Ngorongoro National Park 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.
Overview of Ngorongoro National Park
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. 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. Ngorongoro crater is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. The crater, together with the Olmoti and Empakaai craters are part of the eastern Rift Valley, whose volcanism dates back to the late Mesozoic / early Tertiary periods and is famous for its geology. 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 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. This constitutes a truly outstanding natural phenomenon. The variations in climate, landforms and altitude have resulted in several overlapping ecosystems and distinct habitats, with short grass plains, highland catchment forests, savanna woodlands, montane long grass plains and high open moorlands. The area is part of the Serengeti ecosystem, one of the last complete ecosystems in the world which harbours large and spectacular animal migrations. The main feature of the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority is the Ngorongoro Crater, 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 metres (2,000 feet) deep and its floor covers 260 square kilometres (100 square miles). Estimates of the height of the original volcano range from 4,500 to 5,800 metres (14,800 to 19,000 feet) high. The elevation of the crater floor is 1,800 metres (5,900 feet) above sea level. The Crater was voted by Seven Natural Wonders as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in Arusha, Tanzania in February 2013.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. 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. Similar collapses occurred in the case of Olmoti and Empakaai, but they were much smaller in magnitude and impact. Out of the two recent volcanoes lying to the northeast of the Empakaai caldera, Kerimasi and Ol Doinyo Lengai, the Doinyo Lengai is still active, and the last erupted major eruptions were in 2007 and 2008. Smaller ash eruptions and lava flows continue to slowly fill the current crater. This volcano is also known as the Maasai’s ‘Mountain of God’. The crater highlands on the side facing the easterly trade winds receives 800 to 1,200 millimetres (31 to 47 inches) of rain a year and are covered largely in montane forest. The less-steep west wall receives only 400 to 600 millimetres (16 to 24 inches) and is grassland and bushland dotted with Euphorbia bussei (es) trees. The crater floor is mostly open grassland with two small wooded areas dominated by fever tree.
How to get to Ngorongoro Park
How to Get Ngorongoro crater
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.
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.
Best Season to Visit
RAINY SEASON (NOVEMBER TO APRIL)
The short rains are from November to December and the long rains from February to April, the latter generally being considered the off season. However, the rainy season is a very exciting time of year as this is when animals congregate on the Short Grass Plains to have their young. Late February, early March is usually a good time to see the migration on the plains. In turn, this attracts large number of predators and results in spectacular interactions between predators and prey. Keep in mind that part of the Serengeti Plain falls within the NCA.
DRY SEASON (MAY TO OCTOBER)
The dry season holds its own beauty. In Africa the dry season is the best time for game viewing because the animals are concentrated along permanent water sources. Within the Crater game viewing is excellent during this time. However, keep in mind that the Short Grass Plains become completely devoid of game during this season. This is the best time of the year to visit Empakaai and Ndutu, which has resident game that remains around the lake all year round.
What to See in NgorongoroPark
What to see in Ngorongoro crater?
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.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area also protects Olduvai Gorge, situated in the plains area. It is considered to be the seat of humanity after the discovery of the earliest known specimens of the human genus, Homo habilis as well as early hominidae, such as Paranthropus boisei.
The Olduvai Gorge is a steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley, which stretches along eastern Africa. Oldupai is in the eastern Serengeti Plains in northern Tanzania and is about 50 kilometres (31 mi) long. It lies in the rain shadow of the Ngorongoro highlands and is the driest part of the region. The gorge is named after ‘Oldupaai’, the Maasai word for the wild sisal plant, Sansevieria ehrenbergii.
It is one of the most important primitive sites in the world and research there has been instrumental in furthering understanding of early human evolution. Excavation work there was pioneered by Mary and Louis Leakey in the 1950s and is continued today by their family. Some believe that millions of years ago, the site was that of a large lake, the shores of which were covered with successive deposits of volcanic ash. Around 500,000 years ago seismic activity diverted a nearby stream which began to cut down into the sediments, revealing seven main layers in the walls of the gorge.
The Ngorongoro Crater
Encompassing three spectacular volcanic craters, the Olduvai Gorge, huge expanses of savannah, forest and bush land, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the top of Tanzania’s tourism industry. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), measuring 8,300 square kilometres, is also the only place on earth where mankind and wild animals co-exist in harmony. The NCA became a Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1971 and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.
