Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
Last night we camped on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. This morning we again got an early start and descended 600 meters to the floor of the crater. Ngorongoro is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. The natural amphitheater covers an area of about 260 sq km. (100 sq. miles ) and is home of up to 25,000 larger mammals.
Again, like the Serengeti, we were treated to a large array of animals and birds. Unlike the Serengeti, many of the animals spend their lives in the crater and don’t migrate as much as those on the Serengeti. Also, the various species of animals and birds in the crater are more concentrated, not as spread out as on the Serengeti. We saw large groups of flamingos wading which we had not seen anywhere else on the tour except on the coast of Namibia.
|Descent to the Floor|
Photography opportunities here were fantastic with a minimal amount of driving. I asked our guide if any of the animals located in the crater are genetically different form the same species outside the crater. Apparently not, that there is sufficient flow of animals to and from the crater that mutations have not taken place. It’s hard to believe that this is the case, as the walls of the crater are quite steep and great effort would be required for the animals to migrate in/out of the crater. The effort to enter the crater would not be as great as required to leave the crater as the climb to the rim from the Serengeti is more gradual, but just as much elevation gain if not more. Of course, for the bird species, this would not be a problem, although some smaller bird species might find the flight over the rim a bit grueling.
|Safari Vehicle Lookout|
We spent about four hours on the floor of the crater before ascending steeply to the rim opposite to where we entered the crater. Our driver had to place his vehicle in four-wheel drive in order to make the steep ascent of loose gravel and stones.
After reaching the rim we headed back to our campsite in Arusha where we were treated to our last supper together. The campground owners had slaughtered a lamb earlier in the day and were roasting it over an open fire when we arrived back at the camp. After supper many of us celebrated our last evening together in the campground bar. A good time was had by all. I got to bed about 11:30 p.m. but many others were still going strong until the wee hours of the morning.