Today, July 7, was our day to see the famous Ngorongoro Crater. It’s a unique place - the world's largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater wall is about 2,000 feet high, and the caldera’s area is about 100 square miles. It’s big enough to support huge herds of wildebeest and zebra, but compact enough that from anywhere inside, you can see that you are surrounded by a high, steep barrier. The name Ngorongoro is derived from an onomatopoeic Maasai word meaning “cowbell.”
Inside the crater, we saw our first Thompson’s gazelles (until now, we had only seen Grant’s); numerous new bird species; and our first intact lion pride, with five cubs - not tiny ones, but young enough to still be under the pride’s care. They were too far away for me to photograph with the iPad, but Dov got some good shots.
The short grass and limited extent of the caldera means that wildlife are easy to spot, and very accustomed to safari vehicles. We came very close to quite a few animals. I’ll let the photos I took speak for themselves.