Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania

Overview of Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania

The Ngorongoro Crater is a protected area and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 as part of the larger Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which includes two other craters and located 180 km (110 mi) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The area is named after Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera within the area. The conservation area is managed by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, an arm of the Tanzanian government, and its boundaries trail the boundary of the Ngorongoro Division of the Arusha Region. The area is part of the Serengeti ecosystem and, to the northwest, adjoins the SNP and is connecting with the southern Serengeti plains. These plains also extend to the north into the unprotected Loliondo division and are kept open to wildlife through transhumance pastoralism practiced by the Maasai.

Map of Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania

The stunning landscape of Ngorongoro Crater combined with its spectacular concentration of wildlife is one of the greatest natural wonders of the planet. Spectacular wildebeest numbers (well over 1 million animals) pass through the area as part of the annual migration of wildebeest across the Serengeti ecosystem and calve in the short grass plains which straddle the Ngorongoro Conservation Area/Serengeti National Park boundary. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (809,440 ha) spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests, from the plains of the Serengeti National Park in the north-west, to the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley. The area was established in 1959 as a numerous land use area, with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practicing traditional livestock grazing. It includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera, and Olduvai Gorge, a 14km long deep ravine.

Ngorongoro Crater Safari Tour

The south and west of the area are volcanic highlands, including the famous Ngorongoro Crater and the lesser known Empakaa Crateri. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the East African Rift wall, which also prevents animal migration in these directions. The crater also includes Laetoli and Olduvai Gorge, which contain an important paleontological record related to human evolution. Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to a population of some 25,000 large animals, mostly ungulates, alongside the highest density of mammalian predators in Africa including the densest known population of lion (estimated 68 in 1987). The conservation area harbours a range of endangered species, such as the Black Rhino, Wild hunting dog and Golden Cat and 500 species of birds. It also supports one of the largest animal migrations on earth, including over 1 million wildebeest, 72,000 zebras and 350,000 Thompson and Grant gazelles.

The area has universal importance for biodiversity conservation in view of the presence of globally threatened species such as the black Rhino, the density of wildlife inhabiting the Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding areas throughout the year, and the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, Thompsons and Grants gazelles and other ungulates into the northern plains. The Ngorongoro Crater is a huge volcanic caldera, covering 100 sq. mi (260 sq. km) in Northern Tanzania. Formed approximately 2.5 million years ago when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed in on itself, the Ngorongoro Crater is 2000ft (610m) deep. Endowed with an abundance of wildlife, the crater features almost every animal species present in East Africa. Around 2.5 million years ago, the Ngorongoro crater was a huge volcanic mountain, rivalling Kilimanjaro in size. This changed when the top of the mountain collapsed in on itself, creating the biggest volcanic caldera in the world. The volcanic eruptions like that of Ngorongoro, which resulted in the formation of Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, were very common.

Activities inside the Ngorongoro Crater itself are limited to game driving; there are a couple of picnic spots in the park, but getting out of the vehicle is strictly limited to these areas. However, a full range of activities is on offer in the wider Ngorongoro Conservation Area, including walking, trekking, excursions to Olduvai Gorge and visiting the Masai and other tribes.

Visit the Olduvai Gorge of Ngorongoro Crater

Olduvai Gorge, is located in the heart of the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater. This 300-mile long gorge is famous for being the site where 2-million-year old human fossils were found. Step back in time, and walk the same paths that our ancient ancestors walked. And while you’re here, don’t forget to visit the small but charming Olduvai Museum that was founded by Mary Leakey, the woman responsible for finding the fossils! This will be a great opportunity for those traveling to Ngorongoro from Serengeti, and will absolutely give you a great understanding about our descendants and how they lived!

Bird Watching in Ngorongoro Crater

The mixture of forest, canyons, grassland plains, Lakes and marshes provide habitats for a wide range of bird life. The wet months see the arrival of the Eurasian migrants at the pools. White storks, yellow wagtails and swallows mingle with the local inhabitants: stilts, saddle-bill storks, ibis, ruff and various species of duck. Lesser flamingos fly in to feed from their breeding grounds at Lake Natron. Distinctive grassland birds – ostrich, kori bustards and crowned cranes-abound. The rest of the NCA also has areas which will reward the keen birdwatcher.

Experience the “Masai Way of Life” in Ngorongoro Crater

Travelling to Ngorongoro crater without visiting a Maasai village is really an incomplete destination. The Maasai are semi-nomadic people who have lived in Kenya and Tanzania for a very long time. You can experience the Maasai way of life in their bomas (village-like communities). The Maasai are very welcoming, and are eager to share information about their customs, lifestyle, and traditions. There are a variety of circuits that offer visits into these Maasai villages. If you want to observe their lifestyle in greater depth, you can get in touch with a local NGO or your travel agent to schedule a private village trip- this would be way less touristy, and will give you an insider view of the villages as well.

