Sunset On The Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

PIC OF THE WEEK:

Sunset On The Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

 

There are few places we’ve ever traveled that had the immediate “WOW!!!” impact of Tanzania’s massive Ngorongoro Crater. Formed two to three million years ago when a volcano exploded and collapsed on itself, this is the largest intact, inactive and unfilled volcanic crater in the world.

 

But as breathtaking as the scenery is from afar, exploring the 2000-foot-deep, 100 square mile-wide crater reveals amazing details you won’t see from the observation deck. Ngorongoro provides a home to more than 25,000 large mammals. There are buffalo, hippos, zebras, wildebeests, a remarkably dense lion population and even rhinos and elephants during the wet season.

 

Based on fossil evidence found at the nearby Olduvai Gorge, where Louis and Mary Leakey began their famous archaeological excavations in 1931, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area has been inhabited by various hominid species for approximately 3 million years. The Mbulu people arrived around 2,000 years ago and were joined by the Datooga in the 1700s, but the Maasai drove both tribes out of the region in the early 1800s and have lived here ever since.

 

Separated from Serengeti National Park in 1959, Ngorongoro (whose name in Maasai means “the gift of life”) became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It’s unique because it’s the only conservation area in Tanzania that protects wildlife while also allowing humans to live there, prohibiting cultivation of the land at all but subsistence levels.

 

The number of tourists allowed into the park each day is very limited, with your admission including just six hours inside the crater. But that’s plenty of time to explore its surprisingly diverse ecosystems, which include montane forest highlands, open grassland, Acacia-dotted woodlands, Lake Magadi (which attracts thousands of Lesser Flamingoes) and various springs and streams.

 

We spotted a remarkable array of wildlife during our afternoon in the crater, from Warthogs, Hyenas and Hippos to Grey-Crowned Cranes and a Lion pride crossing the open plains. But our favorite image came as our guide, Rama Mmasa, raced up the hill towards the park’s exit. The gates close promptly at 6PM, so leaving late requires a government official’s approval.

 

We had less than 10 minutes left when we saw this stunning sunset shot between two hills and urged Rama to stop. A few clicks of the shutter was all we had time for, and we ended up making it to the gate with only a few minutes to spare. –Bret Love
 
 
Our trip to Tanzania was sponsored in part by Adventure Life and Tanzania Journeys, with safari clothing provided by ExOfficio. But we will never compromise our integrity at the expense of our readers, and our opinions remain our own.

 
 

If you enjoyed our Ngorongoro Crater photo, you might also like:

 

 

 

 

10 Great Australian National Parks for Your World Travel Bucket List 10 Australian National Parks

for Your World Travel Bucket List

 

Australian National Parks rank among the most diverse in the world. Their protected landscapes are so varied, you could dedicate years of your life to exploring them. The country’s 500 National Parks span over 28 million hectares of pristine land, protecting delicate ecosystems ranging from alpine regions to lush green forests, red sandy deserts and the purest of white sand beaches.

 

While these are highly sensitive environments, the parks are remarkably accessible, having been set up to accommodate ecotourism. Most Australian National Parks offer educational programs and adventurous pursuits, such as meeting Aboriginal elders at Uluru, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, hiking through the wilderness in Tasmania, or taking a 4WD across sand dunes on islands off the Queensland coast.

 

In addition to those 500 national parks, there are also 14 World Heritage sites in Australia (most of which are classified as natural wonders) and 13 stunning marine parks. In fact, a full one-third of the world’s protected marine areas are located on the continent. So you can imagine the difficulty in narrowing down your must-see list down to just a few.

 

With the main mission of “protecting significant sections of landscape, delicate ecosystems and precious cultural heritage for future generations,” the following are my Top 10 Australian National Parks for your World Travel Bucket List.

 

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Lessons from David Bowie on The Creative Life

The Creative Life:

10 Lessons from David Bowie

 

I was never the world’s biggest fan of David Bowie’s music. But over the past 40 years I learned a lot from him about living the creative life.

 

My connection with Bowie came largely through his influence on the creative artists I adored: Bauhaus, whose goth-glam fusion borrowed liberally from Ziggy. Jim Henson, who cast Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King. John Hughes, who referenced Bowie in the opening of his 1985 classic, The Breakfast Club. Nirvana, who covered “The Man Who Sold the World” in their MTV Unplugged special.

 

Even if you didn’t own a single one of his albums, Bowie’s music provided the soundtrack for several decades: The haunting psychedelia of “Space Oddity,” released five days before the Apollo 11 launch. “Fame” defining the funky hedonism of the mid-‘70s. “Under Pressure” capturing the anxiety of the Cold War era. “Let’s Dance” evoking early-‘80s escapism. “Heroes” becoming the wall-breaking anthem for a divided Berlin and post-9/11 New York. His influence was as inarguable as it was inescapable.

