Our Trip of a Lifetime | Tanzania – Ngorongoro Crater

Truly a wonder of this world, the Ngorongoro Crater is unlike anything else you will ever experience. As the last stop on our Tanzanian getaway and as a spot we had hoped to get to in our lifetime, we were in awe of the landscape and life housed within the crater.

Outside in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, we drove past cattle being herded by the Masaai people cloaked in bright fabrics. As we looked out the jeep, we saw the vast landscape dotted with them out to graze and drink. We passed their villages as well while heading to and from the Serengeti National Park. The landscape undisturbed and utilized by the Masaai people was breathtaking. Our guide shared with us the traditions of the Masaai warriors transitioning from boyhood.

We spent the night on the crater’s rim awaiting our early morning departure into it. Before the sun went down, we looked out the hotel balcony at the crater dotted with wildlife below anxiously awaiting our drive in the crater. The next morning, we set out in dense fog coming right up close with cape buffalo out strolling for breakfast along the road. As we drove through the fog, I couldn’t help but think it was almost acting as a curtain for what I hoped would be a fruitful game drive. As we made it through the rain forest-like vegetation to the entrance down into the crater, the fog broke opening up the crater into full view for us.

We were immediately greeted by gazelles and wildebeests as we slowly descended the steep slope into the crater. At the bottom, we found ourselves waiting for these animals to finish crossing the road or even, in the case of a zebra harem, waiting for them to yield the road to us as they trotted down one after another. This encounter allowed us to get up close with them to see for ourselves that no two zebras’ stripes are alike!

Following along behind a young lion listening to him roar as he called for the rest of his pride, we felt for him as he longed to get back to them. We found his pride a decent distance away. One female keeping her eyes on a pack of wildebeests frozen in place while several males and a female sat off to the side as decoys. We watched as they weaved around the jeeps all waiting for the lions to ponce on lunch. There was no question, we were in nature, we were experiencing the circle of life. Unfortunately, the wildebeests were holding out. The cool day meant they weren’t thirsty enough to risk moving to the watering hole while they knew lions were lurking nearby.

At the finale of our drive through the crater, we did encounter a feast of the day and a handful of cubs excitedly chowing down. We spotted a jackal waiting a safe distance away for his chance to get what the lions left behind. Again, we were in nature watching the hierarchy as it all played out. Just a short distance from the lions, we enjoyed our own lunch knowing they were already happily occupied. But there was just something about it that seemed so odd and cool!

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It was in the crater that we glimpsed the last of the Big Five we had been looking for on this trip. The black rhino, with birds atop of it, lingered around in the high grass as 30 – 40 jeeps came racing toward it and then lined up for their turn. One-by-one we inched closer and closer, taking in the horns and – I have to say – its ugly face!

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I only knew of the plastic lawn statues of pink flamingos…knowing they existed somewhere in the world but never thinking I’d see them in-person. But sure enough, in the Ngorongoro Crater, there they were perched up alongside wildebeests and zebras with their feet in the water. Another unexpected sight we saw on our drive!

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Inside the crater, we got even more incredible views of hippos. They all seemed to be out for us throughout the morning letting us fully take in their size and girth.

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Check out my other post about our Tanzanian getaway a few months ago {Our Trip of a Lifetime | Tanzania – Serengeti}.

We loved having the experience of Mushi, our driver and tour guide, to help us have the most incredible and personalized experience…even better than we could have ever imagined! Check-out Sunny Adventures for their package options.