Ngorongoro Crater/8th Wonder of the World

Trip Start Nov 28, 2009
Trip End May 22, 2010

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1st day

Leaving Arusha at 9am with our driver Bakary, our first stop along the way to Ngorongoro Crater – said to be the 8th wonder of the world – was a snake park and a museum about the Massai culture. During an 1 hour walk through the park we saw pythons, mambas, cobras and other dangerous animals as well as overcame our fears by, first, holding a non-dangerous snake in our hands and then put it around our neck. Next we passed a Massai village where a man is supposed to live with his 25 wives and more than 100 kids. The amount of kids made the Tanzanian government to build a school just for this Massai's kids. When we stopped for lunch at a small village close to the Albertine rift we were quickly approached by so many street vendors that we could get an idea how crazy this place might be during high season. After entering the Ngorongoro Conservation area we saw a couple of Baboons that showed little interest in leaving the road we were driving on. When we finally reached the view point of the Crater we could understand why it was considered the 8th wonder of the world – its walls are falling down 600m and the whole crater spreads out over an area of 19x16 km. This first impression got even better as we managed to see a herd of elephants, 3 rhinos, several wilderbeests, antilopes and buffaloes from the terrace of our Lodge. Having seen all these animals in such concentration and knowing that the crater has one of the highest densities of predators in the world, we were really excited about all the animals to spot the next day.

2nd day

We started our great safari day with an early breakfast as we were planning to drive down into the crater at 7:30 am. When we arrived down the first thing we could spot were large amounts of wilderbeests and zebras that seemed to inhabit every part of the crater. At our first stop we saw a female lions from just 2-3m away from our car and they seemed pretty unimpressed by our presence. When two more lions joined, Ferdi’s sunglasses fell outside of the car and it was only due to the courage of our driver Bakary, who opened the car door and picked them up with the lions still around, that he got them back. During our game drive we saw 4 of the "big five" animals- lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino- but didn’t manage to spot a leopard. In another occasion it was only the high grass that prevented us from seeing a cheetah. Among the thousands of wilderbeests and zebras especially the male wilderbeests were constantly fighting for their territory during the mating period and thereby creating an enormous noise when their horns were crashing together. We also saw jackals, hyenas, hippos, elum (big antilope), gazelles, flamingos, warthogs, ostriches and several other birds so that we had an almost perfect safari day – I wished we had seen a leopard and the cheetah. On the way to Lake Manyara where we spent the night in order to go for a game drive in the nearby nationalpark early the next morning. Upon arrival in the hotel we went straight to the pool and enjoyed a beautiful sunset over Lake Manyara and enjoying a cold Kilimanjaro beer.

3rd day

Again we had to get up at 6:45 in order to start our game drive as early as possible. Since we expected to see mainly birds in the national park we were really surprised when we saw a herd of elephants with the mothers surrounding calves to protect them; a couple of Massai giraffes and actually could get really close to them. Other animals that we saw were many baboons, other monkeys, a big herd of buffalos, a hippo and some birds as well. But we were mostly impressed by the fact that a grown up Impala male could have up to 15 females in his group and no other males. Already at lunchtime we had to drive back to Arusha in order to catch our flight to Zanzibar in the early afternoon.
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