Today we woke up in our luxurious (read – it had a mattress – our standards have decreased over the past week!), mosquito-netted bed, took a hot shower, and enjoyed a super yummy breakfast at our hotel. Pancakes in Africa are amazing, and so is the juice. We had this awesome, pulpy watermelon juice that I’m pretty sure we won’t find ever again. The folks at the hotel helped us with our 200 pounds of bags, and we met Casey to head down to Ngorongoro Crater. FYI – all of the letters in Ngorongoro are pronounced.
On the way to the crater, we drove through thick fog – we started to get nervous that we wouldn’t be able to see any animals. Once we got to the crater park, we checked in and headed up the path to the top of the crater. To get to the crater part, you have to drive up like 7,000 feet, then around the crater rim a bit, then down several thousand feet in to the actual crater itself. It was still super foggy during the drive, and we couldn’t see anything. Of course we thought we’d be the people that go to the crater and see nothing! During our drive, we saw awesome trees that were shaped like canopies and lots of local people herding cattle and goats along the dirt road. Casey warned us of the animals we’d see today, including lions (yay, that’s what Nick wanted!), hippos (yay, that’s what Brooke wanted!), ostriches, gazelles, elephants, rhino, water buffalo, wildebeasts, and zebras. Brad really wants to see a cheetah running at full speed. I’m not sure that’s going to work out for Mr. Logan this time. Casey mentioned that we would not see giraffes. Then he added “and now you ask why we won’t see giraffes” :). Turns out the giraffes are too tall to climb down in to the crater. Makes sense. And I’m glad that Casey prompted us to ask!
Once we got in to the crater, it was gorgeous. It was cloudy, but cleared up throughout the day and we could see everything. We passed some warthogs and wildebeasts running at full speed, then saw zebras and a boy ostrich. We drove around a ton and stopped whenever we saw a group of safari cars that were checking something out. About an hour in to the safari, we saw a group of cars and went to check it out. Pack of lions! They were enjoying a morning snooze. That didn’t really surprise us considering we have a housecat version of a lion at home who also enjoys much snoozing. At least we learned more about where Madeleine The Cat comes from! We watched them for awhile, saw one lion stand up (wow was everyone easily impressed with that!), then moved on. More elephants and zebras passed by, and an ostrich cut off our car without looking both ways. The animals really don’t care at all about any of the cars. We passed a hyena, which Casey told us was basically an ugly dog :). Casey also referred to zebras as fancy donkeys. We agree with him on both of those statements!
The cool thing about the crater is that the sides of it are super steep. Estimates on how big the original volcano was before it erupted and created the crater are anywhere from 14000-19000 – this could have been another Kili!
For lunch, we visited the hippo pool, which made me a very happy lady. We watched them tussle around and move throughout the pool, and heard them talk to each other for awhile. They sound like big ole pigs. They hang out in the water all day to keep cool, and their short little legs are good for that. We loved watching them. After lunch, we learned that the rhino was sleeping so we wouldn’t see it. Oh well. We kept driving around and found a safari car pulled over. They had stopped to take pictures, and two lions decided to seek shade UNDER their car! They were right next to us – see pictures below. Sucks for those people because they couldn’t move their car until the lions decided to move…and those of you with cats know that you can’t make a cat do anything it doesn’t want to do. But great for the rest of us! That made our day. After a few more hours, we headed out of the crater towards Tarangire National Park, where our hotel was and where safari tomorrow will be.
We got to Tarangire, drove through the park to our hotel, and enjoyed a really yummy dinner and card games with safari beers for the night. Monkeys live on the roof here, and it’s not rare for a big animal to stop by since this hotel is in the park. Nick tried reading outside got a little spooked by all of the random animal noises that were very close to him…:)
The crater was the best part of safari so far. The thing that’s really cool is that the animals just hang out together. Being a kid that’s used to the zoo, I always imagined they’d need to be separated or they would kill each other. Nope – the lions were right next to the antelopes. I’m sure when they were hungry, it’s a different story, but most of the time it’s very peaceful.
Sleeping lions! Very similar to Madeleine The Cat.
Double hippo yawn!
Brad’s new pregnant zebra friend (we couldn’t tell she was pregnant – Casey had to tell us)
A picture with a female lion! She didn’t want to turn her head when we coaxed her. Similar to another lion we know well…