Ngorongoro Crater is Africa's finest Eden, a wonderfully abundant volcanic hole that contains just about every animal you'd want to see. With mist swirling and lions prowling, descending onto the caldera floor at sunrise is one of the most iconic safari experiences.
What can you find in Ngorongoro Conservation Area?
If your idea of safari is ticking off intimate encounters then it's impossible to rival Ngorongoro Crater. Sometimes you don't know which way to look; the lions beside you, the rhinos on the grassland, the giant elephant in the distance, or the hippos in the lake. Six different habitats juxtapose on the surprisingly small caldera floor, creating a home for 30,000 mammals. In one sweeping view you get zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, reedbuck, hyena, and a lake-tinged pink by incalculable flamingos.
We can't recall visiting Ngorongoro and not spotting lions in pursuit of a kill. Sometimes you're close enough to see a black and white limb getting tossed aside or hear the crunch as a pride tears through bone. There are also leopards in the woodland, making is possible to see the full big five in a single game drive.
Visiting the crater.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area incorporates a large sweep of mountainous savannah that borders the Serengeti. Ngorongoro Crater is the famous safari destination within the conservation area and you'll need an additional permit to descend onto the volcanic floor. Only game drives are possible and every vehicle is limited to six hours in an attempt to ease overcrowding.
The road from the Serengeti passes through Ngorongoro, another reason why it's insanely popular here. We've discovered that timing means everything. The crater gate opens at sunrise and the first two morning hours showcase Ngorongoro at its most magical; cats hunting, wildebeest rutting, elephant roaming, rhinos in the open. All this can be discovered before the hoards of other vehicles have arrived for their day trips.
There are plenty of amazing lodges and camps near by.
Staying at a luxury lodge or camp on the crater rim puts you in prime position for a sunrise entry. We also recommend a couple of nearby lodges that understand the importance of an early start. Popularity makes the accommodation some of the priciest in Africa, but Ngorongoro is one of Africa's most special destinations.
If you're only going on safari for one day then Ngorongoro should be top of your list. If you're going on an East Africa safari for two weeks, then we can't imagine missing out on this sublime crater experience.