March 1, 2011

Ngorongoro Crater

The next several posts will update you on the last week of travels from Dar es Salaam to Musoma.  We left Dar on Monday, Feb. 21 and spent one night in Arusha before meeting our tour guides for our safari to Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Serengeti National Park, and Grumeti Reserve.   Each post will report on one of these days.

We left Arusha Tuesday morning Feb. 22 around 10:00 a.m. loaded into our five land cruisers (one of which was our support vehicle equipped with tents, food, and cooks). The night in Arusha was wonderfully cool, a respite from the heat of Dar which everyone enjoyed.  After a beautiful drive through Maasai country, we arrived at the gate to Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA).  The NCA is not a national park, but an area designed to allow human communities to coexist with wildlife.  Maasai villages dotted the landscape with their cattle and goats sharing grazing land with zebra and wildebeest.

The Ngorongoro crater, an ancient caldera, is truly a site to behold.  The crater is 20 km by 20 km and is a vast grassland home to a multitude of species.  We saw wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, elephant, cheetah, lion, rhino, and topi among others.  We welcomed a rain storm near the end of our visit to the crater floor, before returning to the rim to camp.  It was a chilly night!  After popcorn, soup, and pasta we crawled into our sleeping bags for the night.  A highlight was the elephant that rumbled through our campsite within 10 meters of our dining table… he later sauntered to a nearby tree where he ripped branches off for his dinner.

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