Jambo from Karatu! Since our arrival we have been going non-stop — a half day in the booming city of Arusha, two days at the national park Tarangire, and now have just returned back to our home away from home after two indescribable days at the Ngorongoro Conservation Center and Ngorongoro Crater.
After our late arrival in Arusha on Friday night, we began our two hour drive to Tarangire National Park. Upon entering the park, we were almost immediately greeted by herds of impalas, dazzles of zebra, countless species of birds, and so much more — most magnificent: elephants. We even saw a whole parade of elephants come up to drink from the watering hole at our lodge, part of the wildlife management area just outside the park. Quite a sight to see! This was especially fascinating because after years of animal/human conflict (most notably poaching for ivory), Tarangire is now home to the largest population of elephants in Northern Tanzania, now numbering at close to 2,500 individuals. This number is encouraging, and the national parks are making a tremendous effort in finding ways to reduce poaching in the area. From creating a wildlife management area just outside the park, encouraging biodiversity conservation in that area, to even providing rewards to local tribes such as the Maasai who now protect both themselves and the elephants by almost “herding” them out of human areas and back into the park and wildlife management area, they are doing amazing conservation work. Illegal poaching continues to be an issue, and there is still work to be done, but the local government continues to strive for an environment free of poaching and they are well on their way.
Our journey has now taken us to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where yesterday we paid a visit to Lake Manyara National Park, an ornithological paradise containing over 350 species of birds. During our overlook on the lake, we even got up close with a Cape buffalo! Today, we were able to actually drive down into the famous Ngorongoro Crater, a world heritage site and home to one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in the world! The crater is also home to 27 black rhinoceros, which the government monitors day and night in efforts to protect them from poachers. Although we didn’t spot one of these majestic creatures, we were so lucky to have the opportunity to see such a vast number of animals in less than six hours. From herds of wildebeest, to a flamboyance of flamingos, to warthogs and hippopotamus. The highlight of everyone’s day, however, had to be the lions. We watched in awe as a male lion walked right up to our vehicle. Photos can absolutely not do the Ngorongoro Crater justice — it was simply amazing.
Tomorrow, our group departs for the Serengeti!