The Pros and Cons of Visiting The Ngorongoro Crater

27th June 2024

The Ngorongoro Crater is one of Africa’s most scenic safari areas. Vehicles chug down the rim of the 20km volcanic caldera onto its wildlife-packed floor, and the surrounding scenery is truly stunning. But there are definite pros and cons to this park, as it is – with good reason – very, very popular.


Pros of Visiting the Ngorongoro Crater

Incredible wildlife

Undoubtedly the biggest pro in visiting the Ngorongoro Crater is that you can tick off the big five safari animals – leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant, and rhino – within an hour of entering its gates. This is unheard of in pretty much any other safari park in Africa.

You can see it in a day

While many parks in Tanzania such as the Serengeti are far too big to venture in and out for a day trip, you only need a few hours to explore all the Ngorongoro Crater has to offer. This means you can venture down for a day during a stay in the surrounding Ngorongoro Highlands, which are beautiful, before heading off for more safari further afield.

elephant in ngorongoro crater

© Nomad Tanzania

The scenery

The scenery here really is out of this world. It feels like some ethereal, biblical place – like if Noah’s Ark capsized in the Garden of Eden. Each little area of the park feels like a world away from the other, from lazy glistening waterways surrounded by luscious forest to open grassy plains. Its microclimate and volcanic soils also mean that the park never becomes a barren, dry wasteland, but is always bursting with life and greenery, without sacrificing the wildlife experience, which is rare in the world of safari.


Cons of Visiting the Ngorongoro Crater

It can get very busy

Given all this, it is perhaps no wonder that the Ngorongoro Crater has a huge con: it is very popular and buzzing with other vehicles. Many seasoned safari-goers might choose to avoid the crater in search for quieter parks. It can be off-putting to share your wildlife viewing with sometimes 10 other vehicles. But there is a way around this: visit in the green season and if the big five are not your priority for the crater, you can zoom off to a quieter area of the Crater’s floor and try your chances there, all the while enjoying the incredible scenery.

You can’t stay inside the park

Because you can’t stay inside the park, you must either enjoy a boutique lodge in the Ngorongoro Highlands, or stay on the rim of the crater in a select few brilliant safari lodges. Some would see this as a negative, as you don’t wake up with the wilderness on your doorstep, but the rolling Highland hills are an attraction in themselves. However, as you must venture down the steep crater rim, guests cannot enjoy an open-sided safari experience which most will pine after from the confines of a closed-sided vehicle.

lion in ngorongoro crater

© Asilia

You can only experience closed-sided game drives

Given the strict park regulations, you must be in and out within daylight hours and cannot enjoy anything other than driving around in a closed-sided vehicle. Activities such as walking safaris, or any water-based activities are prohibited and only possible in the surrounding highlands.


Overall, is the Ngorongoro Crater worth a visit?

In short, it really depends on you. It is a breathtaking place, especially to tick off an abundance of animals in, but if you are likely to be bothered by other vehicles then stay clear. As long as you enter the Ngorongoro Crater without expecting a truly wild experience, then you can enjoy it for what it is and have a wonderful day in one of Africa’s most unique settings.