Ngorongoro Crater

 Posted by Elizabeth at 8:04 pm
Jul 102011

Ngorongoro CraterThe road from Lake Manyara to the Crater gate is not the most pleasant of roads to drive, but we made it to the gate and after handing over $400 for the privilege of camping the night and taking our car into the crater the next day we headed towards camp. Once we arrived at Simba A camp we were told we could not park our car on the grass, yet there were several other cars already parked on the grass. We pointed this out and were told they were going to pay a fine at the gate (yeah right). Eventually we agreed on a reasonably level piece of ground where we could park the car (which was on the grass – go figure???). At the camp we were asked if we needed a guide, to which we told them no. They then told us we would not be allowed in the crater without one (sure) so we just told them we had no space and we know others have taken their cars into the crater without a guide so we would be ok. Sure enough at the crater gate they asked if we had a guide, we told them we had no room and they just said fine and let us through as we expected.

The night was freezing cold as we expected it would be, so we were in bed fairly early. Unfortunately I managed to get food poisoning and spent 90 minutes in the middle of the night in the loo vomiting and having diarrhoea. Not the best place to get sick. The next morning I wasn’t too bad thank goodness, and we headed down into the crater at sunrise.

Gray Crowned Crane, Ngorongoro CraterCoke's Hartebeest, Ngorongoro CraterServal, Ngorongoro CraterWildebeest, Ngorongoro CraterNgorongoro CraterKori Bustrard, Ngorongoro Crater

We both had high expectations of the crater given our previous visit, however we were a little worried that this time we were in peak tourist season and the number of vehicles might spoil the experience. Our concerns were unfounded, and whilst there were more cars, there were not too many and they did not detract from our experience. The crater was fantastic! We saw so many animals including:

19 lions spotted hyena elephants black rhino warthogs
serval Coke’s hartebeests black-backed jackal golden jackal baboons
Thomson’s gazelles Grant’s gazelles wildebeests ostriches zebras
flamingos buffalos Defassa waterbuck hippos cheetah
vervet monkeys kori bustards grey crowned crane    


Spotted Hyena, Ngorongoro CraterHippos, Ngorongoro CraterBuffalo, Ngorongoro Crater

The highlight would have to be watching a group of 7 lions eating a kill. They feasted on the wildebeest whilst hyenas watched from a distance and a jackal sat within metres of them just waiting for an opportunity to snatch part of the kill away. (You can see how close the jackal was in the bottom middle picture). Finally the dominant female decided it was time to move so they slowly started to move away, although a couple of the lions lingered a bit longer. It was at this time that the jackal made its move and dashed in right to where the lions were still eating and stole part of the kill and then went back for more. A pretty brave jackal if you ask me!

Lions, Ngorongoro CraterLions, Ngorongoro CraterLions, Ngorongoro CraterLions, Ngorongoro CraterLions, Ngorongoro CraterNgorongoro Crater

Spotted Hyena, Ngorongoro CraterWe also saw hyenas eating their kill. In fact there were heaps of hyenas throughout the crater. There were heaps of animals in general and a wide variety, all of which were fairly easy to spot as the grass was reasonably short.

We were the odd ones out being self drive and the only overlanders we saw amongst the heaps of safari vehicles. The safari guides were pretty friendly and happily told us where they had seen things such as lions, cheetahs and rhino which definitely helps, especially as they all have radios to communicate with each other and we don’t.

The crater is definitely an experience not to miss. Yes it is extremely expensive but it is a totally different experience to other national parks and is worth the time, money and effort to visit.

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