In Review

Entamanu Ngorongoro: life on the edge

Tanzania’s vast Ngorongoro Crater is home to one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on earth

top-ngorongoro.jpg

More than a mile deep and ten miles across, the Ngorongoro Crater is a natural amphitheatre filled with big game. The drive down from the crater rim is an adventure in itself, and a fitting curtain-raiser for a day spent exploring its unique environment.

As is staying at Entamanu, a tented camp on the crater’s rarely visited northern rim, where the nights may be wild and windy but the welcome is always warm.

Entamanu, the Nomad Tanzania camp at the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Where is it?

The Ngorongoro Conservation area, which includes the crater and the surrounding plains, is in northwestern Tanzania, about 80 miles from the Kenyan border. It is accessible in four or five hours by road from Kilimanjaro international airport, which is served by a variety of international airlines, including KLM via Amsterdam, Qatar Airways via Doha and Kenya Airways via Nairobi. Light aircraft flights can be arranged from Kilimanjaro to nearby Ngorongoro airstrip, or Lake Manyara airstrip, about a 90-minute drive from the lodge.

The landscape

The lodge has fine views over the Ngorongoro caldera, formed when a volcano collapsed after a massive eruption about 2.5 million years ago. Ten miles across, the crater floor is surrounded by near-vertical walls, which rise to a height of 2,000 feet.

The surrounding area is characterised by the textbook African landscape of golden savannah and acacia trees. From Entamanu, guests can watch the sun rise over the crater and set over the plains of the lower Serengeti, behind the lodge.

Although animals come and go from the crater as they please, it is big enough and diverse enough to function as a self-contained ecosystem. Forest, grassland, salt flats, a mineral lake and freshwater springs can all be found within its walls.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Game and activities

Ngorongoro is home to the densest concentration of predators in Africa, thanks to the herbivores which feast on the crater’s rich grassland. All of the big five are here - black rhinos, lions, elephants, buffaloes and leopards - as well as spotted hyenas, cheetah and jackals. However, leopards are shy and cheetah are kept at bay by the large number of hyenas and lions, so you’re likely to see more of the latter than the former. Birds are plentiful throughout the year, and during the wet season (November to May), the lake fills with flamingoes.

Off-road driving is forbidden in the crater, so some sightings may be from a distance - although guides are skilled at predicting animals’ movements and intercepting them on the nearest track.

Entamanu normally sends its guests into the crater with picnic breakfasts and lunches, to maximise the time for game viewing - so you may be out of the camp from 6am until after 4pm. An earlier return can be arranged, as can other excursions, including crater rim walks, day-trips within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area or a visit to a Masai village.

Buffalo in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Accommodation and food

Guest accommodation at Entamanu Ngorongoro consists of seven large tents, each with an en suite bathroom and a heater to ward off the chill of the mornings and evenings. Decor is simple, rustic and tasteful: there’s nothing here to distract from the splendour of the surroundings. All tents have views of the crater.

The main lodge has a verandah-style deck, as well as two sitting rooms and a dining room, all heated by large log fires. Hearty meals - beef fillet with roast potatoes, for example, or chicken curry - are served at a communal table.

When to go

The long rains, in April and May, are a mixed blessing. Grey skies and heavy rain are common, and the lush green grass makes wildlife-spotting harder. As a consequence, however, this is also the quietest time of the year to visit an undeniably busy park - and the rain brings an influx of birds.

Grass dies back as the crater becomes progressively drier from June to October, which is the best month for game viewing. The short rains in November and December are lighter, more infrequent, and interspersed with long sunny spells. Blue skies and verdant foliage makes this a particularly photogenic season. Dry weather returns from January to March.

Since the crater rim is at significant altitude - 7,500 feet above sea level - it is noticeably cooler than lowland Tanzania. June and July are the chilliest months, when daytime temperatures typically reach just 8C to 12C - compared with 18C to 21C in November and December. The crater floor is typically about 5C warmer than the rim.

Price and booking

Rates for Chada Katavi start at about £600 per person per night in low season, including full board and most activities, but excluding flights and transfers. For more information and suggested itineraries, see the Nomad Tanzania website, and to book contact Yellow Zebra Safaris 

Flamingoes in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Recommended

How long will India be on UK’s Covid travel ‘red list’?
Delhi airport
The latest on . . .

How long will India be on UK’s Covid travel ‘red list’?

A step back in time in the Algarve
Grand House, Algarve
The big trip

A step back in time in the Algarve

Sleep in style: new hotels and places to stay in the UK
The Endeavour at Glenapp Castle
The big trip

Sleep in style: new hotels and places to stay in the UK

Covid holiday test costs
Heathrow Terminal 5 passenger
Getting to grips with . . .

Covid holiday test costs

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 April 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 April 2021

What is Donald Trump doing now?
Donald Trump
In Depth

What is Donald Trump doing now?

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?
Night Tube Sadiq Khan
In Depth

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?