East Africa Day 11 – Ngorogoro Crater Safari

A rather uneventful night in the tent this time.  No wild animals passed through, despite the repeated warnings of the guides that bushpigs, zebra and the like could come if we left food in our tent.  I almost wished I had, just to tempt them.  It was cold in the morning, and I woke up shivering at 6am before heading to breakfast.  Lawrence had again done a very good job indeed, it was beans on toast this time, with pancakes, toast and Kilimanjaro tea.

We set off at 7:30 for the drive down to the crater floor.  The views were very impressive.  Some Maasai were there selling things, and I decided to buy a Massai club, elaborately decorated with multi-coloured beads.  It had a heavy club end, and could certainly do some serious damage if you hit someone with it.  One Masaai tried flogging me his own dagger and sword, and his stick.  The club was enough, for now, and it cost 30,000TZShillings.  A few photos later, and we were ready to go.

The blue-green vistas were amazing as we descended into the 20km wide caldera.  Here, an outstanding variety of animals dwell, and grasslands, swamps, forests, saltpans, and a freshwater lake are all within its walls.  The first animals we saw, however, weren’t wild at all.  Cows, long lines of them, were being driven in search of grass in the parched lands by the nomadic Masaai, who wander far and wide with their animals each day, and never carry water.

Wildlife down here was thin on the ground to begin with.  Then, we saw a number of zebras.  We spotted large herds of wildebeest, loads of warthogs, kneeling down and thrusting their noses into the earth rather comically; ostriches striding the plains; lions, jackels and hyenas loitering near a half-ravaged buffalo carcass, waiting to scavenge after the safari trucks had gone.

It was fascinating down here, though at times it was spoiled when almost 15 safari jeeps would gather around an area, which happened when we saw a lion and also a rare black rhino.  After seeing the rhino, In had now seen 4 of the ‘Big 5’, with only the leopard eluding me.

We stopped by a picturesque lake full of hippos, with elephants roaming in the background for lunch – a lovely setting, though eagles soared above, and swooped menacingly at the sight of food.  Nothing is safe in the wild.  We left the crater after a hair-raising drive up to the rim of the crater, a drive which again provided otherworldly and stunning vistas.  I was incredibly impressed.

We drove back to Arusha.  On the way, I changed some money into US $, and got $500 in total, enough, I reasoned, for my time in Rwanda.  Back in Arusha, I once again stayed in Outpost Lodge, in room S4 this time.  Baraka left for a while, returning at 8pm with a gang of friends – guides and porters on the Kilimanjaro trek.  We all went to the Goat meat place again for a few beers.  Lawrence was here too, with his quiet girlfriend.  It was nice, we had a laugh, and a pleasant evening passed.  Exhausted, I was in bed before midnight.  A proper bed at last!

Author: Neil

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