Tanzania: Ngorogoro Conservation Area, Ngorogoro Crater
We both had ideas of what the Ngorogoro Crater would look like, but nothing quite prepared us for what would become our favourite day of our trip so far.
The classic vast plains of the Serengeti continue into the Ngorogoro Conversation Area, but after turning off the main road and heading down a little used road – just two ruts in the grass - we encountered many Maasai in their villages or tending their cattle, sheep and goats. This felt like true Maasai country – and apart from this experience of seeing them in their true environment, the only tribesmen we encountered were trying to sell us something. It is sad that such a beautiful tribe has become so commercialised that its priority seems to be to sell you a spear or jewellery and charge you $2 for a picture of their livestock or themselves. Unfortunately this was a key factor in our decision not to visit a Maasai village.
At the end of the ruts we came across an interesting, and rather surreal, natural phenomenon – the shifting sands. This is a shifting mass of volcanic ash that moves between 10 and 20 metres a year across the plains. Its black dune-like formation was a strange sight in the middle of this orange/yellow landscape. Most incredible is the fact that it seems to hoover up after itself, as it leaves no trail. Following this we headed on a short detour through the Olduvlai Gorge – another important archaeological site which has yielded amazingly intact skulls of Homo Habilis.