The last location of our photo safari was the Ngorongoro Crater, an ancient volcano that imploded into itself, forming a gigantic bowl of incredible biodiversity and geographic oddity. Here the characteristic red clay of Africa gives way to volcanic ash, and the rim of the crater is perpetually ringed with clouds, forming an alien landscape.
People don’t generally think of Africa as “cold”, but at 7000 feet of elevation the morning required us to layer up against the temperature and heavy mist. We drove down into the crater before sunrise, and the fog was so thick we couldn’t see 10 feet in front of the vehicle. Fortunately our guide had been there many times and didn’t share our fear of plunging off the cliff immediately to the side of the road!
The floor of the crater has many different habitats: Open grasslands, forest, and a huge lake. Virtually every type of animal in East Africa can be found here, and we saw lions, leopard, hippos, Black Rhino, baboons, gazelles, flamingos, giraffes, cerval cats, jackals, Cape Buffalo, warthogs, zebra, and a huge variety of birds, to name just a few!
This is one of the more popular parks in Tanzania and it can get crowded later in the day, but it is such a natural wonder it is really not to be missed.