Part of the wider Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Ngorongoro Crater is the world's largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. It is quite rightly a World Heritage Site and is stunningly beautiful and home to some of the largest densities of wildlife anywhere on the continent, including the Big Five.
At over 600 metres deep and covering an area of around 100 square miles the Ngorongoro Crater is an imposing sight and the views from the Crater Rim are sensational. It is home to around 25,000 animals including Black Rhino, Buffalo and Hippo. Wildebeest and Zebra are also present, as are a good number of lion considering the size of the area. Lake Magadi in the south-western part of the Crater is often inhabited by flamingoes.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a must visit in our opinion for any trip to the Northern Parks, however due to its 'enclosed' nature and relative close proximity to Arusha, it can often be busy with safari vehicles. With this in mind as a general rule the earlier in the day you can visit the Crater the better, departing before it gets too busy, often shortly after lunchtime. In terms of accommodation there is a variety to choose from and the main choice is whether to stay on the Crater rim itself or in and around the nearby town of Karatu and its surrounding plantations, a very pretty area. If you are staying on the Crater rim then the stand out options are Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and The Highlands. Around the nearby town of Karatu we highly recommend Gibbs Farm and Plantation Lodge, or for those on slightly less of a budget Tloma Lodge.
When staying in this area we actively encourage people to not only visit the Crater, but to spend 2-3 nights here and make the most of this highlands area by visiting local communities, nearby plantations, walks in the highlands, hiking at the Olmoti Volcano and its ancient Maasai trails, or visiting the Empakaai Crater and its thousands of Flamingos. You can also visit Olduvai Gorge in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world, a location that has proven invaluable in furthering understanding of early human evolution.