A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about ngorongoro crater

Lake Manyara - Serengeti - Mating Hyena, Serval

Not just one serval, but two! And a surprise camp.


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Ngorongoro Crater Viewpoint

This is one of my most favourite places on this earth. I will never tire of seeing this view of the Ngorongoro Crater from above.

large_9e171fe0-5c0c-11ea-b7b9-8f541ac820f2.jpg

When we came to Tanzania with our friends Lyn and Chris in 2016 for their very first safari, Chris was totally overwhelmed when we arrived at this point, and for the first time on the trip exclaimed: “WOW”. He is not normally a 'wow-man', so that was saying something.

Lyn and Chris we unable to accompany us on this trip, but we did manage to sort out a second best – having brought large photographs of them with us to recreate this 'wow-moment' in this place.

large_a8d0ca80-5c0c-11ea-b7b9-8f541ac820f2.jpg

Nyati Picnic Site

We stop for lunch at a designated site overlooking the crater. Hoping guests will leave a few crumbs behind, there are always a lot of birds to be found here.

large_e2ae7b30-5c0c-11ea-b7b9-8f541ac820f2.jpg
Black Kite

large_f04d4460-5c0c-11ea-b7b9-8f541ac820f2.jpg
Red Collared Widowbird - an exciting lifer!

large_0238ab60-5c0d-11ea-b7b9-8f541ac820f2.jpg
Baglafecht Weaver

large_125015b0-5c0d-11ea-b7b9-8f541ac820f2.jpg
Common Bulbul and Baglafecht Weaver

large_243c8e20-5c0d-11ea-b7b9-8f541ac820f2.jpg
White Necked Raven - another lifer

large_3266a760-5c0d-11ea-b7b9-8f541ac820f2.jpg
Black Kite circling above

As we are eating, the temperatures suddenly falls considerably, and soon we feel the arrival of large, heavy rain drops. Getting a little wet along the way, we hurriedly return to the car to continue on our journey. We still have a couple of hours' drive before we even reach Serengeti National Park at Naabi Hill Gate, and then there is a further half an hour drive to our camp.

large_8f707c40-5c0f-11ea-b7b9-8f541ac820f2.jpg

When the heavens open and we get a torrential rain shower, Malisa starts to worry about a certain river we have to cross on the way. As we are on the only road to Serengeti in this area, it would be a major problem if we were to be unable to get across.

large_c8d887c0-5c0f-11ea-a2be-f9db636cfe19.jpg

When the rain stops, the road becomes steamy in the oppressive heat.

large_4c8e5590-5c10-11ea-a2be-f9db636cfe19.jpg

Zebra

Here in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, we often see wild animals intermingling with domestic sheep, goats or cattle; or even humans, such as here.

large_97feed90-5c7f-11ea-ade9-e31846de5859.jpg

large_cfd27b90-5c6d-11ea-a047-b757a1db4f3d.jpg
Zebra mum with her three day old baby

We are initially concerned when we see this tiny baby lying motionless next to his mother, but much to our relief, he eventually sits up.

large_f06f6430-5c81-11ea-9098-0f9e4bf55493.jpg

large_42fcb3f0-5c83-11ea-9098-0f9e4bf55493.jpg

It looks like the ink ran out during the printing process of this one.

large_8f7d9f60-5c82-11ea-9098-0f9e4bf55493.jpg

large_58954f00-5c84-11ea-be23-a9fb4b5fff0d.jpg

This sculpture is new since we were here last, some fifteen months ago – advertising Oldupai Gorge, AKA The Cradle of Mankind, where hominid footprints were found and a new museum has opened up.

large_fc73a120-5c8a-11ea-854c-c79fdf1a0379.jpg
The skulls are not life sized

large_69c243d0-5c8b-11ea-854c-c79fdf1a0379.jpg

As we make our way across the area known as the Short Grass Plains, we see the tail end of the migration – the horizon is dotted with the black outlines of wildebeest making their way to the Ndutu area for the birth of their babies.

We have now arrived at the river crossing that Malisa was worried about previously. He gingerly makes his way through the flooded river, and thankfully we make it to the other side without incident. Phew!

large_f2437830-5c92-11ea-8a6e-054be8c88feb.jpg

Vultures on a carcass

A number of various vultures have descended on a predator's leftovers, and have now eaten so much they are unable to fly for the moment.

large_72d64930-5c95-11ea-a9c7-239d4bdf5d6b.jpg

Look at this guy at the front: he is so full he can't even move, let alone fly!

large_b437cde0-5c95-11ea-a538-7159602f3413.jpg

Ostriches

This family consists of seven babies who are around two-three months old. Unusually, we only see one female adult: male ostriches have been known to take a harem of up to fifteen concubines!

large_57bb0480-5c98-11ea-9062-ad901cb5fe2d.jpg

large_5fc23950-5c98-11ea-9062-ad901cb5fe2d.jpg

To think how wet and muddy everything was earlier – look at the dust generated here by the other car!

large_3e495780-5ca3-11ea-83b2-91743d46ed18.jpg

large_a15ddfd0-5ca3-11ea-83b2-91743d46ed18.jpg
Migratory Abdim's Storks flying in from Europe

large_e9700a00-5ca3-11ea-88ad-dd9e5b8e0ca1.jpg

Hyenas

We see a couple of hyenas strutting their stuff, before 'getting intimate'.

large_a44d82b0-5cc4-11ea-af29-d53a97374bfa.jpg

large_b040e5d0-5cc4-11ea-af29-d53a97374bfa.jpg

Jealousy is not a pretty emotion – a third hyena takes great interest in what they are doing, but gets chased off by the initial suitor.

large_f45c5a60-5cc4-11ea-af29-d53a97374bfa.jpg

large_05bd82c0-5cc5-11ea-af29-d53a97374bfa.jpg

large_160a06d0-5cc5-11ea-af29-d53a97374bfa.jpg

A Golden Jackal comes over to investigate. This confuses me: why would a jackal be interested in a couple of mating hyenas? Malisa explains that the growling sound made by the male seeing off his rival, is like the noise they make when squabbling over food.

large_711dea00-5cc5-11ea-af29-d53a97374bfa.jpg

The jackal shakes his head and makes a dozen or more tsetse flies homeless.

large_ff952aa0-5cc5-11ea-af29-d53a97374bfa.jpg

He realises that food is the last thing on the hyenas mind, and slopes off, disappointedly.

large_a95b3bb0-5cc6-11ea-af29-d53a97374bfa.jpg

Meanwhile, our hyena ménage à trois are back at it.

large_a872b6d0-5cce-11ea-928b-8506a63f1ab0.jpg

And the interloper is still not welcome.

large_178fff00-5ccf-11ea-928b-8506a63f1ab0.jpg

Neither of them are prepared to give in, and they go round in circles for a while.

large_55291490-5cd0-11ea-928b-8506a63f1ab0.jpg

Quite literally.

large_32a63670-5cd3-11ea-8119-854aa274de4d.jpg

Eventually he manages to get rid of his rival for good.

large_ac503af0-5cd5-11ea-8fee-ddc809056728.jpg

large_bc402010-5cd5-11ea-8fee-ddc809056728.jpg

We too move on as we still have quite a long way to go.

large_3752d1c0-5cd7-11ea-8a31-cfdb268af43b.jpg
Gabar Goshawk

There are several of these on the ground and in the trees.

large_e3d4a770-5cd7-11ea-88b6-85a520179562.jpg

More Hyenas

A few miles later two males are in a dispute over a female. Again.

large_572d9620-5cdb-11ea-a6ad-8159afe0763a.jpg

large_649aa0f0-5cdb-11ea-a6ad-8159afe0763a.jpg

Naabi Gate

The entrance gate to Serengeti National Park at Naabi Hill is one giant building site at the moment, and the lovely little pool which always used to attract such a great variety of birds, has all gone; as have the birds. David is also disappointed that the grocery store doesn't stock any of his favourite Savanna Cider; so we both sit and sulk in the car until Malisa comes back from registering us into the park.

Death by Poison

It is hard to see from this photo, but there is a carcass of a wildebeest, with a dead hyena next to it. Malisa believes that the wildebeest died from eating poison grass, which was so toxic that the hyena died almost as soon as he tucked into the meat! Now the two bodies lie there decomposing as a stark warning to other animals not to get anywhere near it for fear of death! Instinct tells animals to leave well alone - isn't nature grand?

large_ac42b8e0-5d42-11ea-80c6-af92b21e4b03.jpg

large_dda8ff10-5d48-11ea-9124-5d08f4da0c63.jpg
Immature Steppe Eagle

large_7b1dd590-5d49-11ea-9124-5d08f4da0c63.jpg
Black Backed Jackal

large_6fe19800-5d4a-11ea-9124-5d08f4da0c63.jpg
Tawny Eagle

There is so much water about after the rains, with flooding everywhere, and the Short Grass Plains will have to be renamed, as the grass is no longer short.

large_d1b66270-5d4c-11ea-88a0-e59c35b1c59a.jpg

large_934ac860-5d50-11ea-871e-416c8e4637c8.jpg

large_a946ae90-5d50-11ea-871e-416c8e4637c8.jpg

large_b49bd5e0-5d50-11ea-871e-416c8e4637c8.jpg

large_be19f340-5d50-11ea-871e-416c8e4637c8.jpg

Serval

Suddenly Malisa spots something altogether more interesting. This timid cat doesn't hang around long enough for us to photograph him properly and with the aforementioned 'short grass' being so long, it makes it all too easy for him to hide.

large_428a7740-5cdd-11ea-a6ad-8159afe0763a.jpg

large_51ca6d50-5cdd-11ea-a6ad-8159afe0763a.jpg

All we can see is a couple of black stripes in amongst the vegetation.