Visiting The Ngorongoro Crater

The crater is a stunning natural wonder of the world and sits right in the middle of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The bottom of the crater is popular for incredible opportunities to see game; you could view some exceedingly rare animals (e.g. black rhino) as well as many different herds of animals.

Originally, The Ngorongoro Crater was volcanic and was formed approximately 20 million years ago as part of the Rift Valley. The rim of the crater is high, standing at 2220 m (1.4 miles) so take a jacket or sweater as it can get chilly! The steep walls at the side of the crater rise over 600 m from the floor and it is the most magical area in the conservation area certain to enthral every person who visits.

People and Culture (Maasai)

There are approximately 42,000 Masai tribe members living within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. They live off the land, and move in accordance with the needs of their animals (cattle, goats, sheep, donkeys). For thousands of years a succession of cattle herding people moved into the Area, lived here for time, and then moved on, sometimes forced out by other tribes.

About 200 years ago, the Maasai arrived and have since colonized the Area in substantial numbers, their traditional way of life allowing them to live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment. Today there are some 42,200 Maasai pastoralists living in the NCA with their cattle, donkeys, goats and sheep. During the rains they move out on to the open plains; in the dry season they move into the adjacent woodlands and mountain slopes. The Maasai are allowed to take their animals into the Crater for water and grazing, but not to live or cultivate there. Elsewhere in the NCA they have the right to roam freely.

Visitors are welcomed at two designated Maasai cultural bomas one on the road to Serengeti and another close to Sopa Lodge at Irkeepusi village. The Datoga, Nilo-Hamitic-speaking pastoralists, who arrived more than 300 years ago and were subsequently forced out of the Serengeti-Ngorongoro area by the Maasai, today they live just outside the NCA, in the Lake Eyasi basin and beyond.

One can visit the Maasai Cultural bomas in the NCA to learn more about their unique culture, to take photographs, and to buy souvenirs. There is an entrance fee to be paid but it is well worth it. Please be sensitive to the fact that it is considered bad manners to take photographs of people along the roadside without consent. A visit to one of the following is highly recommended that is, Kiloki senyati cultural boma is located on the main road to Serengeti, 7 km south-west of the Olduvai Gorge Information Center, Loonguku cultural boma, located on the main road to Serengeti, 10km before the turn-off to Olduvai Gorge Irkeepusi cultural boma Situated 2km north-east of Lemala mini gate, on the main road to Empakaai and Seneto cultural boma Situated just west of the Seneto Gate, within the Malanja Depression. Read more

BY AIR

One needs to fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport at Moshi, situated at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. From there one can get a charter flight, take a taxi or make use of the free shuttle service. The distance from Moshi to Arusha is about 55km.

BY ROAD

The road from Arusha to Lodoare Entrance Gate is 160km long. As of recently, the entire journey is on tarmac and it takes about two hours. Unless you stay on the main roads, which are graveled, a 4×4 vehicle is essential when entering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park.

Within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with the exception of Simba near the NCAA headquarters, the campsites are all classified as “special campsites”. This means that they are for exclusive use, and generally have no facilities. Usually they are designed for self-sufficient safari operations which bring everything with them. Most are large sites, but a few of them, e.g. on the rim of Empakaai Crater, are designed for small numbers of back- packers. Camping generally is not allowed in the Crater itself. Book campsites through the NCAA headquarters office or in Arusha-Ngorongoro Information Center. There are luxury lodges situated within and outside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is located in Northern Tanzania. The Lodge is within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, high on the south-western rim of Ngorongoro Crater, commanding views of this natural wonder that often moves onlookers to respectful wonder. The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is located about 4.5 hours’ drive from Arusha. Most of this drive is on a tarmac road, so smooth and comfortable.

The colonial-style interiors combine silver, gold and ruby colours under banana-leaf ceilings and grass roofs. Antiques, desirable cushions, voluptuous raw silk curtains and tall, leather-backed chairs complete the picture. This design blends with African art elements in unexpected harmony. They each have a central living area and viewing surfaces overlooking the awesome Ngorongoro Crater. Ancient African nights are evoked by the large fire bowls that flank the entrance to each of the living and dining areas.

The Crater Lodge can provide some of the best game viewing drives into the crater and Ngorongoro Conservation Area that East Africa can offer. Bush walks around the lodge are also available, as well as excursions to Olduvai Gorge. For those that want to take some “time out” from the rigors of a game drive you are invited to use the Library and indoor board games. Other facilities include a central dining area/lounge, a craft and curio shop and a kart for ferrying luggage/guests to the camps.

