Ngorongoro Crater is home to approximately 30,000 animals in an area only 12 sq. miles wide and a wall 2000 ft. high at its highest point. Once a towering mountain larger than Mt. Kilimanjaro, the eruption two to three millions of years ago created a caldera, a bucket-like geological splendor.
Resident animals. A group of stripped zebras always make for beautiful pictures.
Why Ngorongoro Crater should be a must-see on your Northern Tanzania Safari?
The animal population in this small area is dense. With only 12 sq mile wide, this little eco-system increases the chances of seeing lions or the long tusked bull elephant close by the road. Cheetah walking, zebra grazing, hippos lazing – all close encounters possible. Endangered black rhino – maybe – we were lucky to see one cross the road
There were at least 20 + elephants at the exit gate of the crater. This may be the same herd Jo Anderson, our elite guide has mentioned about. Read our Elite guided Safari post.
Hippo at the hippo pool have a fun time splashing around in the muddy pond. Close your nose.
The vultures or the ‘cleaning crew’. They are an integral part of the food chain.
The crater eco-system makes for stunning views. From many points on the crater rim, you get to see the whole ‘bucket’ eco-system and from every angle the crater is beautiful. After many Safaris here, it still takes my breath away. On the crater rim which is around 7-8,000 ft in elevation, can get quite cold during the cooler months. The early mornings tend to have a blanket of heavy mist which can result in not getting a glimpse of the crater. When you are on the ground, you have to admire the soaring 2000 ft crater wall. Early in the morning, the clouds cover the wall which adds to the beauty.
The beautiful crater. This was taken near Lemala Gate.
Ngorongoro Crater is a world heritage site, the largest intact volcanic caldera and has been known to be called the 8th wonder of the world. If you are going to Tanzania for the first time, it should be on your list of places to Safari.
The wall of the crater covered in clouds.
How to avoid the crowds?
Because the crater is small and everyone wants to see the caldera for the above reasons, your guide will help you avoid the pitfalls.
Start early in the morning.
If you can reach the entrance gate by 6 am, you are likely to share the crater floor with fewer vehicles. The government is trying to figure out how to speed things here as well. The paperwork at the main gate and the crater rim gate takes a while – patience is key here. Spend time with the baboons at the entrance gate.
Drive the other way to avoid the crowds.
Our guides will drive the other way when they see a ‘herd of vehicles’. But there are exceptions. Our guide Elissa was not comfortable with us being with the ‘herd of vehicles’ when we were admiring the black rhino and would have prefered to guide us in another direction. He asked us our preference and we said we were okay sharing the rhino. We were also on Safari during the low season so there were not that many vehicles.
If you can go during low season , April to June and November, chances of sharing the crater with fewer vehicles are higher. But if high season is when you are on Safari, relax and enjoy the experience. You are on Safari!
Ngorongoro Crater, a must see destination especially for the first timer on Safari!
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