Originally part of the Serengeti National Park when the latter was established by the British in 1951, in 1959 the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) was formed, separating NCA from Serengeti. Land within the area is multi-use, providing protection status for wildlife while also permitting human habitation. Its uniqueness lays in the fact that the NCA is where man, livestock and wild animals live in peace, and Maasai cattle can sometimes be seen grazing alongside zebras on Ngorongoro’s grassland.
Animals at the Ngorongoro Crater
Approximately 25,000 large animals, mostly ungulates, live in the crater. Large animals in the crater include the black rhinoceros, the local population of which declined from about 108 in 1964-66 to between 11-14 in 1995, the African buffalo or Cape buffalo, and the hippopotamus. There are also many other ungulates such as the blue wildebeests (7,000 estimated in 1994), Grant’s zebra, the common eland, and Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles (3,000). Waterbucks occur mainly near Lerai Forest. There are no topis, oribis, or crocodiles. Impala are absent because the open woodland they prefer does not exist. Giraffe also are absent, possibly because of a lack of browse species. Tanzanian cheetah, East African wild dog, and African leopard are rarely seen.
The area contains over 25,000 large animals including 26 black rhinoceros. There are 7,000 wildebeests, 4,000 zebras, 3,000 elands and 3,000 Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles. The crater also has the deepest known population of lions, numbering 62. Higher up, in the rainforests of the crater rim, are leopards, about 30 large elephants, mountain reedbuck and more than 4,000 buffalos, spotted hyenas, jackals, rare wild dogs, cheetahs, and other felines.
The legendary annual wildebeest and zebra migration also passes through Ngorongoro, when the 1.7 million ungulates move south into the area in December then move out heading north in June. The migrants passing through the plains of the reserve include 1.7 million wildebeest, 260,000 zebras, and 470,000 gazelles. The Lake Ndutu area to the west has significant cheetah and lion populations. Over 500 species of bird have been recorded within the NCA. These include ostrich, white pelican, and greater and lesser flamingo on Lake Magadi within the crater, Lake Ndutu, and in the Empakaai Crater Lake, where a vast bird population can be observed. Ngorongoro also has two other volcanic craters that is Olmoti and Empakai, the former famous for its stunning waterfalls, and the latter holding a deep lake and lush, green walls.
On the leeward of the Ngorongoro highlands protrudes the iconic Oldonyo Lengai, an active volcano and Tanzania’s third highest peak after Kilimanjaro and Meru. Known to local people as the Mountain of God, Mount Lengai’s last major eruption occurred in 2007. At the mountain’s foot is Lake Natron, East Africa’s major breeding ground for flamingoes.
Ngorongoro Crater is a can’t-miss destination in Tanzania which offers a classic Big 5 safari experience in the unique setting of an ancient volcanic caldera. The African black rhino, largest tusker elephants, Ngorongoro Crater Lions, leopards and buffalos are healthy available in the Ngorongoro Crater. Ngorongoro Crater scenery is spectacular, predators are abundant and it’s not unusual to see the Big 5 in a single day. The Ngorongoro Crater is the obvious choice and the best place in Tanzania to see the Big Five. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most beautiful natural wildlife safari sites in the world and an exceptional place to interact with people from the Maasai tribe. Because of the variety of animals present, the Ngorongoro Crater is a well-known tourist attraction.
Ngorongoro Crater Lions
The Crater’s lions of Ngorongoro population varies significantly over time, the one constant being their complete disregard of vehicles, they will hunt within yards of a vehicle, and when exhausted even seek shade beside them. Ngorongoro Crater lions are known with its habit of climbing trees.
Spotted hyenas are even more common here, often competing with the lion, and there’s are a small but growing number of cheetah. Leopards are around, especially in the vicinity of the Lerai Forest. Side-striped and the lovely golden jackal are often seen skulking around, whilst bat-eared foxes are a rarer sight.
The crater has one of the heaviest known population of Masai lions, numbering 62 in 2001.A side effect of the crater being a natural enclosure is that the lion population is significantly inborn. This is due to the very small amount of new descents that enter the local gene pool, as very few migrating male lions enter the crater from the outside. Those who do enter the crater are often prevented from contributing to the gene pool by the crater’s male lions, who expel any outside competitors.
The park is teeming with wildlife, with animals such as zebra, buffalo, hyenas, wildebeests and lions thriving in the area. There are approximately 30,000 animals, though certain animals (e.g. giraffe and impala) are not present due to difficulties negotiating the crater rim cliffs and insufficient grazing opportunities.