The main activities that guests enjoy vary from guided walking safaris which follow dramatic routes around the rim of the crater, to visiting a Maasai cultural village. In the village, guests are free to browse through the local handicrafts or watch Maasai dancing. You can also visit the beautiful lakes Ndutu and Eyasi, and the impressive Empakaai Crater, or enjoy cool sundowners with exceptional views as well as arrange private bush breakfasts and lunches. All these are an optional extra. Read more

Overview

The stunning landscape of Ngorongoro Crater combined with its spectacular concentration of wildlife is one of the greatest natural wonders of the planet. Spectacular wildebeest numbers (well over 1 million animals) pass through the area as part of the annual migration of wildebeest across the Serengeti ecosystem and calve in the short grass plains which straddle the Ngorongoro Conservation Area/Serengeti National Park boundary. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (809,440 ha) spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests, from the plains of the Serengeti National Park in the north-west, to the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley. The area was established in 1959 as a numerous land use area, with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practicing traditional livestock grazing. It includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera, and Olduvai Gorge, a 14km long deep ravine.

Ngorongoro Crater Safari Tour

The south and west of the area are volcanic highlands, including the famous Ngorongoro Crater and the lesser known Empakaa Crateri. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the East African Rift wall, which also prevents animal migration in these directions. The crater also includes Laetoli and Olduvai Gorge, which contain an important paleontological record related to human evolution. Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to a population of some 25,000 large animals, mostly ungulates, alongside the highest density of mammalian predators in Africa including the densest known population of lion (estimated 68 in 1987). The conservation area harbours a range of endangered species, such as the Black Rhino, Wild hunting dog and Golden Cat and 500 species of birds. It also supports one of the largest animal migrations on earth, including over 1 million wildebeest, 72,000 zebras and 350,000 Thompson and Grant gazelles.

The area has universal importance for biodiversity conservation in view of the presence of globally threatened species such as the black Rhino, the density of wildlife inhabiting the Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding areas throughout the year, and the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, Thompsons and Grants gazelles and other ungulates into the northern plains. The Ngorongoro Crater is a huge volcanic caldera, covering 100 sq. mi (260 sq. km) in Northern Tanzania. Formed approximately 2.5 million years ago when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed in on itself, the Ngorongoro Crater is 2000ft (610m) deep. Endowed with an abundance of wildlife, the crater features almost every animal species present in East Africa. Around 2.5 million years ago, the Ngorongoro crater was a huge volcanic mountain, rivalling Kilimanjaro in size. This changed when the top of the mountain collapsed in on itself, creating the biggest volcanic caldera in the world. The volcanic eruptions like that of Ngorongoro, which resulted in the formation of Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, were very common.

Activities

Activities inside the Ngorongoro Crater itself are limited to game driving; there are a couple of picnic spots in the park, but getting out of the vehicle is strictly limited to these areas. However, a full range of activities is on offer in the wider Ngorongoro Conservation Area, including walking, trekking, excursions to Olduvai Gorge and visiting the Masai and other tribes.

Visit the Olduvai Gorge of Ngorongoro Crater

Olduvai Gorge, is located in the heart of the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater. This 300-mile long gorge is famous for being the site where 2-million-year old human fossils were found. Step back in time, and walk the same paths that our ancient ancestors walked. And while you’re here, don’t forget to visit the small but charming Olduvai Museum that was founded by Mary Leakey, the woman responsible for finding the fossils! This will be a great opportunity for those traveling to Ngorongoro from Serengeti, and will absolutely give you a great understanding about our descendants and how they lived!

Bird Watching in Ngorongoro Crater

The mixture of forest, canyons, grassland plains, Lakes and marshes provide habitats for a wide range of bird life. The wet months see the arrival of the Eurasian migrants at the pools. White storks, yellow wagtails and swallows mingle with the local inhabitants: stilts, saddle-bill storks, ibis, ruff and various species of duck. Lesser flamingos fly in to feed from their breeding grounds at Lake Natron. Distinctive grassland birds – ostrich, kori bustards and crowned cranes-abound. The rest of the NCA also has areas which will reward the keen birdwatcher.

Experience the “Masai Way of Life” in Ngorongoro Crater

Travelling to Ngorongoro crater without visiting a Maasai village is really an incomplete destination. The Maasai are semi-nomadic people who have lived in Kenya and Tanzania for a very long time. You can experience the Maasai way of life in their bomas (village-like communities). The Maasai are very welcoming, and are eager to share information about their customs, lifestyle, and traditions. There are a variety of circuits that offer visits into these Maasai villages. If you want to observe their lifestyle in greater depth, you can get in touch with a local NGO or your travel agent to schedule a private village trip- this would be way less touristy, and will give you an insider view of the villages as well.

Visiting The Ngorongoro Crater

The crater is a stunning natural wonder of the world and sits right in the middle of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The bottom of the crater is popular for incredible opportunities to see game; you could view some exceedingly rare animals (e.g. black rhino) as well as many different herds of animals.

