Monday, July 5, 2021

Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania: July 3-4, 2021


After passing through the entrance gate, we drove along the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater with all views obscured by fog and mist. A buffalo and her calf crossed the road in front of us to continue on the trail down into the crater. The bottom of the crater sits about 2000ft/610m below the rim. Ngorongoro Crater is "the world's largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera." The caldera was created when the volcano exploded 2-3 million years ago. Today it is filled with animals and is known as a modern day Garden of Eden. Being there, it did feel like I was riding around in a Garden of Eden. The crater is self contained with spring and stream fed water sources as well as rain. Both predators and prey occupy the crater's 100 square miles/260 square kilometers. We saw so many animals: Thompson's Gazelle, buffalo, large birds, elephants, lions, zebra, baboons, blond warthogs, a baby leopard stashed in a tree, hippos, jackals, wildebeest, a Caracal mom and her two kittens, and six black rhinos. 

The visitors' center topographical map of the crater and conservation area
Thompson's Gazelles

We saw a Caracal mom and her two kittens that were almost her size. One of our drivers said that in the five years he has been driving tours in the crater, it was the first time he'd seen caracals here. They are beautiful. Kittens are born in July and August and stay with their mother for about one year. 

Caracal







Secretary Bird (because its feathers look like pencils sticking out of a hairdo)
Gray-Crowned Cranes
Cory Bustard
Baboons

Baby Leopard waiting for Mom
In the drive around the floor of the crater, we came upon two young lions that first appeared to be dead. We were parked right next to them and they didn't wake, move, stir, but they were breathing. The farther lion had a gash in its side. It looked like they were exhausted. The distant zebras were keeping watch. A little further on we saw a young buffalo with a gash that may have been the intended prey of these two lions.

Two exhausted young lions in a ditch

Buffalo

We stayed in the Ngorongoro Farm House Valley Lodge for two lovely nights. It was its own Garden of Eden. The hotel's vegetables, fruits, and flowers were grown on site. There is a 500-acre coffee plantation. Breakfast and lunch were excellent with many choices and, of course, fresh vegetables and fruits. Our room was exquisite as was the view from the room. This is definitely a place to linger and savor. Next time ...

Ngorongoro Farm House Valley Lodge





The Highlands of Ngorongoro are chilly in the evenings. At our request, each night a staff member laid a small fire for us.

We leave this part of Ngorongoro tomorrow morning.

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