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.

Us with the Ngorogoro park sign

Us with the Ngorogoro park sign

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 crater from above

The crater from above

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.

Playing together!

Playing together!

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!

16 thoughts on “The Circle of Life!”

  1. Harriet Johnston says:

    This is really cool. Thanks for all the great animal pictures! Seems like you’re having lots of fun and learning new things everyday. Harriet

    1. Mikhaila says:

      Hi Harriet,

      Going on the game drive was a lot of fun! It was a great experience and I’m glad I was able to go.

  2. Herta Park says:

    Wow, you got up close and personal with some of the animals!the pictures are wonderful, thank you. Your story/history about the crater is most interesting. Sadly, the rhino extinction is preventable, but greed and ignorance seems to outweigh conservation . When I was in SA, it was suggested that the rhino horn can regrow and that there is no need to kill the animal. Maybe you could research this? This would suggest possible alternatives to killing the animals for their horns.

    1. Mikhaila says:

      Hello Herta,

      Here’s a link I found about de-horning rhinos to deter poaching which you may find interesting. 🙂

      1. Herta Park says:

        Thanks, Mikhaila! A great article with many interesting follow up comments. What I learned was that the ‘new’ culprits ( if I may use this word) are the Vietnamese , not so much the Chinese….I must always keep an open mind. Thanks again.

  3. Doreen says:

    Thanks for all the great information and photos Mikhaila. You certainly were able to get up close and personal on your game drive. Love Teta Doreen xoxo

    1. Mikhaila says:

      Hi Teta Doreen,

      It was amazing to see how close we could get in the car; the animals weren’t scared at all! This game drive was a lot of fun!

  4. Ginny says:

    What wonderful close up pictures you got! I wish I had eyelashes as long as that elephant!!!

    1. Mikhaila says:

      Hi Ginny,

      I wonder what brand of mascara that elephant uses? 🙂

  5. Judy says:

    Mikhaila and Zoe,

    Thanks for all of your research and fantastic photos! It all brings back memories of our safari in 2009 through the same area. We loved our experience and my favourite animal was the zebra too! Enjoy the warm sunny weather. It’s very cold here!


    1. Mikhaila says:

      Hello Judy,

      The zebras are so cute; they’re like small stripped horses! The weather here is great, and I’m not missing winter. 🙂

  6. Baba says:

    Hi Mik,
    I really enjoyed the information about the crater. Imagine that you had to go down inside of what originally was a volcano! This was really cool!
    Perhaps you will be taking photos for National Geographic one day! You know how their photographers like to get up close and persona like you did with the elephant and Zebra! Great Blog! Love Baba

    1. Mikhaila says:

      Hi Baba,

      The animals were really close to the car so we were able to get great pictures of them. Maybe working at National Geographic is in my future!

  7. Oma says:

    Hi, Mikhaila, Opa and I enjoyed your post very much and we are glad to see all your great photos of so many wild animals. It’s hard to believe that this National Park is located in a crater. And everything looks so lush and green. Totally amazing. We are glad to be along for the ride. I thought it was a really nice touch the way you ended your post with the video clip. Thanks for an informative report. XOXOXO’s to all

    1. Mikhaila says:

      Hello Oma,

      The inside of the crater was beautiful and not really something you’d expect to see in a volcano! “The Circle of Life” is my favourite song from “The Lion King” so I’m glad I was able to include it in my post.

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