large_5c3d9910-5cdd-11ea-a6ad-8159afe0763a.jpg

He turns around briefly, but is still very obscured by the greenery.

large_6650ca80-5cdd-11ea-a6ad-8159afe0763a.jpg

Wandamu River

“You cannot be serious Malisa?”

large_7b636f70-5d5c-11ea-a7bc-bde23a055fa1.jpg

The crossing looks completely and utterly impossible. I cannot believe that Malisa would even think of attempting this! I hold my breath as he gingerly moves the car along the 'road', hidden somewhere under an unknown depth of water cleverly disguised as a river.

large_997864c0-5d5c-11ea-a7bc-bde23a055fa1.jpg

We are surely going to get washed away?

large_a8ddbd20-5d5c-11ea-a2a6-737c065709b9.jpg

This image is not taken from the safety of a bridge, it is looking straight down out of the car window.

large_b94c9640-5d5c-11ea-a2a6-737c065709b9.jpg

Phew! I breathe a huge sigh of relief as we get to the other side without incident. I am not a nervous passenger by any stretch of the imagination, but I have to admit even I had serious concerns about our safety here. Thankfully Malisa really knows what he is doing and I should have realised that he would never attempt it if he's had any doubts. Sorry Malisa.

large_4fb67240-5d5d-11ea-a2a6-737c065709b9.jpg

Geese

Meanwhile, on the dam by the ford, there is a family of Egyptian Geese with several babies. My racing heart has still not settled down from the river crossing as I try to enjoy looking at the chicks.

large_1a1ad0b0-5d60-11ea-a2a6-737c065709b9.jpg

large_23298a70-5d60-11ea-a2a6-737c065709b9.jpg

large_4d9df4b0-5d6c-11ea-bd80-192b1c7d5308.jpg

large_c231b4b0-5d6c-11ea-bd80-192b1c7d5308.jpg

large_04b7e340-5d6d-11ea-bd80-192b1c7d5308.jpg

large_509482f0-5d6d-11ea-bd80-192b1c7d5308.jpg

large_9abc1fa0-5d6d-11ea-bd80-192b1c7d5308.jpg

large_dd1d8820-5d6d-11ea-bd80-192b1c7d5308.jpg

large_c853a760-5d6f-11ea-92bc-9f62bf1159fe.jpg

large_b4cf5940-5d61-11ea-9c0c-6d735756af75.jpg
There are also hippos in the water

large_0cdf5c30-5d6b-11ea-bd80-192b1c7d5308.jpg

large_ae866ab0-5d6b-11ea-bd80-192b1c7d5308.jpg

large_f43e2950-5d9b-11ea-8e03-9546c4988617.jpg
Giraffes in the distance

Serval

Would you believe it! Servals are such rare cats to spot, and here we see two different ones within an hour of each other!

large_ce572380-5d9c-11ea-8e03-9546c4988617.jpg

This one is also almost completely hidden by the tall grass though.

large_d96c5ba0-5d9c-11ea-8e03-9546c4988617.jpg

Helmeted Guineafowl

More babies!

large_e587eac0-5d9d-11ea-8e03-9546c4988617.jpg

large_060888e0-5d9e-11ea-8e03-9546c4988617.jpg

large_0fe80020-5d9e-11ea-8e03-9546c4988617.jpg

Sunset

It is getting late now and the daylight is fading fast. Here, so near the equator, the twilight is short and darkness descends quickly.

large_b4eee390-5e2f-11ea-b472-f1242bd2f98e.jpg

Matawi Serengeti Camp

We knew earlier today that we wouldn't be staying at the 'advertised' accommodation, but Malisa would not tell us where Tillya had (yet again) upgraded us to.

The approach road to the camp is no more than a couple of tyre tracks in the grass, and the reception area is extremely low key. With only six luxury tents, this camp is very exclusive and private, with exceptionally friendly service.

large_76c84f80-5e38-11ea-9c68-e52781d27fa6.jpg
The communal tent where the reception, lounge, bar and restaurant are found

We are asked if we'd prefer a double or a twin room, and on confirming the latter, we are taken to our tent by an askari (Maasai guard).

large_eb39ba70-5e38-11ea-9c68-e52781d27fa6.jpg

The tent is large, with one double and one single mosquito-screened bed; two armchairs and a small coffee table, a little fridge (great for keeping the Coke and cider cold), a writing desk and chair, free standing claw-feet bath, and a separate shower and toilet.

large_7da62a10-5e39-11ea-9c68-e52781d27fa6.jpg

large_8781d0c0-5e39-11ea-9c68-e52781d27fa6.jpg
What a strange idea to put spiky branches in a vase on the coffee table!

large_9c553c80-5e39-11ea-9c68-e52781d27fa6.jpg

large_a4e94800-5e39-11ea-9c68-e52781d27fa6.jpg

Dinner

As the only guests staying we are greeted warmly when we arrive in the restaurant. I try out my little bit of Swahili, much to the delight of the staff.

“Habari za jioni?” (good evening, how are you)
“Nzuri, asante, ne wewe?” (well, thank you, and you?)
“Nzuri sana, asante” (very well, thank you)
“Samahani, ongeza pilpili tafadhali” (excuse me, I'd like some more hot sauce please)
“Chakula nikitamu, asante” (the food was delicious, thank you)
“Usiku mwema” (goodnight)
“Lala salama” (sleep well)
“Tutaonana kesho” (see you tomorrow)

It may be just a greeting and a few pleasantries, but everyone joins in and one guy whispers to Malisa: “Does she speak Swahili? We have to be careful what we say...”

The food is delicious, with a very peppery butternut squash soup to start, followed by what they describe as “ram meat”, which turns out to be a goat curry.

large_eaa143a0-5e3b-11ea-a848-8590507cb216.jpg

large_f5055430-5e3b-11ea-a848-8590507cb216.jpg
The chocolate dessert is very creamy with a hint of coffee.

As the askari walks us back to the tent after dinner, we can hear the hyenas very close by. Thank goodness he has a big stick to protect us! We can still hear them from the inside of the tent, and the sound of hyenas mating carries on most of the night. I struggle to sleep, not just because of the hyena porn going on outside; but I have not so much 'restless legs', as 'restless body'. I am twitching and itching and unable to find a comfortable position.

At 23:30 I hear vehicles arrive and people chatting. Malisa was telling us earlier that a group of Korean tourists (three cars) were unable to reach their accommodation further north this evening because of the bad state of the roads and the amount of flooding (large parts of the Serengeti are completely inaccessible at the moment for that reason); and they were heading to our camp. They have obviously arrived.

In addition to the sex-mad hyenas and lost tourists, I am kept awake by the rain; as well as dust on my lungs, resulting in wheezing and squeaking when I breathe. When I finally manage to drop off, I suffer a terrible nightmare in which I fall off a high walkway! Thanks Lariam!

This safari was arranged by Calabash Adventures, the best safari operator by far!

large_31657490-5e3d-11ea-a848-8590507cb216.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 16:30 Archived in Tanzania Tagged birds rain wildlife raven tent africa dinner safari animal zebra eagle hawk birding adventures picnic national_park hippo flooding serengeti ngorongoro hyena stork vultures geese ford glamping weaver olduvai jackal poison swahili ngorongoro_crater bird_watching african_safari wild_animals ostriches serval serengeti_national_park fording calabash oldupai tse_tse_flies askari guineafowl golden_jackal picnic_lunch goshawk naabi_gate wildlife_photography steppe_eagle black_kite river_crossing abdim's_stork ngorongo_conservation_area nyati_picnic_site lunch_box widowbird baabi_hill wildebest short-grass_plains vultures_on_kill menage_a_trois gabar_goshawk wandamu_river matawi matawi_serengeti_camp matawi_camp permenent_tented_camp Comments (2)

Ngorongoro Crater Day 1 Part 2 - lion cubs and more

An afternoon in the caldera


View Tanzania for Lyn and Chris' 40th Anniversary 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Ngoitoktok Springs

Probably the most popular picnic area within the Ngorongororo Crater, there are always a lot of people here, but it is a large enough area to find a spot to get away from the crowds.

large_56b0e710-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Here you can see the crowds

large_64703090-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
And here we are away from them all

large_7887ed70-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg

Not only is this place popular with humans, but we also share our breakfast with a number of different birds, who come for the rich pickings where guests drop food on the ground. They have become quite tame and will perch on your car, or sit on the ground below your chair, looking up with pleading eyes.

large_cfcd3c70-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Helmeted Guineafowl

large_e12c6900-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Little Egret

large_f68a8890-f8a0-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Black Kite

large_0a2ffba0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Great White Pelicans

large_233e51f0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

large_39a296e0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Egyptian Geese

large_51da3c40-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Village Weaver

large_607343f0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Blacksmith Plover

large_894c6b30-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Superb Starling

large_9b05ecc0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Southern Masked Weaver

large_cebe6f10-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Little Egrets

large_ec4b6fb0-f8a1-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Southern Masked Weaver

large_a6908680-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Black Kite

large_0eacbf40-f8a3-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Litle Bee Eaters

I could stay here for ages, just watching life unfold around me – there is always something going on. We see zebra, elephants and wildebeest wandering through the outskirts of the site, and hippo frolic in the small lake, as well as numerous bird species as these pictures, all taken during our lunch stop, show.

large_10232810-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
An elephant saunters by

large_31357ee0-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Wildebeest and Zebra

large_4a350820-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Hippo in the lake

large_5be42970-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg

large_67159c20-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg
Hippo poo floats to the surface of the water

I love seeing pelicans flying

large_8636d150-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg

large_9441c9d0-f8a2-11e8-9225-d798be90741d.jpg

Eventually we have to tear ourselves away from this beautiful place to explore some other parts of the crater.

large_14ad08d0-f959-11e8-9d8f-ff51c14d4bd6.jpg
A lone wildebeest

Grey Crowned Cranes

large_5113e240-fa52-11e8-bfc8-290038ec6846.jpg

large_29fdd250-fa53-11e8-bfc8-290038ec6846.jpg

large_3dd6d880-fa53-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

large_fac0d5a0-f958-11e8-9d8f-ff51c14d4bd6.jpg

large_08bd0110-f959-11e8-9d8f-ff51c14d4bd6.jpg
Kori Bustard

large_9126fb90-f96e-11e8-962d-6b09cce23906.jpg
Common Fiscal Shrike

large_f6578e60-fa24-11e8-98f2-838e51f4de9c.jpg
Zebra

Secretary Bird

Malisa spots a few feathers sticking up from between the thorns on the top of the acacia tree and stops the car.

large_02ca0f90-fc75-11e8-b191-f3c80407b8dd.jpg
She looks like she has stuck her talons in an electric socket ~ or maybe she is just shocked to see us.

