I was absolutely convinced that I would not go to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area during my travels in Tanzania – too industrialized, too many tourists. However, during my first week in Tanzania, I saw several photos of the Ngorongoro Crater and slowly developed an urge to explore it anyway. After all, the Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera with thousands of animals living inside. It truly is paradise on earth. Personally, the challenge laid in figuring out how I could explore it apart from all the tourists. I talked to several tour guides and locals, repeatedly explaining that I did not want to join another group on a driving safari, until finally someone suggested the Ngorongoro Walking Safari along the top of the crater. I was immediately sold and absolutely convinced that I would go to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area during my travels in Tanzania.
Romanus was the ranger who was assigned to guide me during the Ngorongoro Walking Safari. He was very quiet in the beginning, but then quickly opened up and revealed himself as a brilliant guy with great knowledge of the flora and fauna. Unfortunately for me, however, he was brilliant enough to reject my request to pose with his rifle. Anyway, the goal of the Ngorongoro Walking Safari was to explore the unique landscape on foot and experience some man versus wild encounters (hence the rifle). I also told him about my secret agenda for the Ngorongoro Walking Safari – to see a leopard –, after which he explained to me that it was highly unlikely: leopards do not like the noise of people, so they probably had left the Ngorongoro Crater for the day and were hiding in the shades of trees somewhere outside. Still, he promised we would walk through little forests and push our luck.
The path was a bit challenging, as it was very steep to the side and covered with thorny bushes that ripped my clothes and bag. I was very impressed to learn that animals would simply chew off these bushes together with its thorns, while I was struggling to avoid any kind of contact. We kept our pace, making our way through the wild and focused on the amazing view of the Ngorongoro Crater. We were both sweating like crazy when I had to ask Romanus after an hour: “This is what all people on a Ngorongoro Walking Tour do?” He briefly smiled and shouted back: “No, of course not. But you said you wanted great pictures and you look strong. This is why I chose this special path.” I was highly delighted. Brilliant guy!
We hiked along the crater rim for roughly two and a half hours until we had reached our goal. I wasn’t lucky enough to spot a leopard, but I did come across zebras, impalas, buffaloes, wildebeests and hyena poo (which interestingly enough turns white from the bones of their prey). All in all, I highly recommend the Ngorongoro Walking Safari to explore the unique landscape, and not primarily to see wildlife. The beautiful views, the salt lake Magadi in the heart of the caldera, the challenging hike and a few Maasai farmers that lead their herds into the crater made the Ngorongoro Walking Safari an amazing experience, in which I was able to see and learn a lot – without running into a single other tourist.
Did you enjoy our Ngorongoro Walking Safari so far?
You’ll need to enter the protected Ngorongoro Conservation Area, so you’ll have to pay a park entry fee and sign in at the entrance. I had to wait almost an hour in front of the gate due to the high number of tourists. It’s easiest to enter with a tour guide, but I know that you can also organize it yourself. My driver also had a tour guide license, so he was able to take me in. Also, to dramatically reduce costs, we took a normal limousine car instead of an expensive 4WD. The roads are mostly in good condition and if you do not plan on driving into the Serengeti, it’s no problem. Once you have entered the area, you need to drive up to the headquarters of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority and meet up with your park ranger (we asked for one without previous reservations). I think I paid something around US$60 for a three hour Ngorongoro Walking Safari. Also, you won’t have to pay the additional fee that is required to go inside the crater. Make sure you wear good shoes and long pants, as you’ll probably have to fight through many bushes with thorns. And bring enough water, as it get’s very hot and the path is challenging. And in case you find US$200 in a little plastic bag, feel free to donate it for a good cause. They slipped out of my socks, where I will never hide my money again.
For questions or feedback regarding the Ngorongoro Walking Safari, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.
I founded Don't Complain Travel in 2010 with the goal to experience, document and share travel adventures from all over the world. From Zurich, Switzerland.