The Ngorongoro Crater is over 1,000 feet deep and 15 miles in diameter. More than 25,000 large mammals roam the grasslands and forests of the crater floor, including lion, elephant, black rhino and immense flocks of pink flamingo. Alas, it can also be crowded with people nowadays. The Serengeti can be reached from the crater by charter plane or a five-hour drive. This magnificent reserve is more than 200 miles long and is surrounded by contiguous conservation areas. Expect to see every imaginable predator, from lion and cheetah to opportunistic hyena and vulture, all waiting their turns to feed on the more than 2 million migrating herbivores. From January to March, the wildebeest migration congregates on the short-grass plains of the southern Serengeti. The migration usually passes through the Grumeti region of the western Serengeti in mid-June, reaching the Mara River in August. The place that is generally acknowledged to provide the most unforgettable chimpanzee sightings is Mahale Mountains National Park, a remote and beautiful reserve located on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika.
Migration in the Serengeti
The movements of the Serengeti herds can be unpredictable. In January and February, however, 2 million wildebeest are reliably found on the short-grass plains of the southern Serengeti, where, over two to three weeks, about 400,000 calves are born. (A private tented camp with a dedicated driver/guide is the best way to escape the tourist crowds.) The migration usually passes through the Grumeti region of the western Serengeti in mid-June, reaching the Mara River sometime in August.
The World's Largest Intact Volcanic Caldera
The Ngorongoro Crater is deservedly famous. The view from the rim of the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera is staggering. But, alas, far too many vehicles — up to 400 — are allowed into the crater at once. This severely damages the quality of the experience and also adversely affects the wildlife. Some areas of the Serengeti itself, notably around Seronera at the center of the national park, also suffer from excessive unregulated tourism.
What to Wear
It is important to remember that the Serengeti is located at an elevation of more than 5,000 feet — Ngorongoro is considerably higher — so it may be hot at lunchtime, but the mornings and evenings are chilly. The lodges usually provide blankets for game drives, but long pants, a thick safari shirt and a fleece are necessary items of clothing.
Shilling (TZS). Fluctuating rate valued at TZS2,315 = US$1.00 as of April 2019. Note: All of our suggested hotels quote rates in US$.
Dar es Salaam, Tel. (255) 22-229-4122.
To phone hotels in Tanzania, dial 011 (international access) + 255 (Tanzania code) + city code and local numbers.
Avoid the long rains in April and May and the short rains in November. The rest of the year typically brings cool nights and warm, sunny days. The Ngorongoro Crater is subject to cool winter nights (45 to 55 F) from June through September as a result of its 7,300-foot elevation.