Initially there is not much to see, but we hang around just in case she decides she is going to fly away, or at least maybe stand up.

large_4657c010-fa25-11e8-98f2-838e51f4de9c.jpg

Our patience is rewarded as after a while she decides to rearrange her nest a little.

large_745e3640-fa27-11e8-98f2-838e51f4de9c.jpg

Hippos

large_c4657360-fa54-11e8-bfc8-290038ec6846.jpg

large_2e864700-fa5b-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

As well as the ones we see in the water, there are a few hippos out on land too.

large_23fef700-fa5b-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Eurasian Avocet

I have never before noticed avocets eating the same way as spoonbills – pushing their long beak from side to side in the water.

.

Lions

We come across a small dinner party, with two females and four cubs feasting on the carcass of a young zebra.

large_9ff26460-fa5f-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

We stay for a while (although not as invited guests, more like gatecrashers), watching their eating habits and interactions.

large_b2dc2890-fa5f-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

large_13b78cf0-fa64-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

This little lad may have bitten more than he can chew.

large_4ad87220-fa65-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

He's not really getting anywhere with the zebra's head.

large_5bd9f8e0-fa66-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

He tries a different tactic.

large_ac89f290-fa66-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

But eventually he gives up.

large_5d33d4d0-fa6c-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Gradually, one by one, they've had their fill of fresh meat and wander off for a siesta.

large_6ad10670-fa63-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

large_bc4bee10-fa5f-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

large_13006760-fa63-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Or maybe just a poo.

large_cedd8350-fa63-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Children are such messy eaters.

large_0c4c5af0-fa6d-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Mum needs cleaning too.

large_d04d17e0-fa6e-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

“Play with me mum!”

large_efa8be00-fa6e-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg

Time for us to move on and “see what else nature has to offer” (Malisa's favourite saying).

large_76d8bc40-fa60-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg
Blacksmith Lapwing

large_335b3ff0-fa61-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg
Hadada Ibis

large_beef0fb0-fa61-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg
Superb Starling

large_60b961d0-fa5b-11e8-a597-2d01e849041a.jpg
Tree Pipit

large_f3002990-fa72-11e8-b129-5b6d388d2ab2.jpg
Marabou Stork

large_ffe39200-fa72-11e8-b129-5b6d388d2ab2.jpg
Hildebrand Starling, often confused with the Superb Starling. The difference is that the Superb has a white line between the blue and the orange areas on the chest and a yellow eye against the Hildebrand's red.

large_f29c9050-fa73-11e8-b129-5b6d388d2ab2.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork

When we leave the crater by the usual Lerai Ascent Road, but at the top turn left down a private road rather than right towards the hotel on our planned itinerary, we realise that this is another one of Tillya's surprises. Tillya, the owner of Calabash Adventures, is constantly trying to exceed his customers' expectations and we often find ourselves upgraded to a different lodge than the one we thought we were staying in. Today is obviously going to be one of those occasions.

large_7b4f1210-fa74-11e8-b129-5b6d388d2ab2.jpg
View of the crater from near the top of the Lerai Ascent Road

Ang'Ata Nyati Camp

The whole team of staff appear to have come out to greet us as we arrive at a small clearing. One by one they introduce themselves by name, handing us a very welcome wet flannel and a soft drink. The complexities and rules of the camp are explained to us and we are shown to the tents. The camp is very similar to mobile camps we have stayed in previously, but I am told that this is a permanent tented camp (rather than a 'mobile' camp that moves every few months, following the annual migration of animals), having recently relocated to the Nyati Special Camp Site from the other side of the crater. A small and intimate affair, the camp has a mere eight tents and tonight we have the 'palace' to ourselves as we are the only guests staying.

large_b74d0410-fb0b-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

large_c3e3fa30-fb0b-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

large_cf0feea0-fb0b-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

A local 'askari' (security guard/escort) takes us to our 'room', a basic tent with a wooden floor, large double bed, hanging space and a rudimentary en suite bathroom. Hot water is brought to the shower by request, in a bucket. I understand from their website that you are given 25 litres of hot water plus the same amount of cold. Mixing the two, the water temperature is just right, and if used sparingly, ample for two people to shower. As always in an area where water is a scarce commodity, I wet my body, then turn off the water while I wash and apply shampoo. Water back on again, rinse and repeat with conditioner.

large_ee613480-fb0b-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

large_f9494220-fb0b-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

large_03849500-fb0c-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

We meet up with Malisa in the cosy and comfortable lounge/dining room for dinner. The food is superb and the staff is wonderful.

large_1ee9fab0-fb0c-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

40th wedding anniversary celebrations

There was no doubt in Lyn and Chris' mind where they wanted to celebrate their special milestone, and I feel very honoured that they asked us to share this celebration with them.

large_5cc7afd0-fb0c-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

When David's phone rings in the middle of dinner, he is surprised that he has a signal and worried that it may be bad news from home. The concern soon turns to indignation when he realises it is just an advert!

large_2852bb50-fb0c-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

The camp staff make such a fuss of us, and after dinner the whole crew come out, bringing a cake and a complimentary bottle of wine, while walking around the table singing and dancing. We don't have the heart to tell them that the anniversary is not for another couple of days.

large_ea579db0-fb0c-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

.

.

.

Originally released as a record back in 1982 by a Kenyan band called Them Mushrooms, the Jambo Bwana song is now adopted all over East Africa and sung to tourists at every celebration. Each lodge have their own version incorporating local details (such as the name of the camp) and I am sure they make up some of it as they go along, especially as I distinctly hear Malisa's name being mentioned in the words. These are the lyrics ~ and translation ~ to the main part of the song.

Jambo, jambo bwana (Hello, hello boss)
Habari gani (How are you)
Nzuri Sana (Very good)
Wageni, wakaribishwa (Welcome visitors)
Ang'Ata Nyeti (Ang'Ata Nyeti ~ name of camp)
Hakuna Matata (No worries)
Okenda Serengeti (Going to Serengeti)
Hakuna matata (No worries)
Okenda Ngorongoro (Going to Ngorongoro)
Hakuna matata (No worries)
Okenda Tarangire (Going to Tarangire)
Hakuna matata (No worries)
]Jambo, jambo bwana (Hello, hello boss)
Habari gani (How are you)
Nzuri Sana (Very good)
Wageni, wakaribishwa (Welcome visitors)
Ang'Ata Nyeti (Ang'Ata Nyeti ~ name of camp)
Hakuna Matata (No worries)

After dinner we gather around the 'Bush TV' (the local expression for a camp fire), where we have a sing song, introduce the locals to the joys of toasting marshmallows, and attempt (very unsuccessfully – I blame the Duty Free rum and four bottles of wine) to photograph the awesome night sky. After a fabulous day in the crater, we have a phenomenal evening in an extraordinary setting.

large_a9a32c70-fb0d-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

large_d1acceb0-fb0d-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

When we get back to our tent we find the staff have been in for 'turn-back service' and there are a couple of much appreciated hot water bottles in our bed. At an altitude of 2310 metres, this area can get bitterly cold overnight. Still on a high from the earlier revelry (not to mention the copious amount of alcohol), I slip into a deep sleep, oblivious to the cold and any noises from the surrounding jungle.

large_1ad1c870-fb0e-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

Yet another marvellous day organised by Calabash Adventures, the best safari company by far!

large_53a7a610-fb0e-11e8-b512-2bc7c450b6d8.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 09:47 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds travel elephant adventure kite tent camp africa safari tanzania camping zebra wine lions hippo drunk lion_cubs stars cranes egret stork ibis pelican avocet geese celebration glamping starling weaver wildebeest shrike astro east_africa ngorongoro_crater bird_watching bustard game_drive camp_fire plover secretary_bird lapwing guineafowl pipit ngrongoro ngoitoktok birdning bee_eaters game_viewing lions_eating ang@ata_nyati_camp mobile_tented_camp nyati jambo_bwana song_and_dance toasting_marshmallows bush_tv 40th_anniversary hot_water_bottle Comments (5)

Naabi Hill - Ngorongoro Crater - Maramboi

Ngorongoro revisited


View The Howards' 40th Anniversary Tour 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

As we approach the Ngorongoro Crater Descent Road, we see some Maasai with their donkeys collecting firewood. Unlike here in the Ngorongoro Conservation area, there are no human settlements within Serengeti, so these are the first locals we've seen for a while (other than staff involved in the tourist industry of course).

large_Maasai_and_Donkeys_1.jpg

large_Seneto_Descent_Road.jpg

There is a one-way system for entering and exiting the crater, and from the Seneto Descent Road we get a good view down over the crater floor. It doesn't look too busy this afternoon – in fact I can only see one car in this part of the crater. It looks like it is dusty though.

large_Ngorongoro..nt_road_101.jpg

The heavily forested crater walls rise steeply from the crater floor – 610 metres to be exact – with the descent road gently traversing the sides as shown in the photo below.

