When we were on the island of Manda in Kenya I bumped into a group of young women from Barcelona. They were still on a safari “high” having just left Tanzania. They were stoked about Lake Manyara and even better yet Ngorongoro Crater. “You have to go there!”
To be fair, our day before at Lake Manyara was wonderful but not earth shattering. It’s not Disneyland even though at times it feels like someone in the background says “Cue the lion”. It’s pure luck. The wildlife are in their natural habitat and you see things when you do.
Off to Ngorongoro Crater – the world’s largest inactive caldera and another UNESCO site.
Per Wikipedia: A caldera is a large cauldron-like hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber in a volcanic eruption. When large volumes of magma are erupted over a short time, structural support for the rock above the magma chamber is lost. The ground surface then collapses downward into the emptied or partially emptied magma chamber, leaving a massive depression at the surface (from one to dozens of kilometers in diameter). Although sometimes described as a crater, the feature is actually a type of sinkhole, as it is formed through subsidence and collapse rather than an explosion or impact.
This crater collapsed on itself two to three million years ago! Today approximately 25,000 animals roam on its floor.
We drove down into the crater on a windy narrow road with steep drop offs. It was a one lane road handling cars traveling in both directions. Lovely….
Tourism is down 80%.
Imagine safari vehicles roaming every which way over the 100 square miles of the caldera. This is what 20% looks like in one tiny part of Ngorongoro. I can’t imagine what it would be like when tourism was at 100%. We are very lucky to be here now when it is relatively quiet and we can help provide income to those who desperately need it. There is no unemployment from this government. They’re on their own.
Click to enlarge photos…
The drivers use radios to tell each other if they have spotted something extraordinary. Although we couldn’t understand Swahili we knew something special had been spotted. Amon would put it in gear and dart off. The safari vehicles grew en masse as everyone vied for a spot.
The wildebeest and zebra numbered in the thousands. A lioness walked calmly next to the shoreline and upon spotting her the wildebeest lost their minds and ran in every direction. I had a glimpse into what the “wildebeest migration’ would look like. The zebras stopped and watched closely seeming to be plotting out their escape. A few gazelles followed closely behind as if they were toying with her. A full belly must have kept this lioness disinterested.
It was unexpected but I did get to see flamingos.
Here’s the tally for today:
Caracal – cat family
Gray crowned cranes
We stayed in the crater about three hours then headed to the Serengeti – another three hour drive to get to camp. Some on pavement and the rest of the drive was on dirt roads in the Serengeti Park.
More about the Serengeti in the next posting….
Heads up – the first video loaded is the one I posted. The one you see after viewing that are ones YouTube wants you to see….