How to do a Ngorongoro Crater safari on a budget

October 29, 2015
Documentary filmmaker/ travel writer/ photographer -

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.

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!

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.

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 several Ngorongoro Crater budget safaris on offer, from an 8-day trip that takes in the Serengeti National Park, and a 10-day trip where you visit Kenya’s most famous reserves  to a 13-day overland safari that also covers the idyllic island of Zanzibar and a 41-day Cape Town to Kenya epic overland adventure, if you really want to see the best of southern and east Africa!

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.

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