Ngorogoro CA is a unique protected area situated between the Rift Valley and Serengeti NP. It contains an old volcano with the largest inactive and intact caldera in the world.Its huge crater and surroundings have become a natural enclosure for a wide variety of animals.It’s one of the best places in the world where to see Black Rhinos.
This area harbours one of the highest densities of predators in the world. Lions, hyenas, cheetahs and jackals are frequently seen and caracals, leopards and bat-eared foxes can be seen with some luck. Black Rhinos, wildebeests, buffaloes, elephants, zebras, warthogs, gazelles, elands, and hippopotamus are some of the herbivores that can also be found here.
Its birdlife is prolific as well, with more than 500 recorded species of birds.White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher,Livingstone Turaco, Hartaub’s Turaco, Kenya Rufous Sparrow,Rufous Chatterer, Hildebrandt’s Spurfowl, Black-winged Lapwing, Lesser Flamingo,African spoonbill, Red-and-yellow barbet, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Eastern double-collared Sunbird, Jackson’s Widowbird,Rufous-tailed weaver, Common Ostrich, Kori Bustard, Secretary Bird and Grey-crowned Crane are some of its highlights.November to April is the best time for birdwatching, when many migratory species are present and many resident birds are in breeding plumage.
There are also some Massai villages around the rim, see picture below.
We arrived in our campsite late evening.The campsite was nicely located on the rim of the volcano.The tents were a bit small although comfortable enough for one night.
Next morning we packed our things and headed towards the crater area after dawn.The day was a bit cloudy although the visibility was good enough.While we were descending towards the caldera,i got very impressed by the stunning landscape.
The first mammal we spotted was a Caracal, a bit far from the distance.This animal is a bit difficult to spot and i was very happy to see it.He lay on the ground while he was scrutinising its surroundings. Notice its distinctive black ears.
Caracals are wild cats usually found in dry areas of Africa,Middle East and India.They are mainly solitaire,territorial and nocturnal animals.They hunt medium-sized mammals like mongooses,monkeys, rodents,hyrax and occasionally larger preys like impalas,kudus or domestic livestock.Caracals are well known by its jumping skills, reaching heights of up to 3 meters to catch birds.
A female warthog with her calves was our next sight.The protective mother was a bit nervous of our presence and started to run towards our car.Fortunately she stopped running just a few meters from us.
African Buffaloes were quite abundant in here.These animals live in herds and are also very protective with their calves.When chased by predators they stick close to each other.They are very aggressive animals, being even able to kill lions and humans, producing over 200 fatalities every year.
Golden Jackals were very active in the first hours of the day.I saw them quite often digging to hunt rodents or other little animals.
Ngorongoro was the area in all East Africa where i saw the highest concentration of lions.Early morning i spotted a pride of lions chasing a herd of wildebeests.The pride was made up of a young male, with an undeveloped main, and several females that were following him.It was an unforgettable moment that i always remember with awe.See the females of the pride on the picture below.
The weather was getting worse and the visibility was very poor.We finally reached lake Mangadi, that is situated in the centre of the caldera.We saw an important concentration of Lesser Flamingoes and some Greater Flamingoes near its shore.
Near there, we found a solitaire Black Rhino quite far.Black Rhino is a critically endangered species with a population of only 5000 individuals scattered in Eastern and Southern Africa.Black Rhinos are a bit smaller than White Rhinos. They have a pointed upper lip adapted to pick fruits and leaves from branches, while White Rhinos have a flat and wide lip adapted to graze on grasses.I took a picture of it that i had to heavily cropped.
Common Eland was another interesting animals seen quite far in this area.This animal is one of the largest herbivores in the world.It lives in large herds on the vast plains and savannahs of East and Southern Africa.They feed mainly on grasses and leaves and their main predators are lions,hyenas,wild dogs and cheetahs.
We spotted a solitary Black Kite standing on the grass.A few meters farther we saw a male of Kori Bustard while he was displaying.Notice its inflated feathered neck and its vertical tail when he displayed.
Abdim’s Stork were quite abundant in here.They were usually seen in groups of a few individuals.Notice the blue patch beside its beak and the red spot in front of its eye.
The next bird we saw was Glossy Ibis, usually found in groups of 4 to 5 individuals.
Around mid morning we saw a Spotted Hyena hunting a calf of wildebeest.
A Common Ostrich was seen feeding on the grass.You can see the ostrich accompanied by two Blacksmith Lapwings on the picture below.
We also spotted large herds of wildebeests and zebras and some bull elephants grazing on the grass.
Late morning we stopped in a resting area where i got entertained photographing birds.See a Rufous-tailed Weaver on the first picture,a Superb Starling on the second picture and a Speke’s Weaver on the third picture below.
February is the best month in Ngorongoro to observe calves of zebras and wildebeests.
In my next post i will talk about the calving time in Ngorongoro, with some pics of calves !! Don’t miss it !!!
See you soon my friends !!