Ngorongoro Crater

January 28, 2008 - Ngorongoro, Tanzania

Today we made our way down into the Ngorongoro Crater.  Dave and I had heard from others how amazing the crater was but this we did not expect.  The landscape was stunning and some areas were so lush.  The area was just full of animals and it was unbelieveable that all of the animals in the crater were able to co-exist.  As we drove through the area, I found it hard to stop myself from humming the Lion King theme song (cheesy, i know). 

In addition to seeing the animals we had seen in the Serengeti, Bariki informed us that we may, if lucky, see Rhino (black and/or white).  We actually had checked off all of the other animals we wanted to see on the safari.  Turns out we were able to spot two new animals in the crater - the black Rhino (its actually not black but referred to as "black" as its not white) and a Cheetah (which are slowly becoming extinct).  Both the Rhino and Cheetah we saw from a far but we were just happy to have seen them. 

The crater was especially full of Wildebeast and Zebra (the Wildebeast and Zebra always travel together).  They did not seem to be scared off when we drove by so we were able to get quite close.  The Zebras were beautiful, probably my favourite animal on the safari.  At one point while we were in the crater we were actually able to step out of the truck and see the Zebra and Wildebeast up close.  In general, getting out of the truck is not allowed in the parks, but our truck got a flat tire, so we all had to exit the truck while Bariki changed the tire.  The Zebras were mere meters from us.  I will always remember that moment of staring at the Zebras while the Zebras stared back at us.  I wondered what they were thinking while they were watching us.  I was quite sad when we left the crater as this was likely the last time we would be seeing Zebra.

Another highlight in the crater (though it did grose me out) was when we spotted a pride of lions eating what we quickly realized was a Buffalo.  The first time we saw the pride of lions they were making there way into the Buffalo, pulling out what looked like its guts.  Then an hour or so later, when we passed the same pride of lions again, they were taking a break from eating and lying in close proximity to the Buffalo.  The poor Buffalo, all we saw was its two hind legs sticking up in the air.

After a day in the crater, we headed to our lodge which was just outside Lake Manyara NP (we would be visiting Lake Manyara NP the next day).  For our final night of the safari we were not staying at a Serena Lodge.  As we drove to our lodge, Bariki informed us that we would be staying in a Masaai Village that night. We didn't know what to think (it was always hard to figure out when Bariki was joking).  Turns out we were not staying at a masai village but we were staying at "" - that's just their website, the name of the lodge is "E Unoto Retreat". Approximately 8 km from the main road, through the masaai villages, was the lodge.  The lodge was run by masaai people though owned by a Texan.  When we arrived at the lodge we were greeted by the masaai and were assigned our own masaai "butler" named Emanuel.  The lodge was amazing and probably a favourite for Dave and I.  Our rooms were huge and had a spectacular view.  It also had a bar and pool area, also with a view.  Mark, Terry, Dave and I practially had the lodge all to ourselves (there were just two other people staying at the lodge).  After some swimming and a quaint dinner near the pool, we enjoyed some live entertainment - an acrobatic show and a dance performed by the Masaai.

The Masaai singing/chanting and dancing is very different from anything I've ever seen.  Although we had experienced a Masaai performance when we had visited the village earlier on the safari, there was something about seeing it at night in a remote area that made it a little spooky.  Things got even spookier when we returned to our room.  Dave and I were in the middle of playing a game of checkers (which by the way I was winning) when the lights went out.  We had been warned earlier that the generator turned off at 11pm but we had forgot and were stuck in the dark.  Dave knew I was scared and played it up a bit before he found and turned on his headlamp.


Up Close with a Hyena
Hyena Approaching
Bath Time is Over


Cliff Kearns:
February 26, 2008
Good stuff you two. Couldn't sleep so it gave me a chance to catch up on the written portion of your blog. Certainly a trip you'll remember for a lifetime. Thanks for sharing. Great shots Dave. Cliff
sue monk:
February 26, 2008
Hi... This is just like National Geographic magazine... but better! So cool... Sue
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