An Ngorongoro safari is one of the most amazing experiences in Tanzania. One of the few places to spot the big five, here’s a complete guide.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a protected 8,292 km² area and a World Heritage Site, located in the Eastern (Great) Rift Valley, northern Tanzania. It lies 150 km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania.
The area is named after Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera, measuring between 10 and 12 miles (16 and 19 km).
The crater can be reached via paved road from Arusha in just over four hours, which is also the closest domestic airport.
Kilimanjaro is the closest international airport (250km away), a 5 hour drive from Ngorongoro Crater.
Transport to Ngorongoro Crater will be included in your safari, so just be sure to let your chosen safari company know which accommodation you’re staying at, in advance.
When you arrive for your Ngorongoro safari, it’s a 30 minute descent from the entrance.
For our first ever African Safari, we chose to go with Shadows of Africa, and here’s why we highly recommend them.
Over a 4 day period, we explored Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, visited local Maasai and Hadzabe tribes, plus stayed at some unbelievable accommodations.
Seeing the animals up close and personally was obviously incredible, but the organisation and service by the whole team was definitely the cherry on top of the whole experience.
Shadows Of Africa was born in 2010 and consists of a team of like-minded people, who have spent an extensive amount of time living and traveling around Africa.
The guides at Shadows of Africa were our eyes and ears of the experience, and our main driver Moody was such a knowledgeable and likeable guy.
All of the guides speak fluent English and have a real passion for the wildlife of Africa. They were happy to answer any questions we had, and made the trip a memorable one for sure.
Click HERE for our full 5 Day Tanzania Safari Itinerary – The Ultimate Guide blog.
All safari prices differ depending on whether you choose to customise your package or what type of experience you’re looking for.
This tour is priced at roughly $2,275 USD per person based on a two person group and we cannot recommend it enough!
However, you can send Shadows Of Africa a free enquiry here, as well as check out the vast range of fully customisable safari packages they offer.
Below, you will be able to see what exactly is included in a typical Shadows of Africa safari:
- All meals on the safari – When staying at lodges, you will be on full board basis so when you’re budget camping then the accompanying chef will prepare delicious warm meals.
- All park entrance fees & taxes.
- Flying Doctors rescue insurance for the time of the tour with Shadows of Africa.
- Hotel/lodge/camp accommodation for the duration of the safari.
- Private 4×4 wheel drive vehicle with a roof hatch and sliding windows. This allows a 360 degree view of the wildlife surrounding you.
- First aid kit – Every safari vehicle comes standard with a fully stocked first aid kit. Shadows of Africa guides are all trained in providing basic first aid.
- Spare tyres – For any unforeseen issues that may arise in the bumpy African outback
- Charging station – Each car includes a charging station so you can charge your phone, camera battery, or laptop while on the road.
- WIFI – The Tanzanian vehicles come standard with WiFi so that you can stay connected while on the road.
- Tea & Coffee – Every safari departs with a box, which includes coffee and tea that can be enjoyed at any point during your safari.
- Binoculars – 1 pair per car.
- Professional English speaking safari and tour guide/driver.
- Unlimited drinking water.
June, July, August, September, October, November
December, January, February
March, April, May
In terms of value for money, the periods just on the edge of peak season and low season are when you can get the best deals. Travelling around November is a great time to go, because all the accommodations drop their rates as of the 1st November.
Between June and October, which is the solid dry season in Tanzania, is when the animals are easiest to spot. This is when the undergrowth has receded and animals tend to gather conveniently around waterholes and rivers.
The only advantages the wetter months offer are fewer people and low-season accommodation rates.
However wildlife can be spotted all year round. Most camps and lodges are open all year round too. A number of luxury lodgings are available on the rim of the crater, plus more affordable options are available in the nearby town of Karatu.
Weather & Climate
Conditions at Ngorongoro vary depending on the altitude.
Higher up, at the crater itself, it can get quite cold at night, particularly up on the rim. But down in the crater it stays quite warm. During the area’s dry season (June to October), there’s barely a cloud in the sky.
In the wet season (November to May), you’re likely to experience rain and a brief dry spell.
Ngorongoro Crater is home to the Big five and is also densely populated with other wildlife, including an estimated 6,000 wildebeest.
Black Rhino, Elephants, Hippo, Buffalo, Zebra, Wildebeest, Lion, Cheetah, Hyena, Warthog, Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles, Eland
Giraffes are not present in the in the crater because of the steep descent/lack of trees, but easy to spot on the way in along the crater rim.
It is possible to spot the Big Five on a Ngorongoro Crater safari. The big five being, rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard. However, leopards are more difficult to find.
The area contains over 25,000 large animals, including 26 black rhinos. There are 7,000 wildebeests, 4,000 zebras, 3,000 eland and 3,000 Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles. The crater also has the densest known population of lions, numbering at 62.
A visit to the Ngorongoro Crater is an experience of a lifetime. There are few places that have wildlife variety on this level and it is not so unusual to see the Big Five in one day at Ngorongoro crater.
Not only that, it has the most amazing setting, with the backdrop of a 600m high crater wall. The crater is the only intact caldera in the world.
The Black Rhino
Black rhinos in Ngororongoro crater are a rare species, whose presence has made a huge impact on the tourism industry in Tanzania.
It’s extremely common for tourists to choose the Ngorongoro safari, specifically to see black rhinos.
There are currently 26 rhinos living in Ngorongoro crater.
We’ve put together a simple check list of items you will probably want to pack, prior to your Ngorongoro Crater Safari.
Click HERE so you can read the full What To Wear On Safari – A Complete Safari Packing List breakdown.
Long Sleeve Shirts
Lightweight Rain Jacket
Comfortable Shoes/Walking Boots
Sweatpants (for wearing around camp)
Sandals/Flip Flops (for wearing around camp)
Dress/Jeans (For evening dinners)
Luxury – Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge – All Inclusive – Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge is located in the Karatu district, surrounded by the highlands of Tanzania. It features a swimming pool as well as a sundeck and a spa. Each luxury suite features a spacious viewing terrace and an open fireplace. It has a living room with a sofa and dining area. The Acacia Restaurant has a formal dining room with an outdoor terrace and serves a la carte meals along with a buffet. Dinner at the pool or in the bush can also be arranged. Wi-Fi is available in the public areas of the lodge too.
Mid-Budget – Karatu Tented Lodge – Karatu Tented Lodge is a 4 star hotel that offers room service, family rooms and a tour desk. The accommodation features a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, and a bar and garden in Karatu. At the hotel, every room includes a closet. Karatu Tented Lodge provides certain units that include a patio and garden view. However, every room comes with a private bathroom and a desk along with a fully equipped seating area. Continental breakfast is also available daily.
Budget – Lilac Elevate Inn – Lilac Elevate Inn provides accommodation, free private parking and a restaurant and bar. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and room service, in addition with free WiFi throughout the property. Guests can also enjoy city views from this hotel. All rooms have a desk, as well as a private bathroom that is equipped with a shower and free toiletries. Some units at Lilac Elevate Inn also have a seating area. Guests at the accommodation can also enjoy a Full English/Irish breakfast.
For more Ngorongoro Crater Lodges, you can check the latest prices here.