Ngorongoro Travel Blog› entry 12 of 81 › view all entries
After a filling four-star breakfast we motored off the rim and 580 meters into Ngorongoro Crater. It's the second largest crater in the world with a diameter of 12 miles and, with no breaks in its wall, contains 25-30,000 animals year round. We were all amazed by the numbers and variety of creatures. Hundreds of wildebeest, zebras, and a wide assortment of antelope grazed the crater's grassland floor. Cape buffalo, rhinos, giraffe, and scavengers roamed at will. The keen eyes of lions watched it all from hillside vantage points. One pride lapped water from a muddy pool, their bellies bulging from a recent meal. It would be about four days before they kill again.
Hippos ruled Crater Lake. They silently swam near the shore and rolled in mud to escape both insects and the intense heat of the mid-day sun.
After five unforgettable hours on the crater floor we returned to the lodge for lunch then headed back toward Arusha following the same route we came. Just beyond Lake Manyara, the LandRover suffered a flat tire. The driver quickly installed the spare but five miles later - another flat. He hitched a ride to Arusha with the flat spare to have it repaired.
As the sun set Scott and I crouched fifty yards from the road watching a springbok graze in knee-deep grass.
Three dilapidated farm tractors stopped sometime after dark. Jon, Mauria, Werner, and Juliana caught a ride with them while Scott and I chose to stay and guard the disabled LandRover. We gazed the dazzling stars of the Milky Way until the driver finally returned with a good tire. It was 9:00 p.m. when we reached Arusha.