+256 704347452 info@paradiseadventurevacations.com
+256 704347452 info@paradiseadventurevacations.com

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, located north of Tanzania, was established in 1959 covering vast expanses of craters, forests, gorges, lakes, streams, rivers, savanna grasslands and woodlands. The stunning combination of landscape and wildlife rivals those in the neighboring Serengeti and the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The famous award winning movie “Out of Africa” was partly filmed in the Ngorongoro. Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the famous Ngorongoro crater from which it derives its name, this crater is the main attraction here, the Olduvai Gorge and the remote crater highlands.  The Olduvai Gorge, Africa’s most significant archaeological site is also located a few kilometers north of the Ngorongoro Crater.

Ngorongoro Conservation area spans 8,300sqkm (3,204 square miles). The area also supports traditional Maasai communities and promotes sustainable tourism. Visitors can as well witness the Maasai people grazing their livestock on the plains.

The Ngorongoro Crater is surrounded by smoking volcanoes and borders the north and west of the conservation area. Thus connecting it to the Serengeti National Park. The Crater which collapsed in on itself was once a volcano that was likely taller than Mount Kilimanjaro but now, it forms a perfect basin.

Upon descending into the Crater, visitors will feel like they are in a soup bowl with steep sides. This basin with a diameter of 18km sits 500 meters below the rim, which towers about 2,200 meters above sea level. The Crater  estimated to have formed about two million years ago and it features various landscapes and natural features. These include; forests, craters, valleys, peaks, rivers, lakes and plains.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area also home to a lush highland forest that appear to be a rainforest depending on the regular and abundant mist and drizzles from the Crater. After a closer inspection, the mist particles can be observed swirling like raindrops among the ancient trees.

Ngorongoro Crater often referred to as “the Garden of Eden”. This is simply because it is a true paradise for a variety of mammals. The Crater  the largest unfilled volcanic caldera in the world. The massive explosion left behind a floor covering an area of 260sqkm and 2,000 feet deep. The crater consists of water bodies like Lake Magadi and the Ngoitokitok Springs. These water bodies provide water for wildlife throughout the year though the Maasai herdsmen often use them to supply water for their animals. Done especially during the dry months of the year.


Activities in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Game Drives

Game drives in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are without a doubt the best way to view wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater. Done in two shifts; during the morning and afternoon hours. On every safari, visitors should expect to see all the big 5 mammals like Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffaloes and Rhinos, birds, lakes, lush forests and savanna vegetation to marvel at.


Maasai Community Encounter   

The Maasai are one of Africa’s most intriguing tribes. Although they live outside the crater itself, they are allowed to graze their animals around the crater rim or bring them down the crater for water during the dry months of the year. While visiting the Ngorongoro Conservation area, an arrangement can be made for tourists to visit one of their homes or cultural centers to learn about their traditions and culture. It is more rewarding to visit villages/families that are less visited so that you have a more enriching experience instead of stage-managed tours. Visiting the Maasai people involves attending traditional dance performances, taking photos, buying souvenirs and meeting the elders.


Visiting the Hadzabe Community

When the Maasai arrived in the Serengeti area about 300 years ago, they drove out the Hadzabe Tribe and other Bushmen to remote areas of the park. Less than 2000 of these Bushmen still live in the area. Unlike the Maasai who have embraced modern ways of living, the Hadzabe still remain primitive and still live off hunting and gathering. A visit to their remote habitats will allow you discover their culture and ways of living.


Nature and Crater Rim Walks

Nature walks in the Ngorongoro  done along the edges or rim of the crater. The western edge of the crater offers great views of the woodlands, open grasslands and acacia forests. You can also watch as the Maasai take their cattle for grazing or back to the kraals.


Bird watching

The Ngorongoro crater is one of the best places for birding in the Northern Tanzania. The species to look out for are; the flamingos, Kori bustards and crowned cranes, the African cytrill sights, forest buzzard, golden winged sunbirds and white eyes slaty among others.


