The Ngorongoro Conservation area includes the Ngorongoro
Crater at its centre and extends through the Crater
Highlands. It is here that in local tribes live and are
permitted to maintain their traditional lifestyles in as
natural an environment as possible. In addition to tourists,
Maasai villagers grazing their sheep and cattle are a common
sight. Ngorongoro Crater is sometimes regarded as the 8th
Wonder of the World. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1978,
this deep volcanic crater is the largest unbroken caldera in
the world and is 19.2 kilometer in diameter, 610 meters deep
and 304 square kilometers in area. The crater was formed
some eight million years ago when the cone of an active
volcano estimated to be larger than Kilimanjaro collapsed.
The crater floor consists of a number of ecological
environments that include grassland, swamps, forests and
Lake Makat, a central soda lake filled by the Munge River.
Although animals are free to move in and out of this
contained environment, the rich volcanic soil, lush forests
and spring source lakes on the crater floor tend to incline
both grazers and predators to remain here throughout the
year. The extraordinary volcanic landscape is extremely
fertile and the high altitude creates a malaria-free
climate.The rich pasture and permanent water of the
Ngorongoro Crater floor supports a large resident population
of wildlife including wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, buffalo,
eland, hartebeest and warthog. The swamps and forest provide
additional resources for hippo, elephant, waterbuck,
reedbuck, and bushbuck, baboons and vervet monkeys. The
steep inner slopes provide a habitat for dik dik and the
rare mountain reedbuck. Predatory animals in the Ngorongoro
Crater like leopards, lion, cheetah, serval cat, live off
the abundant wildlife; large packs of hyena roam the Crater,
making their own kills and scavenging from others. Although
they are commonly seen in the nearby Serengeti National
Park, giraffe, impala and topi are not seen in the Crater.
It is not apparent as to why the later are missing, but
giraffes are not found in the Crater due to the lack of
acacia trees in which they graze as well as the steep
descent into the Crater which giraffes may find to be
Although there are no lodges located within the Crater, the
Ngorongoro safari lodges are situated on the rim of the
crater, which is approximately 7,264 feet above sea level.
It can get very cold at night in the winter months of June
to August, and even though it is cool in the morning is hot
down in the crater during the day. The weather is usually
dry from June to November. July is the coldest month and
highland temperatures may fall below freezing.
A visit to this magnificent crater is recommended anytime of
the year, with the main rainfall occurring between November
and May with the longer rains in April to May. The amount
and pattern of rainfall varies and a dry period in January
and February may split the rainy season into short and long
rains. The rain usually arrives in stormy showers usually
during the afternoons and nights which cleans the air to
provide clear views.
Even though you will find many tourist and other vehicles in
the Crater, the opportunity of spending a few hours or
longer on the floor of the Crater is one not to be missed.
Our itineraries usually start the descent into the Crater at
6am to avoid the crowds and make the most of game viewing in
the “big five” territory.
Safaris take you to: