Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ngorongoro, the wildebeest migration and the Serengeti -- December 22-24, 2006

In the crater:

Towards Serengeti:

The Ngorongoro Crater, one in an area of calderas (collapsed volcanos), is THE place for wildlife viewing. On the interior low and open, one can see animal grazers and their predators everywhere!

Upon entering we saw a cheetah stalking its prey. The alkaline lakes are covered in flamingos, and lions are common.

We camped on the crater rim at a place appropriately named Simba Camp (simba is Swahili for lion). It was cuh-cuh-cold at that altitude (2200m) and rainy. For much of the night I was too wide-eyed alarmed and frightened to sleep, breathe or move. I certainly did not get up to go to the bathroom when needed, because I could hear the animals breathing just on the other side of the fabric of my tent. The sound was the rush of air in a low, vibrating growl. Next morning paw prints confirmed the presence of lions.

On the way to the Serengeti, we witnessed the beginning of the wildebeest (gnu) migration. Seeing these awkward-looking animals for miles in every direction was breath-taking. They were mostly grazing and sometimes running. Because the lions and hyenas follow the windebeest, we saw plenty of them as well.

Finally, the Serengeti was comparatively disappointing -- could have been the fact that our (different) driver only went in circles in a confined area around the center of the park. After much persuading, he finally varied his route, but then we ran out of time.

Our Christmas present which we saw as we were leaving Serengeti on Christmas Eve was a leopard . My fellow animal-lover and I were elated!

We ended the sojourn with a visit to Oldevei Gorge, the area where the Leakeys excavated an exquisite rendering in 5-layers of the history of human development, with hominid footprints some 3.7 million years old!

Buffalo acting mad, looking ridiculous:


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