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Published: August 26th 2014
Total Distance Travelled Today: 328km
Elapsed Travel Time: 12 hours 35 mins
Lodging for the Night: Keys Hotel Campsite (Moshi)
This morning we awoke bright and early at the ungodly hour of 5:30 (much before sunrise) so that we could descend down and explore Ngorongo crater.
Since we stayed the night in a campsite on the rim of the crater, it was quite a cool night (probably down to about 10 degrees or so), and we had to put on layers for breakfast in the morning. Despite our tour leader sleeping in until 6:30 (the time we were supposed to leave at for the crater), we were pretty much on our way only a few minutes later (he rebounds fast- Some of our tour members were happy to shake his tent and wake him up).
Ngorongo crater is a volcanic crater, that is about 20km across, 600m deep and 300 square km in area. Inside the crater are a few different mini ecosystems that house different types of wildlife. There are swamp areas, forest areas and plaines where wildlife can graze. The good news is that there aren't any crocodiles in the crater, but
the bad news that there are still lions that can make the lives of some of the other animals much easier. There aren't any giraffes, because they can't descend or ascend the steep walls of the crater, but the other animals are able to get in and out. Not only that, but because the crater is considered a conservation area, the Massai are allowed to bring their livestock into the crater to graze, and you can see the Massai with their cattle herds climbing back up the walls of the crater at the end of the day.
We descended 610m in the dark fog, down a steep path into the crater. At first we were disappointed that the fog was so thick, because we couldn't see the walls very well, but the fog lifted as we descended and it turned out to be quite a sunny morning. In the crater, we did a game drive through the different ecosystems, for about 4 hours. Today we were focusing on finding the elusive leopard since we didn't see it in the previous days (although we weren't that optimistic since they are rarely seen in the crater), and the black rhinos, which
we were told there were about 30 residing there. Unfortunately we saw neither. But we did see an abundance of zebra, wildebeest, hippos, some lions, flamingo, hyenas and baboons. We weren't all that disappointed though, however, because this was only the beginning of the trip and we had many more game drives that we would be going on that would give us a chance to see some more black rhinos and leopards. It was pretty neat being in the crater and surrounded by those towering walls on all sides. It really reminds you of the setting for the movie "the land before time", and you can imagine dinosaurs roaming around the plaines.
At noon, we started our drive back towards Arusha (approx 2 hours). We had to meet our big truck there (our big truck driver, Antony, had to stay behind with it) and we would carry on to Moshi (3 hours approx) where we would spend the night at a campsite. On our way back, we passed Mount Kilimanjaro, but the summit was hidden by the clouds, so we could only see part of it. Just our luck, we always travel during the times that it's almost impossible
to see mountains!
Passing through Arusha, we passed the centre point (a clock tower) along the road between Cairo and Cape Town. If we had started our trip in Cairo, we'd be half way there! The campsite in Moshi that we stayed in, was just part of a hotel called Keys Hotel Campsite. We got to the campsite at about 6, and quickly unpacked the tents and set up our site before getting to have a much needed shower. Mike was on cooking duty for the night, so he had to help chop vegetables (this is the participation part of the camping trip) and Elysia had to clean the dishes up after dinner. Elysia and Matt were on the same team (team D) for duties, and they had decided to name their team after the little animal that we saw getting chased by a Cheetah: team Dik-Dik. Mike and Anna were also on the same team, team E, so they called themselves "The Eh-team". Once Mike's pre-dinner duties were done, we walked across the street to the hotel to get some much needed internet time, and a drink (of an amazing South African cider called Savannah Dry).
had dinner around 8 and were in bed around 9:30, because we had an early morning coming up! Tanzania is really a beautiful country, with lots of green hills and mountains. The sand is red, which gives all the green a stark contrast. I think the thing that surprised us the most about Tanzania is that we don't see the wild game (like giraffe) in every field across the country. Elysia asked our guide and he said that they usually are just found in park areas because anywhere else, they would be killed by poachers and wouldn't survive. We did find a few giraffes outside the reserves and national parks, but not a whole lot else. At the same time, they aren't restricted where they go and the great migration doesn't limit them to parks, so they could be out there but not that often.
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