Destination Detail


The Ngorongoro Crater was formed when a large volcano erupted and collapsed on itself. This explosion created a caldera (mistakenly crater) approximately two and a half million years ago.

Within the Ngorongoro conservation area different stunning attractions are found, starting with a shifting sand, Ngorongoro, olmoti and empakaai craters.

The place is also famous known as the cradle of human-kind. Within the greater Ngorongoro Conservation Area exists the Oldupai Gorge, a sharp gorge in the Great Rift Valley where paleoanthropologists Louis and Mark Leakey famously discovered traces of homo habilis, our first known human species, reaching back 2 million years. Mind blown!!

The Ngorongoro conservation area lies 75 miles (120 km) west of the Arusha town.

Apart from all of that, there is a Lake Ndutu and Masek both alkaline soda lakes, are home to rich game populations, and surrounded by peaks and extinct volcanoes, which create a stunning backdrop, completing the conservation area’s unique and beautiful landscape.

  • The Ngorongoro Conservation Area covers 8,292 square kilometers.
  • The caldera (Ngorongoro crater) measures between 10 and 12 miles (16 and 19 km) across (floor) the crater wall is 610 meters deep and has an area of 102 square miles (264 square km).
  • Ngorongoro conservation area was established in 1959 as a multiple land use area, designated to promote the conservation of natural resources, safeguard the interests of NCA indigenous residents and to promote tourism activities.
  • When it was a volcano it’s thought to have been a similar size to Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s highest mountains. Estimates height vary between 4,500 to 5,800 meters. NCA is a very unique protected area in the whole of Africa, this is because it is the only place where conservation of natural resources integrates with human development.


Maasai tribe man in the Ngorongoro conservation area, Tanzania.

  • The area was named by the Maasai pastoralists (indigenous people) after the sound produced by their cowbells (Ngorongoro).
  • Oscar Bauman was the first European known to have set foot in Ngorongoro Crater in the year of 1892.
  • The area was once part of the Serengeti National park before being separated and designated as conservation area in 1959. Maasai pastoralists living in Serengeti National Park were systematically relocated to Ngorongoro, increasing the population of Maasai and livestock living in the Crater.


  • Firstly, the area is Highly accessible from the main tourist city, Arusha.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area is reasonably close to Arusha, the main safari hub of Tanzania’s northern circuit safaris. It is only a 3hrs drive (170 km) down to Ngorongoro from Arusha.

  • World heritage site.

It is a dream of every traveler to go to as many world heritages sites as he/she can. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year of 1979. Its main features are the astonishing Ngorongoro crater which is famous for being the largest inactive and intact volcanic caldera in the whole world, shifting sand, culture and history of the people as well as oldupai Gorge.

  • Abundance of biodiversity/landscapes.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area host a wide range of the world’s threatened species and incredibly dense wildlife. This gives travellers a chance to appreciate, experience and spot many animals including the ‘Big Five’.

The crater is also home to many lions, leopards and hyenas. Apart from the big five, other popular animals in the area are herds of buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, endangered black rhinos and variety of bird species.


  • Wildlife exploration.

Ngorongoro crater is filled with over 2500 animals starting with the herbivores, carnivores and birds. This makes it to be ideal ground for the African safari lovers.

It is possible to encounter the big five just within a single day during the Ngorongoro crater tour.

Ngorongoro conservation area can be visited throughout the year. But the best time which one can enjoy this magnificent area is during the dry season. This is because animal can be seen easily.

  • Visiting Olduvai Gorge.

In this Gorge there is a museum that displays the history and information about the skull of early man around the Olduvai Gorge.

You will observe the Olduvai gorge from a higher vantage point, although there are other more beautiful parts of the gorge that you can get to via a short drive or walk – such as the large Olduvai (olduvai kubwa).

  • Shifting Sand.

A semi-circular shaped black dune, composed of volcanic ash from the nearby volcanic mountain – Oldoinyo Lengai, that is moving slowly westwards across the Ngorongoro plains at a rate of about 15 to 20 meters per year.

The local Maasai people believe the shifting sand dunes have come from the nearby holy mountain OlDoinyo Lengai, loosely translated as the Mountain of God (where God resides).

As a consequence, these dunes are also considered sacred by the Maasai, who convene by the dunes in cases of prolonged draught. On these occasions, a goat is sacrificed to the gods so that rain may come soon.

  • Walking on the footprints of ancestors (LAETOLI).

Laetoli is a remote location but it is a not to miss adventure. Laetoli is home to a 27m long trail of hominid (ancestors of humans) footpaths that were left here over 3.7 million years ago.

This is the best place for you to come close to our ancestors, and marvel at how far humans have come since our humble beginnings.

Laetoli’s remote location makes it an incredibly adventurous place to visit as well- so even if you’re not a history buff, this is definitely a bucket list destination.

  • Empakaai crater.

You will love this place at the first sight. The alkaline lake in the middle of the crater with flock of flamingos is surrounded by the steep forest walls of the caldera. Beyond it, is decorated with stunning view of the only active volcanic mountain in Tanzania, the oldonyo Lengai.

The lake is fenced by lush green forests with fig trees, blue monkeys, and colorful birds. You can also find buffalos, bush bucks and water bucks, and pink flamingos here.

  • Bird watching.

The Ngorongoro conservation area is considered as a bird paradise. The area has variety of bird species which make it to be the best spot for bird watching. The area supports variety of birds such as kori bustard, larks, fiches and raptors.


Good news is, the Ngorongoro conservation area offers astonishing wildlife viewing all year around, however the dry season starting from late June to October is the best time to visit the area.

This is because the grass of the crater will be short hence make it even easier to spot.

How to get to Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area?

The best way of getting to Ngorongoro is by driving. the distance between Arusha city and Ngorongoro Crater is about 167km/ 103.8 mi (3 hours estimated drive time). From Kilimanjaro Airport, the distance is a bit longer (219 km / 136 mi, about 4.5 hours estimated drive time).

Where to stay.

No worries!

When visiting the area, you will be accommodated by the choice of yours. In the Ngorongoro conservation area there are numbers of lodges and campsite to accommodate you according to your choice and budget. Some top lodges are located on the crater rim having magnificent views of the crater


Ngorongoro is one of the most visited destination in Tanzania, there are few budget accommodation choices. In fact, camping is the only choice for those on a budget.


(highly recommended for budget travellers).

Located just on crater rim with amazing crater view. Simba A campsite is one among the coolest and most beautiful campsite in country.

Camping here with safari soles enjoying amazing food and animals will leave you with the best safari experience.


Here are some of the medium lodges in Ngorongoro.

Wildlife lodge, Rhino lodge and Pakulala tented camp.


Luxury hotels dominate the Ngorongoro conservation area. From affordable luxury chains to the truly decadent, there are plenty of Ngorongoro crater rim hotels to choose from.




Quality Tanzania Safari Tours, personal service and expert guides. At Mellivora we attach great importance to this. Our Dutch and Tanzanian team is trained to organize the best safari trip. To go that extra mile for you.


Bondeni street, arusha, tanzania


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