Ngorongoro Crater is the world's largest intact caldera in an exceptional geographical position, forming a spectacular bowl of about 265 sq km with sides up to 600m deep. It is the stalking ground of 2000 - 30,000 wild animals at any one time. The crater floor consists of a number of ecological environments that include grassland, swamps, forests and Lake Makat, a central soda lake filled by the Munge river and home to several hundred hippo. All these various habitats attract various wildlife to drink, wallow, graze, hide or climb. Although animals are free to move in and out of this contained environment, the rich volcanic soil, lush forests and spring source lakes on the crater floor tend to incline both grazers and predators to remain throughout the year. The Crater is also presently one of the most likely areas in Tanzania to see the endangered Black Rhino, as a small population are thriving in this idyllic and protected environment one of the only areas where they continue to breed in the wild.
The Crater rim, over 2,200 metres high, touches swathes of clouds for most days of the year, with cool high altitude vapours that seem to bring a clean lightness to the air, and also a chill.
One specific herd of Water Buffalo must have numbered two thousand. Even though they out numbered us by a long wasy, they were not bothered by us at all. When I seen them, all I could think was how bad Buck, and TJ want go hunting for a trophy Cape Buffalo. One day I would love to come back to the crater with them both, not to hunt, but simply so they can enjoy the beauty of it all.
So many animals all living in harmony, and living by the rules of nature. What a sight to see. It was difficult to see the other end of the crater from the opposite end. Seeing a laughing hyena and a jackal living side by side was a sight to see. It was a little like the Jackal was playing cat and mouse with the hyena, but the hyena didn't care, that was for the time being.
The most amazing site came about six hours into the safari. A pair of Leopards were protecting a fresh kill of a baby. We stayed at this sight silently watching the pair enjoy their lunch and dinner all the while not moving or going any closer. Now all we had left to see was a rhino in the BIG 5. Emanuel, and I both had smiles on our faces as I seen two Black Rhinos in the distance. Though I could see them in the binoculars I was unable to get a real good photo. Photo or no photo I had seen the BIG 5. Emanuel keep saying you are so lucky! Many people never see a lion or a rhino in the crater.
My day at the crater was so much more than I had ever hoped for and I would recommend everyone try to see it first hand. While on the safari, I thought about my old African friend Mabel. I wondered if she after returning to West Africa had ever got the chance to enjoy a safari? As we drove up out of the crater, one last look back at the most awesome place I've seen. Here's to Africa's natural beauty and the animals and Massai who live there.
SEE YA SOON BABOON!