>Tanzania Safari Articles
at The Ngorongoro Crater-Tanzania
The Ngorongoro Crater is a natural
amphitheatre created about 2 million years ago when the cone of
a volcano collapsed into itself, leaving a 100 square mile (259km²)
caldron-like cavity. This caldera, protected by a circular unbroken
2,000-foot high rim (610-metres), contains everything necessary
for Africa's wildlife to exist and thrive.
Ngorongoro is on Tanzania's 'northern
safari circuit', and receives a good number of visitors who stay
in lodges around the crater. Game viewing vehicles descend the steep
crater wall every morning and spend the day on grass plains that
are teeming with animals. However, the dark of night belongs to
the animals, and all vehicles must leave the crater floor by sunset.
Early man also flourished around here
at Olduvai Gorge, not far from the Ngorongoro Crater. This is known
because in 1960, Mary Leakey discovered a 1.75 million-year-old
Homo habilis (nicknamed 'The Handyman' for his tool making skills),
who represents mans first step on the ladder of human evolution.
The Maasai are the current human inhabitants
and are at liberty to live within the sprawling 2,500 square mile
(6,480km²) conservation area around the crater. The Maasai
never cultivate land as they consider it demeaning. Instead they
graze cattle, which hold a god-like status in Maasai culture, and
in return the cows provide almost everything necessary to live;
meat, skin, milk, dung for the walls and floor of their huts, and
warm blood extracted from the neck of a live cow and
mixed with milk as an iron rich food.
The 'lost world' of Ngorongoro was
home to pigs the size of a hippopotamus, sheep-like beasts with
6-foot (3 metre) horns and three-toed horses. Nowadays is inhabited
by about 30,000 animals, of which half are zebra and wildebeest.
This is the perfect situation for predators and spotted hyenas and
lions lord over this domain. There are also some leopards, cheetahs
and three species of jackals. Tanzania's few remaining black rhino
are regularly sighted in the crater, as are large herds of buffalo.
In the lake on the crater floor and
in the Ngoitokitok swamps, reside plenty of hippos who remain partially
submerged during the day and graze on grass at night.Although the
area sustains a huge variety of species, not all live down in the
crater. Some are better adapted to roaming the extensive conservation
area surrounding the caldera.
Elephant herds are noticeably absent from the crater floor because
the cows and calves tend to prefer the forested highlands. They
sometimes appear at the crater rim but only rarely venture down
into the grasslands. Only mature bull elephants roam the crater
floor carrying around some massive tusks. Also absent from the crater
are impala, topi and oryx who reside more on the eastern Serengeti
plains, but Grant's and Thompson's gazelles appear in the crater
in good numbers. Giraffes are also missing from the crater as they
favour the umbrella acacia and wait-a-bit thorn trees found higher
The salt-whitened shores of Lake Magadi
are turned a pastel pink from thousands of flamingoes sifting algae
and shrimps from this soda lake. The lake also attracts a myriad
other water birds including avocets, plovers and black-winged stilts
whose long beaks probe the soft mud.
As the rim of the crater is 333 feet
(2,235m) above sea level it is cooler at the top than down on the
crater floor, where it can get extremely hot.
Rainy Season: Short rains are November and December when
it gets hot and humid, and the long rains are from March to May.
Dry Season: typically it is dry from June to October and
it can get quite cold during these months on the rim of the crater.
- Plains teeming with grazing animals
- Dark maned lions
- Clans of spotted hyena
- Black rhino
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area varies
in altitude from 3,315-11,628 feet (1,020-3,578m) above sea level
This is a malarial area
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