large_887D7D28E974826DA0ADC33716511580.jpg

large_Yellow_Mantled_Widow_Bird.jpg

I really don't know how he does it. “There's a Yellow Mantled Widow Bird”. Malisa stops the car and points to a mangled bush. At first glance all we can see is intertwining branches, leaves and the odd yellow flower. Well, one of those yellow flowers isn't a yellow flower, it's a patch on a black bird. Apparently.

large_Widow_Bird..w_Mantled_2.jpg

I zoom my lens right in (as seen above) and can just about make out an outline; it isn't until I get home on my PC and give the picture a severe crop that I can see the bird properly. Yet Malisa spots - and identifies - this while safely and comfortably negotiating a steep gravel track. Extremely admirable!

large_Widow_Bird..w_Mantled_1.jpg

large_Common_Fiscal_Shrike.jpg

This one is a little easier to spot, even I can see this one with the naked eye.

large_Shrike__Common_Fiscal_1.jpg

large_Olive_Baboon.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_101.jpg

large_Northern_Anteater_Chat.jpg

large_Chat__Northern_Anteater_1.jpg

large_Wattled_Starling.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_101.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_102.jpg

large_Rufous_Sparrow.jpg

large_Sparrow__Rufous_1.jpg

Male (above) and female (below)

large_Sparrow__Rufous_2.jpg

There are now at least two other cars in the crater, and they are just about to meet on a dusty track.

large_Two_cars_i..goro_Crater.jpg

large_BB27BCBFCE2B9FB99AC3D85EB997DB2E.jpg

large_Warthog_31.jpg

large_Warthog_33.jpg

large_Warthog_34.jpg

large_Warthog_35.jpg

large_Warthog_36.jpg

large_Warthog_37.jpg

large_Warthog_38.jpg

large_Sacred_Ibis.jpg

large_Ibis__Sacred_1.jpg

large_Black_Headed_Heron.jpg

large_Heron__Black_Headed_31.jpg

Heading for the long grass with a small pond for a spot of fishing.

large_Heron__Black_Headed_33.jpg

large_D24B3BE80B5E07B3D9DD125FAC884FEE.jpg

large_Bustard__Kori_31.jpg

Another large bird on the hunt for some lunch

large_Bustard__Kori_32.jpg

large_D28AD4E20E76C14C18968D814052F8CC.jpg

About a week ago when we were here the first time on this trip, we saw a rhino reasonably up close and were thrilled to bits as on all previous visits they have been spotted in the far, far distance only. Imagine our surprise when we see one equally close again this afternoon!

large_Rhino_31.jpg

This one's on the move and heading directly towards us!

large_Rhino_32.jpg

large_Rhino_33.jpg

large_Rhino_40.jpg

He stops to sniff the air for a while. They do say we should all “make time to smell the flowers”.

large_Rhino_34.jpg

Unless they taste nice. Then you should just eat them. The flowers that is, not the rhinos.

large_Rhino_35.jpg

When he is just about 100 metres away from us, he changes his mind and turns the other direction.

large_Rhino_41.jpg

Still eating of course.

large_Rhino_36.jpg

large_Rhino_43.jpg

large_Lunch_Picnic.jpg

It is time for us to have some lunch, and more importantly, to use the local facilities, so we head for the picnic site.

I wonder if the road workers get danger money working here in the crater?

large_D3FDBB9B09B464A77386096CADC8777A.jpg

Compared with last week, Ngoitoktok picnic site is extremely quiet today.

large_Ngoitoktok_Picnic_Site_31.jpg

large_D43D35C6944FB60368C1FDF6B1283B66.jpg

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_32.jpg

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_33.jpg

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_34.jpg

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_35.jpg

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_37.jpg

large_D4ABE664EC9709D2A11EDFD18A308CEC.jpg

Many of the old bull elephants in the crater have enormous tusks such as this guy.

large_Elephant__Big_Tusked_31.jpg

We see three more elephants in the distance, plus a couple of lions.

large_Elephants__Lions_31.jpg

large_D515A8AEF20333B3504D3B3E2F2F69A1.jpg

There are a lot of birds around in the crater this afternoon, a few of which are new to us. Being a 'list girl' I always enjoy adding a new species to my life list.

large_Goose__Egyptian_31.jpg

large_Goose__Egyptian_32.jpg

Egyptian Geese

large_Widow_Bird__Fan_Tailed_31.jpg

Fan Tailed Widow Bird

large_Crane__Gre..ed_Flying_1.jpg

large_Crane__Gre..ed_Flying_2.jpg

Several Grey Crowned Cranes flying around.

large_Lapwing__Long_Toed_1.jpg

Long Toed Lapwing

large_Ibis__Sacred_31.jpg

large_Ibis__Sacred_32.jpg

Sacred Ibis

large_Ibis__Hadada_31.jpg

Hadada Ibis

large_Weaver__Lesser_Masked_31.jpg

large_Weaver__Lesser_Masked_32.jpg

Lesser Masked Weaver

large_Starling__Wattled_32.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_31.jpg

The Wattled Starling gets its name from the black wattles (there's a surprise) which are only found in breeding males.

large_Starling__Wattled_33.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_34.jpg

large_Coot__Red_Knobbed_31.jpg

Red Knobbed Coot

large_Thomson_s_Gazelle.jpg

large_Gazelle__Thomsons_31.jpg

large_Gazelle__Thomsons_32.jpg

large_Lerai_Ascent_Road.jpg

As we climb out of the crater, I can feel the altitude affecting my chest, and I star coughing uncontrollably to the point of almost blacking out.

large_Lerai_Ascent_Road_31.jpg

The crater walls are near vertical in places, with trees somehow still clinging on to the slope.

large_Crater_Wall_Trees.jpg

The view from the top back over the crater is nothing short of spectacular!

large_View_over_the_Crater_31.jpg

I sleep the entire journey onwards to the gate with sheer exhaustion from the incessant coughing. Thankfully, we are now going down to a lower altitude for the rest of the trip.

large_D7DC27C8F99F4E480E50730DF9051256.jpg

While Malisa signs us out of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, we amuse ourselves by watching the baboons. Unfortunately these cheeky animals have become used to stealing food stuff from the large trucks coming from the markets, and as a result are now very aggressive every time they see a vehicle.

large_Baboon__Olive_51.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_52.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_54.jpg

These little monkeys have found some spilt rice on the ground.

large_Baboon__Olive_55.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_56.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_57.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_60.jpg

I can't stop myself dropping off to sleep in the car for the next part of the journey either, but fortunately I wake up as the sun starts to set and we approach our accommodation for the night.

large_Sunset_near_Maramboi_1.jpg

large_Sunset_near_Maramboi_2.jpg

large_Sunset_near_Maramboi_3.jpg

large_Maramboi.jpg

As soon as we enter the large grounds of this super tented camp, we spot a few impala in the near-darkness.

large_Impala_in_..of_Maramboi.jpg

The low light capabilities of this camera (Canon EOS 5D IV), is phenomenal. For my photographer friends, this picture was taken at ISO 16,000 with no noise reduction applied.

large_Giraffe_in.._Maramboi_1.jpg

large_Giraffe_in.._Maramboi_2.jpg

One of the things I really like about Maramboi, is all the animals found in its grounds at any time of day or night. This is our third time staying here, and we have not been disappointed yet.

large_Mongoose_i.._Maramboi_1.jpg

large_Mongoose_i.._Maramboi_2.jpg

Banded Mongoose

large_Impala_in_.._Maramboi_3.jpg

Impala with the rooms behind.

When we check in I ask for a room nearest the restaurant / reception / car park so that I don't have to walk any further than absolutely necessary. They oblige and give us the closest room. That will help my poor lungs tremendously.

large_F3A452AFC2B03F4ACB85B54878D402AF.jpg

large_F3B691ACB8DC42B85C1EF6AE12AC228C.jpg

As I said earlier, the grounds of the Maramboi are full of wild animals, and you are strictly forbidden to walk around after dark on your own. We call an askari (Maasai guard) to escort us from the room to dinner. Acting fairly agitated, he shines his torch on the next but one room from us. Two eyes look back at us from the bushes just by the entrance to the room. "Lion" says the askari.

You can see an arrow pointing to the location of the lion below, on a picture taken last year. In fact that was our room last year.

large_Stars_over..ime_Picture.jpg

There is a buzz of nervousness at dinner, with our waitress admitting to being “very scared”. There is only us and one other couple staying, and I get the feeling the staff can't wait to get away.

As it is an almost clear night, I want to take some photos of the stars this evening. For safety reasons the manager is understandably not willing to switch any lights off for me apart from those far out by the swimming pool, so I have to made do with what I've got and embrace the floodlit of trees as part of my picture.

large_F4EF037CED0AA76F95A03867B2341E1C.jpg

So, so many stars, with a few clouds partly obscuring the Milky Way

large_Maramboi_Tented_Camp_4A.jpg

large_Stars_over_Maramboi.jpg

As you can see from the arrow in the picture below, the lion is not exactly far away. The guards are constantly shining their torches across the grass, making sure they know where the lion is at all times.

large_Stars_over..mboi_-_Lion.jpg

While photographing the stars, I can hear a car starting up, and later the askari who walks us to the room tells us that they 'lost' the lion temporarily, but found him when they went out with the Land Rover. He's killed a warthog and is tucking into his supper, so we can all relax a little for a while.

