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Ngorongoro Crater Luxury Safari Tours

A luxury safari to the Ngorongoro Crater is quite unique. The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact caldera, the relic of an extinct volcano that once stood taller than Kilimanjaro does today. Set at the heart of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania, the 260km2/100mi2 crater floor also ranks as East Africa’s ultimate Big Five destination. Elephant, black rhino, lion and buffalo are likely to be encountered on any given game drive, with leopard also making a regular appearance. A relatively confined area, the Ngorongoro Crater floor has high tourist traffic. This means that the wildlife is habituated and safari-goers get an excellent opportunity to observe animals at close range.

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1-20 of 284 luxury tours, packages and holidays to Ngorongoro Crater
 

6 Questions About Ngorongoro Luxury Safari Tours

Answered by Philip Briggs

Why should I choose Ngorongoro for a luxury safari?

“Staying in luxury is a wonderful way to experience this unique, wildlife-rich attraction. Several luxurious lodges line the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, offering visitors an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular view over the crater below in unbeatable comfort. And the wildlife viewing once in the crater really is superb. Africa’s densest populations of lion and spotted hyena inhabit the crater floor, and cheetah and leopard are also present. Heavy-tusked elephant bull haunt the Lerai fever-tree forest and Gorigor Swamp. The swamp also supports large numbers of hippo. Ngorongoro has a small population of black rhino, which often graze out in the open by day. For birders, Lake Magadi has large numbers of flamingo, while ground birds include common ostrich, kori bustard and crowned crane. Even without the wildlife, Ngorongoro Crater is compelling. It is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. The view from the forested rim across the caldera and down into the lush crater floor is breathtaking. The main road to Serengeti National Park passes through Ngorongoro Conservation Area and skirts the crater rim. This makes Ngorongoro Crater an easy add-on to a Serengeti safari holiday.”

1

What is included in a luxury safari at Ngorongoro?

“A luxury safari package at Ngorongoro should be more or less all-inclusive. The quoted price should include transport to and from Arusha or other onward safari destinations. Guided game drives, other activities and associated fees, as well as accommodation and all meals should also be included. Room rates at some, but not all, luxury lodges and exclusive camps include laundry and non-premium drinks, such as tea, coffee, soft drinks, local beer and house wine. It’s best to check exactly what is included in advance. Tips are not included. They can mount up quickly on a luxury safari. Touch base with your operator about tipping expectations and bring the cash with you to cover it.”

2

How long do I need for a luxury safari at Ngorongoro?

“The Ngorongoro Crater floor can be explored in one half-day game drive. That is usually all most people do before heading on to the Serengeti, or elsewhere. But every day on the crater floor is different, and it is worth spending a second day on it. In addition, there are several worthwhile off-the-beaten-track day trips elsewhere in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Foremost among these is the remote 540m/1,770ft-deep Empakaai Crater. The sheer forested walls of Empakaai enclose a sparkling emerald soda lake, whose shallows are frequently tinged pink with thousands of flamingos. A steep footpath to the crater floor takes around 45 minutes each way, a rare chance to stretch your legs in this part of Tanzania. It’s a good place to spot monkeys and forest birds. Another popular activity is a community visit to one of the many traditional Masai manyattas (groups of huts) that still subsist in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.”

3

How does a typical day on a luxury safari at Ngorongoro unfold?

“The standard crater tour entails an early breakfast at your lodge, then driving from the rim to the floor via one of two descent roads. Most people arrive on the crater floor at around 8 AM to 8:30 AM for a long morning drive looking for wildlife. Sightings of lion, elephant, buffalo and various antelope are guaranteed. It is customary to carry a packed lunch into the crater and to eat it at Ngoitokitok Springs. A popular picnic spot overlooks hippo pools in the crater. However, be warned: A flock of black kites has become expert at swooping down and snatching the food from visitors’ hands. Most safari tours then ascend back to the rim for a relaxed afternoon at the lodge, or move on to the Serengeti. Few travelers return to the floor for an afternoon drive. This is partly because of the distance involved and partly because a ‘crater service fee’ of US$200 per vehicle is payable upon every descent. For those with the stamina, we recommend the earliest possible start in the morning. Gates open at 7 AM. Carry a packed breakfast and picnic lunch, beat the post-breakfast crowds to the crater floor, and stay until late afternoon. By this time, most of the other vehicles will have departed for the rim. ”

4

What type of accommodation can I expect on a luxury safari at Ngorongoro?

“There is no accommodation at the crater. The most tempting overnight option in the area is a scattering of lodges that stand on the forested crater rim. Most of the lodges on the rim are relatively large, and slot into the upper end of the mid-range bracket rather than being truly luxurious. However, there are also a couple of more exclusive lodges and tented camps to choose from. Despite its near-equatorial location, the crater rim stands at an altitude greater than 2,000m/6,560ft. It can get very chilly at night. All lodges make allowances for this, with log fires in the lounge and heaters in the room, but bring plenty of warm clothing. An alternative to staying on the crater rim is a scattering of boutique-style lodges set on rolling farmland immediately east of Ngorongoro. These often represent better value for money than their counterparts on the crater rim. They tend to have more modern amenities but lack the compelling location and stunning views into the crater. They are also less convenient for early starts on game drives. Before booking accommodation at Ngorongoro, it is worth deciding whether your top priority is location or amenities.”

5

What are the typical costs of a luxury safari at Ngorongoro?

“Staying at premier luxury lodges and exclusive camps, you might be looking at an all-inclusive price of US$1,000 per person per day. Less lavish options, at the lower end of the luxury range, might start at US$500 to US$600 per person per day, sharing. A luxury safari to Ngorongoro usually forms part of a group tour package. The package usually also includes the Serengeti, and possibly Lake Manyara and Tarangire national parks. This means that the price is spread over the various parks visited, and it would depend to some extent on the level of luxury and exclusivity you are looking for. ”

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Ngorongoro Crater Safari Reviews

4.6/5 394 Reviews
Expert
Stephen Cunliffe  –  
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

The Safari of a Lifetime
5/5

Sure there will be plenty of other tourists and vehicles bumping and bouncing around inside the crater with you, but there is good reason for this: Ngorongoro is an incredible wildlife area. If you are allergic to crowds and the thought of...

Full Review

Expert
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
5/5

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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ShaNae McCleskey  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Dec 19, 2020
5/5

This was one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever been in my life. This crater was full of all kinds of incredible animal species and the guides were so amazing—they taught us a lot about everything we saw.

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Eduardo  –  
Chile CL
Reviewed: Jan 25, 2020
5/5

The incredible mix of animals and how they just hang out together makes it a very special place - special mention to the large number of lions and obviously the black rhinos (we saw above 10, even a couple mating).

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Jim and Monica  –  
Canada CA
Reviewed: Nov 1, 2019
4/5

What makes Ngorongoro Crater a must see is the scenic beauty of its surroundings. We had already seen many of the animals in the Serengeti, but to see them in these colours and contexts was breathtaking at times.

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Edeus  –  
Tanzania TZ
Reviewed: Oct 21, 2019
5/5

This is the place we enjoyed most as we could see communites of different wild animals in groups and so close to each other and sharing the park with human beings Massai. It was anazing experience. We also saw lions on hunting action

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