Beauty, death and mass tourism at Ngorongoro Caldera

Day 8-9 Ngorongoro crater

There’s a kind of high when you are staying in the Serengeti. That high slowly fades away as soon as your Land Cruiser touched the asphalted roads. And when you realized that you are not staying in luxurious tented camps anymore, without the sounds of the hyenas and lions in the evening, a kind of sadness overwhelms you. Serengeti is a paradise.  It is a special place that unfortunately is exclusive to those who can pay  and whose backs are still strong enough for its  tough terrain.

We had a limited time in the Serengeti. The next day, we headed to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

In the early morning, the crater was enveloped in thick clouds, making the ascend treacherous. You cannot see farther than 50 meters and the thick clouds rising from the ravine make you feel that you’re driving to the unknown. If we’ve fallen into that ravine, could have said “She died and went straight to heaven.”

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When we reached the lake and the crater opened, it revealed a panorama that I was afraid to see – a breathtaking landscape peppered with hundreds of safari jeeps. There was a line of 4×4 for anything that is exciting – a pack of lions feasting on a kill, some hippos lounging in the sun, a herd of buffalos assembling themselves in a defensive position against a pack of hyena. Robin and I had to think of a zoo.

But there was one highlight that we would not miss for the world, seeing the elusive rhino a little bit closer than two kilometers. He was alone, munching on his vegetarian breakfast and hoping to cross the road to the river to drink. But there were just too many cars. After 15 minutes, he went away to hide. There were only 13 rhinoceros left in the NgoroNgoro Conservation Park. Their number dwindled down rapidly due to poaching. Rogarth said we were lucky that we’ve seen one so close.

This was our last safari drive. The next evening, we caught the plane back to the Netherlands. For the last time, the wild life of Tanzania gave me something to make me smile. I left with the very funny video (above) of a zebra scratching himself silly on a piece of rock.

I will miss this country.

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