Ngorongoro is the world largest inactive unbroken and unfilled volcanic caldera. It is about 20kms wide and 1km deep and the crater floor is the most fertile, animal packed environment. For any game lover out there this place is right on the top for anyone to visit and see…… Which we are! So this was definitely a reserve we had to visit…..
The park fees one has to pay to visit Ngorongoro is eye watering – they charge you huge park fees, car fees, large camping fees and an additional massive fee to go down into the crater. But with it being a bucket list item we just handed over the exorbitant fees and then submerged ourselves in the moment and tried to not feel sick at the prices paid.
On leaving the Ngorongoro gate you start the steady climb up the back walls of the crater – hairpin bend roads lined by thick impenetrable jungle bush. As you emerge at the top you are afforded the most breathtaking panoramic view out over the crater. Goose bump stuff! You look down onto this vast open space surrounded by the sharp walls of the crater. The valley floor has a lake in it and even from this high vantage point you can see herds of Buffalo and eland.
It is a bumpy road around the top of the crater to get to Simba Public campsite where we were staying. A stunning setting but unfriendly staff not allowing you to park on the perfectly flat “mowed” lawns but rather putting you in a hodge-podge uneven section pretty much “on the sidelines”. Grubby ablutions and run-down feel makes one wonder what they actually do with the masses of cash you pay them. After setting up camp we went for a drive to explore a little more. You have to buy an additional special pass to go down into the crater of Ngorongoro which only allows you one entry (so at that price u have to make it worthwhile!) Our drive that evening around the rest of the park/ top of the crater was rather disappointing as really is not much more than Masai cattle pastures and not much else. To be honest at this stage our hearts were feeling rather disappointed at our first impressions on this world-renowned park…..
That evening whilst trying to warm up around the fire Dev suddenly alerted us to a Buffalo standing about 10m away from us. We sat quietly and soon were surrounded by about 10 Buffalo. Poor Sophia in tears she was so petrified. We usually put our campfire close to our tent so that should anything approach us we have quick access into the tent and safety. However this was another bug-bear on the Ngorongoro camps “restrictions” as one could only have the fire in a set place a bit too far from our tent for our liking. With these massive beasts now surrounding us we saw a gap and quickly got into the tent and just in time as within 2 minutes we were completely surrounded by a massive herd of thankfully peaceful Buffalo!
When we had just got into bed the trailer started to rock and we realised a Buffalo was rubbing its rump on it!!!
Thankfully the evening passed by with only the sound of Buffalo chewing grass and snorting away, and hyenas calling and circling the tent.
We were up early the next morning to get down into the crater to make the most of our day. A fine mist hung over the top of the crater but as one descends we came into the radiant morning light. The valley floor of Ngorongoro is so hard to explain - it is like descending into a flat bottomed bowl with high walls surrounding you and vast open plains but the walls are always visible. The grass and flowers shone with dew in the early morning light and soon we were driving amongst Buffalo, Thompson’s and Grants gazelle jumping and prancing with the rise of the new day. We came across an African Wolf which threw us completely to begin with as looked like an odd looking jackal until we had properly identified it!!
For anyone who knows about Ngorongoro it is usually so unpleasantly busy and there are apparently sometimes well over 80 Game vehicles on the Carter floor at any one time and it feels exactly like a zoo! Thankfully for us our experience (thanks to covid) was nothing like this and during the course of the day we probably only saw 8 -10 Game vehicles in the whole day!
What is so awesome about being down there is that you can see game from miles away (a bit like in Kgalagadi) .... Ellie’s , eland, black rhino, Buffalo .... and also the fact that you really do not travel for more than 5 minutes without seeing something. It is astounding the amount of game down there.
Coming from KZN we are blessed with having lots of Rhinos in our parks and in hindsight we take them for granted. Viewing the Black Rhino here was a massive deal to many people and thankfully we saw this impressive uncharacteristically docile beast
We were truly blessed by seeing a pride of lions and closely followed by a massive black maned male lion. Wow this guy was huge and in immaculate condition.
Just before climbing out of the crater we drove through this awesome fever tree forest with breeding herds of Ellie’s and troops of Olive Baboons. This area so different to the rest of the open savanna of Ngorongoro
Our day in the crater was awesome and we felt so privileged to be able to visit this world heritage site.
Many people have asked if we would go to Ngorongoro again – to be honest there are many other game reserves which in our opinion way surpass NG. Perhaps it is the freedom of the other reserves or the realistic pricing or maybe we just never got “that feeling” about NG. BUT in the same breath we realise the huge privilege we had of being there.... just once in our lifetime and of this we are very grateful!
The next day was the long trek to Serengeti to find our much sought after migration of the wildebeest! To say the excitement levels were high is an understatement !!!! Now THIS was our seriously NUMBER 1 bucket list item….....
Watch out for this blog in a few days time – WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!!
See our facebook page(4ina4x4) for all our Ngorongoro photos. Enjoy!