Which is better, Serengeti or Ngorongoro Safari in Tanzania?
A question that is often asked if someone is on a tight timescale, which is better, a Serengeti or Ngorongoro safari in Tanzania?
Personally, we think visiting both areas gives you the best all-round experience, however we understand that not everyone can spend over a week on safari at once.
Safari in Serengeti National Park
Without doubt, the epitome of an East Africa safari. The Serengeti provides the quintessential safari experience with vast, grassy plains and accommodation that follows the footsteps of mother nature’s longest mammal migration.
Home to the Great Wildebeest Migration, every month of the year offers something different. Whether the herds are risking their lives crossing the Mara River, or congregating on the Southern Plains for the calving season, there’s no dull moment amongst the millions of wildebeest that call the Serengeti home.
The Serengeti is so vast that each area also offers a different landscape. From forests in Seronera, to the undulating landscape of Kogatende, spending time in different areas will offer a diverse experience.
Safari in Ngorongoro
The Ngorongoro Crater on the other hand is small and easily explored within one day. It’s more accessible from Arusha (which may be a factor to consider), and you only need two nights in the area to experience the best of the Crater and its surrounds.
A safari on the Crater floor can almost guarantee four members of the big five, plus so much more. The density of animals is incredible, however the Crater’s accessibility and fame do come with a downside. Visitors around the world flock to the Crater to marvel at its beauty and scenery. For first timers looking to tick off some species, it’s ideal, but for the safari purists, we would recommend Tarangire National Park instead.
Accommodations in Serengeti compared to Ngorongoro
In the Serengeti, the main choice to make is whether to opt for a mobile camp or a permanent lodge.
Mobile Camps moves up to three times throughout the year, following the wildebeest herds on their annual migration. The camps are an incredible way to experience the Serengeti whilst under canvas. From the no-frills Kirurumu to the permanent-like Olakira, the mobile camps are the most exceptional glamping experience you could have.
The permanent lodges may offer more amenities, but do come at a far higher cost. If you enjoy the more luxurious side of things, but are keen to keep costs down, then consider safari’ing in the green season when prices drop quite dramatically.
At the Crater, the choice is between the Crater’s Rim or the Karatu region. The Rim itself sees higher costs and chillier evenings, yet the views are astounding and access to the Crater in the morning is quick and efficient. Karatu is a wonderful way to enjoy the Crater’s surrounds whilst also keeping costs lower, and generally in a warmer climate. So it depends on what you want to prioritize.
Prices vary across both the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, however with park and conservation fees, expect prices to start at around $800 per adult per night, with children able to make the most of child discounts.
Some lodges also offer stay-pay deals and lodge prices are more expensive in the peak seasons. We recommend chatting to one of our Tanzania experts to discuss prices of the different lodges and possible itineraries.
Best Time to Visit
The most popular time of the year to visit Northern Tanzania is between June and October when the dry season is at its best. This coincides with the river crossings in the Grumeti and Mara River regions, so it’s no surprise that people often view this as the best time to visit – which also makes it the busiest.
We prefer the green seasons, early November in particular. This is when the lodges reduce their rates, there are less visitors, and the game viewing is as good as any other time of the year. In truth, there’s no difference in weather between mid-October and the start of November!
Why not go to both? Itinerary Ideas
To make the most of your safari, we certainly recommend heading to both the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Around a week should be more than enough time to visit these areas and enjoy everything they offer.
Typically, we would suggest a night in Arusha, two nights by the Crater before then flying into the Serengeti for three or four nights.
For some inspiration, please see our itineraries page which gives a great overview of what is possible in both Northern and Southern Tanzania or preferably give us a call, and one of our experts will talk you through the different options.