Ngorogoro Crater

Big Five – tick!
Ngorongoro, Tanzania

The last day of the year. I intended to make the most of it!
Opening the tent door in the morning, to the left, a view across the crater. To the right, the sunrise over trees and hills. Pretty beautiful. Breakfast of pancakes watching the sunrise – another 5.45am morning didn’t seem quite so bad anymore!

The Ngorongoro crater is the world’s largest extinct volcanic caldera. At 610m deep and an area of 260 square km, is much larger than the 16km wide Mount Bromo (Indonesia) caldera I was at last year!

1.1325773735.campsite-above-the-crater

Unfortunately this time, there were no erupting volcanos to climb – but one thing Bromo did not have is animals, animals and more animals.

The drive down into the crater was spectacular. The weather was perfect, so we could see right across to all sides of the crater.

We were only in the crater for maybe 5 minutes, before our first spot! A cheetah hiding in the grass, 5 meters away from us. We stayed and watched it for a while – it had spotted and was watching a fox. Eventually it got up and had a walk about – it was beautiful. Our driver moved the car to another road near to where the cheetah was headed. It came right up to the car, rubbed itself against the front bonnet and laid down on the grass beside us. So cool!!!

1.1325773735.cheetah

All morning, we saw hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of zebra and wildebeest. They were everywhere. The grass is a lot shorter in the crater than it was in the Serengeti, so made spotting animals so much easier. But it is impossible to put into words how many animals there were around.

Other highlights of the morning:
– being charged by an elephant – there were a family of 8 alongside us, they then crossed the road in front of us. One turned, trumpeted, then began to run few steps forward. Luckily the driver knew what to do – the car engine scares them. So we were spared being squashed by an elephant! Sadly my camera battery died halfway through videoing this, so only have half of the running!
– herds of water buffalo (number 4 of Big Five)
– 3 rhino grazing (number 5 of Big Five!). We were pretty lucky to see so many. Only 7 rhinos live in the Serengeti.
– 2 more lionesses lazing about on a hill
– a beautiful lake with bathing hippo
– several elands

1.1325773735.elephant-crossing

We saw everything we could have wanted. It really was an amazing few days and I would definitely return, maybe in a different season.

We returned to camp for some (amazing!) lunch before continuing the 4 hour drive back to Arusha. We were staying back at Snake Park. As soon as we were back it was shower time. We hadn’t been able to shower while being in the park – and were covered in 3 days of dust!

We had prepared for new years eve in advance, buying wine at the supermarket several days ago. Unfortunately with no cups to hand, we were classily drinking straight out of the bottle.

The bar at the campsite prepared a massive barbecue. The food in Africa has so far been amazing. So we saw the new year in (with quite a bit of drama!) over Kilimanjaro beers and champagne.

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