Located 180 km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania is the Ngorongoro Crater, considered by many as the eighth wonder of the world and one among the seven natural wonders of Africa. The Ngorongoro Crater is basically a volcanic caldera, that is the remains of what was once a large volcano that later collapsed. What further adds to its popularity is the fact that Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera.
Accorded the status of a World Heritage Site, Ngorongoro Crater is the most important feature of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) within the Serengeti ecosystem. Home to more than 25 000 large mammals, this breathtaking hole in the earth was formed about 2.5 million years ago. Today, Ngorongoro Crater spans an area of about 20kms, is 600 meters deep and 300 sq kms in area and rises to an elevation of 7,500 feet.
As far as the weather in Ngorongoro Crater is concerned, the weather tends to remain moderate and pleasant throughout the year. So it would be difficult to pin down specific months as the best or ideal time to visit Ngorongoro Crater. However, from the months of May to October, game viewing is excellent. The short rains are usually experienced from November to December. The incessant rains are from February to April. This period is also considered the off season but has some breathtaking views to offer. In late February and early March, one can spot the migration on the plains. This is also one of the best times for wildlife photography as there are spectacular interactions between the predators and prey.
In order to access Ngorongoro Crater, the best idea is to first reach Arusha either by flight or express coaches, depending on your budget and convenience. Once you reach Arusha, take the Ngorongoro Crater bus which departs from Arusha’s central bus station daily at 10am and Park Village at 7am. Park Village also offers the facility of hiring private vehicles to Ngorongoro Crater. In Arusha, guides can also be arranged at the NCAA headquarters.
Ngorongoro Crater offers exceptional views and also happens to be one of the most beautiful natural wildlife safari sites in the world. Visitors should note that the entry down to the crater floor opens at 7am, and closes (for descent) at 4pm. All vehicles are expected to be out of the crater area before 6pm.
Some of the must engage in activities on a visit to Ngorongoro Crater include:
• Take a hot-air balloon ride over the Serengeti plains.
• Ngorongoro Crater is an excellent place to interact with the local Masai tribes. Local Maasai have grazing rights and you may come across them tending their cattle.
• Picnic on the Ngorongoro Crater floor.
• Ngorongoro Crater is the best place in Tanzania to see the big five. You’re most likely to spot lions, leopards, hyena and zebra among others. Ngorongoro is also one of the last remaining areas in Tanzania where you can see the endangered Black Rhino.
For some excellent wildlife snapshots and an exciting African safari, Ngorongoro Crater ia the destination to explore!