The Ngorongoro Crater
The ascent to the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater was intense and exciting. Our vehicle was climbing the steep walls on dirt tracks, and to the left we could see thick mists which seemed to roll and unfurl around thick, verdant foliage. It was early, there was a chill in the air, and the atmosphere was electric.
When we reached the rim of the crater, I got out of the vehicle to stretch my legs, and could hardly believe the view in front of me. A perfect watercolour patchwork of golden savannah, shimmering green grass, sparkling water, thinning mists and dense pockets of riverine foliage opened out before me. It was like something out of a dream! I could simply not wait to get to the crater floor and really explore this wonder of the world.
The crater walls provided the perfect picturesque backdrop for the many great animals and birds which I saw there. After a morning spent spotting lion and elephant and looking up birds in our birding guide, we stopped to observe a large group of flamingo, gathered at the lakeshore to feast on the algae of the shallow waters. One minute all was calm, and the only sound to be heard was the soft clicking of flamingo beaks, the muffled sounds of ruffling feathers, and the occasional grunt from a distant buffalo. It was tranquil and stunningly beautiful.
Suddenly, the flamingo had scattered into the air – something had startled them. All of a sudden, a hyena emerged from the crowd of birds, carrying a flamingo between its powerful jaws. Surrounding the hyena were a couple of jackals – opportunistic scavengers who had been waiting for a larger predator to catch something tasty. The jackals circled, scampered and darted, trying poach the hyena’s kill, and they did not give up! Eventually, one of the jackals managed to steal a scrap of meat, and he and his companion darted off into the distance, just as backup from more hyenas was arriving.
Within the space of 5 minutes, the whole astonishing scene had ended, and the action area was deserted. Only the flamingo remained, looking exactly as they did when we had first arrived on the scene – flamboyant, fabulous, and blissfully unaware of the danger they were in!