Hot Air Ballooning

This is an expensive but very adventurous way to explore the vast crater and surrounding areas. Hot air ballooning highly recommended especially during the migration – when the wildebeest are roaming or calving outside the crater and the nearby Serengeti. The great thing about hot air ballooning is that it allows tourists to appreciate and enjoy the beautiful scenery within the crater.


Hiking to the summit of the Gol Mountains

The Gol Mountains  found within Serengeti National Park. The slopes excellent for wildlife viewing and cultural encounters with the resident Maasai Herdsmen. At the base of the Gol Mountains is the famous Nasera Rock where tourists can spot a variety of birds and hundreds of baboons. The Leakey family excavated remains of humans who lived there during the Stone Age period. The Gol Mountains will capture your imagination if your dream is to explore the remote African wilderness. After exploring the Gol Mountains, you can also choose to conquer an active volcano known as Oldoinyo Lengai.


Visit Olduvai Gorge

The Olduvai Gorge known as the “Cradle of Mankind”. Where the oldest archaeological discoveries were made by Richard Leakey and his family. The Leakey’s discovered the remains of the very first hominids in Olduvai Gorge in the early 20th Century. They went on to make some groundbreaking discoveries with most of them older than 2 million years ago. The fossils include that of extinct animals that roamed the area and the more recent Stone Age man.  However, You can register to be taken for a guided walk within the gorge. Do not forget to check out the hominid footprints in Laetoli. These footprints where discovered on a volcanic rock and are over 3 million years old. There is a small museum that was built for public viewing and contains excavated remains and artifacts for tourists to see.


Visit the Empakaai Crater

This is the smaller sibling of the Ngorongoro Crater. The Empakaai Crater also formed when a volcano collapsed into a 6-kilometer-wide caldera. It is a lesser known crater but with a lot to offer. Much of it is covered by a deep alkaline lake that is 85 meters deep. The lake changes color depending on the time of the day and attracts thousands of flamingos because of abundant algae. The rims of the crater are home to pink flamingos, blue monkeys, water bucks, bush bucks, buffaloes, elephants and hyenas. Beyond the crater are stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro and Ol Doinyo Lengai.


Lake Magadi

If you are fascinated by beautiful scenery, nature and birds, then the shallow lake Magadi will not disappoint. This paradise attracts wading birds like pelicans and flamingos in the thousands. Lake Magadi is one of the best places for birding in Tanzania. Thousands of tourists visit Tanzania specifically to watch flamingos forage for green algae in the alkaline lake.


Lerai Fever Tree Forest

This forest is one of the best attractions within the Ngorongoro Crater. It contains rare acacia trees that are slim, tall and with yellow colors. The distinctive look and ability to attract wildlife is what fascinates tourists. The trees thrive here but also seen in small numbers when you visit some water bodies in Africa. The Lerai Fever Tree Forest is the best place to spot black rhinos. Attracted to the vegetation in the forest. The acacia trees also attract hyrax, bushbucks, elephants and countless birds.


When to Visit

The best time to visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is during the dry season in the months of June to September and also December to March. This provides the best time for wildlife viewing since the grass is short.


How to Get to Ngorongoro Conservation Area

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area  reached by both Road and Air transport and they include;

By Road, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is about 3 hours from Arusha.

By Air, Visitors can access the Ngorongoro Crater by catching a chartered flight from Arusha or Kilimanjaro International Airport to Lake Manyara Airstrip and then drive to Ngorongoro.


Ngorongoro Entry Gates

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area has 2 entry gates and they include;

Lodoare gate

Naabi Hill gate


Accommodations in Ngorongoro Conservation Area

These accommodations are Luxury, Mid-Range and Budget and they include the following;

Luxury Accommodations

Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

Serena Lodge Ngorongoro

Crater Lodge Ngorongoro

Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge

The Retreat at Ngorongoro

Ngorongoro Oldeani Mountain Lodge

Ngorongoro Wild Camps

Ang’ata Ngorongoro Camp


Mid-Range Accommodations

Manyara Wildlife Safari Camp

Ango Tree Hotel

Kirurumu Tented Lodge


Budget Accommodations

Simba Campsite

First Point Arusha Hostel

Jambo Rooms

Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge

Kudu Lodge and Campsite