Self-Drive In Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Self-Drive In Ngorongoro Conservation Area: Is it possible to visit the Ngorongoro Crater without booking through a tour company or going with a tour guide? Is it possible to do a self-drive safari tour in the Ngorongoro crater? One of the most commonly asked questions about the safari tour to the Ngorongoro conservation area is this one; therefore, today at Focus East Africa Tours, we’ll address it and make sure you know all the essential details about the Ngorongoro self-drive safari. Is a self-drive safari possible in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area? Yes, it is feasible to take a self-drive safari tour in the Ngorongoro conservation area, and the experience would be incredible. However, there are some crucial details or advice you must be aware of in order for this adventure to be truly exceptional.

The Ngorongoro self-drive safari is one of the safari experiences that many travelers enjoy, especially those on a low budget who don’t wish to book with a tour company. However, we don’t recommend it highly because the safari needs a lot of attention and can be very upsetting.  Just picture having a dead safari vehicle in the middle of the Ngorongoro and having no one nearby to assist you!

Focus East Africa Tours has the best advice on how to arrange your NCA park permits, avoid paying double entry fees, and where to stay for a better Ngorongoro experience. If you have enough money for your Ngorongoro conservation area safari, we advise you to book with a safari tour company rather than a self-drive safari. However, if you have no money and wish to do your safari as a self-drive safari, or if you’re more of an independent traveler, the following are some crucial suggestions to keep in mind when organizing a self-drive safari tour of Ngorongoro:

Covered in this guide to self-driving in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area:

  • How much do I need to budget for a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater?
  • How do I arrange the Ngorongoro entrance permits for my self-drive safari in Tanzania?
  • Can I explore the Ngorongoro Crater without hiring a driver?
  • I’m designing my Tanzania itinerary. How many days should I reserve for the Ngorongoro crater?
  • Camping and the best places to stay in Ngorongoro


The unrivaled amount of wildlife you may view in a single day at Ngorongoro is always an amazing experience, as is the hefty price to see it. The following entrance costs should be considered when organizing your safari:

Prices are listed for one admission up to 24 hours per person, including VAT.

  • The Ngorongoro Conservation Area entrance fee is $70.80 per person.
  • Every time a vehicle descends into the crater, an extra $295 Crater Service Fee is required if you wish to enter it.
  • A night at a free campsite costs $35 per person. The cost of a special campground is $50 per person per night.

You must still pay the NCA fee twice: once on your trip to the Serengeti and once on your way back from the Serengeti, even if you only want to pass through the NCA. If you leave or enter the Serengeti through Klein’s gate in the north-east on your route to or from Lake Natron, you can avoid paying the NCA charge twice. Although the trip from Klein’s Gate to Lake Natron is incredibly scenic, some people do not like it because of certain particularly difficult sections and the remote location.

Self-Drive In Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Self-Drive In Ngorongoro Conservation Area


No doubt, The Ngorongoro Crater offers self-drive safaris, so you can do that. Ranger guides are recommended by the park wardens at the NCA entrance gate, although they are not required and, in our opinion, are not necessary. The safari trails on the carter floor are well maintained and clearly marked, making it difficult to get lost.


It is not possible to arrange and pay for access permits for the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Crater at the park gate. Your NCA reservation quote must be provided by the tour operator, and you must pay cash at the bank for the real permit. Your quote can be arranged via Focus East Africa Tours.


From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., the Ngorongoro Crater permit is valid. The main crater routes can be completed in one to one and a half days. The Highlands of the conservation area offer some fantastic options for breaking up a vehicle-based safari and getting some exercise, in addition to the internationally renowned Ngorongoro Crater. So stay put for a few extra days to avoid the crowds and allow for some exploration off the usual path.

The following list of lesser-known attractions to visit in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area includes:

Empakai Crater: About 40 kilometers to the northeast of its well-known neighbor, the Ngorongoro Crater, is the spectacular but little-known Empakai Crater. You will be treated to magnificent vistas of the Empakai Crater and a sight of Oldoinyo Lengai, Tanzania’s most active volcano, from the time you arrive at Empakai. A 45-minute descent through a dense, mountainous forest leads to the crater. There is excellent birdwatching surrounding the lake on the crater floor, and there is an opportunity to view flamingos as well as some large wildlife, such as buffalo, hyenas, and elephants.

Visit Olduvai Gorge (also known as Oldupai), one of the most significant paleoanthropology sites in the world, if you have an interest in ancient history. It is well known for the early hominid fossils, stone tools, and plant and mammal fossils that were found there. In 3.7 million-year-old sedimentary rock at Laetoli, hominid footprints of our genetic predecessors have been discovered. A changing sand dune may be found 30 minutes from Olduvai, which is a remarkable phenomenon. Due to the high iron content in the tiny volcanic ash that makes up this dune, it has a strong magnetic field. This indicates that while the dune slowly advances across the environment, it sticks together and functions as a single entity.

A bottleneck for the yearly Great Migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra, the Gol Mountains, also known as the Mountains of God, offer a surreal wilderness setting of harsh, pink cliffs that surround the Angata Kiti pass. This region of Tanzania is still one of the most traditional in the country. It is home to the Masaai people, who continue to slaughter lions as part of their rituals to become warriors and who still depend entirely on currency. Don’t imagine that seeing the Masaai as part of a “culture tour” will provide you with a true sense of what the people are like. But you will undoubtedly learn a lot about this sacred location if you join a reputable tour guide on one of the many guided walking safaris.

Driving times to the Ngorongoro Crater are as follows:

  • Arusha-Loduare Gate (NCA entrance)/crater rim: 3-4 hours
  • Loduare Gate to Ngorongoro Crater entrance: 1.5 hours.
  • Ngorongoro Crater entrance to Naabi Hill Gate (Serengeti entrance): 2.5 hours

Be aware that the distance between the NCA Simba Public Campsite and the Naabi Gate Serengeti is around 3–4 hours by car (which is also the exit of the NCA). Therefore, you must plan your visit carefully and account for the 3–4 hour journey to leave the NCA if you wish to avoid paying the NCA twice while spending the night in the NCA.


The NCA and the Ngorongoro Crater are both easily accessible from Karatu, which is also a great and inexpensive area to stay. Simba Public Campsite A, located on the crater rim, is the least expensive lodging choice if you want to remain inside the NCA.

 The remaining campsites on the crater rim are referred to as “special campsites,” and most of them are reserved by exclusive safari firms that bid on them for the season. You won’t be able to stay there if you’re a solo traveler. Individual travelers may reserve the less-exciting unique campsites since the safari firms do not use them.

Rhino Lodge, albeit lacking a view, is the most reasonably priced lodging option on the crater rim. The Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge would be Focus East Africa Tour’s top choice among these lodges because all of the others are exceedingly pricey.

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