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After our balloon safari and full english breakfast was over with we were taken to a spot to meet back up with our guides and my sister, niece, and brother-in-law. We loaded into the Land Rovers and headed out of the Serengeti and into the Ngorongoro Highlands. I was sad to leave the Serengeti because it was such an amazing experience and also because i didn't know what to expect from the Ngorongoro Crater since I didn't know much about it.

The drive out of the Serengeti was very dry and far more desert like than anything we had experienced thus far. I guess this is what they mean when they call Tanzania an equatorial climate.

A break in the dusty endless plan of the Serengeti

Protecting myself from the dust while we drove.
Protecting myself from the dust


Our first stop was at Oldupai Gorge. You may know it as Olduvai Gorge but correct spelling and pronounciation is Oldupai. Apparently, some dude misunderstood what a Maasai tribesman was saying and its spelled wrong in our textbooks ever since. Oldupai is Maasai for sisal, a plant that the Maasai utilize for making rope and other important materials because the fibers are so strong. They named Oldupai Gorge that because sisal is one of the major plants that grows in the area and because it is so important to their culture.

Sisal
Sisal

While the view was beautiful I was disappointed in the Oldupai Gorge experience. You don't get to see any dig sites and the major information given is from a guy whose accent was so thick we could barely understand him. I think part of the problem is that it's not as well funded as the parks like the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. It was still interesting to see the Gorge itself and the museum that had examples of all the different fossils and footprints that have been found there. It was also interesting, and suprising, to learn that the bones of Lucy, the oldest human ever found, were not actually found in Oldupai Gorge as is commonly taught. She was actually found in Ethiopia (i think that's right). Anyway, I guess I just expected more. I think I was also disappointed because I wasn't feeling well that day and I had no choice but to use the bathroom there which was the most foul experience i've ever had. Oh well!

Oldupai Gorge
Oldupai Gorge

After Oldupai Gorge we headed towards the Ngorongoro Crater. On the way we saw giraffes eating thorny bushes. Sorry, i can't remember the name of the plant.

Griaffe eating thorny bushes

Ngorongoro Crater is really hard to describe. Our guides explained it to us before we arrived but it's nearly impossible to get a good mental image of it if you haven't seen it because it's unlike anything we'd ever seen before. The Crater was formed by a gigantic volcano, the size of Kilimanjaro, which became inactive millions of years ago and collapsed. When the cone of the volcano collapsed an sunk it formed this gigantic crater.

Much like the Serengeti it is a protected park with rangers and trackers. Once you pass through the gates to the park you begin the descent down the crater wall. As we drove over the crest of the ridge of the crater we were astonished by the beauty of it. The entire floor is covered with rich green grass. The walls are even greanner with trees and undulating ridges. There is a large lake that is tinted pink by the hundreds of flamingos in the water. I had imagined it would be much smaller and just wall to wall animals, but it was actually huge and much like the Serengeti we had to actively search for the animals. Some of the animals do live there year round, like the nearly extinct black rhino, but most of the animals, like zebra and wildebeest, do migrate out of the Crater. Once we got down to the Crater floor I realized that most of the grass is tall but not as brown and dry as in the Serengeti. Not only was there a wide expanse of nothing but grass there was also a forest on one side of the Crater. I don't think my pictures do the beauty of the Crater justice but hopefully they'll give you an idea.

Descending into the Crater

Descending into the Crater


Crater floor (the lake is pink around the edges from all of the flamingos)
Crater floor


Highest point in the Crater, believed to have been the cone of the volcano.
The highest point in the Crater

Tons o' flamingos

Flamingos

Don't believe me about how many flamingos there were?



We also saw the Kori bustard, which is now my niece's nickname.
Kori bustard

And a spotted hyena family.
Spotted hyena family

After an extremely long day (up since 4am) we retired to our at the rim of the Crater where we enjoyed beautiful views of the Crater at sunset.

Crater at dusk

The next day we drove back down into the Crater. Our big hope was that we would see the elusive black rhino and maybe a leopard too. We saw...

Lots of wildebeest who were hanging out by the road enjoying the mud from the morning rain. We got really close to them.

Wildebeest up close
The things on the side of his neck that look like wrinkles are actually stripes. Who knew!

Two lion cubs eating and playing on a wildebeest carcass. One of the cubs is blocking the wildebeest's horn that was sticking out of the grass letting us know that a kill had taken place.

Lion cubs eating and playing with a wildebeest carcas

Then we were extremely fortunate to see a black rhino. And of course she was hanging out with some elephants.

Black rhino and elephants

We even saw her baby (just barely). The baby is the little black hump next to the rhino.

Black rhino and its baby with elephants

We saw tons and tons of elephants in the Crater. I think we saw thirty in all, which was suprising since we didn't expect to see many elephants on this trip at all. We also saw tons and tons of zebras and wildebeet. Plus, we saw baboons, storks, geese, hippos, elands, and lions. Since I've already shown many of these animals I won't post them again but you can see all of my pics of the Ngorongoro Crater here.

Next up is our visit to a Maasai village just outside of the Ngorongoro park.

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
book_of_sick
Jul. 8th, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)
you look like ghost face killa'!

rosey27
Jul. 9th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
i always have wanted to be a member of the wu tang clan! lol!
rngyy56416
Feb. 17th, 2013 11:21 am (UTC)
Local girls doing bad things Go Here welcomemyhomecat.blogspot.com
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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