Ngorongoro is home to lush green, rain-watered vegetation, as well as desert plants. The area has uncultivated lowland vegetation, arid and semi-arid plant communities, abundant short grass used for grazing, and highland forests. Scrub heath, grasslands, high open moorland, and the remains of dense evergreen forests cover the steep slopes of the crater, while highland trees including Peacock Flower, Yellow-Wood, Kousso (Hagenia abyssinica), and Sweet Olive can also be found. There are also extensive stretches of pure bamboo on Oldeani Mountain, and Pencil Cedar on Makarut Mountain to the west. Dove- weeds dominate the lower slopes, while the upland woodlands contain Red Thorn Acacia and Gum Acacia that are critical for protecting the watershed.
The crater basin is covered by open short grass plains with fresh and brackish water lakes, marshes, swamps, and two patches of Acacia woodland. The Lerai Forest is home to the Yellow Fever tree and Acacia, while Laiyanai Forest has Pillar Wood and Acacia Lahai. The undulating plains to the west are grass-covered with occasional Umbrella Acacia and Commiphora Africana trees. Blackthorn Acacia and Zebrawood dominate in the drier conditions beside Lake Eyasi. These extensive grasslands and bush are rich, relatively untouched by cultivation, and support very large animal populations.
Flamingos are very common at lakes in the NCA, all of which are saline. Flamingos are filter feeders and feed on plankton. Plankton is a collective name for microscopic plants and animals that occur in the mud and on the surface of shallow, saline lakes.
An information center for the northern circuit is located along Boma Road in downtown Arusha. The Center provides detailed information on tourist attractions, facilities and activities available in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Most safaris depart from Arusha town and the information center is a must for visitors. Internet facilities are available. Promotional publications, wildlife books, cards, audio cassettes and CD-ROMs are also available.
The Munge Stream drains Olmoti Crater to the north, and is the main water source draining into the seasonal Salt Lake in the center of the crater. This lake is known by two names, Makat as the Maasai called it, meaning salt and Magadi. The Lerai Stream drains the humid forests to the south of the Crater, and it feeds the Lerai Forest on the crater floor – when there is enough rain, the Lerai drains into Lake Magadi as well. Extraction of water by lodges and NCA headquarters reduces the amount of water entering Lerai by around 25 percent.
The other major water source in the crater is the Ngoitokitok Spring, near the eastern crater wall. There is a picnic site here open to tourists and a huge swamp fed by the spring, and the area is occupied by hippopotamus, elephants, lions and many others. Many other small springs can be found around the crater’s floor, and these are important water supplies for the animals and local Maasai, especially during times of drought.
Following the recommendations of the ad hoc committee of scientists convened after the year 2000 drought, an ecological burning program was implemented in the crater, which entails annual or biannual controlled burns of up to 20 percent of the grasslands. Maasai are now permitted to graze their cattle within the crater, but must enter and exit daily.
Olduvai Gorge museum is a fascinating journey back in time to the very beginning of mankind. Realistic copies of the most important discoveries can be viewed with ease and after an interesting lecture on the work which has been carried out by scientists, guided tours of the sites can be taken with experienced NCA guides.
Empakaai Crater is a deep soda lake that shelters about half of the 6km wide. This caldera is much smaller, yet charming in its own way. You’ll often find thousands of flamingos in the shallows of the emerald lake giving it an outstanding pink color. The views from the rim over the Ngorongoro Crater to Ol Doinyo Lengai are thought to be some of the most remarkable in Africa on very clear days you can even see Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Natron.
The Munge Stream drains Olmoti Crater to the north, and is the main water source draining into the seasonal Salt Lake in the center of the crater. This lake is known by two names, Makat as the Maasai called it, meaning salt; and Magadi. The Lerai Stream drains the humid forests to the south of the Crater, and it feeds the Lerai Forest on the crater floor – when there is enough rain, the Lerai drains into Lake Magadi as well. Extraction of water by lodges and NCA headquarters reduces the amount of water entering Lerai by around 25 percent.
The other major water source in the crater is the Ngoitokitok Spring, near the eastern crater wall. There is a picnic site here open to tourists and a huge swamp fed by the spring, and the area is inhabited by hippopotamus, elephants, lions and many others. Many other small springs can be found around the crater’s floor, and these are important water supplies for the animals and local Maasai, especially during times of drought.
