Safari in the Ngorongoro Crater

(Photo heavy post ahead – you can click on individual photos to see them full-sized):

I slept in until 7:30 am today, one week since I arrived home from Tanzania. Travelling from here to there, I found the adjustment to the seven hour time-change easy to navigate, but coming back, not so much. Most nights since I’ve been home, I can barely stay awake after supper, but am wide-awake by 4am. I finally hit a wall yesterday and had an afternoon nap where I fell into a deep sleep for two hours. When, at 8:30 pm, Olivia asked me if I would go cuddle with her, I readily agreed and slept until this morning. I finally feel human again and hope that my body is back on the right time.

Two weeks ago today, on Sunday, November 13, Amy and I were up before 6am to watch the sun rise from our balconies. We had already made the decision that we wouldn’t bother to shower, as we knew we would be getting dusty and dirty during the day. We had breakfast at our table from the night before of fruit, yogurt, and “kahawa” before meeting “Edwin” in the lobby at 6:30 to set out for the day on our safari.

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It was 8*C when we set out, so we were wearing sweaters. As we left the lodge, we saw our first animal, a kitten. “Edwin” was quick to tell us that it was a wild cat, not a domestic cat. img_3914We had to travel the 600m down into the crater which took some time, passing by the Maasai villages, which I am fascinated by. The Maasai tribe is semi-nomadic and reside in Tanzania and Kenya, co-existing with the animals who roam in the area.  They build large pens of thorny sticks to protect their animals during the night, and the animals graze under the watch of young shepherds during the day. (Young, as in 5-12 years old.)

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During our morning in Ngorongoro, we saw a number of different species of animals and birds, including (but not limited to): baboons, water buck, bush buck, buffalo, elephant, warthogs, Thomas gazelle, hyena, jackal, ostrich, wildebeest, vulture, zebra, Grant gazelle, gray headed kingfisher, hippo, Lion (15!), rhino, flamingo, black-headed heron, crowned crane, quarry bastard, eland, hart beast, and black-footed monkey. Although we did not spot any leopards, there are some in Ngorongoro. There are not any giraffes as they are not able to get down into the crater.

We were so close to some of the animals, it made me nervous. I am going to group the photos by animal, as we saw them throughout the day. The safari in Ngorongoro was so different than our safari in Mikumi in March, but equally amazing in a different way. It is the end of the dry season, so there isn’t a lot of water, and most of the areas are yellow/brown rather than green. There were also different animals in Ngorongoro than there were in Mikumi.

Gazelles, hyenas, warthogs, and a jackal:

Birds:

Wildebeest & buffalo:

Hippos:

We only saw one elephant when we were down in the crater, but we saw four in total while in Ngorngoro:

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Seeing this happy male elephant on his way to the watering hole next to the safari vehicles gives a sense of perspective as to just how HUGE he was! He passed directly in front of us. Amazing to watch!!

Zebras:

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My favourite photo of the zebras on their way to the watering hole. So beautiful to watch.

Baboons and monkeys:

Rhino in the distance (they are notoriously shy); we saw four:

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The rhinos are the two spots on the hill in the middle of the zebras

Ostrich:

Lions:

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I have a hard time picking my favourite lion photo – we saw 15 of them in three prides, and one female by herself. Watching this male and his female partner(s) was amazing!

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This guy was shopping for tomorrow’s dinner

About halfway through our safari, “Edwin” turned around to us and said, “My name is Emmanuel; Edwin is in the office.” Amy & I were mortified, but dissolved in to giggles. We had spent 48 hours with him, calling him “Edwin” NUMEROUS times before he finally corrected us. How embarrassing!

We climbed out of the crater early afternoon and stopped along the way to eat our packed lunch that the lodge had provided for us. It included roasted chicken on the bone, a cucumber sandwich, chips, apple, banana, muffin, juice, chocolate bar, crackers, and water; we each had bought a beer from the cafe and Emmanuel had a tea. We ate at a Maasi gift shop where we did most of our souvenir shopping. Amy & I are compatible shoppers and had each other’s backs when the clerks were pressuring us!

We stopped in a village called “Mosquito Creek” on our way back to Arusha so that Amy could buy some red bananas for Dennis, the server at our hotel the first night. My window was open and the vendors along the road started throwing necklaces in the windows of the vehicle for us to buy. We tried to tell them we didn’t have any money, but between us, we ended up buying 11 beaded necklaces (I might have bought 10/11!) We laughed and laughed as we drove away and my “shopping habits” became a joke for the rest of the week.

At the hotel, we said a fond “thank you” and farewell to Emmanuel from “Classic Tours” for putting up with us for two days. He was so patient and accommodating to us!

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At the end of our two day adventure with Edwin/Emmanuel. We will recommend him highly on Trip Advisor!

We weren’t sure when Kellie, from NSCC International, was arriving, so we made the decision to go to our rooms, have much needed showers, and meet for dinner. As we walked to our rooms, we ran into Kellie who had arrived a short time earlier. We dropped our bags, didn’t shower, and met her on the patio for a beer. As we were chatting, Willy and Sam joined us to talk about the week ahead at the college. I have never felt so grimy and smelly in my life, but they were also very accommodating.

We made arrangements to meet in the morning at the college for planning and we all called it an early night to prepare.

As a comparison, click on this sentence to link to the post of the safari Jim, Saronga, and I took in Mikumi National Park in March of this year.

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