At times, the trail was vertiginous but we took our time, meandering along looking at flowers, such as lion’s claw, morning glory and candle bush. We also ambled through a forested area of fig trees and sodom apple bushes, where blue monkeys swung in the branches above us. Sunbirds, tropical boubous and turacos serenaded us as we went, and we could hear the melodious sound of cowbells as the Maasais brought their cattle to the nearby streams to drink.
At last, we arrived on the crater floor and approached the sparkling water. The lakeshore was coated with a shell of salt, like crisp, fresh snow, and fringed with flamingos, all preening themselves and fishing for shrimps in the shallows. They migrate between East Africa’s lakes, and on some days, there are apparently millions here. As we moved towards them, they started to circle and swirl above our heads – a pink whirlpool in the sky – before dipping down and skimming low over the water to the other side of the lake. Swifts soared overhead too in some kind of mesmerising dance display, creating a glorious spectacle.
Another memorable trek in the Ngorongoro Highlands is the ascent of the dormant Olmoti Volcano, which affords magnificent views of the Olmoti Crater, the smallest of the three. The path follows an age-old Maasai cattle trail through mountain forest, grasslands and rocky outcrops.