Expert Reviews – Ngorongoro
Gemma authored several Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.
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Superstar park that’s well worth sharing
The Ngorongoro Crater is, alongside the Serengeti, Tanzania’s superstar park, and it’s a well deserved title. The ‘crater’ (technically a caldera) is breathtaking - a 160-square-kilometre circle of bush and savannah surrounded by a ring of steep hills, giving it a truly otherworldly feel. Within the ‘crater’ itself, there are grasslands, woods, swamps and small lakes, inhabited by all Big Five species and hundreds more besides. I love the fact that only male elephants live down here, and if you come in spring you’ll get to see them wading appealingly knee deep in bright yellow beitens flowers.
The game is extremely habituated to vehicles, and the lions in particular barely raise their heads on the approach of an engine. Its relatively small size and huge popularity means that the Ngorongoro ‘crater’ area is often crowded with Land Rovers, following each other in convoy around the limited network of roads and queuing up to see the big-ticket animals, a habit that really got on my nerves on my last visit, especially when the visitors insist on talking at the top of their voices – why don’t their guides tell them to shut up? It’s still worth a visit though, and I suggest you aim to get in as soon as the gates open in the morning to minimize the crowding.