Watching Hippos in Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania)
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is adjacent to the Serengeti in its northwestern extension, and to the north on Ol Doinyo Lengai, the holy mountain of the Maasai. This protected area was founded in the late 1950s – in the context of an ecological study by the German zoologist Bernhard Grzimek (known for his documentary film “Serengeti must not die”).
Since then, the Ngorongoro area has enabled the harmonious coexistence of nature conservation, tourism, and pastoralism of the Maasai. In 1979, this unique landscape with its rich wildlife was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a very special natural monument – scenic beauty, as well as number and variety of the animals living here, are unique.
The Ngorongoro Crater is located in the eastern part of the Serengeti National Park but was spun off as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) in the late 1950s. Since then, the Maasai have been allowed to live here with their herds, except for the crater floor itself.
The entrance is approximately 160 kilometers or two to three hours drive from Arusha, the largest town in northern Tanzania and a popular starting point for safaris and ascents in Kilimanjaro. Theoretically, therefore, you do not need more expensive accommodation near the crater, but could even start early in the morning in Arusha and return in the evening.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area covers very different habitats: open grassland, dense mountain forest, scrubland, and heathland. However, the area is dominated by the Ngorongoro Crater, the largest crater basin in the world, where around 25,000 animals live all year round, including lions, elephants, wildebeests, and zebras.
At the heart of the crater lies the shimmering Lake Magadi, whose alkaline waters are due to deposits of volcanic ash. During the rainy season, many water birds, including pink flamingos, cavort in it and its tributaries.
Incidentally, the crater bowl was created when a powerful volcano collapsed. Its diameter is up to 21 kilometers and the impressive crater edges up to 600 meters high. The crater rim itself is located at 2,300 meters above sea level. Sounds exciting, right?
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a protected area and a World Heritage Site located 180 km (110 mi) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The area is named after Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera within the area.
The conservation area is administered by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, an arm of the Tanzanian government, and its boundaries follow the boundary of the Ngorongoro Division of the Arusha Region.
The name of the crater has an onomatopoeic origin; it was named by the Maasai pastoralists after the sound produced by the cowbell (ngoro ngoro). Based on fossil evidence found at the Olduvai Gorge, various hominid species have occupied the area for 3 million years.
Approximately 25,000 large animals, mostly ungulates, live in the crater. Large mammals in the crater include the black rhinoceros, the African buffalo or Cape buffalo, and the hippopotamus.
There also are many other ungulates: the blue wildebeest, Grant’s zebra, the common eland, and Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles. Absent are giraffe, impala, topi, oribi, and crocodile.
Cheetah, East African wild dog, and African leopard are rarely seen. Spotted hyenas have been the subject of a long-term research study in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area since 1996.
Although the thought of as “a natural enclosure” for a very wide variety of wildlife, 20 percent or more of the wildebeest and half the zebra populations vacate the crater in the wet season, while Cape buffalo stay; their highest numbers are during the rainy season.
Unfortunately, the prices for the crater are quite salted: Per person, we payed $ 60 for entry (per 24 hours) into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and also $ 300 per vehicle for driving into the crater itself. However, prices can change anytime – usually upwards – and even the official website is currently making a secret of it.
Hippo Pool Of Ngorongoro Crater
The hippo pool is a small pond in the southern part of the Ngorongoro crater that is inhabited by a bloat of hippos. It is one of the few areas in the crater where tourists are allowed to alight from their vehicle, have a picnic or meal.
Practically, however, I recommend accommodation in a camp near the small town of Mto Wa Mbu, which translates as “Mosquito River”. As I have visited Lake Manyara National Park on the first day of the safari, we spend the night in the Panorama Safari Camp, located on a plateau above the Rift Valley, halfway between Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater. In addition, it is worthwhile to be in the crater early in the morning, as many wild animals are most active at dusk. Unlike other safari vacationers.
The hippo pool of Ngorongoro crater is located on the northeastern end of Gorigor swamp, and on the southwestern end of the crater. There is a picnic site next to it. With regard to hippos, I have learned that you should look twice at round large stones in the water better. They are really NEVER stones, but backs of relaxed hippos.