According to ehotelat, the Serengeti Valley is one of the greatest places where wild and untouched nature has been preserved in its original form. It is called the “Endless Plain of Africa”, and there is no doubt about it – an area of 30 thousand square kilometers, a place where a herd of wildebeests can start five meters from you and end, merging with the horizon line in a thin dark strip against a crimson sunset. Once in the valley, you realize that this is a completely different world, where everything seems surreal and more like a dream than reality. Playing like children, hundreds of zebras jump across the fields, giraffes look down on you, lions and leopards pass by in search of prey, whose habits are more reminiscent of our domestic cats than the most dangerous predators of Africa.
All this leads to looking at life differently, to abstract from urban problems and with a gleam in the eyes, remembering encyclopedias from childhood, to feel like a naturalist or a discoverer. Seeing elephants walking slowly, you try to get closer to them, at the same time you look around, tracking down a family of cheetahs among the thickets, you rejoice like a child when you see warthogs-hogs walking one after another with funny tails raised up.
The entire Serengeti Valley, despite its wildness, is in some kind of incomprehensible harmony, and this applies not only to fauna. The mountains of the East African Rift turn into plains, which, stretching to the west, become tropical forests and are in contact with one of the world’s largest lakes – Victoria. The first thought that comes to mind from what is happening around is that the place described in the beloved cartoon “The Lion King” really exists and is not embellished at all, rather the opposite.
I want to capture every moment in my memory forever, the camera is not able to capture the global landscape of the Serengeti with light breaking through the clouds, or such trifles as the unexpected appearance of a flock of mongooses next to the road, which rise on their hind legs, looking for any danger to relatives – all this need to be felt. Probably, I want to keep this world in my head, mostly because it seems so fleeting and fragile, because looking at the bustle of the city, the struggle of countries for territories and resources, you understand that after decades everything can disappear. We can become one of the few witnesses of the true beauty of nature, people who keep the memory of this wonder of the world in the innermost corners of their consciousness, thereby saying without words: “The Serengeti must not die”.
When we ask people about the parks, which ones they liked and remembered the most, many answer without a doubt: “Ngorongoro!” And what can I say, indeed, a high concentration of different species of animals in a relatively small area of 8280 square kilometers causes genuine delight.
How it happened and what such a hype is connected with can be understood by learning a little more about the origin of the Ngorongoro National Park. It is a caldera (the so-called volcanic craters), which arose as a result of a series of serious eruptions of a volcano comparable in height to Kilimanjaro, about 2.5 million years ago. Powerful magmatic flows devastated it from the inside and the volcanic cone collapsed, turning into one of the largest calderas in the world with a depth of 600 m and a diameter of 20 km. Hiding from the outside world behind a mountain wall rising 2500 m above sea level, the crater gradually changed and an evergreen oasis replaced the dead pit filled with alkali. Over time, various animals gathered inside, finding a home in this “Garden of Eden”. Lions, elephants, buffaloes, wildebeests, zebras, hyenas and jackals.
Since the 18th century, many of the species have become very thin and there was a reason for this: the territory of Ngorongoro began to be inhabited by local Maasai tribes. Engaged only in hunting and cattle breeding, they pretty much spoiled the balance of the animal world inside the crater. Many herbivores experienced a shortage of food, and by exterminating predators that did not allow herds of antelopes to grow freely, the Maasai only exacerbated the situation. This state of affairs did not last so long and at the beginning of the 20th century, when Germany began the colonization of Tanganyika, the local tribes were replaced by German farmers – the Siedentopf brothers, who quickly ousted the Masai from the fertile territories. Unfortunately, the new inhabitants brought no less trouble, thinking only about the commercial potential of Ngorongoro. They decided to drive out all wild animals from this place in order to freely turn the crater into farmland.
In 1914, the First World War began, which also affected East Africa. The resulting conflict between Germany and England allowed the British to expand the boundaries of their influence. The pragmatic British wanted to win favor with the local tribes, while the Siedentopf brothers, who created chaos, ideally suited the role of victims and were exiled from Ngorongoro to India. After the war, one Englishman took over the farms, later the German administration wanted to buy them out and create a reserve in the crater, but nothing came of it. The Englishman who got them after the war did not live there, and thus these farms, fortunately, fell into complete disrepair and ceased to exist.
Gradually, the crater took on a new life, and in 1951, thanks to the well-known explorers Michael and Benhard Grzimek, the territory of Ngorongoro was declared a national park, thereby becoming inviolable. Using their small plane, painted to look like a zebra, they determined the boundaries of the park and counted the approximate number of individuals in it. In one of these flights, a tragedy occurred – twenty-five-year-old Michael Grzimek died and a memorial was erected in his honor on the edge of the crater, not far from the crash site. This is one of the most important monuments in Tanzania and the inscription on it reads: “He gave everything he had, including life itself, for the wild animals of Africa.” One cannot but agree with this, because many of the animals, such as rhinos, caracals, servals and lions, were preserved in the Ngorongoro reserve and other parks only thanks to these two researchers, father and son who devoted their entire lives to Africa. All reserves had to experience the anthropogenic impact, many were on the verge of extinction, and now it is difficult to say what they were a couple of centuries ago, but one thing is for sure – Ngorongoro is still an amazing place that is worth seeing at least once in a lifetime.