Tanzania > Ngorongoro Crater (and Highlands)

Tanzania

  • Hi there Michele, I just wanted to say a huge thank you for helping us organise the trip. It was the most amazing holiday – it felt like I had been away for ages. Everyone we met was superb – I hadn’t quite understood the size of the team that would be supporting us up the mountain (we both made it!!) – what a fabulous set of guys. We were well fed – I couldn’t quite believe 3 course breakfasts, lunches and dinners on the side of a mountain – staggering! And Stevie and Goodluck certainly earned their money on summit night. The staff at Kicheche were great. The scariest bit of every day was the walk back to our tent after dinner – we had lions, buffalo, hippo, zebra and wildebeest in the camp – so that was interesting – we didn’t hang around!  The quality of the accommodation and food was excellent. We were lucky to see a cheetah kill – and had some very close up experiences with lions and elephants. It was definitely the right thing to go to a private conservancy – which was evident to us when we went into the national park for the day and saw the amount of cars following the animals around. And Kinondo – what can I say – totally chilled out bliss!! Issie has complained about having to wear shoes again now she’s home – she looked like a little hobo for the week! Food, service, accommodation, cleanliness, facilities – all fabulous. Thank you so much.

    Sarah, Darren and Issie from Leicestershire travelled to Tanzania and Kenya
Ngorongoro Crater aerial view, TanzaniaNgorongoro Crater buffalo head, TanzaniaNgorongoro Crater elephant, TanzaniaNgorongoro Crater from viewpoint, TanzaniaNgorongoro Crater golden jackal, TanzaniaNgorongoro Crater Highlands Masai, TanzaniaNgorongoro Crater Lake Magadi flamingoes, TanzaniaNgorongoro Crater lioness and cubs, TanzaniaNgorongoro Crater Lodge view, TanzaniaNgorongoro Crater masai view, Tanzania

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Ngorongoro Crater (and Highlands)

The Ngorongoro Crater itself lies within the 8,000 sq. km Ngorongoro Conservation Area and it is one of the natural scenic wonders of the world. The magnificent crater is a ‘caldera’ or collapsed crater which is 16-19 km in diameter with an unbroken rim and has a floor area of 168 sq. kms. The altitude of the crater rim is around 7,000ft, the floor some 2000ft below. It forms part of a chain of volcanoes stretching along the western side of the Great Rift Valley which creates the Ngorongoro Highlands.  The only active volcano now is Oldonyo L’Engai, at the southern end of Lake Natron which lies to the north of the highlands.

The Crater contains a large animal population throughout the year, with many impressive black-maned lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, black rhino, buffalo, hippo, hyaena, eland, zebra, gazelle, ostrich and wildebeest (wildebeest calving occurs around January). The birdlife is prolific too, with flocks of flamingos on the crater lake. Maasai people are encountered here too – some 12,000 pastoralists with 100,000 head of cattle co-existing with the resident game, some of which will descend into the Crater each morning to graze.

Although the Crater should be visited at least once in ones life, game-viewing on the crater floor is no longer an exclusive experience. Whilst there are several commercial lodges on the crater rim, which afford excellent views of the crater, it is not necessary to stay on the rim and there are some lovely accommodation options in the nearby highlands. The market town of Karatu, some 30 minutes drive from the Crater rim, offers a wider range of lodges and an insight into rural life in Tanzania. Cultural interaction with the Hadza hunter gatherers, walking (including fairly tough trails between the Crater and Lake Natron), and horse riding are available in the region too.

To the north-east of Ngorongoro is the beautiful but rarely visited Empakai Crater, with flamingos and other birdlife but little big game, and beyond that the a huge escarpment leads down to the harsh Rift Valley floor around Lake Natron, a major breeding site for lesser flamingo.

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