Spending a day on safari at Ngorongoro Crater on the trip The Great Eastern Summer.
Ngorongoro Crater lies in the conservation area of the same pleasant sounding name. This UNESCO World Heritage Site holds the world’s largest inactive and unfilled volcanic caldera. The Maasai are also able to enter the crater for their livestock to graze, though they cannot stay overnight.
Of course the area boasts a large variety of wildlife.
We entered the crater in the morning, with a hairy drive down a steep one lane road hugging the crater wall. Several groups of Maasai were herding their goats and cows around grasslands at the base.
Wildebeest, antelope, and zebra sauntered around as we drove along the dirt road until we met something very rare on safari, a traffic jam. A park ranger in a white Range Rover blocked off the road as officials were checking on a black rhino about 200 meters away.
We could see a blanket over the eyes of the tranquilized beast as they inspected the animals health. Our guide listened to the chatter over the radio and explained that the rhino was being tagged for tracking.
We waited a good thirty minutes and the line of safari vehicles started to build. Then all of a sudden the cars surrounding the rhino sped away as a few people left behind lifted the towel off the rhino and ran into their own trucks.
The large beast wobbly stood up and started charging at no apparent target. But when the horns turned in our direction, all the trucks panicked to get out of the way. Fortunately the rhino stopped his charge and ran off towards the water.
The rare and endangered animal could really move fast and I’m sure it can topple vehicles.
Further down the road, we found lions resting after a fresh buffalo kill. Its insides were hollow as the entrails are the first part that the lions feast on.
We eventually drove eastward to Ngoitokitok Spring where tourists stop for a picnic or to use the restrooms. In the body of water, hippos randomly popped up like buoys floating to the top of the water. It was somewhat uncomfortable to stand a couple of meters away from these aggressive creatures.
Leaving the park, we stopped by the tomb of Bernhard Grzimek and his son, Michael. We paid our respects to these great men who helped preserve a unique corner of Africa for the world.
Next up, Nairobi!