Our drive from Tarangire to Ngorongoro en route to Serengeti was bright and sunny, until we reached the rich forest cover in the Ngorongoro area. We stopped for about fifteen minutes at the welcome arch and did the usual things that one needs to do before entering a National Park. The driver pays the fees, while visitors stretch, stroll around, peep into the exhibits and the store (not available at all welcome centres), and visit the rest room.
The Ngotongoro Crater rim was extremely foggy on the day that we passed by on our drive to Serengeti.
The fog cleared up enough to allow us a glimpse of the Crater. After waving at the Crater, we headed to Naabi Hill and the Serengeti.
After several interesting days and nights in the Serengeti, described in three other posts ("Endless Plains", "Big Cats" and "Migration", we returned to the Ngorongoro Conservancy area.
During our return, the dried grasslands of the Serengeti gave way to brown hillsides.
We passed Massai villages, and saw shepherds with cattle grazing on the hills covered with dry grass.
Mountain sides covered with yellow flowers presented a wonderfully bright sight in the afternoon sun.
Soon it was the turn of the Yellow-flower covered hills to give way to lush green hillsides as we drove towards Simba Public Campsite.
The scenic Simba Campsite is perched on the rim, overlooking the south-western part of the Crater. It was time to pitch the tent as the sun prepared to go down, described in the 'Camping' post.
A couple of White-naped Ravens welcome us. Looking for scraps of food,maybe?
After our second night at the Simba Campsite, it was moving day. We had to pack up our tents, sleeping gear, cooking gear and food, load it all into the 4x4 and head down to the Crater. Our target time to reach the Crater was 08:00 AM, to provide a better opportunity to view Rhinos that tend to avoid coming out in the cold.
A thousand Lesser Flamingo covered Lake Magadi that morning.
It was breakfast time for Zebra.
We were reminded that it was breakfast time for us, as well. Who said basic camping is hard? You actually get a chance to sip hot coffee and munch your bread-omlette-sausage breakfast at any time, since you are travelling with the stove and food, anyway!
Two Black Rhinoceros' appeared to be nudging each other for a long time, perhaps wanting to establish presence in the territory.
A long line of Wildebeest appear to be on their migratory path inside the Crater.
We kept encountering the pretty yellow flowers every now and then, a lovely way to punctuate our wildlife sightings.
We experienced several lion encounters that morning. Solo, pairs and large prides. A large male Lion took a liking to the shade near our 4x4 and decided to lie down.
And adjust himself for that optimal position!
Junior captures a 'Lion-Selfie' of the 'Lion in the shade' using his mobile phone.
Another male lies in the grass catching the warmth of the sun.
Another senior male, no 'selfie' possible in this case.
A large herd of Buffalo walk quietly by.
The Buffaloes have reason to feel dejected due to a sense of loss. Another Buffalo had been killed in the distance, the Lions walk away and a pack of Hyenas.. maybe 20 to 30 of them... converged on the remains.
A Grey Crowned Crane, one of a pair, walked majestically by.
A little bird was singing away among the Acacia thorns. Singing like a Lark, maybe? That's right it was the Flappet Lark.
A Woodland Kingfiser was on the lookout for prey and predators.
A Common Ostrich strode majestically through another field covered with yellow flowers near the north-eastern end of the crater.
Weaver birds build their nests among branches overhead.
Glimpses of lovely landscapes inside the Crater.
An Ellie seemed quite busy chomping grass.
A couple of Thomson Gazelle looked quite hyper, two others ran away while another was too busy grazing.
Time to stretch a bit at a picnic site near the south-western end of the Crater and feel the cool, crisp air.
A large Fever Tree (Yellow-barked Acacia) casts its shadow over the rest area.
A little Rabbit seemed quite lost, wondering what to do next.
A large group of Baboons passed by, including a Mamma and Baby deep in thought.
Several little ones clambered on top of the vehicle. Fortunately they did not let any more curiosity get the better of them.
We passed several Maasai shephards grazing their cattle near the south-western end of the Crater.
Amazingly, barely a kilometer away, we saw a pack of Hyenas lying by a pool of water. The Lions and the wild Buffalo kill we had encountered earlier was perhaps 4 km away. The sight of the Maasais, cattle and predatory-carnivorous wildlife coexisting in close proximity was again an eye opener.
Similar thoughts had occurred to me as we drove around the edge of Tarangire Park, where Maasai villages exist with homes, schools, tiny stores, places of worship and shepherd grazing cattle right across the unfenced wildlife park separated by a road or by a river with ankle deep water.
It has been an engrossing morning, with super landscapes and wildlife sighting. We drove out of the Crater via the ascent road that leads to the southern end of the rim. It's usually closed, but had been reopened very recently.
The just reopened ascent road took us quicker to the exit gate of the NCA. We are now away for our stop by Lake Manyara enroute to Lake Natron for the second part of our non-wildlife hiking experience.
See you there..!!
-=-=-=-= Please click below for posts in this series:
Namanga Border Crossing
The Gentle Giants of Tarangire
Endless Serengeti Plains
Migrating herds, Crocodiles and Vultures at Kirawira
Big Cats of Central Serengeti
Camping under African skies
Flamingos at Empakai Crater Lake
Ngorongoro Crater - Wildlife, Maasais and Flowers
Campsite food and Nyama Choma in Mto Wa Mbu
From green to gray, the stark beauty of Lake Natron
Videos - Tarangire, Central Serengeti
Videos - Central Serengeti, Western Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Natron
Two nights in Arusha