Driving to the highlands and rhinos


Today was all about transferring to the Ngorongoro Crater where we’ll be staying for the next few days. The initial drive was on sealed roads taking us around Manyara National Park and then up the walls of the Rift Valley. We then traversed the escarpment and started up the outer walls of the Crater. Basically the Ngorongoro crater is the remnants of a huge mountain that erupted some millennia ago; even though it is now truncated it’s still high. So we drove ever upwards past little villages and some bigger ones until we reached the entrance to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which is, much to Jennifer’s delight, a World Heritage Area.

From there it was dirt roads all the way up to the rim of the crater. From the rim you get sweeping views over the whole crater floor which sits some 500m below and looks entirely flat. We then got immediately lucky and saw two rhinoceros standing below us.  I must admit they were a long way away, but still seeing rhinos was terribly exciting.

Ngorongoro Crater.

We drove on through roads that seemed to get worse as they wound higher. Past lots of Masai herders who in deference to the increasing cold brought on by the height were wearing jumpers with their robes. We found the cooler weather pleasant after the heat of the last few days.

Eventually, just as we were losing patience with the bumping, we arrived at the Highlands camp. Getting out and sitting on something that was not moving brought a smile to our faces; seeing the camp transformed the smile into a grin. The tents are geodesic domes or igloos which is pretty cool. They are also very comfortable. We had booked a family tent and thought the kids would be with us. Instead, Callum and Declan have their own mini-done just a few feet from ours – they are disgusted they don’t get a heater, but strangely delighted at the promised hot water bottles.

And the view is just amazing, you can see to the end of the World. Or maybe to the beginning, given that the remains of some of our earliest ancestors were found just round the corner.

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