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The Ngorongoro area: history and wildlife

More African Safari tales:
Nakuru Park
Amboseli Park
Other African Tales:
The Masai Tribe, Kenya
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Lalibela, Ethiopia
African Tribes in Ethiopia
Blue Nile Gorge, Ethiopia
Bahir Dar, Lake Tana

Black Rhinos, wildebeests, and zebras in the Ngorongoro crater
The Ngorongoro area near Arusha in Tanzania is famous and important for two reasons. in the Ngorongoro crater, the remains of a giant exploded and collapsed volcano, the largest density of wildlife can be visited in a Zoo-like safari. And at nearby Olduvai Gorge, the remains of the earliest known specimens of modern man were found.

From the Serengeti we move into the Ngorongoro reserve. Not much difference at first, but slowly, the landscape becomes a bit mountainous. We enter the domain of the Masai, and a little later we arrive at the Olduvai Gorge. Here, the skeletons of early predecessors of the human race are found. There is a small museum which we visit, and where we can see some replicas of hominid skulls, and the footprint trail proving that humans began walking upright well before they started making tools. Olduvai GorgeApart from the museum, the view over the gorge is great, and we enjoy the company of different colored birds in the trees.

From Olduvai gorge we head for the Ngorongoro crater, and not much later, the road leads upwards. As we get higher, it gets a bit colder, but the surroundings become more interesting. There is a valley with many storks, and we pass several beautiful decorated Masai warriors. Finally, when we reach the rim of the Ngorongoro crater, we can have a quick glance inside, into what is called the Garden of Eden. We cannot see the animals inside, but it’s magnificent to see the large crater from the rim, with the lake in the middle.

From the rim it takes a while before we reach the Ngorongoro campsite, where we will stay the night to move into the crater early the next morning. We have to adjust a bit, not being used to have so many other people around our tents.

Garden of Eden

Our landrover on the rim of the Ngorongoro craterIt is not possible for our overland truck to enter the Ngorongoro crater. So we are split into four groups to enter it in landrovers. The passage is a bit steep and narrow, but soon we make the descent into the Garden of Eden. As soon as we are down we see a lot of animals. The crater is big, but the concentration of animals is so large that it looks just like an open Zoo. Animals are never far away. The animals are a bit used to the landrovers as well, so they don’t run off when we approach them.

In no time we have spotted buffaloes, jackals, zebras, wildebeests, grant and thompson gazelles, warthogs, hartebeests and elephants. Then we move to the alkaline lake in the middle to see the flamingos from up close. Cape Buffaloes in the Ngorongoro craterAnd at the swamps are crowned cranes, storks of different kinds, ibises, hammerheads, spoonbills, herons, etcetera. Back to the plains, where we see lions, black rhinos, and hippos at a pool. All to be seen from up close. Strange though, that at the lions there were so many landrovers around them that it was hard for us to get a glimpse of them.

Around 11 AM we start ascending to the rim, to arrive back at our truck at noon for lunch. Then we drive down through the beautiful surroundings to Mto wa Mbu, the center of the Masai area. Lion in the Ngorongoro CraterWe arrive there early, so we can have a look at the Masai market in this village, and relax at the bar of our campsite. We look back at an amazing trip in one of the most interesting safari places in Africa.

The Ngorongoro area is a beautiful place to visit. In the beautiful surroundings visits to Olduvai Gorge and the Ngorongoro crater are memorable experiences. Yet, especially the crater makes us feel like being in a Zoo.

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