Tanzania
Ngorongoro District Council

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  • Day8

    Safari dag 2: Ngorongoro Highlands

    November 18, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    Vanaf vandaag zouden we samen met de Spanjolen en nog twee Duitse meiden op pad gaan. Volle bak dus! Gelukkig konden we wegens Piets lange stelten regelen dat we niet achterin de auto hoefden te zitten: daar paste hij simpelweg niet in. We vertrokken richting de Serengeti, waarbij we door de Ngorongoro highlands reden. Over hobbelige, onverharde en veel te smalle wegen baanden we ons een weg omhoog, en probeerde ik niet te bang te zijn om het ravijn in te vallen, wanneer er weer een veel te grote tegenligger aan kwam. Onze chauffeur was gelukkig een pro. Behalve toen hij ons bij een tussenstop vertelde dat we alle ramen moesten sluiten voor de apen, en de kok vervolgens zelf zijn raam open liet. Binnen 5 min zaten er twee bavianen in de jeep onze lunch te jatten! De natuur was prachtig en veranderde ieder kwartier rijden: van jungle, tot bergen, tot een landschap dat ons deed denken aan de film Skyfall in Schotland. Het letterlijke hoogtepunt was de rand van de krater, waar we over de hele krater konden kijken en zelf dieren konden spotten met de verrekijker. Van daar reden we door de heuvels die steeds vlakker werden tot een soort savanne, tot we op de Serengeti ofwel: eindeloze vlaktes, terecht kwamen. Wat een rit.Read more

  • Day35

    Day 35: Inside Ngorongoro Crater

    March 8, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We have left Serengeti, but before we went back “home” to Arusha, we went for another game drive - this time we actually drove into the crater 🗻

    Inside the crater you find a whole new ecosystem with thousands of animals, beautiful lakes and green fields. It kind of reminds me of the kids movie “The land before time” where the dinosaurs were looking for the The Great Valley 🌿🌱

    See for yourself ...
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  • Day442

    Critters at large

    January 12 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    We didn't descend into the crater but skirted the side and travelled along the road to the Leakey Museum over the plains that eventually become the Serengeti Park.
    Our passage was interrupted by herds of beasts roaming around. Zebras munching contentedly by the roadside and giraffes blocking the road. Mr. Thompson appears to have abandoned his gazelles who seemed happy with their freedom. And of course, the stupid wildebeest who when startled form columns to canter away.Read more

  • Day442

    Make no bones about it

    January 12 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Yes, I know: we've seen it before in "2001: A Space Odyssey". Oldupai is the location of the first monolith in Arthur C. Clarke’s masterpiece. It is over 30 miles long and 295 feet deep. Oldupai is the Maasai word for the wild sisal plant Sansevieria ehrenbergii, shown at the bottom of the photo.
    Five different layers of rock can be seen quite clearly, and different types of hominoid have been found in each. Australopithecus Zinjanthropus (Boisei), Australopithecus Afarensis (like Lucy) , Homo Habilis, Homo Sapiens and Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
    When around 1930 the Leakeys discovered the remains of a 1.8 million year old skeleton of Australopithecus, (now renamed Paranthropus,) boisei, he became known as the Nutcracker Man, why I cannot tell. But his significance as one of the distinct links in the human evolutionary chain has ensured that this site has been excavated and researched since then, revealing an abundance of fossils spanning 5 million years and also a huge collection of stone tools, known as Oldowan, whose dispersion around the world has provided many clues to our species evolution.
    A few years later, Mrs L stumbled across a complete set of footprints preserved in ash estimated to be over 3.7 million years old. They are believed to have belonged to our ancestor Australopithecus afarensis, proving that hominid species walked on two legs during the Pliocene era, some 3.7 million years ago. They are still there, at Laetoli, but apparently covered from view: these are plaster casts.
    My loquacious guide insisted I photograph this bone left conveniently for tourists to photograph. But in fact, wherever you wander there are bone fragments to be found. Paleoecologists have determined that there was a spring and nearby forest nearby, explaining the abundance of eaten animal bones and explaining why it was such a good factory site.
    Alas, most of the museum displays are resin casts of the originals which appear to be kept in museums around the world. For their own protection of course. That does not take away from the experience of walking through such a significant place in the human story.
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  • Day442

    Barkan in the wind

    January 12 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Heading out from the Gorge we encountered concrete mile-stones marking the progress of one particular sand dune over the years. Actually, more of like 17m-stones, since that is the average distance moved annually since 1969. It is about 9m high and 100m along its curve.
    The local Maasai believe the black sands originated from Ol Doinyo Lengai or “Mountain of God”, an ex-volcano which is just visible on the horizon.
    An significant peculiarity is that the sand has a very high iron content and has become magnetised. The compulsory tour guide insists on chucking handfuls up to prove that it prefers to clump and drop rather than be dispersed by the wind. Unfortunately, thanks to the mornings rainfall, the sand is saturated and really solid underfoot; my footsteps on the dune leave no imprint. So the animated demonstration merely proved to me that mud drops in the wind.
    This type of dune is called a barchan or barkan and is begun by sand clumping around a stone as it is blown by the wind which comes predominantly from the East. Sand grains are blown up the gentle, windward slope in the usual way, but instead of flying through the air like spume off a wave, tumbles down the leading edge owing to each grains affection for its neighbour - magnetic attraction. As they are blown up, gravity tempts them to take a less vertical line. Over time this results in more sand on the sides than in the centre and thus the crescent shape.
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  • Day442

