NGORONGORO CRATER

The mere mention of it sends my mind on a dreamy whirlwind journey back in time. It was the single most mesmerising sight I have beheld. I have not yet fully fathomed the extent of its existence and beauty. They say the human brain processes information in a linear manner, so yes, my excited mind has not yet cracked this one. Needless to say, I need a second visit.

Ngorongoro crater is a massive volcanic caldera that is home to a wide array of wildlife all nestled around the seemingly shallow ponds and endless grasslands. It is the main feature of Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. The information center at the main entrance provides detailed information to kick start your journey. For the information junkies like myself, grab yourself a cup of coffee as you soak it all up.

Because this was my first drive down a caldera, my expectations were sky-high! On entry into the conservation area, we were welcomed by a troop of mischievous baboons that turn rowdy when they see food, so keep your windows up. The drive through the thick lush natural forest was cold and misty. It is when you get down into the caldera that you realise it was a drive through the clouds. With exception of a lone buffalo that made a mad dash into the bush on seeing us, it was a seamless drive.

The final descent into the caldera is everything. I couldn’t let myself blink lest I missed anything, the dramatic green expanse dotted with hundreds of beasts, the blanket of white clouds seated on the rim of the caldera and the African sun so bright and shimmering on the ponds’ surfaces. Words fail me, so let the pictures do the talking:

1

Road side “red” bananas

2

A bowl of chicken soup for breakfast

3

Karibu from Tanzania

3b

The information center

4

Drive through the clouds

5

The grand entrance

5a

First glimpse of the Caldera

5b

Winding roads

5c

Arched canopies

5d

The “Oga” at the top

5e

Valley of dry bones

6

Wildebeest convention ??

6a

Naughty boys!

6c

Wonder what we were looking out for?

6b

The Lions meal having their meal!

6d

Bachelor buffalo

6i

Clearly marked trails

6e

Hippo territory

6g

Flowing streams keep the caldera alive

6j

Unique bird, I forget its name

6k

Animal crossing: drive slow!

6f

Clouds seated on the Caldera rim

6L

Kings will always be kings!

6aaa

Boxed in bachelor

6m

Elephant talk; bachelors again!

6n

African curves: perfection!

6p

Our beloved national emblem the Grey Crowned Crane!

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…and I saw it all!

7

Peace out from the view point!

I booked this adventure with Dusty Safaris, and our guide Emmanuel, was amazing. He started and ended our journey with prayer and gave us an informative tour. Some of his stories included hunting tales of the Hadza who live around Lake Eyasi; of the herbalist several miles after the turn off at Makunyu (along the Arusha-Dodoma road) who has 32 wives and a whole primary school dedicated to his children and grandchildren. We were even lucky to spot a black Rhino. It is an adventure I will take again!

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