After leaving Tarangire NP earlier this morning, we head straight for the Ngoronogoro Conservation Area.
We won’t do another game drive until early tomorrow morning, but we stop for a couple photos of the crater on the way to the hotel.
I’m so excited for this part of our safari. I can’t remember what I was watching, or how long ago it was, but at some point in my younger life, I watched a documentary on the Ngorongoro Crater and the wildlife in it. I remember thinking, “Someday, I have to go there!” So when looking at safari options, I made sure to choose one that included it. Tomorrow, that dream will finally come true!
Our lodge, the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge, is perched right on the ledge of the crater, with incredible views!
The main area of the lodge reminds me of an English hunting lodge, with a huge rock fireplace and a cozy atmosphere. But the rooms are pretty basic. The walls are thin and while they say there’s hot water until 10pm, I take an icy shower at 730pm. However, these are really my only complaints. Amy and I have a glass of wine on the patio before dinner and enjoy the scenery.
We get up at 530am to be ready for our sunrise game drive. It’s kind of a rough morning for me as I’m so tired and hungry, and I have to wait until 830am to eat breakfast. But I try to remind myself that I’m finally in the Ngorongoro Crater!
Almost as soon as we descend, we spot several lions!
These lions don’t even care about the tourists in the safari trucks. They walk around us like we aren’t even here.
Almost immediately after the lions are out of sight, we spot some hyenas running around, so we head over to check it out.
Skip ahead if you’re squeamish as some of these photos are a bit graphic. These hyenas and a couple of jackals are finishing of a wildebeest carcass (possibly those lions breakfast). Amy and I are enthralled!
Eventually Abdul says we need to move on. We see a few more animals before stopping for breakfast (finally OMG I’m DYING!).
After breakfast, I’m feeling decidedly more alive. As we’re driving out of our picnic site, we come across a massive group of baboons. I have to admit, these guys scare me a little (yes, out of all the dangerous animals we saw, it’s the baboons I’m scared of). They don’t seem to care about us at all, but I can just imagine them freaking out and leaping into our truck, teeth bared and opposable thumbs grabbing at us. Ok, perhaps my imagination is running just a tad bit wild.
This is a kori bird. It’s the largest flying bird in Africa by weight (I think it’s about 40lbs or so).
Once again we come upon the ‘100% chance of wildlife’ sign (a large group of safari trucks parked along the road).
We have hippos!
And just a little further, cape buffalo. These guys are huge!
In the visitor center for the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, one of the signs states that the cape buffalo are the most dangerous of all the Big 5 animals (the 5 hardest animals to hunt on foot). This seems crazy to me considering that this group also consists of lions and leopards, but I assume the park knows better than me!
We also see our first male ostrich, which, unlike the grayish brown female, has a pink neck and legs, and black feathers with white at the tip of its wings.
But seriously, how does he does this?
This is a crown crane. It’s so beautiful.
Sadly, we weren’t able to see any rhinos on this drive, and it’s the only Big 5 animal we don’t end up seeing at all. The Ngorongoro Crater is the only place to see them in Tanzania, and apparently there are less than 20 left. This makes me so sad. It’s hard to believe that such an incredible creature has been hunted to near extinction. I know measures are being taken to protect them, but I sincerely hope we can somehow put an end to the poaching. I’m not saying I know how to do this, it just seems so wrong to lose something so majestic.
As we’re leaving the crater, this saddle-billed stork comes out to say goodbye. That bill is so cool!
After a quick stop for lunch at the top of the crater, we’re on our way to spend 3 days in the Serengeti! I feel so lucky to have gotten to see this place in person and I would come back in a heartbeat.