NgorongoroAugust 1, 2017 in Tanzania
When visiting the Ngorogoro Conservation Area, you pay a hefty sum and have exactly 24 hours once you go through the gate before you must exit or pay another day’s fees. We decided to enter mid-morning, so we wouldn’t have to drive in the dark to get out on time the next day.
We headed up the side of the Ngorogoro crater through dense tropical forest until we reached the crater rim. It was cold and foggy, but we were able to catch glimpses of the crater floor below. There is one road for descents and another for ascents, so after picking up a guide (mandatory if entering as a private vehicle) we drove down into the crater.
As a conservation area, the local Masai are still able to live and graze their livestock in the park alongside the indigenous wildlife. Our guide was a young Masai from a nearby village and he helped us to navigate the roads, gave some info on wildlife and shared some of his experience with Masai customs and culture -- including the ongoing practice of polygamy. According to his explanation, marriage is not a matter of love or ‘leisure’, but just a means of produce more kids to take care of the livestock (if they’re boys) or garner dowry cows to add to the herd (if they’re girls). We learned cows are worth ~$300 each and that a typical marriage price is 6-10 cows.
The crater is an amazing, beautiful, and unique environment. Because of the steep walls, it’s difficult for the animals to leave, and as there is water and plenty to eat, most stay within the confines of crater. The crater floor is teeming with life. We saw thousands of grazers (zebra, wildebeest and gazelle) as well as many hyena, lions, elephant and hippos. It’s also teeming with humans. The safari business is HUGE here. There are hundreds of safari vehicles everywhere and it is impossible to escape the masses. The unfortunate thing is that even though millions of dollars are collected in fees everyday by the park service, we noticed the maintenance of the park is pretty poor. Roads are almost impassable in places, and dangerous in others, and basic facilities are lacking; a lot of money is being collected, but we are not at all sure where it is going? Hmmm…
We camped on the edge of the rim and enjoyed an elephant visiting while we sipped our G&Ts and also watching zebra running around nearby. It was very cold at night at about 2300meters, so we went to bed early.Read more