Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is the largest unflooded and unbroken crater in the world, the site of a massive once-active volcano that last erupted millions of years ago. Covering a massive area of three hundred square kilometres, the crater is home to some of the densest population of wildlife (particularly lions and other predators) found anywhere on the planet.
As a volcanic caldera, the Ngorongoro Crater, its high walls contain an entire microcosmic ecosystem, complete with lakes, forests, and plains. Herein live hundreds of species of wildlife. The crater is a breathtaking visual spectacle, making it a photographer’s paradise. There’s not much to beat the view that greets you when you stand on the rim of the crater looking down into the lush emerald-green caldera, topped by a deep blue cloud-studded sky.
The same sentiment is shared about the abundant wildlife roaming on the crater floor. On game drives you’ll feel like you’re inside a Discovery Channel nature documentary: plains are filled with lions, elephants, giraffe, black rhino, wildebeest, all against a spectacular backdrop of the 600-metre high crater wall. It’s not uncommon for people to see all of the Big Five in just one day!
How to do a Ngorongoro Crater safari on a budget
The Ngorongoro Crater is an expensive safari destination, with pricey park entrance fees and most lodges catering for the high end market. If you want to travel to the park on a budget, you need to do a self-drive trip or a budget overland safari (although there’s no way around those high entrance fees).
If you’re going to self-drive (flying into Arusha and renting a car there), it’s a complicated to pay entrance fees for the park. Be prepared for the hassle! You have to know exactly how long you will spend in the park, and then pay the fees at a Tanzanian bank before you get to the park gates.
In terms of accommodation, the most popular camp inside the crater is Simba, where there are ablution blocks with hot water showers. If you don’t want to camp, Rhino Lodge on the edge of the crater is a mid-range lodge with comfortable rooms (although at $120 per person, it’s not exactly cheap). Just over 50km away from the crater is the small town of Karatu, where there are more budget accommodation options and you’ll spend a lot less on a room than on the crater rim.
A better option in terms of ease and affordablity is go on a budget Ngorongoro Crater safari on an overland truck, where your meals, accommodation and park entrance fees are included.
We have the best Ngorongoro Crater budget safaris on offer:
What to do on a Ngorongoro Crater safari
Other than game viewing, there are no activities on offer inside the crater itself. Outside the crater there are traditional Maasai villages to visit, trekking options and the Olduvai Gorge to explore.
When to do a Ngorongoro Crater safari
The Ngorongoro Crater has excellent wildlife viewing year-round, so any month you travel you’ll be blessed with abundant sightings, but the very best time of year is the dry season – June to September – when it is easier to see animals. March and April are the wettest months, while April and May see the least visitors – go in these months if you want to escape the safari crowds. Click here for more detail on when to travel to East Africa.
More info on safaris in Tanzania, East Africa
If you decide to explore East Africa on safari you will travel to the countries of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Highlights in this region of Africa are the endless wildlife adventures you will experience. Possibly the most popular is the Wildebeest Migration which takes place annually as the masses of wildlife move between the Serengeti and Masai Mara.
You will also need to consider visa, vaccinations and malaria medication, so get the details below:
If you are a citizen of the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and other countries in the EU, you will need a tourist visa to enter Tanzania. The visas are valid for 6 months, but take note that they are valid from the date of issue, so don’t plan too far ahead.
It is suggested that you have the following vaccinations before you travel:
• Yellow Fever
• Hepatitis A
• Polio and tetanus vaccinations
• Rabies shots
• Anti-malarial medication (specific to Tanzania)
Lake Manyara, Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater Game Reserves. This video just shows why it is a must on bucket lists.