In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be standing on the rim of an ancient volcano looking at the most beautiful wildlife haven on earth. Yet, here I am, standing on the lip of the collapsed cone of Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater in the Ngorongoro National Park. Thirty thousand animals live out the drama of life within these protected walls. Black-maned lions stalk the grassland floors, bright flamingos crowd the lakes and tusked elephants wander silently along the forested trails. If I watch closely, I may see one of the rare black rhino that breed in this chosen place.
Over the last few days, I have seen a remarkable concentration of wildlife in the dense equatorial forest of Lake Manyara National Park where lions are often found perched in the trees and hippos splash among the many species of lake dwelling birds. I've witnessed the world of the famous Serengeti "endless" plains, known for its annual migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra, an annual event said to be one of the world's most amazing natural spectacles. A region of waist-deep grass, swaying in the light African breeze, that provides good cover for predators in the deadly game of life. They move unseen closer to their prey, close enough to attack the weak or young -- close enough to kill!
Pinch me! Yes, this is real! I am walking on Mt. Kilimanjaro with its snow-capped summit a cool invitation in the African heat. As I hike along the trails I think of the sights and experiences I've had in Tanzania. I think of other sights I may one day see here: the Indian Ocean, the spice island of Zanzibar and Lake Victoria as well as several other impressive National Parks. I smile at the thought. I've only just begun this odyssey in a land called TANZANIA.