Sunday, 28 December 2008

Inside the Ngorongoro Crater

I'd hesitate to say that it's starting to feel normal, but our bodies are no longer surprised by waking up at 5:30 to go on a game drive. As a bonus, none of us were eaten in the night by hyena, although this could have been due to them being scared off by Rob's snoring!

Watching the sun come up over the opposite rim of the crater, some eleven miles distant, was truly magical. The sky turned all shades of blue and pink, before the sun peeped over the rim and started slowly flooding the crater with light.

We left the tents (we'll take them down when we come back for lunch) and headed down the steep descent road in our two Land Cruisers. Our pass into the crater only lasted for six hours, but in such a confined space it didn't matter. Some animals, like giraffe, topi and impala, can't manage the steep 600m descent. Also female and young elephant stay outside, while the massive bull elephants take advantage of the small forest on one edge of the crater.

We saw rhino, wildebeest, gazelle, elephant, plenty of hyena (who walk around like they own the place) and a mother and two lion cubs, who had just feasted on a buffalo which was then being stripped down to clean bones by the vultures.

Although there weren't as many animals as we were all expecting, this was more than compensated for by the experience of just being inside the world's largest complete volcanic crater.

The trip back was uneventful - most of us slept - and we all enjoyed a barbecue feast with all the trimmings on our return to Snake Park. Glad to be sleeping in separate tents again (now that we weren't scared that the children would be eaten without us noticing), we all went to bed, happy in the knowledge that we didn't have to be up early the next morning.

All of us now feel that we've been somehow "touched" by Africa and discussions have started to turn toward planning a future trip.

By Rob.

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