Ngorongoro Conservation Area picture
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Key Info

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Details

Natural Wonders, Sightseeing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.4scorecard
  • 3.5Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Although it's not technically a part of Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is worth a visit if you're in the area. Flanking the eastern edge of the Serengeti, the site houses the Ngorongoro Crater – the world's sixth-largest intact volcanic caldera – and Olduvai Gorge. This UNESCO World Heritage site, which sprawls across more than 32,000 square miles, is also where more than 25,000 animals and thousands of Masai pastoralists reside.

Though you'll want to make time for all of Ngorongoro Conservation Area's geological and archeological sites, you should consider paying the extra $200 per vehicle fee to visit Ngorongoro Crater, a suggestion of recent travelers. Once a giant volcano that exploded and collapsed on itself 3 million years ago, Ngorongoro Crater measures 2,000 feet deep and covers 100-plus square miles. Animals are regularly seen here, but to increase your chances of spotting creatures, including endangered species like the black rhino and the African wild dog, visitors recommend exploring the crater early in the morning.

Daily permits for the Ngorongoro Conservation Area cost $50 for adults and $10 for children ages 5 to 16. If you do not visit the site via a safari tour, an additional charge (which ranges between $40 and $300 depending on the weight of your vehicle) applies. The area is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. To visit Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge, you are required to travel with a licensed guide – provided by the site for an extra fee or through a safari tour. Other sights located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area include the Olduvai Museum, Oldonyo Lengai (the area's only active volcano), Olmoti and Empakai craters, The Shifting Sands (a black dune near Oldonyo Lengai) and Olkarien Gorge. Restrooms and two campsites are also available on-site. For more information about fees, sights and driving rules, visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area website.

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Time to Spend
#1 The Great Migration

The primary reason to visit Serengeti National Park is to witness The Great Migration. Considered one of the world's largest animal migrations, The Great Migration involves more than one million wildebeest, zebras, gazelles and a variety of other animals traversing the Serengeti annually in search of food and breeding grounds. From December to June (the Serengeti's wet season), the animals head south to Naabi Hill and Southern Serengeti. As temperatures rise and the dry season sets in, the herd travels through the Seronera River Valley and the Western Corridor before crossing the Grumeti River and moving north to the Lobo Valley and Bologonja Springs. After several months of grazing in greener pastures, the hoofed menagerie turns around and starts the process over again.

Keep in mind the animals' whereabouts when booking Serengeti accommodations. If you're visiting in the winter, stay in the southern plains, and between July and November, set up camp in Central Serengeti, the Western Corridor or Northern Serengeti.

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