    Colonialism

    January 12 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    The Datoga were Nilo-Hamitic speaking pastoralists, who lived in this area more than 300 years ago, were displaced by the Maasai. Now there are around 42,200 Maasai living in the Ngorogoro Conservation Area, living off the flocks of cattle, donkeys, goats, sheep and selling honey to gawpers. During the rains they move out on to the open plains; in the dry season they move into the adjacent woodlands and mountain slopes. They may range wherever they like, but are forbidden to live or cultivate in the crater.
    This is a traditional Masai boma (fortified house) providing shelter for humans and animals against 4 legged predators rather than 2 legged ones.
    Running out of time now we returned to the park entrance. My pleas to visit the ruins at Engaruka resulted in numerous Swahili phone calls and eventually I discovered that Bakari had been released and the drivers would swap on the road. Again, my requests to go to Engaruka resulted in more Swahili phone calls and we continued along the road at 40 to 50 kph. By the time we got to the turn off for the ancient ruins there was an hour of daylight left and it was 55 km down a dirt road to the site. He told me it would take 2 hours to get there and I knew he would make it so if I insisted so I didn't.
    So, I only saw half of what I paid to see. But Shika tours refunded half the amount I paid which was good.
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  • Day87

    Ngorongoro

    August 1, 2017 in Tanzania ⋅ 🌧 26 °C

    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.
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  • Day185

    THERE ARE LIONS LYING UNDER OUR TRUCK

    June 1, 2016 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Hi everyone! We're back in the land of running water and real beds after five days spent camping in the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. Our time on safari was INCREDIBLE, spanning amazing natural scenery, unparalleled wildlife viewing, and the best tour group I think either of us has ever been with. There's way too much to give a true play-by-play, so here are some of the highlights:

    *We spent a day touring the village of Mto Wa Mbu ("Mosquito River Town"), meeting the local inhabitants and learning about their way of life. There are more than 120 native tribes living in Tanzania, and nearly all are represented in this village. We found the tour enlightening, learning about their agricultural practices, carving and weaving, homesteading, and enjoyed a delicious local lunch. We then journeyed to the Maasai village on the outskirts, to see how G Adventures is helping the local community through their respiratory health-focused Clean Cookstove project. The Maasai continue to live a nomadic existence, herding livestock and building huts for accommodation. Some of their practices range from uncomfortable to ghastly for westerners (mostly FGM, along others), but we found it valuable to learn about these folks who are the original inhabitants of the wildlife areas

    *Our time in the Serengeti was simply awe-inspiring. We camped under the stars, with the sounds of wildlife ever-present outside our tents. During the day we drove in a modified Land Cruiser with an open roof, following the game across the vast, endless plains. We saw lions, leopards, elephants, cape buffalo, cheetahs, giraffes, hyenas, jackals, zebras, wildebeast, hartebeast, Thompsons gazelle, impala, warthogs, vultures, ostrich, hippos, dik dik (miniature antelope), crocodile, vervet monkeys, a serval, mongoose, topi, baboons, marabou stork, a monitor lizard, secretary birds, ibis, crowned crane, pelicans, heron, and vast numbers of other small birds. It was incredible

    *After two full days game-driving in the Serengeti, we spent a half-day driving around deep in the Ngorongoro Crater. This area is known for its saltwater lakes, vast quantities of ungulates, rhinos (which unfortunately we did not see), and hundreds (if not thousands) of migrating flamingos. The true highlight of this experience was when a pair of lions (one male, one female) wandered over and quite literally took a nap underneath the rear of our truck! (Hence the title, pictures below)

    There are just a few photos below; keep an eye out on Facebook for a full album Rachel will post this week. We loved it! (Edit: we can't find the camera connector so it will be awhile.)

    Shoutouts to all of our amazing new friends from the tour: Meg, Donna, Alex, Joe, Angus, Adon, Colin, Kenneth, Emily, Amy, Stan, and Annette!
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  • Day184

    Campfire!

    May 31, 2016 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Just wanted to share a picture of our campfire tonight. G Adventures focuses on sustainable tourism so worked with the conservation rangers to arrange for us to have this fire tonight on the rim of the Ngorogoro Crater. We've had an excellent week with G Adventures in Tanzania!

  • Day19

    Ngorongoro Crater

    June 27, 2017 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    The Ngorongoro Crater, where do I start? This place was incredible, not only for the animals but also for the scenery. Travelling to the crater the were elephants and water buffalo on the road (that refused to move out the way and posing for several photographs) but as we drove down into the crater the first thing we saw was a lioness run past our car on the road, we could have reached out and touched her! We soon realised that she wasn't the only lioness as other came out of the bushes surrounding a group of water buffalos, we watched as they began chasing the water buffalos and eventually catching one of the young.

    This means in under one hour we have ticked off three of the 'big five' which is incredibly lucky and a great start to the day- especially for those who have only just started on the tour, this being their first game drive!

    We came across two lion couples (separately) who were on their 'honeymoon' where they move away from the pack and mate every twenty minutes for seven days! We just happen to be there for the live pornography show along with another twenty vehicles.

    We stopped for lunch by a lake which was full of hippopotamus', it was nice to just watch them as we sat on the bank while eating our lunch.

    After lunch we continued the game drive and it wasn't long before we came across two rhinoceros' which is rare as they normally travel by themselves but the jungle master told us this would be a mother and her child.

    Throughout the day we saw several other animals such as zebras, gazelles, hyenas, warthogs, wildebeest, giraffes, etc. Today the animals were so close to the vehicle compared to other game drives making it so much better, it was as if the animals felt safe with us being in their environment and were not scared of us.

    On the way to our campsite in the Serengeti National Park we came across a cheetah and then shortly after fourteen lion cubs and three lioness'. The cubs were playing, pouncing on each other, chasing each other and climbing the tree while the lioness' rested on a nearby rock keeping an eye on them. I could have sat there and watched them for hours, it was just beautiful to see but the jungle master wanted to get us back to camp as he would be fined if we were still out past dark.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Ngorongoro, Ngorongoro District Council

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