Our Tanzania Safari Part 3 – Ngorongoro Conservation Area

By: Heather

Zebras inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

From Serengeti, we headed for the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Mykoni explained to us the difference between the national park and the conservation area was that a limited number of people were allowed to live in the conservation area. As we crossed our way back through the conservation area, we passed by a few Maasai villages and several Maasai out traversing the landscape or tending to their cattle.

Watching over the cattle.

Always a good time for a conversation.

Transporting goods in Ngorongoro Conservation Area

We camped the night on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater and then headed into it the next morning at sunrise. The campsite was the largest of the three campsites we had visited, and it quickly filled to what seemed like capacity. The bathrooms had warmish water and squat only toilets. The campsite sat perched on the edge of the rim, so the view over the crater was breathtaking. We weren’t expecting to see many animals on the rim because it’s covered in dense woods and quite cold, but we were quickly proven wrong. An incredibly intelligent, huge bull elephant frequents the camp to use one of the water tanks as its drinking hole. It leisurely strolled in-between the kitchen and the bathroom facilities to drink as we all gawked at how close it was to all of us. In the morning, we woke to zebras and fresh zebra poop all over the campsite. From that moment on we were convinced always to wear shoes and use a flashlight when milling about the camp area, as we saw several people learning this the hard way.

Our guide, Mykoni, was a genius and told us to go to bed early because we were to leave for the crater before everyone. The night before we thought he was crazy but when we awoke to frigid temps in the morning, we couldn’t wait to get into the crater and bake in the sun. We were up so early it took about an hour inside the crater before we warmed up, but the early arrival was incredible. Surrounded by the crater walls on all sides and with a dome of dark clouds above the piercing morning light provided an awe-inspiring backdrop for some of our most dramatic photos ever. For a good chunk of time, we were the only ones in the crater, and the views and the stillness inside was a once in a lifetime experience. We were even so lucky to have been the only ones to see 3 (pfshh! everyone else only saw two) rhinoceroses that day.

Looking around in Ngorongoro Crater.

Zebras grazing inside the crater

fascinating bird life inside the crater

On the prairie

Road checkpoint

Keeping an eye on things

One of the rhino's we saw in the crater

A black rhino inside Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Water buffalo


Hipo out of water

Resting with friends

Some of the unique landscapes inside the crater

One of the main roads cutting through Ngorongoro Crater

We headed back to the rim to eat brunch and packed up to head back to Moshi. We were feeling pretty lucky to have seen all the animals we did and had such perfect weather, too. A big part of why we had such an amazing time was because Mykoni and Jimmy were so fantastic. We observed some of the other guides and chefs in action and none compared. The Materuni guys were very well liked and respected within their peer group, which enabled each of them to have a bit of a leg up on things. We seemed always to be the 1st truck or 2 to high sought after viewing areas. Mykoni’s communication with the other guides and the Rangers for each park was apparent, and we felt it helped us have a better experience.

Since our safari, we have met quite a few people who had done the same or similar trips with other companies. Quite a few raved about their trips, but none seemed to have seen as many animals as we had. Of course, everyone’s experience is different but we firmly believe that Mykoni’s experience and rapport with his peers help him find the animals faster.

The famous Mykoni!

The famous Mykoni!

Thank you Materuni Tours. The experience exceeded our expectations! If you are planning a trip to Tanzania for a safari, Kilimanjaro trek or Zanzibar beaches give Materuni Tours a look.


Ngorongoro Conservative Area: is 8,292 sq km (3,201 sq miles) and is located 180 km (110 mi) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The conservation area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When to Go: Year-round.

Why Go: The most notable reason for going is to visit the Ngorongoro Crater. This natural wonder is a deep, volcanic crater, the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world. At about 20kms across and 600 meters deep the crater is teeming with life and is noted as the highest density of both lions and overall predators in Africa.

For more information on Ngorongoro Crater head here.

Contact Ambrose at Materuni Tours for booking details and prices

Things to Know Before You Go:
-Tips for Dry Season
  • Bring large plastic bags or something to cover your smaller items inside your vehicle. The windows are constantly open, so dust comes in everywhere.
  • Bring a dust mask or bandana to help keep the dust at bay.
    Only bring what you need. Space is very limited in the trucks and the tents. It’s a pain to un/load your extra items every day.
  • If you are on long travel, do not bring your pillow/sleeping bag. Rent from Materuni. It helps save you space, cut down on hassle and you don’t have to worry about keeping it all clean throughout your trip.
  • It’s warm out there. Keep hydrated. Dress in layers. Bring a hat but be careful of wind gusts.
  • If you are going to the Ngorongoro Crater, the rim is cold, but the crater itself is warm. Bring cold weather clothes for the rim. I was so cold; I had to wear a hat, gloves, 4-layers of shirts and two jackets.
  • The bathroom situation varies from squat toilets to western type toilets some with toilet paper. It’s best to keep toilet paper in your pocket, just in case. Running water in some areas and some areas not.
  • If your group stops for a bathroom break – GO! You don’t know how long it may be until you reach the next stop.
  • Showers were available at each of the campsites. Hot water was only available at the Ngorongoro Crater Rim campsite. The others had no hot water or warmish water.
  • Bring your flip-flops, towels, and toiletries for bathing.
  • Don’t scream, yell, bang on the vehicle, whistle or otherwise act like an A**hole toward the animals.
  • Don’t talk loudly and carry on while stopped and viewing animals. Your chit chat is annoying and ruins the moment for the rest of us quietly viewing the animals.
  • Alcohol, snacks, and sodas were available at an additional cost at the Serengeti and Ngorongoro campsites. You can also ask your booking company about bringing your own food/beverages.
  • Budget to tip your guide and your chef! If you are unsure what to tip, discuss it with your other group members or with your booking company contact.
  • We experienced two mechanical issues and saw several other mechanical issues with other trucks. These trucks are driving on rough dirt roads day in and day out. Expect at least 1 issue. Be patient it is part of the journey. Our mechanical issue led us to one of our best moments of the entire Safari. Had we not had to stop to get a part fixed we would have long driven by a leopard climbing up and down a tree at sunset.

Our trusty safari vehicle

Travelationship Rating:

5 out of 5 Travelationship High Fives – If you like adventure, nature, outdoors, camping, romance, bucket list experience, animals, nature this trip is for you.

Note: We prefer to pay for big-ticket items via credit card (for the points). At this time (as with most Tanzania companies), Materuni does not accept payment via cc. All payments are made through either wire transfer or cash.

On our way out of the crater

See More Photos on Flickr and Please look for us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!


* Thank you to Materuni Tours for providing us with a discounted safari. As always, our opinions are ours – honest, not biased and as we experienced.

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