We reached the entrance to the Ngorongoro Conservation area where an array of safari vehicles were already lined up to get their permits. I was intrigued by the different companies’ names and the slogans on the spare tire covers at the back, such as Just Married and Love your Mother.
We kept our windows and doors shut because baboons roamed through the parking area. With mounting expectation, we began our descent into the Ngorongoro Crater.
Although still chilly and a little windy, Jeremiah popped open the top so that we could stand up for a better view of the animals. M.E. and Dana couldn’t wait to get into safari mode under the pop-up roof!
We had hardly gone a few miles along the crater floor when we saw an African buffalo, the first of the Big Five. Soon after, our first lions! Hardly visible at first, an amorous big male with a huge, dark mane lifted his huge head and we had a full view. He had his way with one of the three females, but they rejected all other advances!
It is amazing how quickly safari vehicles congregate at a viewing!
Our next BIG animal was an elephant ambling along. These huge creatures can remain invisible and then suddenly appear. We had now seen three of the Big Five.
The dams were full, and we had fun watching a hippo chomp its way through the long grass in a muddy patch.
Later, we came upon a large pod of submerged hippos, grunting happily.
It was a treat seeing so many beautiful birds along the road. I stopped counting the crowned cranes and sacred ibis.
There were plenty of wildebeest and warthogs (Pumba) to observe, and we marveled at the long line of zebras walking behind each other, their big heads bobbing. Every now and then, one would stop and roll in the dust. We pulled up near a zebra calf to watch it suckling.
I love the Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles, not found in South Africa. Thompson’s Gazelle has a distinct dark stripe across the belly and tail.
The day passed quickly, and early afternoon, Jeremiah surprised us with a scrumptious hot lunch of chicken and vegetables plus a salad, lovely deckchairs, a bright checkered table-cloth, stainless steel plates, warm food containers, silver goblets, and wine. Five-star treatment!
It was time to head up to the rim of the crater. The ride was quite scary, steep with sharp turns, but luckily it was a one way, and Jeremiah is an excellent driver. The drive was well worth it since the view from the lookout at the top was stunning!
We reached the Ngorongoro Farmhouse in time for a free sundowner, followed by their delicious buffet of barbecued meats and lots of vegetables from their garden. We ladies all wore the Tanzanian wraps Jeremiah procured for us. There was a guest birthday celebration that night, so we went to bed with the sounds of ‘Hakuna matata’ ringing in our ears. We had to be up early the next morning for another adventurous day – read about it in my next blog!