Luxury safari Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania - private safari package

Guests at andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater lodge are treated to magnificent views


Top reasons to choose a Ngorongoro luxury safari

Spectacular views from the top of the Ngorongoro Crater Rim

If you stay at the right luxury lodge perched on the rim of the crater, glorious views are everywhere! Additionally you could sign up for a late afternoon walk along the western rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. Or spoil yourself with sundowner cocktails, delicious snacks and Maasai warrior entertainment in an exclusive private spot on the rim while admiring the breathtaking views of the Ngorongoro crater floor and beyond.

Magnificent natural amphitheatre

Ngorongoro Crater is the world's largest unbroken and unflooded volcanic caldera and an amazing sight to behold: roughly 20km across and 600m deep. The crater formed as a result of a massive ancient volcanic mountain that erupted and then collapsed. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world's most precious places - as part of the surrounding Ngorongoro Conservation Area it is inscribed by UNESCO as a Tanzania World Heritage Site. During your luxury safari at Ngorongoro Crater, we recommend that you participate in a guided game drive down onto the crater floor, not specifically for the game viewing, but rather to experience the grandeur of this magnificent crater.

Authentic cultural interaction on a panoramic half day walk

The Maasai is one of Africa's most iconic tribes and have a fascinating culture and lifestyle that revolve around their cattle. Meet them in their colorful red shukas, the men with spear in hand, on a leisurely walk through Maasai villages and open grazing land in the area near Lake Eyasi. See how they adapt to the 21st century in their own way and at their own pace. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area where these Maasai live is a World Biosphere Reserve, a multi land use area where they roam freely with their livestock and exist peacefully alongside the wildlife of this protected area.

Black rhinoceros, plentiful lion and impressive tuskers

Ngorongoro Crater is one of the very few places in Africa where viewing the rare and endangered black rhino is almost a certainty. Lion are abundant inside the crater, with each pride defending its own territory. Some of the largest tusker elephants left in Africa roam the crater floor. The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most intensively visited conservation areas in Africa and you will probably share your magnificent game sighting with a few other vehicles. Driving off the road is not allowed, and drives are conducted in closed safari vehicles with glass windows and pop-up roof. 

Empakai crater hike

An energetic full day hiking adventure for the relatively fit and agile (the walk into and out of the crater is on a steep grade and at a high altitude) at Empakai - the second largest crater in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Empakai is a pristine forested crater dominated by a deep soda lake on the crater floor. It is a quiet, magical place, seldom visited. Beautiful views greet you as you make your way downwards along the trail. The verdant forests and the water's edge on the crater floor are great for bird watching. 

Ngorongoro birding

Birding in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is excellent, especially during the wetter months when the Eurasian migrants are present. Several distinct habitats in Ngorongoro provide for a wide range of bird life. Flamingos are common at the lakes and seasonally there could be flocks of several thousand present. These are seen from a distance as a pink hue along the shoreline. Bird watching is best done on foot, and the Empakai crater hike (see above) and walks along the crater rim will be a highlight for any avid birder. 

Major paleontological and archeological sites

Whether you have a serious interest in palaeontology and archaeology, or are just curious to find out more about human origins and human evolution, a luxury Ngorongoro safari should be on your bucket list. Oldupai Gorge - also called Olduvai Gorge - inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the most famous archaeological site in East Africa and one of the most important in the world. (Oldupai is the Maasai name for a wild sisal plant that grows inside the gorge.) It is here that in 1959 Louis and Mary Leakey discovered fragments of teeth and skull of an early man they called Zinjathropus Boisei. Since 1960 detailed excavations have been carried out at Olduvai Gorge and a wide range of stone tools, fossils of extinct species of animals and more bones of hominids including those of Homo Habilis have been excavated. The geological strata exposed in the Oldupai gorge reveal a remarkable record of animal and human evolution from about two million to fifteen thousand years ago. Excavations continue to this day but only during the dry season, while the site may be visited year round. There is a knowledgeable site guide, a viewing platform and a small museum which displays realistic copies of the most important discoveries. Imprints of hominid footprints, made some 3.6 million years ago by a small-brained upright walking hominid about 1.2 to 1.4 meters high that were found at Laetoli, west of the Ngorongoro Crater, are also on display.

Astounding concentration of wildlife year round

Roughly 25 000 animals, predominantly grazers, live here throughout the year, supported by the rich pasture and permanent water. Wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, eland, buffalo, rhinoceros and warthog to name some are typically seen on the crater floor. Hippo, elephant, waterbuck, reedbuck, bushbuck, baboons and vervet monkeys prefer the swamps and forests. Predator sightings are excellent and include lion, golden jackal and black backed jackal, large packs of hyena, bat-eared foxes as well as serval cats that are regularly seen in daylight even though they are elsewhere mainly nocturnal. There is a strong leopard population but these elusive animals are seldom seen. Cheetah and wild dog are rarely seen and there are no impala nor giraffe. Contrary to popular belief, the animals are not trapped in the crater. A large percentage of the wildebeest and zebra leave the crater for the duration of the wet season, whereas during this same time the buffalo and eland numbers swell considerably. The world renowned abundance of game inside Ngorongoro Crater attracts many thousands of tourists annually and there are quite a number of safari vehicles on the crater floor, especially in high season. Driving off the road is not permitted and game drives are conducted in closed vehicles with glass windows and pop-up roof.

