegantly built mainly from natural stone and local wood, harmoniously merging with its natural surroundings, and it is provided with panoramic windows that encompass superb views of the Crater’s great bowl.
Accommodation at Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge comprises;
80 spacious guestrooms, all of them affording fabulous views over the crater. Exquisitely decorated, offering a serene atmosphere of elegance, the modern rooms are all ensuite, with central heating systems and mosquito netting over the air vents.
The 80 rooms include twin rooms, double rooms (with one double bed), one Presidential suite and three Junior suites. There are also interconnecting rooms, specially designed for families. The Presidential Suite has been host to world-renowned personalities who have enjoyed the magical experience of wildlife from the top location that Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge enjoys, being the first Lodge built on the Ngorongoro Crater.
Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge Facilities Include;
Restaurant: The panoramic restaurant, in its serene decoration made of rock and wood elements, elegantly featuring the safari atmosphere, perfectly combines the international high standards of hospitality and service with exquisite exotic touches of the local lifestyle.
Lounge and bar: The stunning Rhino Lounge Bar affords from its wide terrace and panoramic windows breathtaking views over the volcanic Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest unbroken caldera; giant binoculars are strategically placed along the balcony edge, through which it is possible to view game way down on the floor of the crater.
Craft shop: Guests can acquire in the exclusive Boutique memories to take home with them (clothing, films, carvings, etc.) and ideal gifts for their beloved people.
TV lounge: In the TV lounge with DSTV, one can stay informed on events in the rest of the world; also, in the TV lounge videos are displayed with informative explanations of the amazing natural spectacle that our privileged guests are directly living!
Well–stocked library: In the well-stocked library, there is complete information about the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, its natural landscape, archaeological sites, and tribal groups.
k) Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge-Midrange
Ideally located on the edge of the Ngorongoro crater rim, Rhino Lodge offers a perfect base from which to explore the Ngorongoro crater and its surroundings. The lodge is situated at an altitude of 2,200 meters, a few hundred meters back from the rim of the Crater. What it loses in terms of the outlook over the Crater, it more than makes up for with its views of the untouched high montane forest with Mount Oldeani (3,200 meters) dominating the background, and Mount Makarot in the distance (3130 meters).
Accommodation at Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge comprises;
24 guest rooms, all with a verandah overlooking a stretch of high montane forest. Each room has its own shower, toilet and hand basin.
To keep away the cold each room has a wood-burning stove, and hot water bottles can be filled if you want one.
Facilities and services at Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge comprises;
Bar and restaurant: In the bar/dining-room there are two large fires which are a natural focus where our guests like to meet and exchange stories of the day. The new extended wooden deck offers an incredible viewpoint from were overlooking the forest and the roaming wildlife, such as buffalos and waterbucks while having the sundowner warmed by the deck fire. Hot, tasty food is available from the buffet.
Traditional dances; after dinner, our Maasai staff may entertain you with some traditional dancing.
Craft shop: The Lodge’s shop will help you to find the souvenirs to bring back home.
Laundry services: laundry service available at extra charge
l) Ngorongoro Oldeani Mountain Lodge-Midrange
O’ldeani Ngorongoro Mountain Lodge is a colonial lodge situated on a picturesque hill with spectacular views of Oldeani Mountain and the Ngorongoro Crater Rim. The lodge is elevated, featuring spectacular views that extend all the way to Lake Eyasi and Lake Manyara.
Accommodation at Ngorongoro Oldeani Mountain Lodge include;
Each Suite has its own spacious private veranda & viewing deck, with en-suite bathrooms that have slipper baths with views over the highlands, inside & outside showers and double basins. All Suites have a minibar, Wi-Fi Connectivity, electronic safe, tea/coffee percolator, and option to choose between double/twin beds.
Luxury 2 Bedroom Villas
Each Suite has its own spacious private veranda & viewing deck, with en-suite bathrooms that have slipper baths with views over the highlands, inside & outside showers and double basins. All Suites have a minibar, Wi-Fi Connectivity, electronic safe, tea/coffee percolator, and option to choose between double/twin beds.
- Air Conditioning
- Balcony / Deck
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Detached Private Bathroom
- Disabled Rooms
- Electrical Outlets
- Hair Dryer
- Laundry Facilities
- Lounge Area
- Mini-Bar (Complimentary)
- Mosquito Nets
- Outside Shower
- Tea / Coffee
Getting to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Most visitors approach the Ngorongoro Conservation Area from the town of Arusha, about 173 kilometres away. The road from Arusha to Ngorongoro Conservation Area is good and is paved; it enters the Conservation Area through the Loduare Gate near the town of Karatu.
Another common entry point is from the west, from Serengeti National Park, on a gravel road through Naabi Hill Gate. It is also possible to get to Ngorongoro Conservation Area by flying a charter plane. There is an airstrip on the crater rim, close to the headquarters of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Starting in Arusha town, you may visit the various parks in the Tanzania Northern Safari Circuit using chartered flights or you may decide to drive and complete this adventurous circuit by road. Usually, your tour operator will receive you at the airport and then make all ongoing arrangements, as well as the charter flight into the park as per your arrangements.
The most recommended option to reach Arusha town is to fly into the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), which is located approximately 46k kilometres or 29 miles from Arusha. It is as well possible to directly fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), found close to the capital city Dar es Salaam and then fly to Arusha Airport (ARK). The other alternative is to reserve a cheaper flight into Kenya’s capital city Nairobi, and then take a shuttle bus to the town of Arusha.
Domestic flights to Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Normally these charter flights are reserved by your safari/tour operator all as part of your safari package. You may make reservations for your Domestic flights with any of the domestic carrier such as Air Tanzania, Precision Air, Regional Air, ZanAir, Safari Air Link, or Coastal Aviation
Game-viewing safaris around Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and particularly entry into Ngorongoro Crater, are restricted to four-wheel-drive vehicles (4WD) only.
There are various tour companies that offer safari service to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and other wildlife areas in northern Tanzania, usually as part of a tour package. For visitors who have no experience of African travel, an organized tour is highly recommended. Details of tour companies that can arrange your safari can be obtained from a travel agent, or from the Tanzania Tourist Board, or from the Tanzania Confederation of Tourism. Most tour companies offer full packages that include transport, entry fees, accommodation, and transfers from airports.