Destination Review: The Ngorongoro Crater


The Ngorongoro Crater, a marvel of nature in every sense of the word. One visit to this destination and you’ll feel like you’ve gained a glimpse into what the Garden of Eden must have looked like. It has a fairly consistent circumference of about 19 km’s across from one side to the other and when viewed from the rim of the crater 200 meters from ground level, you’ll enjoy a view so beautiful that it will leave you jaw-dropped.

Experts believe that the Ngorongoro Crater is home to about 30 000 animals. The most sought-after would be the large population of lions and elephant bulls. There are about 4 lion prides that call the world’s largest unbroken caldera home and to find & see them on safari is an absolute treat.

The elephant bulls on the crater floor are often dwarfed by the magnificent landscape around them. Well, that is until you get up close to one of these magnificent specimens. There are some impressive tuskers to be seen and the photographic opportunities are stunning.

Furthermore, you will see buffalo, hippo, wildebeest, zebra, Grant’s gazelle, Thompson’s gazelle, hyena, jackals and much more. A highlight of the fever tree forest sections are the large troops of baboons. They are very habituated and relaxed around the safari vehicles and always tend to put up a bit of a show for onlookers. If you are very lucky you may also see some of the more elusive inhabitants. These would include African wild cat, Caracal and Leopard. These are special to see regardless of where you are in the world, and especially so in the stunning setting that is the Ngorongoro Crater! 

At a Glance, The Ngorongoro Crater

·       Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera.

·       The crater, which formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago, is 610 meters (2,000 feet) deep and its floor covers 260 square kilometers (100 square miles).

·       It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.

·       It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

·       The crater was named by the Maasai pastoralists after the sound produced by the cowbell – “ngoro ngoro”

·       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 1. The brothers regularly organized shooting parties to entertain their German friends. They also attempted to drive the wildebeest herds out of the crater.

·       The Pliocene Ngorongoro volcanic group consists of eight extinct shield volcanoes.

·       It is home to the Big 5 namely Elephant, Black Rhino, Cape Buffalo, Lion, and Leopard.

Travel Tips

·       2 or 3 nights will be more than sufficient for a stay in the Ngorongoro Crater. The road network is relatively limited and you’ll find you quickly get the lay of the land.

·       It’s not worth going all the way to Tanzania only for the Ngorongoro Crater. Try and book it as a part of a larger itinerary. You could visit Lake Manyara, Ndutu, Tarangire, the Serengeti, and more, all forming a part of a larger exciting itinerary that could include a stay in the crater itself.

·       There are wonderful accommodation options to choose from – luxury to budget-friendly.

·       There are only 3 roads leading into and out of the Ngorongoro Crater for tourists. 1 road is used exclusively as an entrance, one road as an exit, and one road as both entrance and exit. Be sure to ask your camp how far you are from the roads, some camps are a fair distance away and you’ll find yourself driving a fair bit to get to the entrance gates in the morning, especially as wildlife photographers in need of an early entry.

·       There are distinct seasons within the Ngorongoro Crater, much like there is elsewhere. Do your research to ensure you visit during a good time of year. I prefer to add a visit to my existing safaris to the region, January to February, and August to September.

Although the Ngorongoro Crater is a very popular tourist destination, for obvious reasons, this should not be a reason to keep you away. If you’ve never been then a visit should certainly be a part of your travel plans, especially if you are going to find yourself in Tanzania. If you’ve been then you’ll understand just how beautiful it is and how rewarding a day or two spent in the crater can be.

For me personally, it’s one of the most unique photographic regions you can find yourself within and gives you striking opportunities. There’s no place that compares to it and although I have been many times before, I always look forward to my next visit.

If you have any questions about the Ngorongoro Crater not answered here, please reach out to us via email or leave a comment below.

If you’d love to join us on an exciting safari that includes a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater then please send us an email and we will send you the required information.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about this exciting safari destination with me. If you enjoyed this please feel free to share it with your friends or to social media.

Thank you and until next time.

Learn more About Our Photo Safari adventures & Bespoke Safari Experiences. Enquire Now