The rolling hills, lakes and undulating craters of Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Highlands form the stunning backdrop to some of Africa’s richest grazing grounds. At their heart, the iconic Ngorongoro Crater, formed millions of years ago by an imploding volcano, provides a natural, fertile enclosure for a dense concentration of wildlife. Although the crater inevitably becomes busy at times, making for somewhat ‘relaxed’ sightings of animals unfazed by vehicle traffic, a descent to the crater floor to see the Big 5 remains one of Africa’s most thrilling game-drive experiences. With no National Park regulations to adhere to, there is great freedom across the Highlands for a wide variety of activities, including night-time game drives, guided walks, cycling safaris, canoeing and horse riding. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, dedicated to the preservation of the local Masaai tribes people and their customs, offers a rich cultural experience, and visits to local schools, farms and villages are welcomed. The splendid scenery, fantastic range of activities and plentiful cultural interaction are a real draw for families, although be sure to bring warm clothing since lower temperatures and a certain amount of rainfall are only to be expected at this altitude!
We usually use the Highlands as a base for game drives in Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara National Park, before heading out to the Serengeti. A stay of 2-4 nights works well, usually either staying on the Crater Rim (if budget allows) or one of the wonderful farmhouse locations in the Highlands.