Uganda Travel Series Part 3
Crater Offers Spectacular Game Viewing
Located in the highlands of northern Tanzania you’ll find one of my favorite places to visit, the Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is a national park spanning close to 10 miles across, and is the world’s largest unflooded caldera. It has five distinct micro climates that include Highland Plains, savanna woodlands, savanna plains and forests. Since it inception in 1959 which allows the semi nomadic Masi pastoralist to graze their livestock alongside of 25,000+ large animals that live in and out of the crater. It is a spectacular place for big and small game viewing.
Day 4 Tanzania Safari
After a long bumpy ride out of the Serengeti we head to Ngorongoro crater. We arrive at the guard gate around noon which is a late start to enter and head down into the crater. They allow 300-500 cars a day, but the gate told us they let in who ever pays, so there could be more in high season. I did not feel we were overly crowded except when we met up with a pride of lions after a kill, and found ourselves surrounded by 25 plus vehicles trying to get in on the viewing action.
The crater is unique not only for its micro climates, but for being a place where you can view so many animals up close and personal. The downside to this is, that there are too many vehicles and people coming through this park, and the animals are a bit shall I dare same “tame”. This reminds me more of a drive though wild animal park, but with very happy wild animals. On our 25 day journey through Africa this is the only place that I saw wild animals that were playful, and really enjoying life. I got a huge kick out of seeing a few zebras spend a good hour “playing around”. It was magical to watch.This is also one of the rare places where you will see a black rhino. There are not that many, and I can’t tell you the count, but we were lucky enough to see a couple of them off in the distance.
The lions walk past your car, and lay in the road looking up at you. It is just mesmerizing to view these wild animals up close and personal, and even if you are not the best photographer with a gigantic lens, you can get many great photographs to take home and show proudly show off! Speaking of lions there are lots of lions in the crater, but I read some where that because they can’t easily roam outside the crater (settlers outside the crater) there is an inbreeding problem. We personally saw a pride of 9. It included 3 large males, and 6 females. They had just finished eating a kill, and two females kept guard on what was left of the buffalo from two cheeky Jackals who were determined to get in on the action. They did pretty well for their little size, and I was impressed by their tenacity, and fearlessness. Driving along we saw many wildebeests and although it was foaling season, we in reality saw very few new babies. We also saw baboon, elephants, buffalo, zebras, hyena, hippos, wildebeests, gazelle, crested crane (Uganda national bird), and much more.
There is a lovey lake with a gorgeous view, resident hippos, and restroom facilities. This is one of the few places you can get out and stretch your legs. This park is not a lion free zone, or vehicle free zone where you can or should go out side of your car.
Bougainvillea Safari Lodge
A long and rutted journey up and out of the crater and along the road we headed to quaint and lovely Bougainvillea Safari Lodge which was far above and beyond what I expected after our horrible stay at Seronera Safari Lodge in the Serengeti. Bougainvillea Safari Lodge was a lovely respite from the bone crushing road, and the cool wet cloths and welcome drink overmuch appreciated. Lovely staff here, and we had a wonderful massage before heading over to the restaurant for a really lovely meal before turning in for the night. Rooms were very large and clean. They are individual cabins, so they are a walk away from the main dining and lobby where you can find free wifi (when it works). This was on our budget safari and I cannot say anything bad about this establishment.
Next Post…..Let’s go to Tarangire National Park