April 3, 2009
Ngorongoro Crater is a World Cultural Heritage site and regarded by many visitors as the eighth natural wonder of the world.
A wildlife safari is not complete without including Ngorongoro Crater in an itinerary even though it be for an afternoon. It is the only reserve in Tanzania where black rhino are frequently seen. Ngorongoro is amazing not only scenically but also for its wildlife It is one of the very few places that has such an abundance of large animals in such a small area and in so may varying habitats. There are over 25,000 animals in the Crater with over 90 lions and 350 hyenas - the highest density of large predators in the world. Leopards and cheetahs are also occasionally seen. This number may fluctuate, depending on the time of year and on local conditions.
Other species in the Crater are elephants(only males), jackals, bat-eared fox, gazelle, gnu, zebra, hartebeest, eland, bushbuck, waterbuck and warthog. There are several hippo pools. Noticeably absent from the Crater are giraffe, impala, and female and young elephants.
NGORONGORO HIGHLANDS AND CONSERVATION AREA 5,000 sq kms.
The Ngorongoro Highlands are situated between the Serengeti and the Great Rift Valley - the recent geological formation of which resulted in the building of the Ngorongoro Highlands. To the south is Lake Eyasi and to the north Lake Natron. Overlooking Lake Natron and the volcano Oldoinyo L’Engai (the only remaining active volcano in the chain, and the only active carbonatite volcano in the world) is Embakai Crater. The access road to Embakai is in poor condition and is a two to three hour drive from Ngorongoro Crater rim. There is a hiking trail into the crater (allow three hours).
The hike from Embakai Crater to Lake Natron takes two days with an overnight stop at a small basic camp. Supplies are brought in by donkey from Lake Natron Camp. Each day the hike takes about six, hours finishing on the second day at Lake Natron Camp in time for lunch and a much- needed cold drink. It is an interesting hike starting in African alpine mountain scenery at 10,000 ft and descending down to the hot and arid Rift Valley at 2,000 ft.
All lodges are situated on the rim with excellent views of the Crater. Prices are full board per night per person sharing. Single room supplement is $25.
NGORONGORO WILDLIFE LODGE: $100 South rim. One of the oldest of the hotels.
NGORONGORO SERENA LODGE: $140 South-west rim. Four star hotel.
NGORONGORO SOPA LODGE: $130 North-east rim. Four star hotel.
NGORONGORO CRATER LODGE: $350 South rim. Luxury lodge.
LAKE NATRON CAMP.
The camp is situated in one of the most impressive scenic areas of Tanzania. It is small and comfortable with wonderful views of Lake Natron and Oldoinyo L'Engai. Temperatures during October and November can be over 40 Centigrade. The camp is ideal as a base for climbing the active volcano Oldoinyo L'Engai and for other hikes. See Walking Safaris page for further information.
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