Though I have lived and worked in Africa for over a dozen years I will never forget my first time in the Ngorongoro Crater. The mystery of all those childhood wildlife programs where the sun goes down at the end of another day and the hyenas come out to feast – had put the place very high on my list of places to go. At last I was there and could come back as often as I liked now that I lived nearby.
As the years go by the Ngorongoro Crater still holds a special place in my heart as an idealized “Garden of Eden.” I guess it may not feel that way to a gazelle listening in the night to hyenas whooping it up nearby; and I guess the forbidden fruit would have to be the black rhinos that can still be seen virtually nowhere else.
I also always get a pang of regret that I couldn’t have been there 20 years earlier when it was possible to camp there – or maybe 50 years earlier when you could just walk wherever you liked – or 100 years earlier when apparently it was possible to just claim it as your own personal farm. Still one can’t have everything and the thing to remember is that somewhere you visit today will be someone else’s idealized Garden of Eden in the future. Imagine not taking the chance to climb Kilimanjaro now when there is still snow on the top.