"IF ANGELIC photographers
had been at work in the Garden of Eden, their wildlife
pictures would not have looked much different from those
one can take in the Ngorongoro Crater today.” So writes
Reinhard Künkel in his book about this fascinating
attraction in Tanzania. Ngorongoro Crater is indeed a
beautiful place, and it is teeming with thousands of
wild animals. Come along with us and enjoy the sights!
A Breathtaking View
After traveling four hours
by car on dusty roads, we finally arrive at the rim of
Ngorongoro Crater. We take in the magnificent view from
the balcony of our hotel. The panorama is truly unique.
Naturalists have even called it “the eighth wonder of
the world,” and we can see why.
Where did the name
Ngorongoro come from? No one knows for sure.
According to the Conservation Corporation of
East Africa, some say that Ngorongoro was the
name of a Masai cattle-bell maker who lived in
the crater. Others claim that the name came from
a valiant group of Datogo warriors who were
defeated by the Masai after a battle in the
crater 150 years ago. The origin of the name
suddenly seems irrelevant, though, when we spot
some zebras grazing near the parking area. As we
climb into our vehicle, we come very close to
them, but they do not seem to notice us. We
drive down toward the crater floor to explore
more of the wildlife.
The crater stands
7,335 feet above sea level and is the largest
unbroken caldera, or collapsed volcano, in the
world. It measures 12 miles across and has a
surface area of 115 square miles. We slowly
descend the 2,000-foot-high crater wall, with
our heads sticking out of the car windows so
that we can take photographs. When we were on
the rim, the morning air was cool and crisp.
Inside the crater, however, it is surprisingly
As our driver slowly takes
us around the crater floor, we pass the small saline
lake with its many pink flamingos. The now-distant
crater rim is sharp against the blue sky, and as we
listen to the sounds made by zebras and wildebeests
mingled with other exotic sounds, we cannot help but be
stirred. Indeed, this is a paradise!
Ngorongoro Crater we expect to see buffalo, elephants,
zebras, wildebeests, gazelles, black rhinoceroses, and
vervet monkeys, and we are not disappointed. Predators
including cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, and black-maned
lions are also roaming about. In a small pond, hippos
cool themselves. They do not seem to mind posing for a
our driver stops! He points to a black rhinoceros
crossing just a few yards in front of us. The black
rhino seems at home in the crater, and it is a rare
privilege to see one at such close range in its natural
habitat. These fear-inspiring beasts are close to
extinction; the population in the crater is estimated to
be fewer than 20. Poachers have been caught here killing
rhinos for their horns, which are illegally sold for
making dagger handles and for medicine. Rangers
regularly patrol the crater to keep poachers away.
A lover of
birds can expect to see a variety of beautiful winged
creatures, including ostriches, kori bustards, crested
cranes, egrets, herons, secretary birds, red-billed
oxpeckers, and countless pink lesser flamingos. The
crater is home to more than a hundred species of birds
that are not found in the neighboring Serengeti National
Park. There are bearded woodpeckers, yellow-breasted
apalis, brubrus, and paradise flycatchers. The
rosy-breasted longclaw can be seen in the tall grass,
and even the rare Cape rook has been spotted.
most animals will take no notice of us, we have to stay
in our vehicle. However, the Masai people, who live in
traditional mud huts with grass roofs just outside the
crater, can roam in the crater with their herds. It
seems that the wild animals have accepted them.
beauty and tranquillity of Ngorongoro Crater is indeed
extraordinary and fills us with awe. Our visit is an
Reprint of article found at
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