At the end of another fabulous day on safari with Calabash Adventures, I want to say thank you to Malisa, our wonderful guide, for not just being a fantastic driver, but also for looking after me while I have been feeling so poorly on this trip.

large_015BD24A9E63C1281188D03A10710611.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 16:03 Archived in Tanzania Tagged night sunset travel africa safari tanzania zebra donkeys lion rhino maasai giraffe baboons crane stars serengeti black_rhino ngorongoro heron ibis impala starling weaver warthog astro ngorongoro_crater kori_bustard milky_way night_shots calabash_adventures best_safari_company maramboi seneto naabi_hill olive_baboon widow_bird wattled_starling lapwing lodoare_gate maramboi_tented_camp astro_photography Comments (6)

Ngorongoro Crater

The Eighth Wonder of the the World?


View The Howards' 40th Anniversary Tour 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

At 02:00 I wake in a mad panic with a feeling of being unable to breathe. My head is spinning, the floor is moving like ocean waves and my heart is beating so fast it feels like I have just run a marathon (not that I am ever likely to know what that feels like).

I walk to the bathroom, having to hold on to the furniture along the way so as not to stumble, and by the time I return to bed I feel exhausted. As soon as I lie back down again, I start coughing. Thanks David for giving me your cold. Having spent the first three months of the year being very ill / hospitalised with pneumonia, and having to cancel a holiday in February, I was so looking forward to this trip. I really don't want to be sick!

A large group of tourists are leaving the lodge at the same time as us this morning (06:00), but Malisa has conveniently placed himself in the car park rather than just outside the door, so we get away before they do, which means we enter the Crater as the very fist vehicle this morning.

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_21.jpg
Ngorongoro crater as seen from the rim

large_Ngorongoro_Crater.jpg

Like an African safari in miniature, the Ngorongoro Crater is an iconic soup bowl filled with animals and wrapped in superlatives. As the largest un-filled, un-broken caldera in the world, the crater boasts a number of 'records', including the densest animal population in Africa. No wonder it is dubbed as the 8th Wonder of the World. Created some three million years ago when a large volcano exploded, the caldera is ca 20 km across and 610 metres deep; and contains all the 'Big Five' as well as a number of other plains game. Only the giraffe is absent, as the caldera walls are too steep for them to climb.

Also absent these days is the Maasai cattle, having recently been banned from the caldera. When we first started coming to Tanzania some ten years ago, the cattle were only permitted on the caldera walls, but over the years they have been spreading themselves further and further down, and last year we were quite surprised to see them on the crater floor itself. No more. They are not permitted into the caldera at all now.

large_Sunrise_over_the_Crater_1.jpg

large_Cape_Buffalo.jpg

Instead of Maasai cattle, we see a number of Cape Buffalo on the crater walls this morning. Considered one of the Big Five, this is an aggressive and dangerous animal, responsible for a number of human deaths each year.

large_Buffalo_21.jpg

large_AC33A436D188D1C697D76FB852AB34A7.jpg

large_AC3032A399E453FB002531E97F05BA8E.jpg

large_Buffalo_3.jpg

large_ACB13C2ADB73749DFC00D6839CAAE520.jpg

large_Sunrise_over_the_Crater_3.jpg

large_Sunrise_over_the_Crater_4.jpg

large_AEAAC677AD93F7C88BC576E21D70A297.jpg

We spot our very first lions about half way down the descent road, and we follow the two females all the way to the bottom, where they move off the road in their continued quest for breakfast.

large_Lions_6.jpg

large_AEC36C51ECB23032538EF042B6128152.jpg

large_AEC8AF9FC3DA2CA9E4481D515333D5B4.jpg

large_Lions_9.jpg

large_Warthog.jpg

In the distance we – and the lionesses – have spotted a warthog. He too is very aware of the predators approaching.

large_B00E8E6CC5AE1295A0F1684284C1B91E.jpg

What to do now? The clever hog finds himself a hole in the ground and goes into hiding by 'reversing' into the crevice.

large_Warthog_2.jpg

We hold our breaths as the lionesses arrive in the area the warthog is lurking, looking in a few of the small ravines for the breakfast they know is hiding somewhere close by.

large_Lions_21.jpg

large_Lions_22.jpg

Unfortunately for the lionesses, but fortunately for the warthog, they never do discover his hiding place. Well played Mr Hogg, well played!

large_Lions_23.jpg

We follow the lionesses for a little while longer, hoping they might lead us to their babies.

large_Lions_24.jpg

No such luck, and we join the baboons in looking at the lions disappear into the forest.

large_Lions_25.jpg
Wise advice

large_B7614885DF453723D1D9AC352CD37422.jpg

large_B76389C0D5CAF3A1C3CD02A4A3607D99.jpg

large_More_Lions.jpg

When Malisa spots a lone lioness in the distance, we stay a while watching to see if the gazelles spot her before she spots them as potential breakfast.

large_Lion_and_Gazelles_1A.jpg

Again nothing happens, another lion foregoes breakfast and we - and the gazelles - move on the pastures new.

large_Secretary_Bird.jpg

Endemic to the open grasslands in sub-Saharan Africa, the Secretary Bird stands around four feet tall and is so named because of the quill-like crest on the backs of its heads that resemble 18th century clerks with pens tucked into their wigs.

large_BC64AD8C0C9A4CF9087550C5F6F27024.jpg

Unlike most birds of prey, the Secretary Bird doesn't swoop down to catch its prey, rather he hunts on foot, jumping up and down to flush out his intended breakfast (snakes and lizards mainly) and then kills them with a force five times his own weight.

large_Secretary_Bird_15.jpg

large_BD899B3CE7A7DBE76B9277244C15ED87.jpg

When we met up with Tillya yesterday, her told me I have to take some award-winning photos on this trip; and I asked him if there was anything in particular he had in mind. “Zebras fighting” was his reply.

large_Zebras_9.jpg

large_Zebras_8.jpg

Fortunately, these two very cooperative zebras do seem to have received the memo and put on an obliging display for me.

large_BDA2CBE1C050289EE578EA289509456C.jpg

large_Zebras_2.jpg

large_Zebras_3.jpg

large_Zebras_4.jpg

large_Zebras_5.jpg

large_Zebras_6.jpg

large_Zebras_7.jpg

large_Lake_Magadi.jpg

More zebras down by Lake Magadi.

large_Zebras_10.jpg

large_Zebras_13.jpg

As well as wildebeest and a hyena.

large_DAA3EDEBB0CD73A8F03A04160AE20EFE.jpg

large_DA9FA3C7EC00050759931DE904A25C84.jpg

large_DC4FC947D7E1837374FF58BEFC88D61E.jpg

large_Hyena_and_Wildebeest_1.jpg

And a very cute baby Thomson's Gazelle.

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_2.jpg

The lake is also home to a number of Lesser Flamingos.

large_Lake_Magadi_Flamingos_1.jpg

large_Flamingos__Lesser_2.jpg

large_Flamingos__Lesser_5.jpg

large_Elephant.jpg

large_DD31AF45F9ED4129C17A903738E4AF3D.jpg

large_Elephant_2.jpg

large_Weather.jpg

To say the weather is changeable today is an understatement; the lifting roof has come down and gone up more times than a hooker's undergarments this morning already. Each rain shower lasts only a few minutes and is not heavy, but the wind makes sure that everything inside the car gets soaked.

It does make for some dramatic skies though.

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_11.jpg

large_Hammerkop.jpg

large_Hammerkop_2.jpg

large_Hammerkop_1.jpg

large_Kori_Bustard.jpg

As Africa's heaviest flying birds, the Kori Bustard can weigh up to 19kg and stands at around 120cm tall. During courtship displays, the male inflates his neck and dances for the female, although this guy is obviously a little confused, as we cannot see any females around. Perhaps he is just practising.

large_Bustard__K.._Display__2.jpg

large_Bustard__K.._Display__3.jpg

large_Black_Rhino.jpg

On all our previous visits to Ngorongoro, we have only ever seen the rhino from a great distance, so when Malisa asked me about my wish list this year, seeing a rhino up close was mentioned.

And there he is!

large_Rhino__Black_1.jpg

Black rhino are on the Critically Endangered conservation status list, so I feel quite honoured to see one of the 30 or so rhinos that inhabit the caldera.

large_Rhino__Black_2.jpg

large_Rhino__Black_3.jpg

large_E48B142EAFAC300E156352C0A8097DCD.jpg

We see eight lions in the distance, mainly sleeping.

large_Lions_31.jpg

large_Lions_32.jpg

large_Lions_33.jpg

large_Lions_34.jpg

large_Elephant.jpg

This old male of around 55-60 years old (it is mostly males who live in the crater) likes to stay close to the swamp as he has lost his last molars so favours the soft grass found here. Look at those impressive tusks though! I think they are the longest tusks I have ever seen!

large_Elephant_31.jpg

large_Elephant_36.jpg

large_Grey_Crowned_Cranes.jpg

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_13.jpg

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_11.jpg

large_Crane__Gre..h_chicks__2.jpg

large_Crane__Gre..h_chicks__3.jpg

large_Hippo_with_Baby.jpg

large_EDD0A348A50985DCF1A12B79DE2FC04E.jpg

large_EDF00F21B61F62E7CDEDF7B80439095C.jpg

large_Wildebeest.jpg

large_Wildebeest_22.jpg

Mum is accompanied by her baby, who is around 3½-4 months old.

large_Wildebeest_21.jpg

large_Augur_Buzzard.jpg

large_Buzzard__Augur_1.jpg

large_Green_Season.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_43.jpg

May is considered part of the 'Green Season' (otherwise known as the 'Rainy Season', but obviously tour operators feel that 'Green' sounds better than 'Rainy'), and as such the prices are lower and there are fewer people around.

