The crater is one of those spots you have to visit at least once in your lifetime to gain perspective on our planet. If you are planning on visiting Tanzania, then Ngorongoro should be on your itinerary. It is the biggest, unbroken volcanic caldera in the world. For nature lovers, it’s also an opportunity to see the most beautiful, powerful wildlife in their element.
Ngorongoro is one of the oldest and most dynamic geological ecosystems in the world. It’s witnessed the extinction of wildlife such as the three-toed horse and giant pigs. It’s home to yet another endangered species – the rhino. Most of them live within the crater, as it provides water and forage throughout the year. Of course you also have the remainder of the ‘Big Five’ – lion, leopard, elephant and wild buffalo.
The time of year you visit Ngorongoro should depend on what your interests are. Your preferred time of visit could be influenced by seasonal climate fluctuations, breeding patterns, and the migration of various wildlife species. Every season has something to offer.
THE RAIN BURST
In November and December, you’re likely to experience short rains that usher in a hot, humid environment. However at the same time, the crater rim could be much cooler, necessitating warm clothes.
In January and February, you get to witness the spectacular event of wildebeest calves being born along the Ngorongoro Grasslands outside the region of the crater. If you’re one of those people looking for the perfect photo op, this could be it. The sight of newborn calves struggling to get on their feet just minutes after being born is stirring. The groups of newborns are constantly in danger of predators lurking in the background. Hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, and even lions can be witnessed hunting their natural game.
From the middle of March to May, you have long rains that fill the plains and transform it into a luscious green. This is generally low season, when budget safarigoers make the most of low costs just before the high season kicks off. May is also the best time for visitors who are interested in speckled birds. They include quaint ground-nesting species that are almost exclusive to this part of the world such as the splay-footed ostrich, kori bustard, and the freaky secretary birds. You can also see high soaring augur buzzards and long crested eagles above the crater rim, as well as a pink haze of flamingos over the Magadi Lake.
The dry season catches on in June heralding the prime tourist season, and lasts until October. Accommodation around the crater is generally at an all-time high during this period. The reason for tourists flocking in during the dry months is the visibility of wildlife along the barren plains and their high frequency visits to watering holes, keeping them closer to lakes. This is when it’s pretty usual to see the leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo, and elephant all in one day.