Ngorongoro Crater is a top-choice destination for those visiting northern Tanzania. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the world’s largest, inactive volcanic caldera and its small size and large animal concentration are a great formula for a productive day on safari. To truly take advantage of all the Ngorongoro Crater has to offer, a stay on the rim overlooking the crater the night before you descend has a few advantages.
Unparalleled views during your sundowner
The most obvious advantage by staying on the rim is that you will get to enjoy the spectacular views right from your lodge.
Staying in one of the few lodges on the eastern rim allows for one of the best locations to enjoy sundowners as the sunsets behind the western ridge at the end of your day. A refreshing dip in an infinity pool overlooking the wildlife below is not an activity you will soon forget.
Spectacular sunrise shots
A huge advantage of staying right on the Crater rim is that, at around 5am, when you’re awaiting a wake up call and coffee, you can meander out on your balcony and get some incredible pre-sunrise shots.
Sunrises and sunsets go quickly at the equator, so time is of the essence. If you’re into photography, you’ll want to ensure you’ve one morning here.
Stretch your legs with a hike along the rim
If you plan your day right and arrive to your lodge earlier in the afternoon, you can set off for a short hike along the rim.
As these walks traverse some of the surrounding jungle, your tour guide will arrange for an armed ranger from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to accompany you. You can stretch your legs for 2-3 hours along the rim and learn about the flora in the region up close.
Be one of the first in the Crater
Staying on the crater rim means you will have quick and easy access into the crater first thing in the morning. The crater can get busy once the caravans and tours from Karatu and Arusha make it to the area for day trips.
Staying on the rim the night before allows you to be among the first to enter, while the others are still an hour or two away. Descending early gives you the feel like the park is there just for your own private safari. The early morning light in the Crater floor is also conducive to great photography. As the sun rises higher in the sky, you’ll notice the effect it has on the soda lakes and surrounding landscapes.
Beat the crowds out in the afternoon
Another advantage to staying on the rim is, due to the time saved with your early start, you have the option to head out earlier in the day.
The Crater can often get crowded in the afternoon and, since there is limited routes for the vehicles to use, you can even encounter some ‘traffic jams’ during peak season. You can depart at a reasonable hour and still have time to head to a new destination in the Serengeti, or Lake Manyara perhaps, without feeling that you rushed or are missing something.
Ngorongoro Crater is a must-see for anyone considering a safari in northern Tanzania, and is recommended at any time of the year. The advantages of staying right on the rim make staying at one of the prime-priced lodges worth the little extra indulgence.
Javier Luque is a Co-Founder and Director of Your African Safari.
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