As you drive from the vast planes into the highland surrounding the crater everything changes incredibly. Climbing quickly the temperature drops and everything becomes green, It feels like you’ve stepped out of Africa and into somewhere like northern Scotland, that is until a zebra or wildebeest passes by and you’re brought right back. You cant help but feel that you’re in for something special when you enter Ngorongoro crater.
I arrived at our campsite after the sun had already set so there was no inclination into where the crater was or just how vast it was going to be. We settled in had dinner and a few beers and got ready for an early morning the next day and I’m glad we did because sunrise over that crater is like nothing else on earth. We had arranged for a few jeeps to pick us up before sunrise so that we could make our decent as the sun rose. What we didn’t realize is that we’d been camping on the rim and as we made breakfast the first hint of light in the sky started to show the rim of the crater with clouds floating below us in it walls.
As we descended the first rays of sunlight started peaking over the ridgeline illuminating the side we were coming down. Not even halfway down we came across 3 young lions basking in the first light of the day. From that point we had a better view of the bottom and you could see animals for as far as you could see. It wasn’t until we reached the bottom floor that we realized just how dense the wildlife was, there were zebra and wilderbeast everywhere, the sky was full of birdlife and no doubt there were more predators hidden away somewhere
No matter where I looked I found something stunning to point my camera at. Every direction had a backdrop of rolling hills that climbed and climbed upto mountains heights and a foreground with a myriad of wildlife. After a little way along the road we came across a huge lake that seemed to go right up to the opposite edge of the crater. This lake was filled with flamingos and the particular edge was beaming with reflections of the sun we were on had a procession of zebra. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had silhouetted zebra along the edge of a lake full of flamingos and the mountains behind in the distance were still dark thanks to the angle of the sun. from this point only the photos do the day justice.
It was such an incredible place and I leaned that the majority of the animals that called this place home never actually left. They simply didn’t need to as the crater had vast grazing planes, enough lakes and rivers to sustain all the animals. There wasn’t an over population of any particular animal but simply a perfect balance to maintain this paradise
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international travel photographer Matthew Littlewood