AFRICA AT NGORONGORO - November 13th, 2009
The Ngorongoro is called the eighth wonder of the world stretching across some 8,300 sq km. It has been declared an “International Biosphere Reserve.” Thousand of animals, reptiles, birds, and insects live in the crater. As we drove up the mountain to our hotel the dirt road was steep and became smaller and smaller. It was an exciting drive. We could view the crater most of the way up. This was the only road the Maasai did not use for their cattle. They had a road all their own to take the cattle down to the crater for water. The terrain was covered with beautiful purple flowered trees. The deep purple flowers were everywhere you looked. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the trees that produced such beautiful flowers. It reminded me of our mountain home in the North Georgia Mountains, Blairsville, when the mountain laurel is in bloom, except these mountain flowers were huge.
Our hotel “Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge” was perched on the jagged rim of Ngorongoro Crater itself. It is camouflaged in river-stone and wreathed in morning mist. The lodge offers endless unparalleled views from its clustered boulder-built buildings that were linked by rope-lashed timber walkways that skirted the roofs of ancient Liana-hung trees. The Liana tree is a long stemmed woody vine. It is characteristic of moist, tropical deciduous forest and rainforests. The hotels interior design was ethnic Maasai with handcrafts, bright-beaded robes, and intricately designed carven artifacts made by the Maasai tribe. In the center of the lodge is a primeval log fire glowing on game-viewing hide as in a prehistoric cavern.
The hotel was just gorgeous. It sits so high up that I didn’t have to worry about mosquitoes. The beds didn’t even have nets around them. This was the first time I wasn’t concerned about not taking any malaria medication. The view from our bedroom balcony was overwhelming. We could see the entire crater, but the mist from the mountain made it hard to get really good pictures. We could hardly wait to get closer to the crater. The hotel offered the same wonderful meals with those silver-covered dishes. Yum, yum!
At 7:30 a.m. we were off in the vans for yet another exciting game drive down the Ngorongoro Crater. All I can say is, it was “Spectacular.” The Ngorongoro total conservation area is 3,200 square miles and within its area is the world’s largest volcanic caldera. It measures 20 Km across (12.4 mi.) and 600 meters (2000 ft.) from the rim of the floor. What we saw at the bottom of the crater was so awesome it is hard to put into words.
The flamingos were spread far and wide across the shallow lakebed. Their colors were light pink to a darker shade of pink. Apparently the deep-pink flamingos filter algae out of the water by vigorous suction and expulsion of water out of their beaks several times per second. They accomplish this with their bill upside down in the water.
We saw Golden Jackals, Egyptian Geese, and many different species of birds. There were too many to remember their names. The hippos lounged around in picturesque ponds. The wildlife in the crater lives year round and is healthy and active. The vegetation is green with many flowered trees.
Over the millennia a diverse ecology has developed within the protective walls of Ngorongoro, with grassland, lush forest, swamps and lakes, attracting an equally diverse population of African wildlife to this Eden. The lush grass and water are abundant throughout the year, attracting a large permanent population of herbivores, especially wildebeest and Zebra, as well as predators. The estimated population of 25,000 larger animals equates to around 250 animals per square mile.
Our afternoon safari was just as thrilling. What made it even more wonderful was it began to rain. I had to Praise God for sending the rain. I silently thanked Him and hoped it would reach Amboseli…MORE TO FOLLOW.