When planning a trip to Tanzania, choosing the best time to visit the Ngorongoro Crater National Park in Botswana and its surroundings is important.
Guests should be aware of the differences in climate, availability, activities and pricing when choosing between the various months and seasons.
Ngorongoro Crater best time to visit: Seasons
Ngorongoro Crater is a beautiful park to visit, regardless of the season and popular with visitors from the U.S, U.K, Australia, Ireland and Canada.
With this in mind, the main April to May rainy season is often considered the best time to visit the Ngorongoro Crater as there are far fewer visitors and the crater is wonderfully lush and green compared to the dusty dry-season landscape.
Wildlife viewing inside the Ngorongoro Crater is superb at all times. However, grass on the crater floor is short in the Dry season (June through September) and this makes animal spotting easier.
The scenery is lush and spectacular in the Wet season months (from November to May).
June – October: Dry Season
June, July, August, September & October – Afternoon temperatures are usually around 19°C/66°F on the crater floor. Sunny, cloudless skies are normal, but if the ‘short rains’ arrive early, they could begin in October. It gets cold at night, and it can freeze on the crater rim
November – March: Wet Season
It gets warmer during the day when compared to the Dry season, but mornings are still cold. Afternoon temperatures are usually around 23°C/73°F on the crater floor, while night temperatures are around 6°C/43°F on the crater rim.
- November & December – ‘Short rains’ – These rains are highly unlikely to impact your safari as it won’t rain all day.
- Showers usually happen in the afternoon. The ‘short rains’ last about one month and can occur anytime between October and December.
- January & February – It isn’t possible to guess when it will happen with accuracy, but there is usually a time of dry weather between the Wet seasons.
- March, April & May – ‘Long rains’ – It often rains, but it rarely lasts the entire day. April and May could experience very chilly conditions due to cold fronts.
Ngorongoro Crater best time to visit: Wildlife
Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most beautiful places on earth for wildlife viewing, utterly exceptional. You can spot wildlife throughout the year. Because of its unique ecosystem, the animals don’t leave the crater.
The best time to visit Tanzania, the Ngorongoro, Serengeti National Park and the many other parks in Tanzania and the Serengeti is June to September/October. Most tourists come for their safari tour in the African winter, the dry season, the busiest time of the year.
Climate in Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro CA has a mild, temperate climate. The area experiences two Wet seasons. From October to November are the ‘short’ rains, followed by the ‘long rains’ from March to May. Rainfall is usually experienced in the form of short showers.
The crater never gets very hot during the day, but the crater rim gets cold, and it can freeze at night. Warm clothing for early morning game drives is a necessity.
Temperatures in Ngorongoro Crater
In Ngorongoro, the wet season is comfortable and overcast and the dry season is cool and partly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 7C/46°F to 21C/70°F and is rarely below 6C/42°F or above 23C/74°F.
Both the rim (about 2,300m/8,530ft) and floor (about 1,700m/5,577ft) are at higher altitudes and are colder than the overall conservation area. Temperatures drop by about 6.5°C for every 1,000m you climb (or 3.5°F per 1,000ft).
The difference is more noticeable during the night. Afternoons on the crater floor will be pleasant, but it can freeze on the crater rim at night. The rim also receives quite a lot of rain.
When to go to Ngorongoro Crater: Activities
June to October are when the main activities in Botswana happen and around the Ngorongoro Crater in particular.
Game Drives and wildlife viewing
Game drives are without doubt the best way to view wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater. Game drives are done with a standard tour van and are organized in two shifts – morning and afternoon.
By 4:30 pm, all tour vans must be out of the crater. You need at least three days to explore each and every part of the crater. On every safari, expect to see all the big 5 mammals, birds, lakes, lush forests and savanna vegetation to marvel at.
If you have already taken a game drive at the Ngorongoro crater before and liked what you saw, you can organize another safari with the sole purpose of taking amazing wildlife photos.
A photographic safari should not only be about the animals but also birds, lakes and savanna vegetation.
There are Maasai tribesmen living close to the crater who may be open to being part of your photography expedition.
Visiting the Maasai
The Maasai are one of Africa’s most intriguing tribes. Although they live outside the crater itself, they are allowed to graze their animals around the crater rim or bring them down the crater for water during the dry months of the year.
While visiting the Ngorongoro Conservation area, an arrangement can be made for tourists to visit one of their homes or cultural centres to learn about their traditions and culture. It is more rewarding to visit villages/families that are less visited so that you have a more enriching experience.
Visiting the Maasai people involves attending traditional dance performances, taking photos, buying souvenirs and meeting the elders.
Enjoy Picnic Lunch
Have you ever thought about having a beautiful picnic lunch in the African wilderness with wildebeest grazing nearby? The Ngorongoro Crater will not disappoint.
Visiting the Tanzania’s Last Bushmen
When the Maasai arrived in the Serengeti area about 300 years ago, they drive out the Hadzabe Tribe and other bushmen to remote areas of the park. Less than 2000 of these Bushmen still live in the area.
Unlike the Maasai who have embraced modern ways of living, these Bushmen remain primitive and still live off hunting and gathering. A tour of their remote habitats will allow you to discover their culture and secret ways of living.
Nature and Crater View Walks:
After completing activities down the crater and getting back to your lodge for a shower, you might want to take a stroll along the edges or rim of the crater.
The western edge of the crater offers great views of the woodlands, open grasslands and acacia forests. You can also watch as the Maasai take their cattle for grazing or back to the kraals.
The Ngorongoro crater is one of the best places for birding on a Tanzania safari. The species to look out for are the flamingos, Kori bustards and crowned cranes.
From the crater rims, one can observe species like the African cytrill sights, forest buzzard, golden winged sunbirds and white eyes slaty.
Hot Air Ballooning
This is an expensive but very adventurous way to explore the vast crater and surrounding areas. Hot air ballooning is highly recommended especially during the migration – when the wildebeest are roaming or calving outside the crater and the nearby Serengeti.
The great thing about hot air ballooning is that it allows tourists to appreciate and enjoy the beautiful scenery within the crater.
What is the best time to visit the Ngorongoro Crater?
April to May rainy season is often considered the best time to visit the Ngorongoro Crater as there are far fewer visitors and the crater is wonderfully lush and green compared to the dusty dry-season landscape.
What type of climate does the Ngorongoro Crater have?
Ngorongoro Crater has a mild, temperate climate. The area experiences two Wet seasons. From October to November are the ‘short’ rains, followed by the ‘long rains’ from March to May. Rainfall is usually experienced in the form of short showers.