Although I only spent one day at Ngorongoro Crater, I am going to discuss it over two posts, as it is such an incredible place and I have quite a number of photos to share too. I really wish we had spent an extra day here as, although the area is quite small compared to the Serengeti, 8000 square kilometres, as opposed to over 14,000, the scenery is breath-taking and the number of animals to see there is amazing. I know it sounds stupid saying it’s all incredible, breath-taking and amazing, but Ngorongoro really is. The crater itself was created two to three million years ago, when a large volcano exploded and collapsed in on itself, and has created a wonderful natural enclosure for many animals. Unlike the Serengeti which was dry and yellow when we visited, Ngorongoro was lush, with deep green hills flowing onto a flat emerald green basin.
We left our campsite, which was located on the rim of the crater, before sunrise (we had to wake up before 5am to pack up the camp in complete darkness) and headed towards the park gate. Driving down the steep and narrow road to the crater floor, we saw the sun peaking over the mountains. As we continued along, herds of zebras and wildebeests stopped in their tracks and watched us pass. The zebras always looked particularly stunning whenever we saw them, as their crisp white and black coast creates a stark contrast to the surrounding landscape, which makes them really stand out.
After fifteen minutes of driving through the flat basin, we came to a small forest area. As we turned a corner, we came across a herd of elephants. The were about ten of them in various sizes. We also saw a baby elephant which our guide said would be no more than a year old. It kept extremely close to its mother, constantly hiding between her hind legs. The both of them, as well as a few other elephants, came extremely close to us as they walked behind our vehicle to the other side of the road. They would not have been more than 5 metres away. It was incredible to see such large animals, let alone wild animals, up so close. I have seen elephants in zoos, but this is entirely different. And it so refreshing seeing animals in their natural habitat, rather than in an artificial enclosure.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Ngorongoro Crater, with some close up photos of majestic female lions.