The famous Ngorongoro Crater is the world's largest intact caldera in an exceptional geographical position, forming a spectacular bowl of about 265 square kilometres with sides up to 600m deep, the stalking ground of around 20,000 to 30,000 wild animals at any one time. The crater floor consists of a number of ecological environments that include grassland, swamps, lerai forest (small patches of forest made up of yellow barked acacia or ‘yellow fever tree’), and Lake Makat, a central soda lake filled by the Munge river. All these various habitats attract various wildlife to drink, wallow, graze, hide or climb, and although animals are free to move in and out of this contained environment, the rich volcanic soil, lush forests and spring source lakes on the crater floor tend to incline both grazers and predators to remain. Ngorongoro Crater is also presently one of the most likely areas in Tanzania to see the endangered Black Rhino, and a small population are thriving in this idyllic and protected environment – which is one of the only areas where they continue to breed in the wild. And so the crater forms an astonishing microcosm of East African wildlife within its boundaries, and is said to be the most densely packed wildlife concentration in Africa. As such, it has achieved world renown, and attracts a growing number of visitors each year, who come to experience this ‘eighth wonder of the world’. even if time is limited this natural but accessibly small caldera ensures a rewarding safari.
Unique and diverse, inside the famous Ngorongoro Crater a tardis like effect takes place as it is surprisingly small once inside and most people find that one day is quite sufficient to drive around. It’s size compared to the vast expanse of the Serengeti means that you may see many other vehicles. The descent road into the crater is closed from
Its rim, over 2,200 metres high, touches swathes of clouds for most days of the year, with cool high altitude vapours that seem to bring a clean lightness to the air, and also a chill. These highlands wake up to a misty fog in most months, other than the high dry season during December and January.
Accommodations at Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding area
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge: One of the most romantic options, with an inspirational and stylish design. The lodge is divided into three distinct 'camps', to ensure the utmost in personal service; retire to your own sitting room for cocktails among the branches of an ancient baobab, bathe with awesome views and dine under the stars - by the light of flaming braziers.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge: A lavishly decorated but older establishment on the Eastern aspect of the Crater. The Sopa has a more unusual stylistic expression that apparently dates from the late eighties, but remains evidently nostalgic to the previous decade. The lodge is based around an impressive glass-fronted central atrium overlooking the swimming pool.
Ngorongoro Serena Lodge: An impressive rocky bastion against the cool highland mists and excellent cosy rooms with full sliding-glass panels between bed and the open jaw of the crater. Rooms are laid out in two levels in long lines along the crater rim, making it feel much bigger than the other Tanzanian Serena properties, but the whole is well decorated with hand-painted ‘cave’-style illustrations and styled throughout to create a good atmosphere.
Gibbs Farm: Gibb’s Farm is a remarkable hideaway between National Parks and conservation areas, a surprisingly English country garden tucked high on a wide African hillside between fields of maize, beans and coffee. A series of bungalow rooms under trailing flower laden eaves set around the old colonial farmhouse. The surrounding gardens continue to remain in a pristine condition.