Dropping into the crater

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Hippopatamus in Ngorogoro Crater

We were awakened at 5am, when Samuel brought us a tray with coffee and hot chocolate. We scrambled to get ready.   Thanks to good planning by Mark Thornton, we stayed at Lemala Tented Camp inside the Ngorongoro park, so it was a very short drive to the gate.   At opening time – 6am – we were the first and only safari vehicles to drop down into the crater.

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The rim of the crater was still covered by clouds in the early morning.

We were the only ones there as the sun came up. The area inside the crater is huge (260 sq. miles /100 sq km), and once inside we looked around, and had the impression that we were in the bottom of a large bowl. The escarpment rose up about 2,000 feet on all sides around us. Twenty-five thousand animals live in the crater, and we hoped to see a few – and spend some time watching them. (By the way, technically, the “bowl” is not a crater but rather the world’s largest inactive, intact, and unfilled caldera. We had many good sightings of animals as they began their day. Jo spotted three little lion cubs only a few feet back from the road, hidden by their mother in tall grass. Chagamba explained that their mother was out hunting and would only return after she’d eaten. A lion can go up to five days without eating, but, then, even with lion cubs to leave behind, she will have to go out to get food so she can nurse the cubs and survive.

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Little lion cubs left by their mother

We drove slowly and spotted more animals that day than we thought possible. Here are just a few:

buffalo

African buffalo

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Great crested cranes with flamingoes in the background

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Thompson’s gazelle

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Hyena

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Wildebeest

Zebra

Zebra

Ostrich

Ostrich

By lunchtime, too many vehicles had gathered on the road. Mika and Chagamba, our guides, tried to maneuver our Land Rovers around the congested roads. In early afternoon, we finally we got caught in a traffic jam. Two lions lounged by the side of the road. Everyone wanted to watch.

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Lions stopping all traffic

We backed away and made our escape. Experienced planning, great guides, and good luck combined for one of our best travel days ever.   June 2014

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14, Tanzania and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dropping into the crater

  1. Pingback: Our Best of the Best #2: favorite places to stay and cities for good food | simpletravelourway

  2. Pingback: Seize the opportunity (while you still can) | simpletravelourway

  3. bernice rowe says:

    ….I am having so much fun living vicariously thru your safari! Bernice

    Sent from my iPad

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