Looking Back To…..Ngorongoro Crater
Attempts to update the blog were unsuccessful once we left the comforts of Gibbs Farm. So, now we’re back in the US and I’m posting those updates – belatedly – from the comforts of my home!
From Gibbs Farm we headed northwest to the 8th wonder of the world – Ngorongoro Crater. This geologic feature is 185 square miles, 12 miles wide, and was once an active volcano likely higher than Mount Kilimanjaro. Its collapse resulted in the world’s largest intact caldera that maintains its own wildlife and forms its own weather patterns.
We stop at the park entrance to get a briefing from one of our guides on the geologic history of the area; then we head up the long winding road to the crater rim. We pause for an awe-inspiring look at the crater floor, spotting herds of Cape buffalo and watching as a rain storm drenches a distant part of the crater. Soon we arrive at our next camp site, nestled in the canopy of the tall flat-top acacia trees that are found above 5,000 feet (the camp is 7,500 feet above sea level). The cool damp forest camp, a pleasant reprise from the heat of the day, seems like a tree house oasis. That afternoon and all of the next day we leave the cool forest to enter the world of the crater floor, observing numerous resident wildlife species. We witness the challenge of a new-borne gazelle as it tries to stand for the first time, admire from a distance an endangered black rhino and baby, watch as lion cubs playfully romp in the early morning sun, spot a cheetah on the prowl among a herd of gazelles, and laugh at the antics and unique galloping of the wildebeests. We also spot a family of hyenas eyeing its next meal, as well as a herd of elephants, numerous hippos, zebras, and too-many-to-count species of brilliantly-colored birds. Our crew got a lot of great photos as evidenced by a few examples below.