Following the recommendations of the ad hoc committee of scientists convened after the year 2000 drought, an ecological burning program was implemented in the crater, which entails annual or biannual controlled burns of up to 20 percent of the grasslands. Maasai are now permitted to graze their cattle within the crater, but must enter and exit daily.
The Olmoti Crater
This is the second crater which has a shallow base covered in grass. Here you should be able to see some of the Maasai tribe with their livestock as well as wild buffalos, reedbuck and eland. Crossing the crater is The Munge River which leads into a mesmerising waterfall which falls hundreds of metres.
What to Do in NgorongoroPark
Things to do in Ngorongoro crater
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
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 Oldupai 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!
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”
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.
Accommodation in NgorongoroPark
Accommodation while at Ngorongoro crater
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. At an altitude of 2,375 metres (7,800 feet) the evenings can be quite cool, especially during the winter months of June and July with temperatures as low as 10′ C or 50’F. The rest of the time it is generally sunny. The Ngorongoro Crater is often called ‘Africa’s Eden’ and the ‘8th Natural Wonder of the World. As the largest unbroken un-flooded caldera in the world the Ngorongoro Crater is 19km long by 16km wide by 1km deep. This truly magical place is home to Olduvai Gorge, where the remains of a 1.8-million-year old skeleton was discovered. The Ngorongoro Crater and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are without a doubt some of the most beautiful parts of Tanzania.
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.
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 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. Tarangire National Park is about 2.5 hours’ drive from Arusha and is about half way between the two. Also on the way to the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is Lake Manyara. Both Lake Manyara and Tarangire make good stopping points to break up the journey. Past the Crater is the Serengeti National Park, which is about another 2.5 hours from the crater.
Ngorongoro Wildlife lodge
Ngorongoro Crater is often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. A large caldera 600 meters deep, that hosts the most unique ecosystem on Earth, with 20,000 large grazing mammals and the largest concentration of predators on Earth playing a key role in the maintenance of the ecological balance. Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge is strategically perched on the rim of this ‘Garden of Eden’, affording unbelievable views plunging down over the crater floor, 7,500 feet above sea level. The Lodge is elegantly built mainly from natural stone and local wood, harmoniously merging with its natural surroundings, and it is provided with panoramic windows that encompass superb views of the Crater’s great bowl. From its privileged position, all the Lodge’s 80 rooms afford breathtaking uninterrupted views, and the open–air terrace of the Rhino Lounge Bar offers superb panoramic views of the whole Crater. Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge invites you to an unforgettable safari experience from its privileged location, both for game viewing and scenery. Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge has 80 spacious guestrooms, all of them affording fabulous views over the crater. Exquisitely decorated, offering a serene atmosphere of elegancy, the modern rooms are all ensuite, with central heating systems and mosquito netting over the air vents. The 80 rooms include twin rooms, double rooms (with one double bed), one Presidential suite and three Junior suites. There are also interconnecting rooms, specially designed for families. The Presidential suite has been host to world renowned personalities who have enjoyed the magical experience of wildlife from the top location that Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge enjoys, being the first Lodge built on the Ngorongoro Crater. Wake–up calls can be made on request.
The panoramic restaurant, in its serene decoration made of rock and wood elements, elegantly featuring the safari atmosphere, perfectly combines the international high standards of hospitality and service with exquisite exotic touches of local lifestyle. Our professional chefs, for whom cuisine is an art, make the delights of the most demanding gourmets both in international as well as local recipes. The stunning Rhino Lounge Bar affords from its wide terrace breathtaking views over the volcanic Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest unbroken caldera. It is the ideal place to enjoy the vast and clear African sky with a delicious cocktail, indulging your sense
Comfort and security at its best to make your safari experience unforgettable… The stunning Rhino Lounge Bar affords from its wide terrace and panoramic windows breathtaking views over the volcanic Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest unbroken caldera; giant binoculars are strategically placed along the balcony edge, through which it is possible to view game way down on the floor of the crater.
Guests can acquire in the exclusive Boutique memories to take home with them (clothing, films, carvings, etc.) and ideal gifts for their beloved people…In the TV lounge with DSTV, one can stay informed on events in the rest of the world; also, in the TV lounge videos are displayed with informative explanations of the amazing natural spectacle that our privileged guests are directly living.
