2 nights 3 days
The second stop of our African Adventure was the Ngorongoro Crater. The first stop being the Tarangire National Park and next up is the Serengeti followed by the Maasai Mara.
I read various reports about Crater wildlife from how numerous predators are and how close they will get to the vehicles to how boring and crowded it is and maybe should be skipped altogether.
The main reason for picking east Africa at this time of year was the migration. Yes we knew we’d see no migration activity here in the Crater we knew it would be beautiful and also hoped to see lots of lions. Preferably pursuing and catching prey and while there are no guarantees we hoped to get lucky. Anyway, who comes this close to such a significant natural world site and does not visit? Although overall I would rank this area among the 4 stops a 4 out of 4, it was most definitely worth the visit. I am very glad we made the trip here and would recommend allocating one day to this area.
If I were to do this again, with already having the dedicated driver it may have been better to leave out of Tarangire (Little Oliver’s Camp) and head to accommodations at the lake then visit the Crater the next morning. I make this observation because it appears that the drive from the lake to the Crater may be no more than 90mins. Yes, you’d have to leave early in the morning but you’ve come across the world for this adventure what’s getting up 2 hours early – you can sleep on the ride anyway. It’s just that I understand that the lake is somewhat laid back with mostly bird watching and to combine that with the Crater seems to give the most bang. Although the Lodge was amazing there was nothing to see surrounding it. At least the lake area is considered a designation area were you can actually go on game drives. Also the andbeyond property I hear is outstanding at the lake……just a thought to maybe run by your tour operator.
We choose the Plantation Lodge for our accommodations which is a fairly short drive to the Crater entrance. I saw reports online that said it was a long drive, that’s rubbish. We left the lodge at about 6am and when we arrived there was only one other car in line for permits. Actually folks from the same lodge we met the night before at dinner.
As we started our decent to the Crater floor it was a little foggy so the view was not as good as we’d hoped but half way down it got much better and it was breath-taking – absolutely beautiful. Again, at this point there were no other vehicles in sight. Ultimately as the day went on we did see many other vehicles but while driving no issues with crowds. When you come upon lions is when the crowding starts. For instance, there were 3 different locations where lions where eating prey or mating. I would say that there may have been about 7-15 cars at one time.
There is no off-road driving here so everyone has to pretty much take a similar position along the road unlike areas where you may go off-road and view from different angles and distances. You may get lucky if a kill is near the road and other times it’s more difficult to observe as the animals could be farther from the road. Although we did not see predators in abundance we did see more here than in Tarangire. I guess it’s just the luck of the draw as for some folks it’s just the opposite with lions all over the place.
The driving here is very leisurely and there is a very serene vibe. It seems like you can see for miles in the distance without much to obstruct your view so it may be easier to spot something if its out there.
We saw plenty of Zebra, Wildebeest, Hyena, Buffalo and Lions on the Crater floor. There is another area our guide called ‘the jungle’ where we spotted Elephants and Baboon.
We had box lunches from the lodge and we ate in somewhat of a designated picnic area where everyone seems to gather. After about 6 hours we’d pretty much seen everything we wanted and headed out towards the rim. We decided to visit a Maasai Boma that provides a traditional show and tour. It was actually very well done and informative as you have a one on one guide that answers all of your questions and of course they have plenty of souvenirs.
Ngorongoro Crater Accommodations – Plantation Coffee Lodge