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The Ngorongoro crater a paradise and the Masai

Ngorongoro crater, Tanzania05.04.2016, 06:00 am

Africa charms not only the interesting and fascinating animal world but also its mountains and its different landscape formations. The large African Rift Valley, the Masai Mara, the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro crater are just a few landscapes shaped by the magic of African nature.

In all the cultural circles known to us, there are cultic sites and holy mountains with a great spiritual effect on humans and animals. The Kailash, the sacred mountain of the Tibetans, Mount Ararat of Noah, or Mount Sinai, where Moses received the 10 commandments. Probably the Ngorongoro belongs to these sanctuarys. It is believed that the Ngorongoro crater has contributed a not insignificant amount to the development of us humans. The crater is part of the East African Rift Valley and is located in the middle of the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem. The crater emerged as a huge volcanic eruption and the entire mass of the mountain collapsed into itself.

The collapse of the crater should have happened more than 2 million years ago. The enormous tectonic movements of earth and rock brought with it a change in the surrounding landscape. After the eruption of the volcano, the Serengeti was piled up to a gigantic elevation.

The bottom of the Ngorongoro crater is about 1700m above sea level, with the side walls of the crater being upwards of 500m up to 600m. The crater's edge is at an altitude of about 2300m. The crater itself has a diameter of approximately 21km and an area of approximately 26,400 hectares.

The entry into the Ngorongoro crater feels like the way to paradise.

Whenever we reach the Ngorongoro crater, we are filled with an inner unrest, as if the crater were living. Coming from Lake Manjara you notice that the air is cooler, but still feels warm and pleasant. At night, the temperatures also often sink down to the freezing point. When morning awakens, the sky is usually deep red, soaked with the blood of the dawn. 6:00 am in the morning and we have been up for an hour now and we are on the crater-upland to take in the fascinating landscape into us and capture the dawn of the morning sun with our cameras.

But now we ask ourselves where is the paradise, where is the Ngorongoro crater today?

The dense fog, which has conquered the slopes of the crater every morning, and the resulting enormous humidity, plunge the crater slopes into a deep misty veil. These fog walls move to the bottom of the crater where they evaporate and dissolve into nothingness. We are walking at a pace, so we make our way through a mangrove-like forest formation to the crater floor.

Yes, we have arrived in paradise!
The Ngorongoro Crater | UNECO World Heritage Site | the gateway to the Serengeti.

On the crater rim itself we are in the midst of an area that is populated by many Masai. There is a not insignificant part of them on the edge of the crater. They are, despite their comparatively small population share, but probably because of their largely preserved semi-nomadic way of life, their striking clothing and their residential area, probably the most well-known ethnic group in East Africa.

The hut (Enkaji) of the Masai consists of branches and dried cow dung as a covering. It is permissible for the Masai to live polygamous, so they can own several women, which are then divided into several houses. When a Masai is with a woman in one of his huts, he marks this by laying his stick on the roof above the entrance of the hut. So everyone knows about his presence and where he intends to spend his night.

There are many ceremonies at Masai. Very well known is the jump-dancing and the monotonous singing of the men. The young Masai (Morani) jump as high as possible on the spot and thus prove their strength. The Masai have always been known as brave warriors and successful cattle herders.

The drinking of cattle blood, partly mixed with milk, belongs to life and is one of the most important ceremonies of the Masai. The head of the cattle is held. Using an arrow, the neck vein of the animal, which has become to swell, is scored, but not severed. After collecting up to two liters of blood, the cattle are joined and continue to live. After adding the milk, the vessel is shaken to prevent a "blood cake". It is drunk fresh, but can also be drunk after a ripening phase of two days.

Their culture is nomadic and is almost exclusively about cattle. A "good" Masai has no less than 50 cattle. As a result of the increasing population growth and the associated sprawl of the country, the nomadic way of life of the Masai is increasingly hindered. A thorny hedge is drawn around the huts, where even small animals sleep. At night all the cattle, sheep and goats of the clan come into this protected area. So they are safe from wandering predators.


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Robert Gstaltmaier lives in Bischofshofen, near Salzburg, Austria. As a nature lover and hobby photographer, he has been interested in the African continent for many years. Again and again fascinated form the land, animal world and people, he is now traveling the African continent at regular intervals. In the meantime, there are many thousand pictures and videos of animals in the wild, the impressive landscape of Africa and the people living there.

From a hobby became a passion - from a passion became a heart affair and from a heart affair Wildlife Moments was created.

Here you can find further information on the project "Wildlife Moments“.