Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Ngorongoro Crater

When you think of Tanzania you think of Ngorongoro, well at least I do.   Today was the big day, though not til after breakfast, and given that started after first light we got up early and had a wander around the grounds, which proved productive.  We saw Baglafecht Weaver:


Bronze Sunbird:


Peter's Twinspot, our one and only sighting of this species:


And as the sun rose, a Silvery-cheeked Hornbill:


Then it was time to drive to the park.  On entry you are allowed six hours before you exit in an attempt to reduce the volume of cars present at any one time.

The entrance was busy but they use electronic records so it was also efficient.  We were soon headed up the busy and foggy (and cold!) road towards the rim of the crater.   The road is also the gateway route to the very popular Serengeti, but not for us.  We stopped for a foggy view down to a surprisingly (again for me) dry view, I expected something lusher:


As you head around the rim, towards the descent road one side is very dry, and quite barren:


So we got to the main gate on the descent road and stopped to take it in, it's a magnificent spectacle:


As we descended, looking for birds, I spotted something else.  I'm not by any means an expert on cats so called the wrong species but I'm still very happy with having seen our first Caracal, a nocturnal animal and one rarely seen we're told:



Look at the ears!




We pointed the Caracal out to the next vehicle behind us, but once we and they moved on we're fairly sure no one else spotted it judging by the volume of vehicles passing us while we stopped to look at and identify a Northern Anteater Chat:


We had a terrible time with this next species right up until we realised we'd (a) seen it before and (b) identified it too, doh!   A Rufous-tailed Weaver:


The crater stretches out before you as reach the bottom:



We saw lots of other species in the crater, including an African Hare, unusual because most people aren't looking for them:


A Capped Wheatear:


You keep stopping to take in the view, it's breath-taking:


A Golden Jackal apparently:



Kori's Bustard, confident of this one:


Weather was definitely moving in, another encounter with the start of the rainy season beckoned:


So we hurried to the hippo pool:


And then to the other side of the crater floor, away from the rain system.

A familiar Northern Wheater:


A much-less familiar and rather funky Rufous-naped Lark:



The skies on this side of the crater were much clearer:


We could see rain behind us and the wind was whipping up salt from the area of the evaporated lake bottom which made visibility tricky.

We stopped for lunch as a lovely and popular spot, with loos!   They really do know how to do tourism in Northern Tanzania, stunning:


Out of the vehicle (always a bonus) we saw the very brightly coloured Speke's Weaver:



The rain was headed our way though:


So we headed for the exit, via some woodland on the way, seeing more species including Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater:



And White-fronted Bee-eater:


Not what i expected but very worthwhile and enjoyable too.   We headed to our next accommodation the Serena Lodge at Ngorongoro.  I think this was probably the best we stayed in given the balance of food, service, accommodation, comfort, etc,  Shame it was for only one night... the following day we had a very long day ahead of us.....

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