Originally, The Ngorongoro Crater was volcanic and was formed approximately 20 million years ago as part of the Rift Valley. The rim of the crater is high, standing at 2220 m (1.4 miles) so take a jacket or sweater as it can get chilly! The steep walls at the side of the crater rise over 600 m from the floor and it is the most magical area in the conservation area certain to enthral every person who visits.

Attractions

People and Culture (Maasai)

There are approximately 42,000 Masai tribe members living within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. They live off the land, and move in accordance with the needs of their animals (cattle, goats, sheep, donkeys). For thousands of years a succession of cattle herding people moved into the Area, lived here for time, and then moved on, sometimes forced out by other tribes.

About 200 years ago, the Maasai arrived and have since colonized the Area in substantial numbers, their traditional way of life allowing them to live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment. Today there are some 42,200 Maasai pastoralists living in the NCA with their cattle, donkeys, goats and sheep. During the rains they move out on to the open plains; in the dry season they move into the adjacent woodlands and mountain slopes. The Maasai are allowed to take their animals into the Crater for water and grazing, but not to live or cultivate there. Elsewhere in the NCA they have the right to roam freely.

Visitors are welcomed at two designated Maasai cultural bomas one on the road to Serengeti and another close to Sopa Lodge at Irkeepusi village. The Datoga, Nilo-Hamitic-speaking pastoralists, who arrived more than 300 years ago and were subsequently forced out of the Serengeti-Ngorongoro area by the Maasai, today they live just outside the NCA, in the Lake Eyasi basin and beyond.

One can visit the Maasai Cultural bomas in the NCA to learn more about their unique culture, to take photographs, and to buy souvenirs. There is an entrance fee to be paid but it is well worth it. Please be sensitive to the fact that it is considered bad manners to take photographs of people along the roadside without consent. A visit to one of the following is highly recommended that is, Kiloki senyati cultural boma is located on the main road to Serengeti, 7 km south-west of the Olduvai Gorge Information Center, Loonguku cultural boma, located on the main road to Serengeti, 10km before the turn-off to Olduvai Gorge Irkeepusi cultural boma Situated 2km north-east of Lemala mini gate, on the main road to Empakaai and Seneto cultural boma Situated just west of the Seneto Gate, within the Malanja Depression. Read more

Getting There

BY AIR

One needs to fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport at Moshi, situated at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. From there one can get a charter flight, take a taxi or make use of the free shuttle service. The distance from Moshi to Arusha is about 55km.

BY ROAD

The road from Arusha to Lodoare Entrance Gate is 160km long. As of recently, the entire journey is on tarmac and it takes about two hours. Unless you stay on the main roads, which are graveled, a 4×4 vehicle is essential when entering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park.

Accommodation

Within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with the exception of Simba near the NCAA headquarters, the campsites are all classified as “special campsites”. This means that they are for exclusive use, and generally have no facilities. Usually they are designed for self-sufficient safari operations which bring everything with them. Most are large sites, but a few of them, e.g. on the rim of Empakaai Crater, are designed for small numbers of back- packers. Camping generally is not allowed in the Crater itself. Book campsites through the NCAA headquarters office or in Arusha-Ngorongoro Information Center. There are luxury lodges situated within and outside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is located in Northern Tanzania. The Lodge is within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, high on the south-western rim of Ngorongoro Crater, commanding views of this natural wonder that often moves onlookers to respectful wonder. The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is located about 4.5 hours’ drive from Arusha. Most of this drive is on a tarmac road, so smooth and comfortable.

The colonial-style interiors combine silver, gold and ruby colours under banana-leaf ceilings and grass roofs. Antiques, desirable cushions, voluptuous raw silk curtains and tall, leather-backed chairs complete the picture. This design blends with African art elements in unexpected harmony. They each have a central living area and viewing surfaces overlooking the awesome Ngorongoro Crater. Ancient African nights are evoked by the large fire bowls that flank the entrance to each of the living and dining areas.

The Crater Lodge can provide some of the best game viewing drives into the crater and Ngorongoro Conservation Area that East Africa can offer. Bush walks around the lodge are also available, as well as excursions to Olduvai Gorge. For those that want to take some “time out” from the rigors of a game drive you are invited to use the Library and indoor board games. Other facilities include a central dining area/lounge, a craft and curio shop and a kart for ferrying luggage/guests to the camps.

The main activities that guests enjoy vary from guided walking safaris which follow dramatic routes around the rim of the crater, to visiting a Maasai cultural village. In the village, guests are free to browse through the local handicrafts or watch Maasai dancing. You can also visit the beautiful lakes Ndutu and Eyasi, and the impressive Empakaai Crater, or enjoy cool sundowners with exceptional views as well as arrange private bush breakfasts and lunches. All these are an optional extra. Read more

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