After some great game drives in Serengeti National Park, we headed for the Ngorongoro Crater. Technically Ngorongoro is not a crater but rather is a caldera, which is a volcano which has collapsed upon itself. It is the largest intact un-flooded caldera in the world, measuring 10 to 12 miles across. The walls are 2000 feet high, but are not so steep as to prevent wildlife from migrating in and out of the crater.
Here we are perched on the crater rim, looking down at the crater floor. In the hazy distance, you can barely make out the opposite rim.
We stayed at the Serena Lodge on the crater rim. As you can read on this sign, the altitude is over 7500 feet, making for some cold mornings even though we are almost on the equator.
For all game drives in Tanzania, the vehicle of choice is a 4WD Land Rover or equivalent. With a pop-up top, guests can stand with their heads above the roofline and view game in all directions. The solid, high sides provide protection against animal attacks, and the closed windows allow some escape from the clouds of dust churned up by vehicles traveling the dry dirt roads in the game reserves – – an unfortunate but inevitable condition of traveling here in the dry season. The tradeoff is that the vegetation is minimal at this time of year, allowing the best unobstructed views of the animals.
Speaking of animals, this cheetah posed majestically on a fallen log. If you look closely, you might see some Guinea Fowl on the grass just behind the log. The cheetah and the fowl were blissfully unconcerned with each other’s presence.
Herds of Cape Buffalo, including some young ones, were grazing on the dry grass. You can see the wall of the crater in the background.
As we have seen elsewhere on this journey, the shrinking water holes during the dry season are crowded with animals. These “rocks” are slumbering hippos. Do not disturb!
This troop of baboons scampered across the grass very close to our vehicle.
And after a long day in the crater, it was time to head back to the lodge for some hot food and a hot shower. Both were very appreciated!
On the drive away from the crater the next morning, we passed a Masaai village. The Masaai are herders, and count their wealth in cattle. The cattle are brought inside the stockade-like walls of the village each night for protection from wild animals. The Masaai people wear distinctive bright-colored robes, often red, which stand out against the parched land.
Our final safari stop of the trip was at Lake Manyara National Park. Waterfowl were concentrated in mind-boggling numbers.
And for our last game sighting, this family of elephants, including a baby, was just the right finish.
We may pull out some of our other wildlife photos for an encore post in the future. Until then, dear readers, we say goodbye to East Africa and to you. It was the trip of a lifetime, and we hope that you, too, may someday get to experience an African adventure.