The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ngorongoro Conservation Area is an ancient inactive collapsed volcanic caldera. It is the largest in the world of its kind and home to over 30,000 animal species. The Maasai tribe graze there as well, thus cohabiting according to their original lifestyle and it is a must-see spot for anyone visiting Tanzania. Check out this comprehensive Ngorongoro Conservation Area guide and safari tips. This one is for keeps.
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How to Reach
You have to be in Tanzania to be able to visit this site and I have not included country visa regulations in this Ngorongoro Conservation Area guide. So, once you are in this east African country, there are two options of reaching your destination.
The Arusha airport is closest to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It also serves as the gateway to Serengeti, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire. However, it is connected with Dar es Salaam or any other international destination via the Kilimanjaro International Airport. So air travelers usually fly into Kilimanjaro to board a transfer to Arusha Airport. Overnight in Arusha is mandatory since most international flights have late night arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport.
Every Ngorongoro Conservation Area recommends an overnight stay in Arusha, before heading off for the safari. The conservation area is around 4 hours drive from Arusha and safaris and all transfers in the Ngorongoro Crater are conducted by official guides or companies in open 4×4 vehicles.
Best Time to Visit
Ngorongoro Conservation Area guide needs to focus on the time since there are various factors which affect your game sighting, budget etc.
Peak season or the Wildebeest Migration Season
The dry months of June until September are considered to be the peak season and at this time you can witness the iconic Wildebeest Migration from Tanzania to Kenya. The best spots for this experience are at the banks of the Grumeti or Mara Rivers. Any trip during this period guarantees large crowds and inflated prices.
The rainy season lasts throughout April and May. Known as the green season, prices drop considerably at this time and the park is not so full of people. The crater dons a lush shade of green and it is a nature photographer’s dream come true. Camping is out of the question at this time.
Duration of the Visit
Ngorongoro Conservation Area guide is often clubbed with Serengeti since both the parks are usually combined as multi-day safaris. One day is enough to enjoy the sights of this ancient caldera and it is only 100 square miles in area. The adjoining Serengeti National Park, however, boasts of a larger 12,000 square miles of savannah and most travelers camp there for the night after a day trip to Ngorongoro Crater.
Where to Stay While Visiting the Ngorongoro Crater?
Every Ngorongoro Conservation Area guide vouches for the expensive accommodations located on the rim of the crater. They are very relaxing places and offer amazing views along with easy access to the park. The more modest budget option is to stay at Karatu in the Ngorongoro Highlands and this means leaving the lodge very early for safaris.
The most pocket-friendly option is to camp at designated campsites in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. There are many tour companies offering a complete package of camping equipment, cook, and driver. All the campsites have communal bathrooms, showers, and kitchen areas.
Midrange budget travelers can opt for glamping experience in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. These camps have private bathrooms, hot showers and gourmet meals food cooked up by an onsite chef.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area has plenty of absolutely magnificent luxury lodges which have catered to A-list celebrities from all over the world. Choose one, if you have the money for a truly unbeatable experience at the Ngorongoro Crater.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area guide on what to see
The wide-open expanse of the crater makes it very easy to spot the animals wandering across the valley. The crater is brimming with animals and you can expect to see the Big Five. So, keep your eyes peeled for elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceroses and cape buffalo. There are also large flocks of neon pink flamingos, hippos, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, gazelles, wildebeest, and leopard (if you lucky).
What to pack for a safari?
- waterproof backpack
- comfortable loose clothes
- a light sweater and a scarf
- a waterproof jacket
- sturdy walking shoes
- sunglasses and/or a hat
- sunscreen and insect repellent
- camera, phone, and chargers
- binoculars (optional)
- a flashlight
- antihistamines, painkillers and rehydration medicine
Ngorongoro Conservation Area Guide on how to book a safari
Although self-driving in the crater is allowed, it is highly recommended to book a guided tour with a driver. Check the vehicles offered by the companies before booking your safari and most jeeps have a pop-up tops for better viewing from the comfort and safety of the vehicle. Most tour guides know where to look for each animal and they also communicate with each other to report exciting sightings. It makes sense to meet your guide/driver before the safari to let him know what you wish to see. Most importantly, reach the crater as early as possible for maximum animal sighting.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area Official Costs
Self-drivers need to pay a 295 USD vehicle fee on top of the daily fee of 71 USD per person for being in the park. All these fees have to be paid in advance at either a CRDB bank in Arusha or Exim Bank in Arusha or Karatu, since the park does not accept cash or card payment on site. For more updated information, check out the Ngorongoro Crater Official Website
Planning a safari may seem daunting and I hope this Ngorongoro Conservation Area guide has helped answer some of your questions. Drop in a line for any updates, questions, and feedback and stay tuned for the unforgettable Serengeti National Park.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE