Eden

Ngorongoro Travel Blog

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Clouds rolling over the crater rim

If a Shangri-la or Eden existed, THIS is where one would find it, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania.  From the plains of the Serengeti, after Oldupai Gorge, we gradually started the climb up to the crater.  That night we were to set up camp at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, once a volcano much bigger than the highest mountain in Africa today (Kilimanjaro), but then a few million years ago the volcano exploded and left a caldera behind, a large crater, full of life and so green it seemed unreal.

After climbing for about one hour up the mountain road, the road suddenly opened up into a valley and all I could see was green rolling hills as far as the eye could see.
On top of the crater rim looking down
  The green was unbelievable, so green, so lush, just like it had been rained on, it had a shine to it.  The last time I saw green like this was on the Emerald Isle, Ireland.  As we drove through this first valley, you could see the green was broken up but red dots here and there, cows were also could be seen in the distance.  As we got closer I realized the red dots, were Masai herdsmen, tending to their cows, which were feeding up and down the rolling hills.  I can’t even describe to you how beautiful this place was.  Soon we go to the top of the rim,  from there we were allowed to get out of the truck and see the view, and boy what a view it was.  Down below you could see the crater, with a huge lake in the middle, a rainbow dropping down into it, green grass as far as the eye could see, white clouds hanging over the mountain rim, and that big blue sky well above.
Masai
Like I said, Eden.

We set up camp that night on the rim. Again, we were open to the wildlife in the area and were warned of the potential for elephants and roaming water buffalo at the campsite.  On top of the fear of animals at the campsite, given that we were at about 2500m above sea level, this was the first time in a week that I had to put back on my toque, scarf, and all my clothes so not to freeze to death at night!  Lol Anyways, the night turned out to be pretty uneventful, as it rained pretty hard, but the morning, that morning we were in for a treat.

We had to get up early to catch the sunrise and be in the crater to watch the animals in their morning routine.  I got up to see the sunrise over the crater rim, and see another rainbow!  Not a bad way to start the day :) .
Lions
  Since the safari truck was too big to get down into the crater, all of us, jumped into smaller safari jeeps and headed down about 600m to the crater floor.  I keep saying how beautiful this place is, and I’m going to say it again, its so beautiful here! There on the crater floor you’ll find a 35,000 animals roaming free within the crater.  There are countless zebras, wildebeest, gazelle, bright pink flamingos, rare black rhinos (about 13 of them) and of course, the king of the jungle, lions.

The zebras and wildebeest came so close to the jeeps, you could almost touch them.  They didn’t seem to be scared of us, just curious. During safari drives the previous days, we’d get close, but never THIS close to the animals! I’m sure it had a lot to do with the smaller, less obtrusive vehicles we were in :)

Our local guide for the day, Eliah, was a great spotter, he was able to spot about 5 black rhinos in the park that day.
Zebras
  Black rhinos are very rare, even to catch a glimpse of them in the crater is not always guaranteed and here we just saw 5! Although I have to admit, they were far, FAR away from the jeep, but still cool to see.

As always, the highlight of any safari are the lions.  In the crater there is a resident population of lions that only are found in the crater.  No other lion families are able to enter the crater, to the Ngorongoro Lions, this is their home and they protect it well. And why not protect it?! They have an endless supply of prey to feed off of.  Speaking of prey, Eliah told us a little how the lion prides (group of lions) work.  In a pride of lions, there usually is one dominate male (the one with the mane) and then maybe some very young males, and all the rest are females.
Flamingos
  When males get to a certain age they are driven out of the pride to be on their own or to go find a mate.  What is interesting about these prides, is the female lions are the ones that do all the killing.  Once they make a kill, they don’t start to eat the kill, what they do is one or more female lions go back to the pride and get the males and bring them to the kill and let THEM eat first! Can you believe that! Lol No equality in the lion pride for sure! Only once the males are finished eating do the females eat. I guess women’s right never made it to the crater! ;)

Today, being in the crater, was probably one of my best days on safari.  I think I took about 500 pictures, everything just looked spectacular with the backdrop of the crater and the lush green of the crater floor as a canvas.
Last night together with everyone
  This was our last major stop on our tour and definitely the best!

Tomorrow we head off to a campsite near the Kenyan border and then back to Nairobi.  This trip to Africa has definitely lived up to the hype in my head.  Not always do things live up to what you imagine it to be, but this time, it may have even exceeded what I could of imagined.  Like I said, being on safari is like being a kid again, every moment is exciting, every animal you see is amazing, even if you’ve seen it hundred times, you still stop to take a picture, you are still impressed.  For two weeks I was a kid again and I loved every moment of it!

Next up, Doha and then London…ah jolly good!

Cheers,

Ru 
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Clouds rolling over the crater rim
Clouds rolling over the crater rim
On top of the crater rim looking d…
On top of the crater rim looking …
Masai
Masai
Lions
Lions
Zebras
Zebras
Flamingos
Flamingos
Last night together with everyone
Last night together with everyone
Last night in Nairobi
Last night in Nairobi
Ngorongoro
photo by: tirsomaldonado