We love it. Not only do we often have the animal sightings completely to ourselves, we also enjoy all the flowers and lush vegetation around at this time of year.

large_Purple_Flowers_1.jpg

large_Ostrich_2.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_52.jpg

large_Yellow_Flowers_71.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_56.jpg

large_0CFF830FE95E3EB27A0365196B98373E.jpg

large_0C27ED0A09141B216D1152874BF7B12B.jpg

large_0D14D729A607505DEAA0443811CC2A6D.jpg

large_Zebra_45.jpg

large_Zebra_47.jpg

large_Zebra_48.jpg

large_Zebra_43.jpg

large_Ngoitoktok.jpg

This area beside a spring of the same name is popular with tourists, and we too stop here for breakfast.

large_Ngoitoktok_Picnic_Site_6.jpg

large_Ngoitoktok_Picnic_Site_5.jpg

It's times like these that I am glad we are travelling on a private safari.

large_Ngoitoktok_Picnic_Site_3.jpg

We have company, eyeing up the leftover breakfast.

large_Guineafowl__Helmeted_1.jpg
Helmeted Guineafowl

large_Weaver__Rufous_Tailed_1.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

large_Starling__Superb_1.jpg
Superb Starling

large_Ngoitoktok_Picnic_Site_7.jpg

large_Ibis__Sacred_2.jpg
Sacred Ibis

Meaning “water coming from the ground”, the spring is favoured by hippos as well as tourists.

large_Ngoitoktok.._-_Hippos_1.jpg

large_Ngoitoktok_Picnic_Site_8.jpg

large_10C8E58BE77D8A7206FD3AF4CD40893D.jpg

large_Hippo_4.jpg

large_1260FE39E528220DE2E4040A6DB55774.jpg

large_Warthogs_4.jpg

Warthogs have to be some of the ugliest animals around, but look at those legs: they look like an elegant lady's with stiletto heels!

large_Warthogs_7.jpg

large_Crown_Crane_Courtship.jpg

The male puts on an impressive display for his intended female, with some elegant dance moves.

large_Crane_Combo_5.jpg

large_Olive_Baboons.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_23.jpg

I love the way it looks as if these baboons are picking up the flowers to take in the wonderful aroma.

large_Baboon__Olive_21.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_24.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_25.jpg

large_237AD5539CC95C56D0C7FE7391526FC8.jpg

And everyone should have an elephant or two in their flower bed!

large_Elephant_67.jpg

This one is even wearing flowers in his hair!

large_Elephant_69.jpg

large_263E060DC92BAEB5182E225C883E8C6D.jpg

We encounter a large breeding herd of Cape Buffalo.

large_Buffalo_42.jpg

I do find their menacing stare somewhat intimidating.

large_Buffalo_46.jpg

large_Buffalo_53.jpg

Although some do look more like country yokels than inner city thugs.

large_Buffalo_55.jpg

But the babies are cute. As most babies are. This one is very young, just one or two days old.

large_Buffalo_47.jpg

Look at the flies!

large_Buffalo_50.jpg

The buffalo are joined by an elephant.

large_Buffalo_and_Elephants_1.jpg

large_Buffalo_and_Elephants_3.jpg

My camera seems to be malfunctioning at this stage, refusing to focus or fire and the viewfinder becoming very dark. I feel a growing sense of panic until I remove the battery grip and find it works fine again. Phew.

large_Oxpeckers.jpg

Wherever the buffalo go, the Yellow Billed Oxpeckers follow.

large_Oxpeckers_..ow_Billed_2.jpg

The birds enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the buffalo (as well as other animals here); where the animal provides a 'home' for the birds, while the oxpeckers assist the buffalo by removing the ticks and flies.

large_Oxpeckers_..ow_Billed_4.jpg

large_Swallows.jpg

And in the trees, the Barn Swallows gather.

large_Swallows__Wire_Tailed_1.jpg

large_Swallows__Wire_Tailed_3.jpg

large_Social_Weavers.jpg

So called because they like to live in close proximity to each other, these small birds have filled this tree to beyond recognition with their elaborate nests!

large_Social_Weaver_Nests_1.jpg

large_Social_Weaver_Nests_2.jpg

large_444617BDA9376FD941EE5E49CC075EF1.jpg

This enormous bird stands around 1.5m (5 ft) tall and can weigh up to 19kg (42 lbs).

large_Bustard__Kori_22.jpg

large_Hippo_Pool.jpg

large_Hippo_82.jpg

The pool doesn't just attract hippos, we also see a few birds here:

large_Egret__Cattle_1.jpg
Cattle Egret

large_5224F666E6321C3EB47B567D6992BF61.jpg
African Spoonbills hiding those beautiful beaks of theirs

large_Goose__Egyptian_1.jpg
Egyptian Goose

large_Plover__Blacksmith_1.jpg
Blacksmith Plover

large_454AD9D8D664986805B4376B85298638.jpg
Red Bishop

large_Hammerkop_72.jpg
Hammerkop

large_Ibis__Sacred_81.jpg
Sacred Ibis

large_Eland.jpg

This is one seriously big antelope, standing at around 180cm (6 feet) tall at the shoulders. It is also one of the most skittish of the plains game; mainly as a result of being extensively hunted for their delicious meat.

large_46F80032A395ED23B5159BF8F2969DFB.jpg

As a result they are therefore usually seen running away as soon as we approach, so it makes a very pleasant change to be able to photograph them actually standing still.

large_Eland_5.jpg

large_474550E5BC7A3D3F32CD6DDEF935834C.jpg

The older they get, the greyer they become (just like humans) and the larger the dewlap grows. This guy is a seriously old dude by the looks of it. Notice how all the youngsters stare at us while the old man carries on eating, totally oblivious.

large_47488081DB087CDD2B10C0AE80659553.jpg

large_4780C2D6088D7632165907F62435D42D.jpg

We become a little concerned when we see a baby zebra lying in the middle of the road with no apparent urge to move as we get closer.

large_Zebra_85.jpg

Mum soon arrives on the scene to 'rescue' her little darling...

large_Zebra_86.jpg

... who promptly throws a tantrum. "I don't wanna move!"

large_Zebra_87.jpg

But mum's having none of it and marches him out of harm's way.

large_Zebra_83.jpg
Less than a week old, he is just too adorable!

large_48022F09C3554F9459E3BB2047951512.jpg

In these pictures you can easily see the facial warts that have given this animal its name.

large_Warthog_81.jpg

large_Warthog_83.jpg

large_Ascent.jpg

As we say goodbye to Ngorongoro Crater, I can easily appreciate why it is often dubbed the 8th Wonder of the World.

Once back up on the rim, I can yet again feel the effect of the altitude on my chest. I did have some temporary relief down in the crater, which is over 600m lower than the surrounding area.

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_91.jpg

Coughing madly and struggling to breathe, I curse David for bringing a cold with him on this trip.

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_92.jpg

We take one last look at the crater below before we make our way to our next destination and new adventures.

This amazing experience was made a reality by the wonderful staff at Calabash African Adventures.

large_48804133BEE36D7BFEDDA6FD24FFAFB5.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 06:56 Archived in Tanzania Tagged elephant africa safari tanzania zebra buffalo lion rhino black_rhino ngorongoro hyena warthog ngorongoro_crater kori_bustard bustard rhinocerous calabash calabash_adventures hammerkop cape_buffalo secretary_bird zebras_fighting giant_tusk long_tusked_elephant Comments (7)

Kilimanjaro - Ngorongoro

Let the adventure begin


View The Howards' 40th Anniversary Tour 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Much too excited to sleep, I wake early this morning. Far too early. It's going to be a long day having had a mere two hours sleep.

We take breakfast in the lodge before Tillya and Malisa arrive to whisk us away on the start of our adventure. The first stop is in Arusha, at a different supermarket to the one we usually use. To David's horror they don't stock Savanna Cider!

While Malisa goes off to get us some brand new tyres for the safari vehicle, we enjoy a leisurely coffee.

large_Mbusi_Coffees_1.jpg

large_New_Tyres.jpg
Nice wheels!

Having not slept well for the last three nights, I dose on and off as we make our way from Arusha towards Ngorongoro. This journey is becoming very familiar – it is now the fifth time we have driven this stretch over the years.

large_Kisongo_Market_1.jpg
Kisongo Market

large_Kisongo_Market_3.jpg
Kisongo Market

large_Kisongo_Market_4.jpg
Kisongo Market

Along the way we see three funeral cars for the children killed in the horrendous accident last week involving a school bus that plunged down a ravine killing 36 children. Later on in our journey we pass the exact spot it happened, but unlike some other safari vehicles, I request Malisa does not stop as I really don't feel the scene of such devastation should be treated as a tourist attraction.

large_Cattle_Crossing_1.jpg
Cattle Crossing

large_Stork__Yellow_Billed_1.jpg
Yellow Billed Storks nesting at Mto Wa Mbu

large_Stork__Yellow_Billed_2.jpg
Yellow Billed Storks nesting at Mto Wa Mbu

large_Stork__Yellow_Billed_3.jpg
Yellow Billed Storks nesting at Mto Wa Mbu

large_Butterflies_2.jpg
Butterflies at Mto Wa Mbu

large_Lunch_at_Kudu_Lodge.jpg

Although we usually have a picnic lunch box, today Tillya has arranged for us to take lunch in Karatu, at Kudu Lodge.

large_Kudu_Lodge_5.jpg
Dining room

large_Vegetable_Soup.jpg
Vegetable soup - lovely and peppery

large_Creamy_Coc..icken_Curry.jpg
Creamy coconut chicken curry - delicious!

large_Kudu_Lodge_41.jpg
You know it's a decent place when the public toilets have individual terry towels

large_Sunbird__Variable_7.jpg
The lodge has beautiful grounds with this stunning Variable Sunbird flitting around

large_Lodoare_Gate.jpg

After lunch we continue on our way, entering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area at Lodoare Gate and drive to my all time favourite view over the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater.

large_7B78A94D0202D00B7180675502C2FA1C.jpg
Entering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

large_7B705424DF2E03BC2C8C38848103D227.jpg
View over the crater from the rim

large_Ngorongoro..Viewpoint_2.jpg

large_5_Lions.jpg
Malisa assures us these are in fact lions. We take his word for it.

