Day 11- NGORONGORO CRATER

At last we are at Ngorongoro Crater. Not that we haven’t seen some amazing things along the way, but this is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Center.  The crater is a giant caldera resulting from the collapse of an approximately 15,000 foot volcano two-three million years ago.

It is considered a “natural enclosure,” 100 square miles with almost all the African species interacting in one place. It should be amazing.    

We start off at 6 AM with a wonderful sunrise over the crater.

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As we descend 2000 feet to the floor, morning rays break through the clouds again creating “god light.”

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And the clouds form a fluffy marshmellow mass spilling over the edge of the crater.

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On the floor of the crater a Maasai herds his goats. Under new laws they can once again graze their animals in the crater, but must remove them at the end of each day.

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We immediately find one of the famed black-maned lions.  

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On the plain, a female and male ferociously stalk a young wildebeest.  The jackly tags along, hoping for some scraps while an adult wildebeest looks on.

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Later, these apex predators remind us they still have some traits that remind us of a household kitty.  Well, maybe just a little.

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We also see a hyena family with babies.

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And the hyena mother, bringing the remains of the young wildebeest for her young.  More of the circle of life on the plains.

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We enjoy more zebra geometrics in the grassland.

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Times five!

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Driving through the woodlands we stop to admire the beautiful yellow-barked acacias up close and personal.

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 And we see birds galore…

A woodland kingfisher,

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We finally catch a female and male ostrich performing their courtship dancing-and mating,

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A guinea fowl with its fluorescent blue markings,

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A kori bustard, puffed in display,

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Along with the center of his attention,

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And the magnificent crested crane.

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We end the day with a wildebeest herd–even in the crater they migrate.  Just not as far as the ones on the Mara.

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Ngorongoro has lived up to its reputation.  We’re coming back to the crater tomorrow–can’t wait to see what this magical place will share with us then! 

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