We started our day with a great breakfast from Hamisi. What a great cook. Eggs, pancakes, beef sausages the lot. He packed a lunch for us too and off we went. It was an hour to Ngorongoro and another hour to descend in to the crater. On the way, we passed Lake Manyara. I did want to go there too but it was not on our schedule and from the viewpoint it was apparent why. The current lake was just a tiny representation of it's former self. The 2 years of drought have taken it's toll on this majestic lake which looked pitiful now.
Ngorongoro is a volcanic formation. The 23 km wide crater was formed when the magma chamber collapsed thus sinking the caldera (volcanic crater).
It's absolutely teeming with wildlife because it is almost a closed ecosystem and animals rarely migrate out of it. Thus it is one of the few places where you can get to see all of the big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant).
As we ascended the crater side, 2 things became apparent to me. 1: I was hurting badly from the day before and 2: I had underestimated the weather in Ngorongoro. Yesterdays decent had left my legs feeling completely battered. My back was hurting and I was cold. The roads here also jolted us around quite a bit and I had little energy to brace myself. Sarahs words echoed in my ears "you'll be too tired after Kili to care about the Safari" but I was here now and we were bouncing our way to the crater floor.
On our way, baboons littered the road, it felt like the West Midlands Safari Park but you knew this was the real deal. These guys were wild and this was their natural habitat.
On our way down, we caught sight of some Giraffes though they were quite a way off.
Finally we got to the crater floor and it was immediately obvious why this was the safari to go on. Herds of wilderbeast, antelope and zebras walked the plain. A short while later, we caught sight of a cheetah hiding amongst the bushes. There were wilderbeast close by so we waited with excruciating patience for a kill but it lay lethargic as big cats do so we moved on. We caught sight of a lion wandering on his own. He seemed quite an old chap and not too far away from him was a whole pride. A couple of elephants were spotted in the distance; hyenas and jackals crossed in front of our car and we saw herds of African Buffalo. Before the morning was out, we had seen three of the big 5 and a cheetah amongst the many other animals. We moved towards the lake where we caught the beautiful pink of flamingos and the blubberous mass of the hippos. Here we stopped for lunch and kites hovered above. I had taken some pain killers and so by afternoon I was feeling a lot chirpier and it was warm enough to remove my fleece. We drove on, saw a multitude of other birds and animals including ostriches. It must be stressed, though safari is all about the big game, I witnessed some of the best bird and plant life I've ever seen.
Michael was an exceptional guide. He knew all the quirky little facts, where to find animals and all the etiquette's of safari.
We finished up in the late afternoon and headed back to the campsite where we rested and then had an evening meal of quiche fried potatoes and coleslaw. We sat with Michael chatting about all sorts and lit up our cigars... We needed to celebrate...
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