Malisa tries to speak with these Maasai women, but they either don't know, or refuse to understand, Swahili, only talking in their own Maa language.

large_Women_Carrying_Firewood_1.jpg

large_Women_Carrying_Firewood_2.jpg

large_Women_Carrying_Firewood_3.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Lodge.jpg

As we are arriving at our lodge during daylight hours for a change, we quickly shower and change, and head for the bar to wait for sunset and maybe even some stars later. I can really feel the altitude this time (we are at 2,326m/7,633 feet here), and with my lungs still being rather weak from the recent bout of pneumonia, I actually struggle to walk. I am therefore very grateful when the staff take pity on me and give us the room nearest the reception (which is still down two flights of stairs, but at least it is on the same level as the bar!).

large_Ngorongoro..na_Lodge_31.jpg
Our room

large_Ngorongoro..na_Lodge_33.jpg
Great view from the bed!

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Lodge_1.jpg
The outside terrace of the bar

Choosing an appropriately named Ruby Cabernet (it is our 40th wedding anniversary tour after all!), we settle down to watch the clouds roll in and the shadows getting longer across this mesmerising vista.

large_Ruby_Cabernet.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..m_the_Bar_1.jpg
Great view

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Lodge_2.jpg
Great wine

large_Ngorongoro..he_Crater_3.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..he_Crater_4.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..he_Crater_5.jpg

The sunset is a total non-event, but the moonrise more than makes up for it.

large_87FCC821EEB0C96C3B87516D1B893464.jpg

large_Moonrise_4.jpg

large_Moonrise_2.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..Moonlight_1.jpg

large_883852BC9E5D51895E71178DE8237EC3.jpg

For dinner I choose a local dish called Kuku Wa Kupaka (Traditional Swahili favourite chicken simmered in coconut curry sauce served with naan, boiled and Tamu Tamu Rice), while David has the poached red snapper in garlic sauce.

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Lodge_3.jpg

large_Kuku_Wa_Kupaka.jpg
Chicken Curry

large_Poached_Re..arlic_Sauce.jpg
Red Snapper

large_Cream_and_..olate_sauce.jpg
Cream and Yogurt Mousse Cake with Chocolate Sauce

At this altitude the air is really quite cold tonight and I am feeling very grateful for the hot water bottle I discover in my bed when we return from dinner.

large_Hot_Water_Bottle.jpg

This amazing adventure was made possible thanks to Calabash African Adventures.

large_7059AEEAE0A05737D28D9FF08D129CFE.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:21 Archived in Tanzania Tagged children adventure africa safari tanzania moonlight moonrise stars ngorongoro cider ngorongoro_crater night_sky african_safari african_food moon_rise calabash calabash_adventures ngrongoro_serena ngorongoro_conservation_area moonshine starry_night Comments (1)

Serengeti - Arusha

Goodbye 'wilderness', hello 'civilisation'.


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_12_of_..Adventure_2.jpg

Having been awake from 03:30 this morning scratching my insect bites, it's going to be a long day.

large_mosquito.jpg

It is still dark when we leave the lodge at 06:00.

Brown Snake Eagle

large_Eagle__Brown_Snake_12-1.jpg

Spotted Hyena

A cackle of hyenas congregate on the road, and seem a lot less timid than the ones we have encountered previously, some are even bold enough to come right up to the car.

large_Hyena_12-1.jpg

large_Hyena_12-2.jpg

large_Hyena_12-4.jpg

large_Hyena_12-8.jpg

large_Hyena_12-9.jpg

large_Hyena_12-16.jpg

large_Hyena_12-18.jpg

large_Hyena_12-20.jpg

Not my favourite animal (sorry Malisa), but I will admit that this seven-month old juvenile is almost bordering on being cute.

large_Hyena_12-5.jpg

large_Hyena_12-6.jpg

large_Hyena_12-14.jpg

large_Hyena_12-17.jpg

large_Hyena_12-21.jpg

Sunrise

large_Sunrise_12-2.jpg

large_Sunrise_12-6.jpg

large_Sunrise_12-7.jpg

Topi

large_Topi_12-1.jpg

large_Topi_12-2.jpg

Wildebeest

A confusion of wildebeest are waiting to cross the Seronera River

large_Wildebeest_12-2.jpg

large_Wildebeest_12-1.jpg

Vultures

A committee of vultures are waiting in a nearby tree for the wildebeest to get eaten by crocodiles while crossing the Seronera River.

large_Vultures_12-1.jpg

I see no crocodiles…

large_Seronera_River_12-1.jpg

Martial Eagle

The biggest eagle in Africa, the Martial Eagle can kill a baby antelope! He will grab it, lift it up and drop it until it is dead.

large_Eagle__Martial_12-1.jpg

Hot Air Balloon

We are right in the flight path of the balloon as it glides across the savannah.

large_Hot_Air_Balloon_12-2.jpg

large_Hot_Air_Balloon_12-1.jpg

large_Hot_Air_Balloon_12-4.jpg

large_Hot_Air_Balloon_32.jpg

Watching the balloon

large_Watching_the_Ballons_12-1.jpg

Goliath Heron

large_Heron__Goliath_12-2.jpg

Grey Heron

large_Heron__Grey_12-1_.jpg

Hippo

Usually hippos only come out at night to eat and go back to the water in the morning. During that one night, they can eat as much as 150kg of grass; followed by three days merely digesting the food: just lying around farting, burping, pooping.

”I know someone else like that” says David, just prior to being whacked around the head.

large_Hippo_12-1.jpg

This hippo seems a little premature: although it is still eating, the smell of ammonia is so strong it makes Lyn gag, followed by a severe coughing fit.

large_Hippo_12-2.jpg

White Browed Coucal

large_Coucal__White_Browed_12-1.jpg

Olive Baboons

large_Baboons__Olive_12-1.jpg

large_Baboons__Olive_12-2.jpg

Lions

Close to the road, on a flat open area, we see two brothers with one female. It makes a nice change for them not to be half-hidden by the long grass.

large_Lions_12-1.jpg

The female is on heat, but the male isn’t the least bit interested at this stage. Dirty girl!

large_Lions_12-3.jpg

“Come and get me…”

large_Lions_12-5.jpg

Tart!

large_Lions_12-8.jpg

“Not this morning dear, I have a headache”

large_Lions_12-7.jpg

Even threats don’t work!

large_Lions_12-9.jpg

Other than to make him back off further.

large_Lions_12-10.jpg

As she is obviously not going to get her wicked way with him this morning, she walks off in a huff.

large_Lions_12-11.jpg

large_Lions_12-13.jpg

It looks like she has had her nose put out of joint at some stage, and not just figuratively speaking. I am assuming that she got her deformity from a fight rather than a birth defect.

large_Lions_12-14.jpg

It seems the king has food - rather than sex - on his mind this morning.

large_Lions_12-17.jpg

Normally, the male lion will not let the female anywhere near his food until he has had his fill, as we have seen on a couple of occasions on this safari. When the female is on heat, however, it’s a different story: he will allow her to eat alongside him. Typical man! The only time he treats his woman to a meal is when he thinks there is something in it for him!

large_Lions_12-22.jpg

Why does this picture remind me of the spaghetti scene from Lady and the tramp cartoon?

large_Lions_12-53.jpg

large_Lady_and_the_Tramp.jpg

large_Lions_12-52.jpg

large_Lions_12-54.jpg

Meanwhile, brother Leo comes to check out what all the fuss is about.

large_Lions_12-21.jpg

large_Lions_12-23.jpg

large_Lions_12-24.jpg

large_Lions_12-25.jpg

large_Lions_12-28.jpg

There’s no room for another diner, so Leo skulks off, complaining loudly.

large_Lions_12-36.jpg

large_Lions_12-42.jpg

large_Lions_12-44.jpg

Then goes for a drink instead.

large_Lions_12-45.jpg

large_Lions_12-46.jpg

large_Lions_12-47.jpg

large_Lions_12-50.jpg

Black Backed Jackal

A jackal waits nearby; ready to move in on the leftovers once the lions have had their fill. I think he'll have a long wait.

large_Jackal__Bl..acked_12-31.jpg

large_Breakfast_5.jpg

As we seem to be running out of time, we eat our boxed breakfast ‘on the hoof’ so to speak. We have to be out of the park by a certain time – the permits are purchased in blocks of 24 hours, and they are quite strict in enforcing the fines if you overstay.

large_David_Eati..akfast_12-1.jpg

Tawny Eagle

large_Eagle__Tawny_12-3.jpg

Elephant

A lone elephant is walking across the savannah, presumably to catch up with the large herd we can see in the distance.

large_Elephant_12-31.jpg

large_Elephant_12-32.jpg

Road Maintenance

Months of rain (we are right at the end of the rainy season now), tourist traffic, heavy trucks and the huge numbers of animals who also use the roads have taken their toll on the unsealed tracks.

