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Ngorongoro Crater Day Trips

Ngorongoro is one of the most remarkable places in Africa and an essential stop on Tanzania’s Northern safari circuit. Halfway between the incredible parks of Lake Manyara and the Serengeti, Ngorongoro is the highlight of Tanzania’s Crater Highlands. The crater at Ngorongoro feels like a lost world and is like nowhere else in Africa. It’s filled with wildlife and stirring landscapes, and surrounded by the steep and forested crater walls that rise to the rim. From high on that rim, the views are superb, whether in the early morning as the mist rises from the crater depths, or at sunset as another day closes. A day spent down in the crater is a chance to see it up close and is one of the most unforgettable experiences you can have on safari.

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1-20 of 26 one day tours and day trips to Ngorongoro Crater

5 Questions About Ngorongoro Crater Day Trips


5 Questions About Ngorongoro Crater Day Trips

Answered by Anthony Ham

How can I find a reliable tour operator for a 1-day Ngorongoro safari?

“My best advice for finding a reliable Ngorongoro operator is to get as many recommendations from other travelers as you can. Most safari operators visit Ngorongoro Crater as part of a circuit that operates out of Arusha. Most such trips include the Serengeti and Lake Manyara, as well as possibly Tarangire National Park and elsewhere in Tanzania’s north. That being the case, there will be no shortage of companies willing and eager to take you to Ngorongoro. Before signing on to an Ngorongoro trip, check a number of companies and compare what’s included. Ask questions such as how long you’ll spend down in the crater itself and how many people will be in the safari vehicle alongside you. Check out also the reviews left by other travelers on to answer any questions you may have and to match up your needs with the experiences of others. If you’re just looking for a day trip, rather than a longer safari, and you have the time, ask other travelers in Arusha, Mto wa Mbu or Karatu for recommendations.”

Operators offering tours to Ngorongoro Crater 1

What can I expect from a day trip in the Ngorongoro Crater?

“When spending a day in Ngorongoro Crater, expect one of the best days you can possibly have on safari. Your day will begin high on the crater rim: no one, not even the Maasai, sleeps down in the crater. The views from the rim in the early morning, before you begin your descent, can vary. On many mornings, great clouds of mist roll up from the floor of the crater and over the rim to dramatic effect. As these clouds clear, the miracle of Ngorongoro slowly reveals itself. There will be the glint of sunlight on the salt lake of Magadi or the tiny dots of the animals as they move across the crater floor. You’ll descend one of the steep access roads, and the animals down below will slowly come into focus, whether on the plains against a pretty backdrop of steep crater walls or in the forest of Lerai where elephants often pass their time. You’ll spend much of the day driving around the crater floor, which, at 264km²/102mi², is surprisingly large. This means that you won’t spend too much time close to other vehicles because there’s enough room for everyone. Most trips stop for lunch at Ngoitoktok Springs; watch out for the black kites that are known to swoop down and steal sandwiches! By mid- to late afternoon, most tours climb again to the crater rim, arriving in time to take in one of those special Ngorongoro sunsets as the crater down below disappears into shadow.”


Is a 1-day Ngorongoro safari worth it?

“The simple answer is yes, a thousand times, yes. I’ve never had anything less than a fantastic day on my many visits to Ngorongoro, and there really is nowhere that can offer you the same experience as you’ll have here. Despite the number of vehicles that descend into the crater every day, it is large enough to rarely feel crowded. At the same time, the effect of being surrounded by high walls means Ngorongoro feels compact enough to offer a more intimate safari than is possible in, say, the Serengeti. A day here means a really concentrated safari experience, one where you can see many of the most sought-after, and most charismatic, animals such as Ngorongoro’s populations of lions, hyenas, elephants and black rhinos. In fact, Ngorongoro is one of those rare places where I always set out on safari and know that I will almost certainly see these iconic species, and so much more, before the day is out. When all of this is put together, it is no small wonder that Ngorongoro very often ends up being an all-time favorite for many safari-goers. It’s certainly one of mine.”


