Ngorongoro Crater offers an experience of a lifetime. There is a chance that you will see all of the Big Five in just one day here and all this in a beautiful setting with a backdrop of the 600m/1,968ft-high crater wall.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is remarkable in every way. Besides the famous Ngorongoro Crater, Olmoti and Empakaai craters are also scenic. Flocks of flamingos can be spotted in both Empakaai and Ngorongoro crater. The forested crater rim here is in contrast with the crater floor. This crater field consists mostly of grassland. You will also have an opportunity to see the Lerai forest, which is an amazing yellow fever tree forest.
The main attraction of the Conservation Area is the famous Ngorongoro Crater: a volcano that is extinct and often compared to the Garden of Eden. The crater offers great wildlife viewing and all major animals can be spotted. The giraffe is the only animal that is absent, but you can see it in the Conservation area. Elephants are common, as well as all big cats. The density of spotted hyena is quite amazing.
One of the main features of the crater is the black rhino. Rhinos are not that easy to spot in Tanzania, especially because rhino is usually shy and sticks to thick vegetation. This is not the case in the crater, where black rhino has a predictable routine spending the day in the open grassland and the night in Lerai forest. Visitors will also have a chance to see a golden and black-backed jackal in the crater.
Best Time to Visit
Ngorongoro Crater offers ideal wildlife viewing throughout the year. The best time for wildlife viewing here is in the Dry Season (June to September) simply because the grass on the crater floor is shorter during this time of year. Wet season months that last from November to May offer beautiful and lush scenery.
June to October –Dry Season
- The grass is shorter, so it’s easier to spot animals.
- There is little rain and plenty of sunshine.
- There are fewer mosquitos and the chance of getting malaria is minimal.
- The Ngorongoro crater gets overcrowded with tourists.
- Bring warm clothing, as mornings and nights tend to be cold.
November to May –Wet Season
- Excellent wildlife viewing is possible in Ngorongoro Crater even in the Wet season.
- The scenery is beautiful.
- Better rates and fewer tourists can be found during the low season which occurs in April and May.
- Rains are mostly short afternoon storms at the beginning of the Wet season. Heavy rain can be expected in March, April, and May.
- The peak of the Wet season runs from March to May.
- Pack warm clothing, since its cold during the nights and mornings.
The visit to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is usually a part a bigger package, including a visit to the Serengeti. The conservation area is a three-hour ride from Arusha, which is the starting point of safaris in the northern part of the country.
The easiest way to visit the parks of the northern circuit from Arusha is with scheduled and chartered flights. You can also drive in a safari vehicle and explore that whole circuit. One of the most popular options is to fly to Serengeti and go back by a safari vehicle via the Ngorongoro crater. The tour operator is usually in charge of picking you up from the airport.
If you are coming from the Seronera area in the Serengeti, expect the driving time to the crater to be about three hours, as the distance is 140km/90mi. Wildlife viewing is possible along the way, but the ride takes much longer. The distance between Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater is 80km/50 mi and it will take you two hours by a vehicle to cover this distance. The drive from Tarangire takes about two hours.
Flying to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is the best option to reach the town of Arusha. The airport is located 46km/29 mi from Arusha. You can also fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), which is situated close to Dar es Salaam and fly to Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). The last option is to book a cheap flight to Nairobi in Kenya and reach Arusha via a shuttle bus.
Airlines & Ticket Prices
To see which airlines can take you to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK) check Skyscanner. Check Expedia for multiple destination flights and to find out how much money you will need to spend on the tickets.
In most cases, the tour operator books the charter flights between the parks as a part of the safari tour. Several carriers offer domestic flights.
- Coastal Aviation flies to Arusha and Kilimanjaro Airport
- Regional Air flies to Arusha and Kilimanjaro Airport
- ZanAir flies to Arusha
- Fastjet flies to Kilimanjaro Airport
- Air Tanzania flies to Arusha and Kilimanjaro Airport
- Precision Air flies to Arusha and Kilimanjaro Airport