Ngorongoro Crater

 

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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.  

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Camping at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater – an elephant and Cape buffalo visited us during the night
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Headed down to the crater early AM
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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.  

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Lion napping by a recent buffalo kill. Hyenas and jackels await their turn at the spoils..
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Hippos
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Crowned cranes
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Black rhinos
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Zebras
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Zebras & Flamingoes
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Thomson’s gazelles
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Wildebeest

Author: Gerry

Gerry & Lenore have 3 daughters who they thought might want to keep track of their parents as they travel - hence the blogging. Oh. . . . we hope to put up some content worthy of your consideration as well!

25 thoughts on “Ngorongoro Crater”

  1. 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

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    1. 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.

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  2. 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.

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    1. 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.

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  3. Gerry,
    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.

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  4. 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.

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