EXPLORING NGORONGORO CRATER

EXPLORING NGORONGORO CRATER

“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?” - Brian Jackman

The crater floor is a truly remote beautiful imaginary place where life approaches perfection in one of the most densely crowded game areas in the world, home to an estimated 30,000 animals which is what makes your five hours of exploring the Ngorongoro seem so magical. The main descent road twists down the western wall, near the Seneto Springs, used by the Maasai to water their cattle. When you reach the crater floor, time seems to stand still, and the animals go on about their lives as they have for countless decades, relatively accustomed to human presence.

Ngorongoro Crater floor is a wildlife haven, with a large population of hyena, and lion prides and the large black-manned male lions stalk the grasslands. Cheetahs move in and out of the crater but sightings are very common on crater tours. Leopards are most frequently sighted in the spectacular Lerai area mostly on tree branches and sometimes on the surrounding environs. The smaller carnivores that are commonly spotted include: both golden and black-backed jackal, whereas the normally shy and nocturnal serval cats are often seen during daylight hours.

Large numbers of buffalo, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle are spread out in the vast grazing lands of the crater floor. An estimated 16 endangered black rhinos are protected within the crater and they are commonly spotted on the plains. Giant tusked elephants wander about the plains and forested slopes of the crater. There are several soda lakes in which flamingos crowd to feed on algae. There is an estimated population of about 6,000 resident wildebeest that graze around the Ngorongoro Crater.

At the crater floor, the Maasai herdsmen graze their cattle side by side with predators and prey. Their traditional way of life allows them to live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment. Today there are about 42,000 Maasai pastoralists living in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area with their cattle. During the rainy seasons they move out on to the open plains; in the dry season they move into the adjacent woodlands and mountain slopes. The Maasai are able to take their cattle into the Crater for grazing and water, but they only live on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater in their rondavel “Manyatta” villages.

Ngorongoro is a suitable area for extensive guided walking safaris in and around the Ngorongoro Crater rim. Short hikes can be organized while on safari, however, long walks which can be adventurous and rewarding but they need tailor-made planning to fit your travel requirements. Suitable walking routes include the area from Olmoti Crater to Embakai Highland and down to the Great Rift Valley, the Northern Highlands Forest Reserve and the Eastern Plains around Nasera Rock, Gol Mountains and Olkarien Gorge.

The Ngorongoro is one of the quintessential experiences for any safari traveller as it boasts some of the best rhino sightings in East Africa. Large numbers of lion and hyena compete for the large populations of zebra, wildebeest and antelope herds, all set against the backdrop of its craggy walls and illuminated by the golden light of the African sun. Time flies by as you explore the wide plains on the crater floor and there is no better place than the Crater rim to sit and contemplate the majestic views as the sun begins to set in the evening