Monday, February 2, 2009

See Ya Soon Baboon! ~~Ngorongoro Crater

Brykn, Heres your elephant!! He is a little to big to rope and way to big for Grandma's suitcase!! Love Grandma

Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro is a fascinating and unusual thus making it the eighth wonder of the world. The area which includes the Ngorongoro Crater at its centre, then extends through the Crater Highlands, in which local tribes are permitted to maintain their traditional lifestyles in as natural environment as possible. This extraordinary volcanic landscape is rich and fertile, with stunning craters and lakes, and the high altitude creates a malaria-free micro climate. The crater is said to have the most dense concentration of wildlife in Africa.
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.
Ngorongoro Crater meaning "Cowbell" in the Massai language, truly was a breath taking sight and a once in a life time opportunity. Driving from Arusha which was rather low in altitude, we drove to 7300 feet. The view was fantastic as we looked out over the crater that lay thousand of feet below. From the look out you see large herds of Water Buffalo, and Wildabeast. The high land which was very green with thick lust trees and shrubs is also home to several Water Buffalo. Suddenly two Water-Buffalos charged on to the dirt road, sort of like the greeting crew. A quick as they appeared, they disappeared, and off all times I didn't have my camera out and ready to shot.

Also along the road there were many, many Massai warriors walking, where they were going I have no idea. From 7300 feet we drove down a narrow, rough and very steep dirt road ending up in the crater itself. There are many wives tales as to how the crater was formed, one being it was it was a mountain until it erupted, leaving nothing but a crater. There are thousands of animals in the crater, some of which do migrate. However, due to the large amount of food year round most make the crater home.
Emanuel had told me all about seeing the BIG 5...elephant, rhino, lion, water buffalo and leopard. He had explained to me that rarely do people see all five in one safari. I suppose he had been told of my determination, by Bryson and Andrew. I wasn't going to leave until I saw all five, or at least gave it on heck of a good try. With the top off the Land Rover, I rode standing up for eight hours. All of it was so cool and very relaxing. First we were able to locate the herd of Water Buffalo's, and then much to Emanuel's surprise several lions. One of which came over to the Land Rover and look up at me, then laid down in the shade of the Land Rover. We were unable to move as his back legs and tail were under the back wheels. It was great just to stand and quietly watch the massive beast. I remember thinking, oh boy I sure hope he doesn't decide to jump in the Land Rover.
In the thicker tree areas of the crater there were so many different types of monkeys and baboons and birds. They stay high as not be lunch for a creature bigger than they are. All the monkeys fascinated me, as we only see monkeys in the zoo, not running around like cats and dogs.

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.

Zebras are in abundance in the crater, they number close to 10,000. I suppose I am fond of the zebras as they are close relatives to horse. There were so many foals in the herd, they are playful, just like horses. All zebras, I was told have a distinctive strip pattern and no two patterns are the same. Sort of like a finger print on a human.

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.


Brykn, see you soon baboon! Sorry, Grandma couldn't’t rope an elephant. He was mean and too big plus Grandma forgot her rope. Thank you so much for the Valentine. It makes me so happy! I read it every day. I love you little buddy!