Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Aug. 6, 2010. Ngorongoro Crater

We left early again this morning and drove a few hours to the Ngorongoro Crater. The "crater" is really a caldera - remnant of an enormous extinct volcano. It is about 10 miles across and the rim creates a unique lush ecosystem. There is an alkalai lake with greater and lesser flamingoes and a water dream system fed by underground springs. It is an idyllic place. Dome Masai bring their cattle here to graze but no one lives in the crater. Years ago the Germans had a coffee plantation on the side of the rim but there is very little trace of this now.
Here the animals seem to have everything they need; sun, water, grasses and food. We saw zebra, flamingo, jackals (silver-backed), warthogs, wildebeests, hartbeasts, black rhino, hippo, sacred ibis, African crowned cranes, a cheetah and a small pride of lions. We observed the lions for some time as they were easy to view and the male was easy to see. They also had at least one cub.
The lions and elephants in Africa go mostly unchallenged. They are the lords of their domain. A lion will move from an elephant and yesterday we saw a big cape buffalo bull chase off two lions, but all move for the elephant. Only the baby elephants are in danger from other animals. Elephants really only have msn to fear.
We had a picnic lunch beside a lake - hippo viewing was free. Unfortunately something bit me on my forearm and a big red welt developed around the bite. It is a little better as I am writing this - just itchy.
We arrived at the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge at around 2:30. The lodge is built on the edge of the rim of the crater and the rooms have panoramic views. The lodge is beautiful. The main dining hAs a huge tall thatched roof.
I slept for a couple hours and then we went up to the lodge for dinner. Just as we were arriving, a group of Masai put on a dance and chant performance - similar to the ones we had seen before.
We all met in the dining room for our last dinner together. We took pictures and created a contact list for after we get home. Then we went back to our rooms for sleep and an early morning start
Tomorrow - we return to Nairobi.

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