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NGORONGORO CRATER

Ngorongoro Crater lies along the western rim of the East African Rift Valley, a 6500-kilometer long fault that runs from Jordan in the north to Mozambique in the south. Clearly seen from space, this fault looks like an immense gash in the earth. Here, two of the earth's tectonic plates meet and grind against each other, moving in separate directions. This movement built up stress in the earth's crust, until one day, eons ago, the earth shook and the eastern side of the fault dropped hundreds of feet, creating the Rift Valley. On the west side of the fault a 2800-meter high escarpment looms over the valley, aside which sits Ngorongoro Crater National Park. The road between the two parks climbs the face of the escarpment and runs along the narrow crater rim, affording spectacular views, with the sheer drop into the East African Rift Valley and Lake Manyara on one side and the equally steep drop into the volcano crater on the other. The Crater itself, which covers 260 square miles and is 15 miles across, comprises Ngorongoro National Park. Over time a shallow lake has formed on the crater floor, which is 600 meters below the rim. The depth of the crater beneath the sheer walls, along with the lake that never dries up, has created a microenvironment that allows the animals to stay here year-round rather than migrating, as in the Serengeti. Ngorongoro is also one of the few places in Tanzania where the endangered Rhino can be seen, although they were hiding on the day I was present, because, according to my guide, the winds were too high. Surrounding the Crater is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a vast plain that, along with the Serengeti, makes up the territory used by the great herds when they migrate each year in search of water and grazing lands. Occasional circular compounds constructed of acacia branches can be seen in the Conservation Area - these are tribal Maasai villages, as they allowed to live in the Conservation Area (but not in the National Park). Olduvai Gorge, where the Leakeys found fossil evidence of the earliest known hominids, is here, too.

NGORONGORO CRATER NATIONAL PARK
Ngorogoro Crater Rim
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater from the rim
Descending into Ngorongoro Crater
Descending into Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
The great herds, seen as we descend into Ngorongoro Crater
The great herds, seen as we descend into Ngorongoro Crater
Herds of wildebeest
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Blue Wildebeest
Blue Wildebeest
Driving through the herds of Blue Wildebeest
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Blue Wildebeest
Blue Wildebeest
Driving through the herds of Blue Wildebeest
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Suddenly, one lone Wildebeest heads away from the herd....
Slowly they all follow in an orderly file....
Until their column lines the entire lake shore!
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Zebra herds on the crater floor
Zebra herds on the crater floor
I saw several pairs stand like this - this female was pregnant
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ground Plover in the crater
Giant Kori Bustard bird on the crater floor
Sand Grouse on the crater floor
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Flocks of Lesser Flamingo on the crater floor
Flocks of Lesser Flamingo on the crater floor
Flocks of Lesser Flamingo on the crater floor
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ground Crane on the crater floor
Hyena slinks along the crater floor.....
....past zebras, who pay him no mind at all
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Three Cape Buffalo - the white one has been rolling in the mud
Warthogs always raise their tails straight up when running
A school of hippo, wallowing in the mud
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Scenery from the floor of the crater
Scenery from the floor of the crater
Scenery from the floor of the crater, showing the sheer crater walls
Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater
Scenery from the floor of the crater, showing the zig-zag road out
Scenery from the floor of the crater, showing the zig-zag road out
Scenery from the floor of the crater, showing the sheer crater walls
OLDUVAI GORGE AND LAETOLI
Olduvai Gorge
Olduvai Gorge
Olduvai Gorge
Olduvai Gorge
A plaster cast of the famous hominid footprints found at Laetoli, now covered up for conservation
Olduvai Gorge
NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA MAASAI COMPOUND
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
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Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
A Maasai compound
A Maasai compound store - handmade jewelry for sale
The men of the village dance out of the compound to welcome us
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
The men of the village dance out of the compound to welcome us
An elongated hole in the ear allows many earrings to be worn
Footwear is made from old tires
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Male elders dance with ceremonial sticks
Women wear intricate, handmade beaded collars....
....and colorful Maasai blankets
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
The men dance inside the compound, competing to see who can jump the highest
The men dance inside the compound, competing to see who can jump the highest
The men dance inside the compound, competing to see who can jump the highest
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
A Maasai child watched the ceremony
A Maasai woman in ceremonial dress
A Maasai male elder in ceremonial dress
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
A Maasai male elder in ceremonial dress
A Maasai woman in ceremonial dress and a beautiful smile
Maasai women look on from between the dung-covered huts
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Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
The village leader foot, inside a traditional hut
The village leader shows me inside a traditional Maasai hut
Endless dust rolls off the dry grasslands of the Ngorongoro
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Maasai men relax after the performance
The village school
Teacher and students i inside the village school
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Student inside the school
Students inside the school
Students inside the school
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
Ngorogoro Conservation Area - Osterich
Ngorogoro Conservation Are - Maasai Village
A final farewell
Maasai breed of Ostrich in the Conservation Area
Grant's Gazelle in the Conservation Area
Ngorogoro Conservation Area - Zebra
Ngorogoro Conservation Area - Zebra
Ngorogoro Conservation Area - Zebra
Zebra in the Conservation Area
Zebra in the Conservation Area
Zebra in the Conservation Area
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