Cloud over the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a conservation area situated west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is part of the Serengeti ecosystem, and to the north-west, it adjoins the Serengeti National Park and is contiguous with the southern Serengeti plains, these plains also extend to the north into unprotected Loliondo division and are kept open to wildlife through trans-human pastoralism practised by Maasai.

The south and west of the area are volcanic highlands, including the famous Ngorongoro Crater and the lesser-known Empakai. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the Great Rift Valley wall, which also prevents animal migration in these directions.

Lion in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
The Highlands, Ngorongoro Crater
The Highlands, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Why visit the Ngorongoro Crater

The region is dominated by the massive Ngorongoro Crater, which has formed the focal point of so many television documentaries. The crater floor itself is alive with game, particularly around Lake Magadi, which is also well known for its flamingo population. Aside from herds of zebras, gazelles, and wildebeests, the crater is home to the Big Five – rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, and buffalos.

The crater plays host to almost every individual species of wildlife in East Africa, with an estimated 25,000 animals within the crater. Elsewhere on the crater floor, predators roam freely, terrorising the vulnerable plains game that huddles in groups as the dusk settles.

View over Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Why visit the crater rim?

The views from the rim are spectacular and the fever tree forest, which characterises the area, is alive with elephants, leopards and buffalos, most of which descend into the crater to feed.

To explore this forest with an armed guide in search of smaller craters, mountain rivers and waterfalls is one of Africa’s real treats.


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View of the Empakai Crater, The Highlands, Ngorongoro Crater

Empakai Crater Hike

Explore the remote Empakai Crater on foot, with beautiful views of the caldera lake. Spot birdlife in the lush forests, filled with strangler figs.

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Flamingos, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Crater Floor

Take a game drive on the crater floor. Encounter grazing rhinos and statuesque pink flamingos.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Maasai in front of spear, Ngorongoro, Tanzania

Meet Local Maasai

Head to the rarely visited area north of the Ngorongoro Crater, home to pastoralist Maasai communities. Visit one of their bomas and learn about the traditional Maasai way of life.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Hadzabe starting fire, Tanzania

Meet the Hadzabe

Travel to Lake Eyasi, a beautiful soda lake, and spend time with the Hadzabe bushmen. This tribe of hunter-gatherers still survive by foraging for berries, collecting honey and even hunting wild game.

Places to stay

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Illona Cross

Born in a small South African town, I have always followed my passion for nature and discovery. After studying Nature Conservation in Pretoria, I was one of the first women to complete a very tough cadetship in the Natal Parks Board. It was here where I cut my teeth in African wildlife management.

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Chris Johnston

Chris is the Conde Nast Traveller chosen Specialist for Africa.

25 years ago, my first trip to Africa took on a life of its own. I planned for three months, I stayed for two years. Whilst there, I was mistaken for a priest, attacked by sharks and arrested. Yet the countless, clattering journeys opened my eyes to the beauty of the landscapes and the grace of the people. My recent trips are undoubtedly more comfortable, but the welcome is as warm as ever and the best experiences are still those I never see coming.

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