Sunday, March 6, 2011

Back to Africa: Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania (1)

Don't panic. No, Guy has not returned to Africa (although he will one day, hopefully before too long).

But my friends keep teasing me about all my Africa stories and photos (yes, the gang on the December FOG safari probably have enough stories and photos to last for the next, oh, 17 years or so!). So as I review some of what I've shared, I realize that there is still plenty to say.

And it's time now to get back into the routine with the personal blog (been too busy with other stuff recently). And while I'm working hard to keep the entries shorter than in the past, and the photo albums of manageable size, there'll be some more from the Africa experience.

Will try to intersperse some of Mr. Guy's other thoughts too, as I like to do from time to time. Don't want you to get bored!

But back to Africa....

Thanks to Friend Nerisa, I realize I've not said much about some of our favorite adventures, like our time in Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. We had a little reference to that particular safari in the Flat Stanley stories, and the post for New Year's Day included a couple of photos but, well, nothing special (and that was all about Flat Stanley anyway).

Let's fix that.

And, yes, we all fell into the photographing mode. Everywhere we turned we were taking picture after picture after picture (even as we left our lodge at Amboseli and crossed the border into Tanzania). Fortunately for the rest of the group, we had Andrew with us, and as he was very willing so share his skills in photography, we came away with some nice memory-joggers, as you can see here in the first of the Ngorongoro Crater albums.

How to describe the Ngorongoro Crater? It's just east of the more famous Serengeti, and it's fairly inaccessible. You can drive (as we did) but it's a long trip, even from Amboseli National Park, where we were. And even longer from Nairobi, which made us pleased that we broke the journey by going to Amboseli along the way (well worth it, as you might have read in the Flat Stanley story about Amboseli - there'll be more about Amboseli and the park's elephants later).

The climb up the crater rim is pretty difficult - I would guess it would even be tough for more modern equipment, putting aside the memory of the rattle-trap we were in. There is an airstrip somewhere about (we didn't investigate that) and different types of lodging available on the rim (including two or three very elegant lodges). 

We chose to stay at the Sopa Lodge, for a couple of reasons. We know the chain, having used Sopa (the word is Masaai for "hello") several times before. And at the Ngorongoro Crater the Sopa has a separate road down onto the floor of the crater, making access and egress much more convenient (not necessarily easier!). 

The crater is part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, named after the crater, the world's largest intact volcanic caldera that formed when the volcano collapsed. You get to Ngorongoro from Arusha, and the road is mostly paved until you get to the part where you start to climb the rim (you need a four-wheel, at least).  

The crater floor is some 260 sq. km. (I figure that's about 161 sq. miles), and once you've climbed to the top of the rim (which is how you enter the area - you don't go to the lodges from the outside of the rim), it is almost impossible to speak or write about what you're seeing. OK, perhaps the photographs give an idea, but the distances, the height (the rim is some 600 m - about 2,000 ft), the foliage.... Well, it all gets to be a bit much sometimes, doesn't it?  

1 comment:

DStanley said...

Thanks, Guy

I really enjoyed this one