Tanzania Part 4. Ngorongoro Crater

An early morning and cool start saw us heading down into the Ngorongoro crater, a place that I’d heard of for many years. It’s an UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest inactive, unbroken and unfilled volcanic caldera. Absolutely nothing had prepared me for just how vast it is however.  When it was a volcano it’s thought to have been a similar size to Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s highest mountains, and when it erupted about 2.5 million years ago it collapsed in on itself. Estimates of the volcano’s original height vary between 4,500 to 5,800 metres,(14,700 – 19,028 feet), and the crater itself is about 610 metres/2,000 feet deep.  Its floor covers a huge 260 square kilometres.

The eruption caused much of the ash and debris to land where the plains of the Serengeti are now. They formed a hard under-layer that trees can’t penetrate, thus resulting in the massive grasslands of the Serengeti.

We hadn’t driven very far down the steep track when we encountered an elephant with impressive tusks quietly browsing.

Next were a pair of golden jackals which I’ve never seen before.  The photo didn’t really catch the glints of their golden fur unfortunately.

We also had a good sighting of a couple of secretary birds and some ostrich.

The marabou stork. One of the ‘Ugly Five’.

The grey crowned crane on the other hand is a beautiful bird and looks like it should be on the catwalk. 

The Kori Bustard. The largest flying bird native to Africa, although I’ve only ever seen them strutting around on the ground.  They weigh between 15-40 lbs, and have a wingspan of up to 9′ !

A sunbathing bateleur eagle, and a tawny eagle on the lookout.

No African wildlife drive is complete without a lion sighting!

A browsing hippo, with oxpeckers on its back.

It’s estimated that around 30,000 large animals live in the crater, and they all seem to keep to their own distinct areas. Below are wildebeest walking through the flamingo quarter 🙂 

A little tousle.  It didn’t last long though.

The day stayed overcast and was cold, but the sky allowed a nice high-key photo of the zebras below.

Stopping at an open area, a dozen birds investigated our vehicle looking for crumbs.

A guide in his typical Masai blanket.

The crater has many different areas;  Wooded, open, lakes, etc.

Next stop – Tarangire National Park.

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