One of the world's most luxurious and elegant places to stay

andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is consistently recognized as one of the world's most luxurious and elegant places to stay. It is a place of dramatic contrasts. The Maasai thatched exteriors hide ornate and opulent interiors adorned with graceful antiques, fresh roses, huge showers, chandelier-lit bathtubs, brocade sofas and gilt mirrors. Floor-to-ceiling windows open up to glorious views. Recent accolade: 2015 World Travel Awards - Tanzania's Leading Safari Lodge.

 Our preferred Ngorongoro luxury lodge

On request your personal safari itinerary could include alternative Ngorongoro lodges or camps.

Make a difference in an African community - book a luxury safari at Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is the focal point of the surrounding 8000km2 Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) where a large community of Maasai pastoralists live. Together with their cattle, goats and sheep they co-exist in historic harmony with the wildlife of this area. But their numbers have grown considerably over the years, putting pressure on the available resources. Your Ngorongoro luxury safari generates park fees and other revenue for the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, who addresses the needs of the Maasai community by building local schools, clinics and hospitals and by developing road and other local infrastructure. A portion of the revenue is handed over to the Maasai Pastoral Council who spend the money as they deem fit - for instance to sponsor educational scholarships for talented local children at secondary & tertiary educational facilities further afield, and to buy grain for distribution to poor families in the community.

Our preferred luxury lodge in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, together with their social development partner, the Africa Foundation, is involved in various ongoing projects to improve the living condition and educational opportunities in the nearby communities. Guests staying at the lodge can organise to stop off at an inspiring school project during a panoramic half day walk through the surrounding Maasai land. With the gradual westernization of the local African community, comes a loss of traditional values and an increased disconnection from nature. Rangers from andBeyond Crater Lodge take groups of school children on game drives into the Ngorongoro Crater to expose them to the wonders of nature. Working closely with the Africa Foundation, lessons in environmental awareness and the value of ecotourism are also given to the children.

Support conservation efforts in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area 

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is not a national park but a multiple use conservation area and one of the few places left on earth where mankind and wild animals live in peace. The local Maasai pastoralists have a long history of harmonious co-existence with wildlife. Their traditional way of life revolves around their cattle, and their major sources of food are milk and blood from their domestic livestock. Traditionally they do not hunt wild animals for meat unless under exceptional circumstances and they do not cultivate crops because of their nomadic lifestyle. Therefore human-wildlife conflict is traditionally lower than in other areas of Africa. The objectives of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) are to promote and safeguard the interests of this local Maasai pastoral people, but also to conserve the flora and fauna and develop tourism in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. To obtain these objectives, the NCAA directs park fees and other revenues straight back into conservation and management. Currently wildlife populations are mostly stable. A special program which involves 24 hour surveillance is in place to protect the rare and endangered black rhinoceros of Ngorongoro. But still there are many and increasing challenges that face this fragile balance between man and nature: environmental degradation as a result of an ever growing human population, non-Maasai people immigrating into the area, commercial and subsistence poaching, illegal logging, uncontrolled fires, disease transmission between domestic animals and wildlife, invasive plants, and Maasai turning to subsistence cultivation. andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge provides logistical support to the NCAA management, and provides data on wildlife such as Black Rhino, Elephant and Lion. 

Best time of year for a luxury safari at Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro has a pleasant climate and is an all year destination. The rainy season is from November to May, but it does not rain all the time. Typically the rain falls as short showers or storms in the late afternoon or during the night. The clouds can create dense fog in the highlands but when it lifts, the air is crisp and clear and the views superb. Possible dry spells in January and February can split the season into the short rains and the long rains. The weather is mostly cool and dry from late June to September. October and November are very pleasant, with fewer crowds and a landscape that slowly greens up as the short rains begin in many areas. From late December until February temperatures are high, but not oppressive. For birders, November to March are best when the migrants are present. March to early June allow for a more exclusive experience as this is the period with fewest visitors. July is the coldest and driest and temperatures on the crater rim can drop below freezing at night. Average maximum day temperatures in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area range from 19 to 23°C (66 to 73°F) and minimum night temperatures range from 8 to 11°C (46 to 52°F).

Contact us for a personalized African luxury safari itinerary that includes Ngorongoro 

We create a private luxury African safari package, tailor-made to suit your own specific profile and requirements. We recommend to combine your luxury Ngorongoro Crater safari with other luxury lodges and  safari camps in Tanzania or elsewhere in East Africa. On request your luxury Ngorongoro safari can also be combined with luxury safari camps and lodges in Southern Africa, but this will involve more travelling. 

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