How to plan a safari in the majestic Ngorongoro conservation area : The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed area in Tanzania’s Crater Highlands that includes the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera. In addition to the “Cradle of Mankind” at the Olduvai Gorge, where one of the earliest known examples of the human genus was unearthed, it is home to an astounding diversity of fauna such as birdlife, Africa big fives and big cats.
One of the earliest “multi-use areas” in the world, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to semi-nomadic Masai pastoralists who engage in traditional livestock grazing alongside wildlife. It’s a breathtaking place to visit and is located along the “Tanzania Northern safari Circuit,” adjacent to the Serengeti National Park, Tarangire National Park, and Lake Manyara National Park. Accommodation options range from wild camping to luxurious lodges that can accommodates all travelers’ budgets from tight budget, mid-range budget and luxury budget.
WHAT ANIMALS CAN YOU SEE IN YOUR SAFARI VISIT TO THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA?
With over 25,000 large animals, including the “African Big 5,” living in the crater alone, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a biodiversity hotspot. The lion population is one of the densest in Africa due to the crater’s natural borders, but it is also one of the most inbred because so few migrating males enter the gene pool.
However, there are also colossal populations of Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, Grant’s zebra, elands, and blue wildebeest. You can anticipate seeing much fewer wildebeest and zebra during the wet season than during the dry. However, as a result of these animals migrating into the crater’s natural confines with the arrival of the rains, the numbers of buffalo and eland rise.
Although they are prevalent in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, cheetahs and East African wild dogs are seldom observed there. However, spotted hyenas and servals can occasionally be seen with the help of a skilled guide’s keen eye. The crater is also well known for its flamingo population, especially in the area southwest of Lake Magadi, where tens of thousands of lesser flamingos are frequently spotted foraging in the shallows.
In addition to the crater, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area includes the west side of the reserve’s wildlife-rich Ndutu Lake area, known for its sightings of cheetah, hartebeest, spotted hyenas, and lions. Plan your trip to coincide with the annual wildebeest migration, which passes through in June or around December when the animals are traveling north toward the Masai Mara National reserve in Kenya.
With more than 500 different species reported, the Ngorongoro Highlands and the crater both provide excellent opportunities for bird viewing. Along with huge species like ostriches and crowned cranes, the crater is home to a variety of specialized grassland birds, such as the white-eyed slaty flycatcher, the Livingstone turaco, and others. You can see several migratory species that travel large distances from Europe and Asia if you go between November and April.
HOW TO GET TO THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
The main entry point for travelers going to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the Kilimanjaro International Airport. Arusha city, which is less than 50 kilometers by car from the Kilimanjaro International Airport, is where most Ngorongoro safaris begin. As an alternative, you can fly from your country and land to Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport and board a local flight that goes straight to Arusha Airport.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is about a three-hour journey from Arusha, during which time you’ll pass through beautiful terrain and have the chance to see wildlife. Many tourists extend their vacation to the Serengeti National park home to the great wildebeest migration after their Ngorongoro safari, with the well-known Serengeti region being around three hours away. One alternative is to take a regularly scheduled flight to the Serengeti and then drive a safari vehicle via the Ngorongoro Conservation Area or vice versa to return to Arusha, How to plan a safari in the majestic Ngorongoro conservation area
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a fantastic place to see wildlife all year. However, the dry season, which lasts from June to October, is often seen as the ideal time to visit because shorter grasses make it easier to see wildlife. These months are distinguished by clear skies, little rain, and fewer insects at night. The crater’s vicinity often has the highest lodge and camping rates, and you should be aware that it can get very chilly early in the morning and late at night.
During the wet season, which lasts from November to May, the landscapes turn a rich green with brief afternoon rains and storms that hardly ever disrupt travel plans. As migrating species swarm to the wetlands, now is the perfect time to go bird watching. There may be price reductions at some lodges and campgrounds, and there are a lot fewer tourists around at this time.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
Ngorongoro Crater: Some tourists are surprised to learn that there are no lodging or camping options inside the Ngorongoro Crater. Along the crater rim, there is a wide range of accommodations to suit all tastes, from upscale luxury resorts to low-cost campsites. This is one of the most popular places for tourists to stay who are first-time visitors to the reserve because many of them offer great views of the crater floor.
Ndutu: The Ndutu area is distinguished by woods and two soda-rich lakes surrounded by endless grassy plains. It is located at the border of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where it joins the Serengeti National Park. The sole permanent source of water in the area, Ndutu is frequented by nomadic pastoralists who come to graze their livestock during the dry season. Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope on their annual migration occupy the meadows during the calving season, and when the rains come, they take their place, How to plan a safari in the majestic Ngorongoro conservation area
Away from the crowds of Ngorongoro Crater, there are a few permanent hotels and tented camps spread around Ndutu Lake where you can stay and observe the yearly migration. Additionally, visitors are welcome to stay at a tent lodge close to the shores of Lake Masek, which is located immediately to the east.
Olduvai Gorge: The Olduvai Gorge, a Great Rift Valley ravine with a steep-sided valley that is about 50 kilometers long, is situated to the east of Ndutu. It is one of the driest areas of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and is located in the rain shadow of the Ngorongoro Highlands. It is thought that a sizable lake flooded the gorge millions of years ago. With a fascinating museum open to the public today, Olduvai Gorge has since been recognized as one of the most significant prehistoric sites in the world for rising our understanding of early human evolution.
Visitors are welcome to stay at a luxurious camp on the brink of the gorge if visiting Olduvai is something you’re particularly interested in. It’s only a 30-minute drive from the Ngorongoro Crater, and Masai settlements that have remained on their ancestral lands and uphold their traditional way of life are all around it.