In the well–stocked library there is complete information about the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, its natural landscape, archaeological sites and tribal groups. The landing airstrip for domestic airlines in only 20 minutes from the Lodge, making trips to these lands of huge dimensions easy and comfortable. A professional nurse is available in the Lodge for medical assistance. The endless services of the Lodge include full housekeeping services, such as laundry and babysitting (on request), as well as communication facilities like telephone and radio. There is a currency exchange service, and major credit cards are accepted.
Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge
Commonly selected one of the best hotels in the world, this exclusive lodge in Tanzania sticks to the rim of the wonderful Ngorongoro Crater, the largest and most faultless volcanic crater on Earth. Long and low, the lodge is made from local river stone and masked with native vines. Designed to balance entirely into the landscape, it is completely unseen from the floor of the Crater 600 metres below. Cuddling the curves of the jagged Crater rim, this luxury safari lodge takes its stimulation from the so-called ‘Cradle of Mankind’, the primitive site of Olduvai Gorge, which lies close by. Connected by high stone passages and timbered decks, its walls are ornamented with stylized ancient cave paintings and lit by widening torches. At the stone heart of the lodge prickles a glowing fire, which is kept constantly alight. Decorated with cave paintings, the rooms are strung around the Crater rim. Each has its own pillar- enclosed balcony, and all enjoy fully continuous views of the volcanic amphitheatre far below. The location, the service and the luxury accommodation make Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge the decisive destination for a distinctive safari experience in Tanzania.
Looped around the Crater rim, each with its own rock-enclosed balcony, our luxury Ngorongoro accommodation features nerve lamps, printed leather headboards, wildwood mirrors, Maasai carvings and stylized ancient cave paintings. Each room enjoys continuous views over the Crater’s unmatched splendor. Standard room facilities include direct dial telephone and Wi-Laundry, valet and shoeshine services, mineral water and toiletries, bathrobe and slippers.
The Kimba Suite enjoys a faultless view of the crater and is one of the most desirable accommodation choices in Tanzania. The expansive bedroom is luxuriously appointed with a king-sized double bed with walk-in mosquito net, splendid furnishings. The split-level rock-built dining and bar area features a wall of windows, which look down on to the continuously changing views of the crater below while double doors lead out on to a broad viewing terrace. Gathered around a glowing central fireplace, the space is decorated with ancient cave paintings and lit by stylized torches offering a one-of-a-kind dining experience in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater.
Breakfast and lunch are obtainable in buffet-style and feature a wide range of universal cuisines. In typical safari style, the lodge offers a ‘full English Breakfast’ as well as European options while our lunch menus will usually include meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian options.
The table d’hôte dinner menus feature a salad buffet, soup, entrée, pudding, cheese and biscuits and tea or coffee. Vegetarian options are always offered. The majority of our meat and dairy products, as well as our fruits and vegetables are sourced from the communities that surround the conservation area.
The wine list offers a broad choice of old- and new-world wines, and local and imported beers and spirits. The lodge also offers a wide range of soft drinks including an array of freshly-made local fruit juices.
The lodge is expert in arranging breakfasts, lunches, dinners and cocktails in the bush. We have a number of dedicated sites, which are typically presented with tables, safari chairs, ‘bush bar’ and a ‘bush kitchen’, where a broad range of meats, poultry, fish and vegetables are cooked on-site (supplemented by fresh soups, salads and puddings from our hotel kitchens). In the evenings, ‘sun-downer’ cocktails are traditionally served around a campfire and can be followed by a lamp-lit ‘bush dinner’.
Ngorongoro sopa lodge is facing the always wonderful sunsets to the west, and located at the highest point on Ngorongoro crater’s entire rim, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge outlooks well over half a kilometre above the crater floor and offers matchless views across this massive caldera. The lodge is themed around traditionally circular African houses with conical roofs, and decorated with examples of Africa’s rich textile of artistic traditions by way of rich woodcarvings and sculptures, the lodge harmonizes perfectly with its dramatic surroundings. But the drama does not just stop with the great outdoors: it also flows through the split level interiors of the main building which all offer an unsurpassed generosity of space while somehow managing to combine an almost magically welcoming ambience of both warmth and cosiness.