Which animals can I expect to see?

“By one estimate, over 25,000 mammals live in Ngorongoro Crater, including hyenas, lions, elephants and rhinos, to name just a few. It is impossible to miss the wandering clans of spotted hyenas: with more than 600 hyenas in residence, these are the true kings of the crater floor. They often do battle with lions whose numbers fluctuate, but in recent times, the Ngorongoro population of lions hovers around 50, spread across three or four different prides. Ngorongoro is one of few places where you can see both golden and black-backed jackals in the same place. The crater floor also has around 30 critically endangered black rhinos. Elephants are also one of my highlights of a visit here: you’re most likely to encounter them in Lerai Forest, on the southern side of the crater, with around 200 to 300 in the crater. If you’re wondering what sustains such large numbers of lions and hyenas, there’s plenty of prey, including Grant’s gazelle, wildebeest, buffalo, zebra, eland, waterbuck, bushbuck, hartebeest, bohor reedbuck and the ever-cheeky warthog. Every time I’ve been here, I’ve seen flamingos, although rarely in great numbers. Hippos and crocs also inhabit the pools in the south and east of the crater.”


What kind of vehicle can I expect?

“Your operator will take you down into, and around, Ngorongoro Crater in a 4WD vehicle. What you won’t see in Ngorongoro, or anywhere else in Tanzania, are the white minivans with open roof hatches that are so common in Kenya. It depends on the company, but most use open-sided vehicles, with anywhere between three and five rows of comfortable tiered seating. Such vehicles have roofs but no walls, meaning that you’ll feel really close to the animals you see, even as you remain completely safe. I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been so close that I could have reached out and touched a lion as it walked past. It doesn’t matter how many times it happens, it’s still a thrilling experience. Most of these vehicles also have space for picnic hampers and drinks fridges, for those essential stops when you get down from the vehicle somewhere that it’s safe to do so, and stretch your legs. Some vehicles even have a spotter’s seat, out near the front-left headlights, where a guide will sit and keep an eye out for interesting animal tracks. Smaller groups may travel in enclosed 4WD vehicles.”


Ngorongoro Crater Reviews

4.6/5 466 Reviews
Christopher Clark  –  
United Kingdom UK

Christopher is a British travel writer and has contributed to various Fodor's guidebooks and a range of travel magazines.

Tanzania’s Garden of Eden

I would wager that anyone who has been to Ngorongoro Crater will never forget their first view of it from the rim some 500 feet above: the dense green forests, the saline Lake Magadi coruscating in the sun at the heart of it, the myriad...

Full Review

Harriet Nimmo  –  
South Africa ZA

Harriet is a zoologist with more than 20 years’ experience. She has the privilege of working with the world’s top wildlife photographers and photo-guides.

Top of the Bucket List

It was my childhood dream to see the Ngorongoro Crater, and I feared it would not live up to my expectations. However, it spectacularly exceeded them – truly taking my breath away. I realise this is a well-worn phrase, but the Ngorongoro...

Full Review

Lyndsey Deane  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Aug 21, 2023

This feels like the setting of a Disney movie, lush green views, incredible example of nature and evolution. There is an abundance of wildlife here and we had some amazing lion sightings - a whole pride from a distance.

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Glenn Fisher  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Aug 18, 2023

Ngorogoro crater is a gorgeous park with a unique feel all of its own due to its higher altitude and location at the bottom of a crater (technically a caldera - collapsed volcano). There were lots of wildlife everywhere in a relatively...

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Jellen Goossens  –  
Croatia HR
Reviewed: Mar 22, 2023

The atmosphere in this unique environment is particular. The flat surface allows unique views and understanding the role it plays in the great migration is very interesting. The absence of trees has an influence on the presence and...

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Linda S  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Feb 25, 2023

The crater is well known for it's natural beauty and high concentration of animals available. As a result, it is the site of lots of day trippers. We got there early, but after 10am the roads were crowded with vehicles. When a lion was...

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