A panoramic view of Ngorongoro
Ngorongoro is an amazing site in Tanzania that offers some of the best wildlife viewing anywhere in Africa. The crater is located in the north of Tanzania, near the border with Kenya. Ngorongoro is actually an extinct volcanic crater, with the largest unbroken caldera in the world at 260km2. As a result, it holds inside high concentrations of many wildlife species. From the top of the steep forested rim, one has panoramic views over the stunning landscape and herds of animals as black specks beneath.
A close-up photo of a lion
The best reason to visit the Ngorongoro crater is to photograph the animals that live inside. You can get very close to much of the wildlife because they are not that wary of vehicles. As well as all of the usual large African game (except giraffe), Ngorongoro also contains elephants and even black rhino. The crater is the best place in Tanzania to see black rhinos and the chances of photographing them are high because the area is relatively small. The elephants are also an easy subject to photograph, partly because of their size but also their numbers. The Masai people also live in and around the crater because they graze their cattle in the area. They allow themselves to be photographed but usually for some money. These photographs can offer an interesting insight into their way of life. Inside the crater is Lake Magad which has very high salinity. Few animals can enter the water but thousands of flamingos congregate inside the lake. They are a good subject especially if they are flying or even being chased by a jackal!
A dramatic photo of an elephant
The best time to visit the crater is in the early morning or late evening, when the animals are most active and the people are least! It is sensible to visit in the off-season (Christmas) when there are fewer visitors than in the summer when the amount of vehicles can spoil the experience. Strong light in the crater allows for good photographic conditions and means that the camera can obtain faster shutter speeds for action photos. Try to photograph the subject doing something as this will give more interesting results. Generally, for photographing the wildlife the use of a longer lens is better. Often, a prime lens of 500mm will get you very close to the animals. However, to photograph the scenic crater, a wide-angle lens is best. Support for a long lens is useful, in the form of a bean bag or a tripod that can clamp onto the car frame. Open top safari vehicles are the best for photography, providing maximum room for movement. Binoculars for spotting animals are also extremely useful.