Ngorongoro Crater Safari Ideas
The Ngorongoro Crater is a wildlife haven in Tanzania. As such, at times it can be too well-loved and well-visited. The great buttressed slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater lies at the eastern edge of the Serengeti. It is both a breathtaking sight and an extraordinary place. But the unique appeal of an Ngorongoro safari is the sheer abundance of wildlife.
Nearly 3 million years ago, Ngorongoro towered alongside Kilimanjaro as one of the highest peaks in Africa. Now all that remains is the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world, at 18km wide. A steep wall of thick forest surrounds the rim of the crater. And from this rim you look down onto a natural amphitheatre, 260 sq km in size. The mineral-rich crater floor is host to an unbelievably high concentration of game. With water being provided by Lake Magadi. So naturally most of the game have no reason to leave.
Within the Ngorongoro Crater is a complete eco-system comprising of nutritious grasslands, swamps, lakes, rivers, woodlands and forest. This variety can sustain a vast resident population of game. Lions stalk the grasslands in search of vulnerable herds of zebra, wildebeest or other plains game. Whilts flamingos grace the shallow soda lakes. And giant-tusked elephants wander in its shade-giving forests of fever trees and figs.
Choosing between Ngorongoro Crater Lodges
The lodges perched on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater are the most popular, of course. The top choice, with a sizeable price tag to match, is the andbeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. But there are also older lodges such as Ngorongoro Serena Lodge, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge and Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge. These were built in the 1970s and 80s at a time when large lodges were permitted. The first two of these have kept pace with modern taste. So they offer excellent, if rather impersonal hospitality, and wonderful views.
The only other lodges close to the crater are Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge and Lemala Ngorongoro. These smaller lodges don’t overlook the crater. But they have the advantage of being close to the route down. (So you can get a jump on the crowds for an early start to your Ngorongoro safari).
Lodges in Ngorongoro Highlands
However you can also choose from a number of less expensive (and more intimate and personal) game lodges in the nearby Ngorongoro highlands.
The appeal and importance of the Ngorongoro Conservation area is as much about preserving the pastoralist way of life of the Masaai people as it is about the wildlife. Though the crater is the drawcard, a stay in the Ngorongoro Highlands is a great way to mix with the local people. Here the Masai co-exist with the migratory and resident wildlife of the Ngorongoro crater.
There are boundless opportunities to walk in these dramatic volcanic landscapes especially from the seasonal tented camps. Plus, closer to Karatu and just outside the conservation area, there are several good coffee estate lodges including The Manor at Ngorongoro, Plantation Lodge and Gibbs Farm.
Is the Ngorongoro Crater too crowded?
It is understandable that an Ngorongoro safari remains virtually a ‘must’ on anyone’s first safari to Tanzania. However this popularity has naturally brought its own problems. The vast number of safari vehicles daily descending from the Ngorongoro lodges into the crater can destroy the very sense of wilderness that you seek. Though the lions continue to hunt in complete disregard for the safari vehicles following them. It is more difficult for visitors to ignore the dust and the relative crowds.
The Tanzania wildlife authorities have limited access to the Ngorongoro Crater by increasing park fees. And limiting game vehicles on the crater floor. You will have excellent game-viewing on your Ngorongoro safari. But it will not be an exclusive experience. So, at Cedarberg, we aim to combine a safari in the Ngorongoro crater with a greater focus on untrammelled wilderness elsewhere on your Tanzania safari.