Ngorongoro Safari Ideas
The Ngorongoro Crater is a wildlife haven in Tanzania. As such, it’s almost too well-loved and well-visited. The great buttressed slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater lies at the eastern edge of the Serengeti. A breathtaking sight, and an extraordinary place, 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 an 18km wide caldera, the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world. A steep wall of thick forest surrounds the rim of the crater, which looks onto a natural amphitheatre, 260 sq km in size. The mineral-rich crater floor is host to an unbelievably high concentration of game as Lake Magadi waters the valley floor. So most of the game have no reason to wander elsewhere.
Within the Ngorongoro Crater lies a complete eco-system comprising of nutritious grasslands, swamps, lakes, rivers, woodlands and forest. Thus the Crater is able to sustain a vast resident population of game. However, during the rainy season migratory game adds to the local populations. Towering euphorbias cling to the crater walls and on the crater floor, and fever and fig-tree forests give shade to an awe-inspiring array of animals. Lions stalk the grasslands in search of vulnerable herds of zebra, wildebeest or other plains game. Flamingos grace the shallow soda lakes, whilst giant-tusked elephants wander in its forests.
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. The older lodges are Ngorongoro Serena Lodge, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge and Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge which were built in the 1970s and 80s at a time when large structures were permitted. The first two of these have kept pace with modern taste and offer excellent, if rather impersonal hospitality, and similarly good 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 really close to the route down for an early start for your Ngorongoro safari (to get a jump on the crowds).
Apart from the Ngorongoro lodges perched on the crater rim itself, you can also choose from a number of less expensive (and more intimate and personal) game lodges nearby in the Ngorongoro highlands.
The appeal and importance of the wider Ngorongoro Conservation area is as much about the pastoralist way of life of the Masaai people as it is about the wildlife. Though the crater is at its heart, a stay in the surrounding Ngorongoro Highlands is a great way to mix with the local people who co-exist here with the migratory and resident wildlife. There are boundless opportunities to walk in these dramatic volcanic landscapes especially from one of the seasonal tented camps. A little closer to Karatu and just outside the conservation area are several good coffee estate lodges including The Manor at Ngorongoro, Plantation Lodge and Gibbs Farm.
Is Ngorongoro 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 descending from the Ngorongoro lodges into the crater every day can destroy the very sense of wilderness that many people seek. Though the lions continue to hunt in complete disregard for the safari vehicles following them, it is more difficult for the onlookers 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. Thus at Cedarberg we aim to combine a Ngorongoro safari with a greater focus on untrammelled wilderness elsewhere in your Tanzania safari.