Today we went to the he Ngorongoro Crater National Park on safari. Our safari car (Toyota Land Cruiser) picked us up at 6:30am and took us to the crater. It was a long, bumpy, 2 hour drive, but totally worth the bum pain that followed.
On the way there, it was foggy and rainy, but once we started down into the crater and got below the clouds, we could finally see! The early morning light that came through the clouds was stunning and made for some great photos.
The crater formed after a volcanic eruption 400 million years ago. Now it is home to 4 of the 5 “big five” animals that live in Africa: elephants, lions, buffalo and rhinoceros, in addition to many other amazing animals. Leopards cannot live in the crater because they live in trees that don’t exist in Ngorongoro and we also didn’t see any giraffes because they can’t physically get down into the hole. All of the other wildlife stay there for their entire lives because there is enough water and food, unlike the Serengeti where the animals are migratory. There are salt lakes and a number of fresh water streams, ponds and swamps that provide food and water.
The complete list of animals seen: lions, elephants, black rhino, hippos, hyenas, zebras, buffalo, jackals, ostrich and wildebeest, flamingos, and the Kori Bustard (the biggest flying bird in Africa) .
I feel so lucky to have had this experience, and it is definitely better than the zoo, by far (DEF, you would be in heaven), but I did feel a little sad at times because we were disrupting their natural habitat. The park does not have a cap on the number of people or cars allowed in each day, so when there was an exciting animal, all of the safari cars would line up to see the it (anywhere from 5-35 cars), which is probably pretty traumatizing for them. So, I do feel guilty that we were a part of that, but also SO excited to show you all my photos, which I will promptly upload the second I get home!
More importantly, I bought Lucy a new collar today…handmade and beaded by one of the mamas in Manyara House. I think it will be a perfect welcome home gift. Yes, Mom and Dad, she is coming home to me VERY SOON!