The Ngorongoro Crater is one of Tanzania’s best-kept treasures. Millions of years of isolation have enriched the land with flora and fauna that is unique to the area, giving it a special appeal for visitors all over the world. It is also believed to be the place where the first human-like species settled before spreading to other areas. Travelers after an unforgettable experience will surely enjoy their visit, no matter their budget.
What is unique about the Ngorongoro Crater?
Readers wondering what caused the Ngorongoro Crater will be surprised to hear that it was formed from an explosion of an extinct volcano whose cone collapsed on itself millions of years ago.
It is the largest caldera or unfilled volcano crater in the world and is considered as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. Its name was derived from the sound made by cowbells (ngoro ngoro) by the Maasai people, the inhabitants of the area. It has an area of around 8,228 square kilometers and an altitude of 3,310 feet to 1,959 feet.
It is the only national park in Tanzania where human settlement is permitted by the government. The Maasai people were relocated here after they were displaced when the government imposed a law prohibiting settlement in Serengeti National Park. Many tourists decide to incorporate a visit to a local Maasai village into their trip to the crater in order to experience the famous and unique Maasai culture. A popular village is located on the road to Serengeti and one near Irkeepusi Village.
Due to its fame, the site receives hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Rough estimates of around 400,000 travelers venture in the area to marvel at its beauty. World leaders and celebrities have visited the Ngorongoro Crater, including Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Queen of Denmark Margrethe II, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
Why to Go on a Safari in the Ngorongoro Crater
A safari trip to the crater is described by many as a memorable experience. Various options are available to travelers of all budgets, from luxurious excursions for those in search of a little comfort to budget-friendly itineraries for more frugal backpackers.
Due to its proximity to other national parks such as the Serengeti National Park, a trip to Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is a worthwhile addition to a safari adventure in the country. Safari-goers can combine a trip here with other parks to make the most of their vacation.
The area has been a cradle of life since the beginning of time. Olduvai Gorge, an area just within the crater is regarded as the place where the earliest human ancestor existed. Remains of Homo Habilis and Zinjanthropus, the world’s first humans, were discovered in this area.
The area contains various species of wildlife thanks to its diverse ecosystem. It is possible to see the “Big 5” during a visit to the park. They are called the Big 5 due to the difficulty of tracking them on foot and include lion, cape buffalo, rhinoceros, elephant, and leopard.
There is also a chance to see the black rhinoceros, a critically endangered animal that frequents the park. It also has the highest concentration of lions in an area, so the probability of seeing one is extremely high. Other animals to see are wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, spotted hyenas, cheetahs, and many more.
When to Go to the Ngorongoro Crater: Local Weather and Seasons
Ngorongoro Crater weather is mild and temperate. It has two wet seasons. The shorter rainy season from October to November and the longer one from March to May.
The best months to visit are from June to September, as this makes animal spotting easier due to the shorter grass. During these months there is also a higher concentration of tourists. March to May is generally considered as the low season due to the rainfall at this time of year. It is still a good time to visit as the rain doesn’t usually last all day and it is the prime season to watch migratory birds.
Visa Requirements to Visit the Ngorongoro Crater
International travelers planning to visit the Ngorongoro Crater are likely to need a visa for Tanzania. Fortunately, tourist visas for Tanzania can now be applied for online in minutes, thanks to the newly implemented online eVisa application by the Tanzanian Government.
Eligible travelers can apply as early as three months prior to their visit. All they have to do is meet the Tanzania eVisa requirements as mandated by the government and answer a simple Tanzania eVisa application form, which will only take a few minutes. Once the visa is issued, travelers can print their visa and show it to the Tanzanian border authorities upon arrival.