by Alexander George
BSc Wildlife Biology
We began our last morning at camp Kwakuchinja. After everybody was up we all began to clear and clean the camp site, packing all bags and packing up all tents. The truck had broken down a few days before so we were provided a much comfier minibus to travel to the Ngorongoro crater in! We arrived at the Northern Highland Forest Reserve (NCA). This area stretches along the Eastern and Southern slopes of the Ngorogoro crater here we moved towards our camp site, once or twice stopping to get out at incredible drop off points to view the crater from above.
After lunch we began our journey into the crater immediately we saw clusters of unidentifiable animals from up high. Once in the crater, wildebeest, gazelle, cranes, flamingos and other species all became identifiable. After about 40 minutes in the crater we arrived at a water hole where we saw hippos gathering together. There were four large hippo and one gigantic individual at this site. Bird life flourished around these water holes.
On our return we were so lucky to see lions with a carcass eating in the long grass. After watching for around five minutes we then noticed both hyena and jackals surrounding the kill desperate for scraps from the lions – this was unlikely! As if the experience couldn’t get any better, on our return to camp, just after seeing two wildebeest fighting, head butting and kicking up the dust in true African style, two rhino were spotted about 200 metres away putting large smiles on all faces that saw them (an adult followed by a juvenile) – truly majestic. Passing the lake on the return, a pride of lion all asleep were very close by. A large male and four females deeply asleep, these were much closer than the lions seen earlier with the kill.
Whilst ascending up the slopes out of the crater, large herds of buffalo were clustered in the more dense patched woodland. We had one last gift from Ngoro crater that evening as we drove right by a huge male elephant eating in the Acacia scrub metres from our truck, followed by numerous large females. Once back at the camp site everyone was buzzing off the experience and talked over dinner about different sightings.