Ngorongoro Crater

Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
Trip End Dec 16, 2008

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Sunday, September 7, 2008

After the morning game drive and lunch in the Serengeti we made our way to the Ngorongoro crater. We stopped at a random Maasai village as we wanted to visit the Maasai people and see how they lived. They did a couple of traditional songs dances for us, which was very nice. I took some pictures of Cecilie doing the dance with the Maasai, but she refuses to upload these to the blog - not sure why. ;) We were then shown one of their mud-huts, which is actually a stick house covered with dried cow-dung. Afterwards we looked at their crafts market, and of course we wanted to buy a small bracelet or something. It took less than 1 minutes before Christian had 5 bracelets on each arm with Maasai women all pulling him nearer their little crafts stall. Very funny. Cecilie bought 3 nice bracelets, and Christian managed to get away cleanly. We then saw their school (just a bigger mud-hut with bigger holes) where all the kids had been neatly sat on little wooden benches, and they gave us a big "Welcome" as we entered. Conveniently they had a big box saying "Education donation box" right up front. Though the Maasai people's main income is cows and goats, they do know a thing or two about tourism.

After the Maasai stop, we arrived at the rim of the crater just before sunset and there we set up camp. You are not allowed down in the crater after 4pm so the campsites are up on the crater rim. There are only two camp sites, which meant there was quite a few people there already waiting to go down into the crater the next morning. Being at the crater rim also meant we were around 3000 meters above sea level, so it was a little bit cold in the evening and especially at night - probably just above freezing. It was not really a problem though as our 2-season sleeping bags very fine and we did not get cold at all inside our tent.

After dinner that evening a big male elephant came into our camp looking for a drink. There was a big water tank next to the eating area, which was apparently known to this elephant. So he just walked up and stuck his trunk down into the tank and drank for about 10-15 minutes. We don't have any pictures of this as it was very dark and no one thought using flash 3 meters from a very big male elephant was a good idea.

The next morning after breakfast it was time for our final safari experience down in the Ngorongoro crater. It took probably 20 minutes to drive down the steep and bumpy road into the crater. The first thing we saw was a horde of wildebeests moving towards the crater lake. As you can see we took a lot of pictures of the wildebeests as this was the first time we had seen these on our safari (in the Serengeti they had all migrated up towards the Kenyan border). There was also a lot of Zebras often mingled with the wildebeests.

After following all the wildebeests for a while we saw several hyenas including one lying in a sand hole relaxing. We saw lots of big birds like the crested crane and the secretary bird. We saw more elephants and buffalos, but no giraffes as there is not enough vegetation in the crater for them to eat, so there are no giraffes in the crater. 5 minutes before we had to leave we saw the last of the big-5 - the Black Rhino. There are not many left so it was quite special even though it was not as close as we could have wanted and that everyone else in the crater had turned up as well. It was still amazing to catch a glimpse of this giant.

Around 2pm we headed back to camp and picked up our gear and drove back to Arusha. We were back at Visiwani Lodge around 6.30pm - tired, but very happy.
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