Safari in the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area - Season Guide and Lodges

Safari in the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area - Season Guide and Lodges

Tanzania
Tanzania

When Is the Best Time

Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most beautiful places on earth for wildlife viewing, utterly exceptional. You can spot wildlife throughout the year. Because of its unique ecosystem, the animals don't leave the crater. The best time for Ngorongoro and other major National Parks in Tanzania and the Serengeti is June to September/October. Most tourists come for their safari tour in the African winter, the dry season the busiest time of the year. 

Weather and Seasons

Rainfall close to Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater floor is located on an elevation of about 1.650 m/5.400 ft, whereas the crater rim is on a much higher elevation of about 2.300/7.500ft. The high crater rim creates a microclimate for the caldera floor. It never gets too hot on the crater floor, nor is it freezing in the winter. The lodges are located along the rim, where it is much colder from May to September. 

Dry Season - June-October 

Lion yawning

This is the best time for game viewing with clear blue skies. Of course, it is also the busiest time of the year. Fewer mosquitoes. Downside: Most crowds, highest rates, very busy. Jeeps and spots need to be shared with many others. It is freezing at the crater rim in the morning and still fresh on the crater floor. A softshell jacket is well needed. It is also cold at night. The temperature in the afternoon is pleasant but still below 20°C. First showers start in October, but that does not have a huge impact on your safari. 

Wet Season - November-May 

Black Rhinos

In November and December, temperatures become more pleasant above 20°C in the crater but still cool on the rim due to the high elevation. There are frequent showers in the afternoon. The lush and green scenery is breathtaking. The wet season is not as good as the dry season for wildlife spotting, but it is always great here. The grass is higher, and predators are more difficult to spot. Birding is excellent migratory birds are here as well in the warmer and wetter season. Particular months within the wet season are January and February: You might see baby zebra, baby wildebeest and other newborns. Bird watching is also excellent during these months. In general, rain is limited and usually not that bad during the wet season. Overall, November to February are not overrun but still busy. 

Grey crowned cranes in the canopy
Grey-crowned cranes couple

Decreasing rainfall in May. March to April are the wettest months with heavy rain. I would avoid these months; you may not experience what you expect, and getting there is too expensive and time-consuming. Sometimes it can get challenging to use the roads during or after heavy rain. Although March and April are less busy, I would prefer the dry season.

Flamingos in the Lake Magadi in the middle of the crater
Flamingos in Lake Magadi, the southernmost lake in the Kenyan Rift Valley.

Malaria

Malaria is an issue in Africa, and the risk is the highest during the rainy season and at the beginning of the dry season. It is recommended to wear long sleeves, long trousers, and take precautions. It is advisable to take antimalarial in a high-risk time.

Excellent Tours for Tanzania

A huge herd of zebras

To experience the Ngorongoro Crater, a guided tour is the only opportunity. Nowadays, I frequently book our tours via GetYourGuide. They send you reminders for your booked trip and the meeting point. The handling with the sent voucher workers also very well. Most convincing for me is the 24 hours cancellation policy with a money-back guarantee.

 

 

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Tanzania
Tanzania

The crater is such a unique place offering a jaw-dropping setting. Ngorongoro is the largest, unfilled and inactive volcanic caldera in the world. It has an entirely separate ecosystem inside of the caldera. There are more than 30.000 animals inside the crater; therefore, spectacular sightings are guaranteed. 

Lioness and cub

The crater rim and the Conservation Area is located at an altitude of 2.300m up to 3.500m / 7.500ft-11.500ft. Keep this in mind; nights are chilly or even freezing in winter at your lodge on top of the crater. Ngorongoro has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1979 and is called one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. Arusha airport in the east is the gateway to Ngorongoro, a four hours drive.

9 Facts for Ngorongoro

Peak season in Ngorongoro Crater - jeeps are following a lion
Peak Season in the Crater

 

  1. The size of the crater is immense; 100 square miles/ 260 square km and more than 600 m/2000 ft deep.
  2. Ngorongoro is the best place to see the 'big five': buffalo, leopard, lion, elephant, and rhino.
  3. It's also the best place to see the critically endangered black rhino.
  4. Game viewing is great almost throughout the year - Usually, you see it all just in one day.
  5. The game is not only inside the crater also along the rim.
  6. There are several points where the crater can be accessed.
  7. The price for a safari is about $300.
  8. The national park fee itself is $60 plus VAT $70.80.
  9. The Maasai is the only tribe allowed to live in the crater or other parks of Tanzania.
     
The Maasai tribe in the crater black and white picture
A Maasai settlement in the crater
Accommodations
Hippos in a small pond in the southern part of the crater
The southern part of the crater is one of the very few places where tourists are allowed to leave the jeep. Our ranger always said, "I have to check the tires" which means to pee.

You get addicted to such safaris. These outstanding pictures took my friend Chris, a fantastic photographer. He gave me the details for "best time 2 travel" for this once in a lifetime adventure. 

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…