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Published: September 10th 2012
Ngorongoro Crater – 2 August in morning and 4 August
We arrived at the camp at the top of the rim of the Crater at about 6.00pm. We took longer than expected because we were following one of our 4x4 vehicles which was toeing another vehicle that was carrying our tents and beds. The 2 nights we were on the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, we had our tents put up for us and we were waited on. However, as the tent vehicle arrived the same time as us, we decided to help them put the tents up so that they could cook out dinner.
We could feel the air getting very cold. It ended up freezing, even with the bonfire the guides built for us. So that as soon as we had our dinner (8.00pm) we went to bed into our warm sleeping bags. We were also given an extra blanket so Tom and I were both snug.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a conservation area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 situated 180 km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The conservation
area is administered by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, an arm of the Tanzanian government, and its boundaries follow the boundary of the Ngorongoro Division of Ngorongoro District. The Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera, lies within the area.
Based on fossil evidence found at the Olduvai Gorge, it is known that various hominid species have occupied the area for 3 million years. Hunter-gatherers were replaced by pastoralists a few thousand years ago. The Mbulu came to the area about 2,000 years ago, and were joined by the Datooga around the year 1700. Both groups were driven from the area by the Maasai in the 1800s. Massive fig trees in the northwest of the Lerai Forest are sacred to the Maasai and Datooga people. Some of them may have been planted on the grave of a Datago leader who died in battle with the Maasai around 1840.
No Europeans are known to have set foot in the crater until 1892, when it was visited by Dr. Oscar Baumann. Two German brothers farmed in the crater until the outbreak of World War I, after leasing the land from the administration of
German East Africa. Dr. Baumann shot three rhinos while camped in the crater, and the German brothers regularly organized shooting parties to entertain their German friends. They also attempted to drive the wildebeest herds out of the crater.
The Ngorongoro area originally was part of the Serengeti National Park when it was created by the British in 1951. Maasai continued to live in the newly created park until 1959, when repeated conflicts with park authorities over land use led the British to evict them to the newly declared Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority is the governing body regulating use and access to the NCA.
Land in the conservation area is multi-use: it is unique, as it is the only conservation area in Tanzania providing protection status for wildlife whilst allowing human habitation. Land use is controlled to prevent negative effects on the wildlife population. For example, cultivation is prohibited at all but subsistence levels.
As mentioned, we didn’t see the massive numbers of animals we were expecting. We drove from our camp leaving at 6.00am, and driving
down into the Crater, out of the cloud and morning mist.
We saw several 100 wilderbeast (not the 1.5 million that move through the Crater during the migration). We also saw the crown crane (emblem for Uganda), warthogs, zebras, buffalo, ostrich, Corey bastard, Golden jackal, leopard-faced vulture, 100s of flamingos, Jackal, hyena, hippos and lions and lionesses and a massive male elephant. When we were watching the elephant, 2 young women had got out of the tourist vehicle and was moving towards this very wrestles elephant. Their guide who was coming out of the washroom yelled at them and told them NEVER to do that again. He was very angry. The elephant turned away and walked down the road.
We then said goodbye to the Crater and drove back to Arusha and Snake Park Camp. We were all looking forward to a good shower. We decided not to wash our clothes as the area was very dry and dusty.
We had a nice dinner in the restaurant and after a good chat with a number of people; we went to bed
as we had a long way to travel to Dar es Salam on 5 August.
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