 

Bowie was the rare artist who proved just as fascinating off-stage as he was on. A trailblazer who influenced everything from music and fashion to film and sexual fluidity, he changed our collective notion of what an icon could be. Here are 10 valuable life lessons today’s artists can learn from David Bowie on living the creative life:

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Baby Zebra in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

PIC OF THE WEEK:

Baby Zebra at Watering Hole in Serengeti National Park

 

Visiting Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park in mid-September, we weren’t expecting to see vast herds of animals (such as the one that protectively surrounded this Baby Zebra drinking from a watering hole).

 

After all, the 1,200-mile Great Migration from the Serengeti plains north to Kenya’s Maasai Mara– the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world– begins in early summer. By September the majority of the herds are long gone to the haven of their dry season refuge.

 

But our exceptional Tanzania Journeys guide, Rama Mmasa, knew of a remote watering hole where herds of zebras, wildebeest and impalas tended to gather. So, on our second morning in Serengeti National Park, he took us there on the off chance we might spot lions coming in for a kill.

 

The herds certainly seemed anxious about the possible presence of predators, as hundreds of animals nervously milled about, waiting for their turn to drink. It was fascinating to watch them cautiously creep down the bank, often getting spooked by another animal and running off. It was barely controlled chaos.

 

We watched for over an hour, keeping a watchful eye out for Lions, Leopards or Crocodiles. Finally, as the light rose over the treetops, six Zebras entered the water warily, with a tiny Baby Zebra in a protective spot in the middle.

 

They all lined up perfectly, dipping their heads down to drink and occasionally lifting them to look around. We snapped this shot at a brief, serendipitous moment when all but one of the Zebras were drinking in unison, as the mama kept her watchful eye on us. –Bret Love; photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

 

Our trip to Tanzania was sponsored in part by Adventure Life and Tanzania Journeys, with safari clothing provided by ExOfficio. But we will never compromise our integrity at the expense of our readers, and our opinions remain our own.

 

If you enjoyed our Baby Zebra photo, you might also like: 

TANZANIA: Exploring Magical Tarangire National Park

TANZANIA: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

PHOTO GALLERY: Serengeti National Park Wildlife Safari

PHOTO GALLERY: The Wilds of Amboseli National Park & Timbavati Game Reserve

SOUTH AFRICA: My Life-Changing Experience in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA: Londolozi Game Reserve Safari

SOUTH AFRICA: Zulu Memories from KwaZulu Natal

 

Bret Love of Green Global Travel Swimming with Galapagos Penguins

Swimming with Galapagos Penguins

Secrets to Swimming With

Galapagos Penguins

 

I have a theory about mankind’s interaction with nature. It’s a little odd, with no scientific evidence whatsoever to back it up. So I’ve never told many people about it, lest they think I’m some sort of tree-hugging nutjob.

 

But it’s the only explanation I’ve been able to come up with for why we have so many rare wildlife encounters, such as getting a chance to spend a solid half-hour swimming with Galapagos Penguins, the world’s rarest penguin species.

 

Galapagos Penguin is Ready for His Closeup

Galapagos Penguin is Ready for His Closeup

 

My theory is this: Animals have an innate ability to sense human emotions and intentions. When we approach them with fear, trepidation or aggression (i.e. negative energy), their instinctual response is fight or flight. But when we approach them with respect, admiration and cautious curiosity (i.e. positive energy), they tend to find humans, as a species, profoundly fascinating.

 

This approach has led us to have remarkable animal encounters all around the world. We’ve had memorable moments with Manatees in Crystal River, Florida; Black Bears in North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge; a Red Fox in Torres del Paine National Park; and too many others to mention. Time after time, for whatever reason, wild animals have chosen to come closer to us.

 

But our extraordinary experience swimming with Galapagos Penguins was special because it was so incredibly rare. Our International Expeditions naturalist guide, Cristina Rivadeneira, said she’d never seen anything like it before in 19 years of working in the Galapagos Islands.

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Destinations We’ve Covered:

• AFRICA
Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Madagascar- Ring-tailed Lemurs at Anja Reserve
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

 
• ANTARCTICA
How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
 
• ASIA
Borneo- Sabah Ecotourism Attractions
India- Ranthambhore National Park
India- Tibetan Culture In Ladakh
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
 
• AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
Australia-Maria Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities

 

• NORTH AMERICA
CANADA
Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

UNITED STATES
America’s Best Volcanoes
AL- Fishing Mobile Bay
AL- Mobile Carnival Museum
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
FL- Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Lafayette Cajun Food Tour
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
LA- Voodoo Museum
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Asheville's Top Ecotourism Attractions
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
TX- Sea Turtle Rescue, South Padre Island
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

MEXICO
Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba
 
• CARIBBEAN