Ngorongoro National Park - The Ultimate Big 5 Safari Destination

What's a Tanzania safari holiday without a trip to Ngorongoro national park! The Ngorongoro national park is home to the world's highest density of game, including the big five safari cats. It's thus no lie when we say a Ngorongoro national park safari tour is indeed the perfect destination for a big five safari.

So take your cameras out, wear your safari hat, jump on your 4x4 safari Landcruiser and let's take you on a journey to this magnificent park of Tanzania

Brief Overview

Ngorongoro national park is located within the Crater Highlands in the Arusha Region of Tanzania. The park occupies 8300 square kilometres and is part of the Serengeti ecosystem. It lies partly on the Eastern Rift Valley and adjoins the Serengeti National Park

Widely considered one of the best safari parks in Africa, Ngorongoro was established in 1959 after being separated from the Serengeti National Park. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Ngorongoro is a conservation area that protects wildlife from humans. The Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 allows human settlements in the park but limits the land use to protect wildlife populations. It's the only conservation area in Tanzania to do this. 

Ngorongoro is one of the most beautiful safari experiences in Africa. The park has a variety of breathtaking habitats and landscapes to explore, including grassland plains, swampland, volcanic craters, lakes, rivers, savannah woodland, forests, and mountains. As far as sightseeing goes, it's difficult to beat this park.

As mentioned, Ngorongoro national park is home to the big five, Africa's pride and joy. Big five safari tours are pretty standard in the area for that reason. That's not all; Ngorongoro is also home to the largest ungulate herds in the world, including wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles. The endangered black rhinoceros still roam the crater- yes, you'll get to see some of the last black rhinos in the world. You'll also see 400 bird species in the park, including flamingoes, sunbirds, and hornbills. The African hunting dogs, spotted hyenas, and hippotamus are familiar sights in the park. 

The area consisting of the Ngorongoro National Park, the Serengeti National Park, and the Maasai Mara game reserve is home to the Great Migration, an annual migration of millions of wildebeests. A Ngorongoro national park safari tour should therefore be on the list of must-see places for any traveller. 

The Ngorongoro park fee is $50 for anyone above 16 years. For children between 5-16 years, the park entry fee is $10. Children under the age of five enter free. Regarding affordability, Ngorongoro offers one of the best safaris in Africa. 

During the safari, you can ride an off-road 4 x 4 Land Cruiser Jeep or a 4X4 safari van provided by our Tanzania safari company. You'll get an adventure in the comfort of a safari vehicle of your own choosing. 

Top Attractions at Ngorongoro National Park

So, you want to go on a Ngorongoro national park safari tour but don't know where to start? Luckily for you, the park has many attractions, each as riveting as the other. 

1. Ngorongoro Crater

The main attraction is the Ngorongoro Crater, the world's largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. Ngorongoro Crater was formed when the volcano erupted 2-3 million years ago. The crater is 600 metres deep, 20 kilometres across, and covers 260 square kilometres. Around 25,000 large animals such as lions, buffaloes, and rhinos live in the crater. Ngorongoro Crater is home to a surreal mixture of habitats, from lakes to forests to swamps.

2. Lake Magadi 

Lake Magadi, found within the crater itself, is a shallow, blue, alkaline lake home to flamingoes. During the dry season, the lake shrinks into thick salt pans used as licks by animals such as jackals and hyenas. 

3. Ngoitokitok Spring

Another water source within the crater itself is the Ngoitokitok Spring. The spring, which feeds into a vast swamp, is inhabited by hippos, lions, elephants, and other animals. Tourists love to picnic here and so will you. 

4. Lerai Fever Tree Forest

Lerai Fever Tree Forest is found on the floor of the crater. The forest is made of tall, yellow-barked acacia trees that form spacious glades. Lerai is frequented by elephants, bushbucks, hyrax, and other animals. The rare black rhinos can be spotted here as the foliage is their preferred food. Swamps within the forest attract large herds of buffalos, elephants, antelopes, and predators such as lions. Lerai is a famous big 5 safari destination because of this.

5. Empakaai Crater

Ngorongoro Crater isn't the only crater within the Ngorongoro National Park. Empakaai Crater is 300 metres deep and 6 kilometres across. 75% of the crater is covered with a deep, alkaline lake. From the crater's rim, you can see Mount Kilimanjaro, the Great Rift Valley, and Oldonio Lengai.

6. Olmoti Crater 

You also have the Olmoti Crater, a sunken caldera covered in grass and bisected by a river valley. It is good grazing land for antelopes and Maasai cattle. Within this crater you will find the seasonal Munge Waterfall, named after the Munge River. Olmoti Crater is quite beautiful and great for half-day trips. 

7. Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli

No Ngorongoro national park safari tour is complete without visiting Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli. Some of the earliest human remains have been found in Olduvai Gorge. Paleoanthropologists have found hundreds of fossilized bones and stone tools in the area dating back millions of years. At Laetoli, located west of Ngorongoro Crater, you can find preserved hominid footprints made 3.6 million years ago. You can visit the museum at Olduvai Gorge to see the fossils. Now you know why Africa is considered the 'Cradle of Mankind.'

Interesting Facts about Ngorongoro National Park

Ngorongoro Crater is one of the Seven Natural Wonders in Africa, alongside Mount Kilimanjaro and the Great Migration. Had the volcano not erupted, it would have been similar in size to Mount Kilimanjaro. Ngorongoro Crater has been called the Garden of Eden thanks to its spectacular scenery and wildlife. 

Approximately 40,000 people live in Ngorongoro national park, most of whom are Maasai. They live and raise cattle alongside 25,000 animals. The park sees about 450,000 visitors every year. In fact, 60% of Tanzania's tourists visit the park. Famous visitors include Bill Clinton, Prince William, and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

The Oscar-winning film Out of Africa, starring Meryl Streep, was filmed partly in the park. You can even spot Ngorongoro Crater when one of the characters flies from Olkurruk Strip.

Going on a Ngorongoro National Park Safari

Ngorongoro safari tour is not different from other Tanzanian safari tours. The critical thing is to be prepared. Like other safari parks in Africa, Ngorongoro requires essentials you should bring with you. These safari essentials are:

  • long-sleeved shirts
  • trousers
  • sweaters
  • sweatpants
  • walking boots
  • lightweight rain jacket
  • swimsuit
  • pyjamas
  • dress or jeans for dinners
  • sunglasses
  • hats
  • sunscreen
  • hand sanitiser
  • mosquito repellant
  • camera
  • headphones
  • binoculars

You can check out our complete Safari Packing Guide for more

The best time for a Ngorongoro national park safari tour is between June and November during the dry season. You can also go during December, January, and February for a less crowded experience. 

Being vaccinated against COVID-19, Typhoid, Hepatitis, and polio is necessary, though you should speak to your doctor first. Anti Malaria medication should be taken before and continued 4 weeks after the trip. You should also take a first aid kit with you. Drink purified water and well-cooked food while in the country. Tanzania has introduced an online traveller's health surveillance form that must be completed before arriving in the country. 

Ngorongoro National Park safari tour is one of the most amazing experiences you'll ever have in Africa. It has awe-inspiring landscapes, a wide variety of large mammals and birds, and historical and cultural sites. A trip to the park is something you'll never forget!

So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch via the contact form below today for an incredible Tanzanian safari tour.