Ngorongoro Crater is famed for its concentration of wildlife in a 20k wide crater. While the hillsides that surround the crater are mostly jungle, watered by the daily morning fog, the bottom of the crater is a flat grass plain and a few sections of forest. There are also a number of waterways and shallow lakes attracting numerous species of birds.
Since our flight was delayed we got a late start out of Arusha and didn’t get to the crater until close to last entry at 4PM. While we would only have a maximum of 2 hours in the crater because the gates close at 6, the late afternoon light was beautiful giving everything a soft glow. Our first visit produced the usual menagerie, i.e., zebra, gazelle, wildebeest, waterbuck and others albeit nothing too spectacular.
The next morning was overcast with low clouds clinging to the hillsides so we did not have the low sun glow of the previous evening. However, the cloudy conditions did delay the harsh sunlight until later in the morning. The wildlife sightings were productive. Highlights started with a jackal and several serval cats near the road. One actually went under our vehicle. Other highlights included lions, a dense wildlife grouping of zebra, gazelle and wildebeest with a hippo feeding in the middle and a bull elephant and flamingos in the distance. Another waterway had flamingos in the foreground and wildebeest jumping a creek in the distance.
Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp
We chose the Sanctuary camp for its proximity to the crater entrance. Most years it’s advantageous to be close to the crater entrance to avoid the crowds and be one of the first vehicles in the crater in the morning. With the diminished number of tourists in pandemic years this was less of an issue.
The camp compound has 10 guest tents in a pretty treed setting on the rim. There are no real views of the crater which is often foggy with hazy views. The compound has a main area with a comfortable open-air lounge and dining room with the guest tents spoking out in 2 directions – 5 on each side.
The well-appointed tents are not as large as some I’ve seen but are a comfortable size with two beds pushed together to create a bed bigger than a normal king. The sizable bathroom has a shower, sink and storage, including a safe. The camp has electricity and Wifi in the common areas as well as the tents. There were plenty of outlets for recharging batteries but the Wifi connection was a bit spotty. There wasn’t a good connection in the evening but we had a great connection the next morning. There was an electric heater in the corner but for overnight you use an electric blanket.
Before dinner they serve appetizers and drinks are available at the bar. Drinks are included in the price of the stay. Dinner, served family style by individual group, included both beef and fish dishes with sides of rice, mashed potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Everything was well prepared and tasty.
In the morning the wake-up call can be ordered with a delivery of hot coffee to the room. Breakfast is served in the dining room. Fruit, cheese, and sweet baked goods, beans, bacon and sausage are served family style to your individual group. Cooked to order eggs are also available. There is also a buffet of cereal. We didn’t see any savory bread products but we didn’t ask either. Everything was well prepared.
Because of our late arrival and early departure we didn’t have free time to take advantage of the camp lounging areas, but it looked like a lovely place to relax and I would have liked more time here.
September 6-7, 2021
For links to all the posts in this series see the East Africa Safari page.
For a review of the tour company we used see Roy Safaris, Tanzania – Review.