Going down into the crater!
Wikipedia: it is the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater, which formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago, is 610 metres deep and its floor covers 260 square kilometres. The crater floor is mostly open grassland with two small wooded areas dominated by fever tree.
We decided to go down based on the fact that one does not travel so far, stand on the rim, look down and say ‘oh, this is beautiful’ and walk away. It would be our only opportunity to go down and experience it, and we decided to bite the bullet.
We woke up very early, packed up camp and left the Cruizer and trailer at Simba A at sunrise. The day before we passed the crater ‘ascend road’ less than three km before Simba and we went back there. A nice paved narrow winding road going down towards the crater floor. After about two km we realised that all the signs are visible from the other side only and there were no safari vehicles in sight, so this really was ‘ascend’ and not ‘descend’. We turned around and went looking for the descend road, which we found 10 km past Simba. There is a gate where they check your permit and also lots of safari vehicles with lodge guests, also ready to descend.
This road was a two spoor gravel zic-zac pass going down more than 600 meters in elevation in less than 5 km. But the views are spectacular. And once down on the crater floor, the abundance of animals is beyond description. Never in our lives have we seen such huge quantities of wildlife as concentrated as here.
This is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed and definitely worth every dollar we paid. If we did not go down, we would not know what an extraordinary experience we missed!
Wildlife we saw:
- Elephant – all over
- Buffalo – several hundreds
- Wildebeest – several hundreds
- Eland – plenty
- Thompson’s gazelle – several hundreds
- Grant’s gazelle – several hundreds
- Giraffe – plenty
- Warthogs – plenty
- Hyena – plenty
- Black Rhino – one
- Lion – one male and two females
We had to turn back by 11h00 to ensure we stay within the 24 hour permit, and by that time we were satisfied that we had seen enough and that it was the perfect decision to go down into the crater. It was beyond description!!