After passing through Ngorongoro Gate; a bustle of expectant, revving safari vehicles and heavy booted, military-clad park rangers, our Land Cruiser climbed steeply through the fragrant, dripping forested slopes to reach the crater rim. From the viewpoint the crater spreads below in all its ancient glory, taking the breath away with its hazy cloud-shrouded shoulders and vast pastel-hued floor.
We continued along the winding eastern rim road and then beyond into the rolling green hills and pasture of the Ngorongoro Highlands where traditional Maasai villages nestle in the sweet pure air and cattle herds wander grazing, hump backed cows with melodic low donging cattle bells. Bright flashes of red-clad maasai speckle the landscape.
With a guide, park ranger and his son, the boys and I trekked up a steep cattle trail, through mountain forest, gnarled and twisted trees hanging with silver-green mosses, to reach, after about an hour of thin air and heavy breathing, the high point of Olmoti Crater. With such an incredible view it was well worth the hike.
Our camp The Highlands is just a short drive after the hike, perched on the hillside, magnificent domed tents are warmed by log-burning stoves, friendly faces and thick duvets to complete the day to perfection. A chilly, damp early morning departure took us down into the Crater for a long and leisurely game drive. Black, glistening-nosed buffalo, lazy mud-crusted hyena, distant rhino, fat-bottomed zebra, bobbing hippo, huge tusked bull elephant andthe highlight of two lionesses cooling themselves in the shade of our vehicle. Then a night spent at another spectacular camp; Entamanu, queen of tented camps perched high on the western rim of the crater, amazing views, cozy tents, hot showers and more wonderful staff.
The next morning on a visit to the local Maasai village we were welcomed with tribal dancing which we joined
enthusiastically if not very impressively. Then a eye-opening tour of the village and a mud house before continuing on the drive to the Serengeti.
the drive to the Serengeti.