Ngorongoro Crater



Ngorongoro Crater as seen from the rim. There are over 25,000 large animals that live within this frame!

We used our break from cycling in Arusha, Tanzania to do a 2 day safari in the Ngorongoro Crater. Our guide referred to this Unesco World Heritage Site as a “natural zoo”.  In that category, it falls 2nd only to the Galápagos Islands in our experience.  Ngorongoro is a world of singular beauty that stands apart in our tour from Cairo to Capetown so far.  


Camping at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater – an elephant and Cape buffalo visited us during the night


Headed down to the crater early AM


Acacia with masked weaver bird nests

We loaded a subset of our stuff (George Carlin reference) into a ubiquitous Toyota Land Cruiser and set off to camp overnight at the rim of the crater some 180 km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania.  This set us up for a sunrise safari. 

The blue-green views from the rim are almost worth the trip itself. At 19 km wide, Ngorongoro is one of the largest unbroken calderas in the world that isn’t a lake. Its steep walls soar to 600 meters and are a backdrop for virtually every photo (especially because we are not equipped with the requisite safari telephoto camera lens).

Animals graze and stalk their way around the open grasslands, swamps and acacia woodland on the crater floor. Minutes into our sarfari we came upon a lion napping next to a recently killed buffalo – temporarily satiated we assume. The victim was still largely intact. In the periphery, hyenas and feisty jackals were patrolling, waiting for their turn at the carcass.  We were witnessing a well established heirarchy.  

Over the next hours we saw wildebeest, zebras, black rhinos, hippos, elephants, warthogs, flamingoes, secretary birds, Thomson’s gazelles, Grant’s gazelles, Sacred Ibis, Crowned Cranes (the national bird of Uganda) and many other species.  Ahead of us in another vehicle, fellow TDA riders saw a group of lions bring down a zebra – an event very few get to witness.  

In 13 years on the job, our guide Ezekiel has seen an increase in the number of animals in the crater, thanks to better management and the eradication of poaching. Nice to hear some positive environmental news for a change.  


Lion napping by a recent buffalo kill. Hyenas and jackels await their turn at the spoils..




Crowned cranes


Black rhinos




Zebras & Flamingoes


Thomson’s gazelles



  25 comments for “Ngorongoro Crater

  1. Anonymous
    March 19, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    Gerry. Just a thought, but where does one go to the bathroom and not worry about getting startles by animals???


    • March 20, 2019 at 10:17 pm

      We are in a safari vehicle for a limited time for these shots – but we do have to be alert at times when nature calls on the bikes.


  2. John Aylen
    March 19, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Wow, Gerald. Wonderful photos and wonderful text. This is the part of the trip I would do in an instant!


    • March 20, 2019 at 10:21 pm

      Thanks John. Ngorongoro & the Serengeti are hard to beat.


  3. Helen
    March 19, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    This is simply amazing!
    I hope my brother Richard was in the group that witnessed the downing of the zebra. I can just imagine the 👀 on his face…
    Keep enjoying


    • March 23, 2019 at 6:53 pm

      Hi Helen – thanks for following. Enjoying Richard’s company here on tour. He actually did a 3 day safari which includes the Serengeti, so he was not with us at that time. The advantage there is that he got to see the wildebeest migration – no lion kills for that group however.


  4. Anonymous
    March 19, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Spectacular my friends!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Dream
    March 19, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Truly spectacular, like something out of a Hollywood movie, what an experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stephen Lee
    March 19, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Jerry – this shorter text is cleverly augmented by the 12 thousand words your pictures add. Awesome.


  7. March 19, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    Incredible. And yet 2nd to Galapagos? Apples and Oranges? Regardless, it’s a stunning place and you’ve captured it as only you could.


    • March 20, 2019 at 10:30 pm

      Thanks Tom. Different experiences indeed – but the Galapagos = land & sea and a rich showcase of evolution. I stand by my assessment.


  8. March 19, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    Two points: first, I thought you were supposed to cycle to Capetown. Wasn’t expecting this diversion from the task at hand. Second, do I need a caption that says “Zebras” to a photo of zebras? Apart from these two points, the post was riveting, as always.


    • March 23, 2019 at 6:57 pm

      1. Ngorongoro was a lateral shift from Arusha – so no north/south progress.
      2. Our friend Jack (Costa Rica). Was amazed that we could see rhinos from the bike (actually possible but an unlikely photo op) – so yes, I’m labelling stuff and pointing out the obvious.

      Thanks for reading.


    March 19, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    Your ability to transport us on this journey with you is remarkable. Your photos are breathtaking and your reflections are ready for a National Geographic script. Thank you for finding the time to entertain and educate us. Always looking forward to the next post.


    • March 20, 2019 at 10:34 pm

      Thank you Denise. Safari descriptions write themselves – but I do feel lucky to have the chance to report on our cycling experiences.


  10. kathleenfox6187
    March 19, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    Loved the Crater! Thanks for the update.


    • March 20, 2019 at 10:36 pm

      Glad you had that experience and happy that it seems to be in good hands.


  11. Suzanne
    March 20, 2019 at 12:20 am

    All I can say is …Woooow…I am so jealous. For now I will have to live vicariously through your blogs ..Soak up every minute you two.


    • March 20, 2019 at 10:37 pm

      Lucky to be doing just that. Thanks Suzanne.


  12. C&C
    March 20, 2019 at 12:59 am

    Lovely………very beautiful. Thank you…… C&C

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Karen Mathewson
    March 20, 2019 at 2:00 am

    Absolutely stunning photos, Gerald!


  14. March 20, 2019 at 2:36 am

    Just like The Lion King, but better.

    Liked by 1 person

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