The imposing reception, combined with the supreme welcome service, are just but an indication of the lodge’s faultless settings and lunar service that await our guests. The furniture and attractive columns bearing decorated characters, which spread the reception, derived comprehensively from Tanzania’s rich wildlife and tribal cultures while the preserved plants are a recap of the lodge’s lush natural surroundings. All this is set against a contextual of plentiful light and lavish tones of browns, reds and orange that create a logic of easy warmth and relaxation.
The outstanding and imaginative Lobby & Lounge will welcome you in true Tanzanian hospitality and keep you fascinated with its collection of unique busts, and original furnishings and décor pieces. Indeed, the lounge is a true masterwork of African heritage and a serene place to unwind after a game drive, over a cup of the highest quality coffee or tea sourced from the Tanzanian moorlands.
Brightly decorated flowers of many classes of shrubs border the paved trails which lead away from both sides of the swimming pool to our guest rooms which are built to the same design.
When you step through your door, you will possibly hold your breath while you gaze over the two queen size beds, and through the window walling of the lower level, enclosed conservatory at the view of the crater beyond. And the luxury doesn’t stop there. Because of its height, the lodge can be chilly at night so each room has central heating, hot water bottles are placed in every bed during our evening turndown service and the luxuriously chosen bathrooms have tremendously spacious showers under which you can evoke about the marvels of this overwhelming, almost mystically place called Ngorongoro. All rooms are equipped with facilities to ensure supreme comfort during your stay at the lodge. Among these are wake up calls and complimentary coffee and tea, all of which will aid to kick start an early morning game drive.
The Lemala Hill restaurant offers a delicate culinary experience with a mixture of continental and local cuisine to cater for all palates. The restaurant is attentively fitted with ceiling to floor glass walls that offer guests panoramic views of the crater as they enjoy an expansive buffet breakfast selection, lunch or dinner and guests should kindly note that Lunch and dinner are served A la Carte on select days of the week.
The Crater View Bar is engrossed in the décor, which is heavily subjective by rich earthy browns, African artifacts and illustrations of Maasai warriors that have been skillfully carved onto the towering pillars. The bar’s gallant yet hospitable charm delivers a mixture of the lodge’s persistent afro theme and its natural surroundings. Whether you’re tending towards refined solo malt whiskeys, aged red wine or you just crave the award-winning local beers, the Crater View Bar’s unendingly stylish fireplace offers the ideal place to warm up during chilly evenings.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge offers an excellent wedding and honeymoon destination. Guests eyeing to celebrate weddings and honeymoons at our lodge are inferior for choice with exceptional locations where they can memorialize their special day. Depending on the guests’ liking, events can be staged at the passionate vantage point at the edge of the crater rim with a backdrop of the pool, in the wild bush, or in the intimate indoors. The proficiency in hosting some of the most owing weddings and honeymoons has furnished them with an incomparable expertise in turning your vision for your big day into an outstanding reality. For those in search of adventure, a traditional African wedding ceremony and music can be arranged at your request.
Ngorongoro Rhino lodge, Rhino is the first lodge after entering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area through the Loduare Gate when coming from the East. From the lodge it is only 20 minutes to reach the Seneto descent road into the Crater, and the Lerai ascent road is less than 5 minutes’ drive away.
The lodge is located at an altitude of 2,200 metres, a few hundred metres back from the rim of the Crater. What it loses in terms of viewpoint over the Crater, it more than makes up for with its views of intact high montane forest with Mount Oldeani (3,200 metres) dominating the background, and Mount Makarot in the distance (3130 metres). Stretching across 8,300 square km of dense forest, vast grasslands, and a gathering of stunning craters and lakes, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the renowned Ngorongoro Crater.
The crater floor is a natural reserve for thousands of wildlife species, and is one of the world’s last outstanding areas where the endangered black rhino lingers to breed and thrive certainly in the wild. The conservation area is also kind to its human populations, its carefully managed multiple land use philosophy ensures the peaceful co-existence of the Maasai and the natural environment, with about 42,000 Maasai peoples still living inside the conservation area.
The lodge has 24 guest rooms, all with verandah superintending a section of high montane forest. Each room has its own shower, toilet and hand basin. To keep away the cold, each room has a wood-burning stove, and hot water bottles can be filled if you want one. In the bar/dining-room there are two large fires which are a natural focus where our guests like to meet and exchange stories of the day. Hot, tasty food is available from the buffet. And after dinner our Maasai staff may entertain you with some traditional dancing.