The Circle of Life!
This was our second day on our game drive, which we spent in the Ngorogoro Crater. It is a UNESCO World Heritage park and was incredible to visit.
This national park is located inside a crater, called a caldera. This is formed when a volcano erupts and empties its magma chamber where the lava was once stored. When the chamber is emptied, the volcano can’t support its own weight and collapses. When it caves in, it forms a crater, which is the caldera.
The Ngorogoro crater is the largest unbroken, or continuous, caldera in the world. At one point, this must have been just like Mount Vesuvius in Italy, except today the crater is like an inverted volcano! Now I can say I was inside a volcano; it just wasn’t active or full of lava. 🙂
The crater floor lies 2,000 feet below the rim of the caldera, so to get in to see the animals, we had to descend a long way. The road was full of switchbacks and was really bumpy; we joke we got a free massage! Since the road is so narrow, there are two separate roads for entering and exiting the crater. If there was only one road, I think it would be really scary and dangerous!
The caldera is home to almost 30,000 animals which roam around on the crater floor. Some of the animals we saw were wildebeests, zebras, baboons, warthogs, gazelles, hippos, ostriches, and jackals.
Out of the “Big 5” animals, we were able to see four: lions, elephants, buffalo, and the black rhinoceros. The Ngorogoro crater is the only place where the black rhinos can be seen today in the wild. It was incredible to have the chance to see these rare animals in person! These animals are on the endangered list and one day may be extinct, so now I’m able to say I saw a live one.
It was fascinating to learn about the crater and how it started out as a tall and mighty volcano and ended up as a big, beautiful crater full of amazing animals. I can’t wait to find out what we’ll learn and see on our next game drive!