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Geological Ngorongoro Crater

ID: w170672 View large map

Located in Tanzania :: Tanzania
Category: Attraction :: Geological

The Ngorongoro Crater is situated in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The volcanic crater is about 20 km wide, and 610 meters deep. It is the world's sixth-largest unbroken caldera, and one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world. For information on the Ngorongoro Crater there is a info centre/museum at the Oldupai Gorge for history and photos.

Despite the fame of the Ngorongoro Crater you will still be taken aback. From the gate you enter a verdant, impenetrable jungle with tall trees, creepers and dense shrubbery. The road rises steeply, up and up the slopes of the crater, eventually nearly reaching the 2 300m contour. As you rise you may enter a mist blown in by a south-westerly breeze and the temperature will plumet.

Not far from the gate and once on the rim of the crater, you will reach the best viewpoint. an area that has been cleared of the dense forest that surrounds the crater lip. This is the largest unbroken volcanic crater in the world whose steep walls rise 600m above its green, grassy plains, a salt lake and the waterways which run through it. Estimates of the height of the original volcano range from 4,500 to 5,800 metres (14,800 to 19,000 feet) high.

The opposite side is just visible in the hazy far distance. Using binoculars from the viewpoint you may see some larger animals on the crater floor.

Approximately 25,000 large animals, mostly ungulates, live in the crater. Large mammals in the crater include the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli), the local population of which declined from about 108 in 1964-66 to between 11–14 in 1995, the African buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), and the hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius). There also are many other ungulates: the blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) (7,000 estimated in 1994), Grant's zebra (Equus quagga boehmi) (4,000), the eland (Taurotragus oryx), and Grant's (Nanger granti) and Thomson's gazelles (Eudorcas thomsonii) (3,000). Waterbucks (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) occur mainly near Lerai Forest.

Absent are Giraffe, impala (Aepyceros melampus), topi (Damaliscus lunatus), oribi (Ourebia oribi), crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus raineyi), East African wild dog (Lycaon pictus lupinus), and African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) are rarely seen. Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) have been the subject of a long-term research study.

Address :  Tanzania
Contact :  Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority Headquaters
Tel :  +255(0)27 253 7019
Tel2 :  +255(0)27 253 7046
Email :  Click Here

Opening Times : 


Time Information
Best Time to Visit :  June to September and December to February
Gate Opening and Closing Times :  06:00-18:00

Rates and Payment
Fee/s :  Crater Fees: Valid 24 hours & does not include entrance down to crater. You have to pay an extra 200USD per vehicle. 50USDpp entry fee per day; 40USD per vehicle entry fee per day (for driving through to the Serengeti); Camping:30USDpp per day.

Game Viewing 4WD Trails Photography
Scenic Flights
Notes on Activities :  (Some activities may be offered nearby).

Travelling Information

There are hotels available in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

There are 2 entrances(descents) into the crater. At the Lemala entrance(east) you may enter and exit the crater. Currently the other exit road is being reconstructed, so one has to exit via Lemala. Find out from local tour operators about the rules and roads as they will know what the current situation is. The guides at the gates don't tell you unless you enquire. Plan your time in the conservancy well to avoid being late and having to pay for another 24 hours!

One has to drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area if you want to enter Serengeti. It is not possible to pay the entry fees for Ngorongoro at any of their offices or the gate. You have to get the details of their bank accounts for the various banks at their office in Arusha and then deposit the required fees into their bank account. You then have to present the deposit slip at the Ngorongoro office in Karatu, the last village before Ngorongoro. They issue you with a Ngorongoro Card to be presented at the entrance gate.

Don’t be surprised to find a queue of vehicles already waiting to enter early morning into the Ngorongoro Conservation area. Entry procedures aren’t that clear or efficient and you may need to re-join the queue once again after discovering that you have not completed a required form.

Before visiting the crater make sure you get permission from the Ngorongoro Head Quarters. This is also where you get a guide. You will not be able to enter the park without a guide. You can try to negotiate this, but it will depend who is on duty! Note that the time down in the crater varies from season to season, being only 6 hours in high season, when they control the amount of visitors.

The roads are not good and it takes much longer than one thinks. If you go to Serengeti and come back the same way via the conservancy, you pay the 24 hour fee again.
A lot of people use 2X4wd, but be careful after rains, a 4WD might be advisable then.

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