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3-Day Ngorongoro Crater Safari Tours

You’ll find it very easy to fall in love with Ngorongoro Crater and the surrounding area on a 3-day safari. Wedged between Lake Manyara and the Serengeti, this jewel of northern Tanzania’s Crater Highlands is an experience like no other. A hidden world of wildlife set within a unique landscape deep within the lands of the Maasai: what more could you wish for? With 3 days to enjoy this special place, you devote it all to Ngorongoro, or you could make it the centerpiece of a safari that touches on one of the other nearby parks. However you organize it, Ngorongoro is a 3-day experience you’ll never forget.

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5 Questions About 3-Day Ngorongoro Crater Safaris


5 Questions About 3-Day Ngorongoro Crater Safaris

Answered by Anthony Ham

What can I expect from a 3-day trip including the Ngorongoro Crater?

“A 3-day tour that includes the Ngorongoro Crater means that you will have 2 nights and at least 1 full day to enjoy what Ngorongoro has to offer. The first day will include your transfer here: hopefully it happens early in the day so that you can devote the rest of the day to the places you came so far to see. The same applies to the third day of your safari. Day three is when you’ll be transferred back to where you started from (or wherever you’re going next). Try and arrange for a late-afternoon departure in order to enjoy as much of the day as possible. With all of this in mind, you can expect to spend a day (either the second or third day) down in the crater enjoying the landscapes and looking for wildlife that includes black rhino, lion, elephant, flamingo and a whole lot more. The rest of your time will likely be spent exploring the crater rim (there are hiking trails through the forest), visiting a Maasai village, or simply relaxing at your accommodation and taking in the view.”


What are the lodges like at the Ngorongoro Crater?

“There is no accommodation down on the crater floor: no one, not even the Maasai, is allowed to spend the night there. This means that you have two main possibilities when it comes to accommodation. Most lodges are high on the crater rim. Many of the best places sit right by the edge, and have incredible views out over Ngorongoro Crater (from some of the rooms and from many of the public areas) as a result. Others on the crater rim are set a little further back and may not have views, although many of these are excellent places to stay nonetheless. Another option is to stay down the hill from Ngorongoro, just off the road that connects the crater with Karatu, Lake Manyara and beyond. There are many options in the town of Karatu itself, but the best places are in the forests closer to Ngorongoro. Some occupy old colonial homesteads and/or farms or coffee estates, and are classy places to stay.”


Which activities are available on a 3-day safari including the Ngorongoro Crater?

“The main activity when you’re visiting Ngorongoro is a guided game drive down into the crater. This usually involves a dawn start, driving down one of the three access roads into the crater and spending the best part of the day looking for wildlife and enjoying the varied scenery. Many such excursions include a picnic lunch. There is an official six-hour time limit for vehicles to be down in the crater, although this is rarely enforced. Either way, you’ll likely be back up on the crater rim at your accommodation by mid- to late afternoon. Other possible activities include hiking the forest trails around the rim and visiting a Maasai village. You might also explore a little further afield by visiting another park, one of the other craters (e.g., Olmoti Crater) in the Crater Highlands, or even the Olduvai (Oldupai) Gorge and Museum (which is off the road to the Serengeti).”


How can I avoid the crowds when visiting the Ngorongoro Crater?

“It can be difficult to avoid other safari-goers in Ngorongoro Crater: everyone who comes to Ngorongoro is here for the same reason. You could come outside of high season (which is July to March), although you run the risk of being caught up in the rains in April or May. June can be an excellent, slightly quieter month to visit. Two factors also contribute to making sure that crowds don’t spoil your experience of this wonderful place. One is that while you have plenty of choice when it comes to places to stay around Ngorongoro, the actual number of accommodation places is far fewer than you find in many other northern Tanzanian destinations. There’s also something about Ngorongoro: apart from the occasional lion kill when every vehicle descends on the scene, the crater is large enough so that it never feels too crowded.”


How much does a 3-day Ngorongoro Crater safari cost?

“A 3-day Ngorongoro safari begins at around US$150 per person per day for the cheapest budget camping safari (where you’ll sleep in simple tents and may be asked to help out around camp). If you’re looking for an all-inclusive luxury safari experience with five-star lodge or tented camp accommodation, then prices will begin close to US$500 and can go much higher. Aside from accommodation, the season in which you travel may also influence the price. That said, high season runs for much of the year (July to March) and the difference here between high- and low-season prices is usually less than it is elsewhere. Another thing that impacts the cost of a safari is the type of safari you go on: a group safari will cost less than a private safari (where you have the guide, vehicle and driver all to yourself).”


Ngorongoro Crater Reviews

4.6/5 520 Reviews
Tim Bewer  –  
United States US

Tim is a travel writer who has covered 10 African countries for Lonely Planet's Africa, East Africa and West Africa guidebooks.

The best scenery and best chance to see rhinos in Tanzania

At 19km across and up to 600m deep, Ngorongoro Crater is one of the largest unbroken calderas in the world, and the view from above is one of the most stunning vistas in Africa. It’s one of the few places I've visited where seeing...

Full Review

Sue Watt  –  
United Kingdom UK

Sue is an award-winning writer who specializes in African travel and conservation. She writes for national newspapers, magazines, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet.

Life in the Caldera

I felt completely spellbound on my first trip to Ngorongoro Crater. The rim was shrouded in cloud but as we descended the 600 metres down to the crater floor, this vast caldera opened up before our eyes absolutely teeming with animals – a...

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Paola Virrueta  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Jul 13, 2024

The visit was spectacular! We visited Ngorongoro at the end of June, and we had a cloudy and windy day, but that didn't stop us from seeing lions, elephants, hundreds of zebras, wildebeests, ostriches, and rhinos. Dress warmly if you go...

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Charles A  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Jul 5, 2024

My only complaint would be how crowded the crater gets. They don't limit the number of vehicles allowed in the park. There are limited roads, so the traffic can get quite heavy on those. This does ensure that the animals get bothered less...

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Laura Ligthart  –  
Netherlands NL
Reviewed: Jun 5, 2024

we drove by before we went to Serengeti, so we already experienced the few. The day we drove in the crater we saw a rhino! the landscape in de the crater is already so diffrent from what we saw the days before. it was really surprising....

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Silke  –  
Germany DE
Reviewed: May 27, 2024
Many impressions with the Big Five and more.

Price-performance was great! Everything was very well organized. In two days in Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater I was able to see the Big Five and more. The leopard first thing in the morning and the large herds of elephants...

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