By scraping off the top layer, the surface is smoothed out, getting rid of the washboard effect that is typical in this region.

large_Road_Maintenance_12-2.jpg

large_Simba_Kopje.jpg

Simba Kopjes

Named after the Swahili word for ‘lion’, Simba Kopjes are the tallest kopjes (rocky outcrop) in Serengeti and as the name suggests, a good place to spot lions.

large_Simba_Kopjes_12-1.jpg

large_Simba_Kopjes_12-11.jpg

large_C61D8BB99F6DF477F2014F9A184CECFF.jpg

Lions

And guess what? There is the aforementioned simba!

large_Lion_on_Simba_Kopjes_12-1.jpg

And another.

large_Lion_on_Simba_Kopjes_12-2.jpg

large_Lion_on_Simba_Kopjes_12-3.jpg

Migration

We come across a breakaway crowd who have obviously been dawdling on their journey up north.

large_Zebra_and_Wildebeest_12-1.jpg

large_Zebra_12-1.jpg

large_Wildebeest_12-5.jpg

large_Wildebeest_12-8.jpg

large_Wildebeest_and_Zebra_12-1.jpg

large_Zebra_12-2.jpg

Look at that long line meandering in from somewhere beyond!

large_C7355D319AB4B2BE80C46E70C14E9D42.jpg

Secretary Bird

large_Secretary_Bird_12-1.jpg

Naabi Hill

large_Naabi_Hill_12-1.jpg

This marks the end of our safari in Serengeti, as we have now reached the entrance / exit gate at Naabi Hill. We have a coffee while Malisa completes the formalities.

large_Coffee_at_Naabi_Hill_12-1.jpg

large_Malisa_wit..i_Hill_12-1.jpg

While Chris goes off to use the facilities, I prank him by hiding his coffee, putting an empty cup in its place. With hindsight it was not a good move, as anyone who knows Chris can attest for his love of coffee. Unfortunately Lyn gets the blame as he accuses her of drinking it. Oops. Sorry Chris. Sorry Lyn.

large_Chris_12-1.jpg

On a positive note: they have upgraded their toilets since our first visit in 2007 (PS these are the old ones)

large_Toilets_at..i_Hill_12-3.jpg

Kori Bustard

large_Bustard__Kori_12-1.jpg

large_Bustard__Kori_12-2.jpg

large_Goodbye_Serengeti.jpg

We’ll be back!

large_Goodbye_Serengeti_12-1.jpg

Just because we have left the Serengeti behind, does not mean our adventure is over. As soon as we enter the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Malisa drives off-road. Because he can.

large_Off_Road_Driving_12-1.jpg

White Stork

Just like us, the White Stork is not a resident in Tanzania, he has flown in from Europe and is just here for his holidays.

large_Stork__White_12-1.jpg

Vulture Feast

large_Warning__C..phic_Images.jpg

The zebra died of natural causes, and now the vultures are having a banquet!

large_Vultures_E.._Zebra_12-1.jpg

I love the red-necked vultures – no, they are not a new species, that is blood from where they have stuck their heads right inside the carcass.

large_Vultures_E.._Zebra_12-2.jpg

large_Vultures_E.._Zebra_12-5.jpg

It’s a chaotic and grotesque scene, yet morbidly fascinating.

large_Vultures_E.._Zebra_12-3.jpg

large_Vultures_E.._Zebra_12-6.jpg

You can’t hear it too well in this short video clip because of the wind noise, but the sound is deafening: like a huge mob of bleating sheep!

.

Giraffe

It is unusual to see a giraffe sitting down as it makes them extremely vulnerably to predators. Here it seems every tree has one.

large_Giraffes_Combo.jpg

Dust

As we rejoin the main ‘road’, we also meet up with traffic. And traffic means dust. Lots of it.

large_Dust_12-2.jpg

Ngorongoro Highlands

The road to Arusha takes us back up into the highlands, and at this altitude David soon starts to feel the cold.

large_David_Feel..he_Col_12-1.jpg

This area is farming land, and we see many herders with their livestock and small stock along the side and even on the road.

large_Cattle_12-21.jpg

large_Goats_and_Donkeys_12-1.jpg

large_Cattle_12-1.jpg

large_Cattle_12-3.jpg

large_Cattle_12-4.jpg

large_Goats_12-3.jpg

More Giraffes

large_Giraffe_12-45.jpg

large_Giraffe_12-46.jpg

large_Giraffe_12-47.jpg

Malanja Depression

large_Malanja_Depression_12-1.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_12-4.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_12-2.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_12-3.jpg

Ngorongoro Crater

Not the worst view I have seen from a toilet stop.

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_12-1.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_12-2.jpg

large_Flowers_at..er_Rim_12-1.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_12-5.jpg

But David is still feeling the cold.

large_David_Feel..he_Col_12-5.jpg

Family Planning

The Maasai have an ingenious way of temporarily stopping their goats from reproducing. It is uncomplicated, cheap, safe for the animal and easily reversible – a simple flap physically stops the goats mating! I love it!

large_Goat_Family_Planning_12-1.jpg

Maasai Village Elders’ Weekly Meeting

Beats a day at the office any time.

large_Maasai_Vil..eeting_12-3.jpg

Picnic

We have our lunch in a picnic area within a camp ground between Ngorongoro and Arusha. We are all very sad that the safari part of our holiday is now over. Apart from maybe Malisa, as he now gets to see his family again and have a few days off.

large_Picnic_12-1.jpg

Makuyuni

Coming back into ‘civilisation’ again after eight days in the wilderness seems almost surreal – markets, shops, saloon cars, motorbikes, noise, traffic, and even a political rally!

large_Makuyuni_12-5.jpg

large_Makuyuni_12-6.jpg

large_Makuyuni_12-9.jpg

large_Makuyuni_12-10.jpg

large_Makuyuni_Market_12-1.jpg

large_Makuyuni_Market_12-2.jpg

large_Makuyuni_Market_12-3.jpg

large_Political_rally_12-3.jpg

Traffic Check

We also experience the ugly side of ‘civilisation’: Malisa is pulled over for ‘speeding’. Being totally secure in the fact that he was most definitely NOT speeding, Malisa argues the case, asking them to prove where and how fast he was going. Knowing they haven’t got that sort of evidence, the police eventually back down and let him go! Cheeky! I bet they were looking for a bribe!

Arusha

Back in the big town there is a hive of activity as usual.

large_Arusha_12-1.jpg

large_Arusha_12-2.jpg

large_Arusha_12-3.jpg

large_Arusha_12-4.jpg

large_Arusha_12-5.jpg

large_Arusha_12-6.jpg

Sugar Shortage

Due to some political agenda, there is a temporary shortage of sugar and we see long queues at the few stores that have any left.

large_Queue_for_Sugar_12-2.jpg

The Surprise

“Do you need anything from town?” asks Malisa, “if not, Tillya has a surprise for you”.

Avoiding the centre of Arusha, Malisa turns off the main road and weaves his way through the middle of Tenguru weekly market.

large_Tengeru_Market_1.jpg

large_Tengeru_Market_2.jpg

large_Tengeru_Market_3.jpg

large_Tengeru_Market_4.jpg

large_Tengeru_Market_5.jpg

large_Tengeru_Market_6.jpg

large_Tengeru_Market_7.jpg

large_Tengeru_Market_8.jpg

Lake Dulutu Lodge

Surprise! Our original itinerary had us staying at Kibo Palace in the centre of Arusha, but Tillya felt that we needed to finish the trip in style; and he was worried that we might not sleep well as the area around Kibo is very noisy. The service we get from Calabash Adventures never ceases to amaze me.

And neither does Lake Dulutu Lodge. Wow!

The entrance drive is long, with vegetation either side, and the car park is empty when we arrive. Nothing particularly awesome so far.

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_13-23.jpg

While the receptionist performs the registration formalities, we are invited to sit down in the lounge. This is where the wow-ness starts. The lobby is like something out of Harper’s Bazaar and I feel decidedly scruffy in my dirty safari gear.

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_13-8.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_13-9.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_13-10.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_13-11.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_13-13.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_13-14.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_13-15.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_13-16.jpg

Our room is an individual cottage in the grounds, which look nothing much from the outside.

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_13-1.jpg

Once we get through the front door, however, its opulence is evident.

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_12-3.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_12-4.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_12-5.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_12-9.jpg

And the moment I enter the bathroom I am extremely impressed: despite having been lucky enough to stay in some pretty luxurious properties over the years, I have never seen a bathroom like this before.

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_12-7.jpg

large_Lake_Dulutu_Lodge_12-10.jpg

large_E6CB3F24EBAF5288D5DB3C4C65DA7A40.jpg

Only two other tables in the restaurant are taken, so I guess the hotel is pretty quiet at this time of year. The service, food and wine are all excellent.

Vegetable Spring Roll with Chilli Sauce

large_Vegetable_..hilli_Sauce.jpg

Chicken with Rosemary Sauce

large_Chicken_wi..emary_Sauce.jpg

Beef Medallions with Pepper sauce

large_Beef_Medal..oivre_Sauce.jpg

Wine

large_Wines.jpg

Banana Tart with Chocolate sauce

large_Banana_Tar..olate_Sauce.jpg

After all that we should sleep well, especially knowing we don't have to get up for a 6am game drive tomorrow morning.

Thank you so much to Calabash Adventures for the last eight days of safari, and for Malisa's expertise, knowledge, sense of humour, excellent driving and caring nature.

large_BF2E9FE9E6FDA5D4098438C3227EC88E.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 03:11 Archived in Tanzania Tagged wedding travel market elephant police balloon sunrise holiday africa safari lodge zebra eagle luxury picnic coffee donkeys lions maasai hippo cold lioness ballooning giraffes cows serengeti ngorongoro dust hyena heron stork vultures cattle goats topi wildebeest hot_air_balloon arusha ngorongoro_crater kori_bustard hippopotamus african_safari grey_heron bustard family_planning political_rally speeding calabash calabash_adventures which_safari_company best_safari_company opulence olive_baboons maasai_cattle ngorongoro_conservation_area naabi_hill kopje coucal seronera babboons spotted_hyena brown_snake_eagle snake_eagle seronera_river martial_eagle goliath_heron white_browe_coucal lioness_on_heat tawny_eagle simba_kopjes simba elephant_herd confusuion_of_wildebeest speed_check white_stork off_road_driving tower_of_giraffes feeling_the_cold malanja_depression goat_family_planning makuyuni weekly_meeting wedding_car sugar_shortage tenguru tenguru_market lake_dulutu_lodge best_safari_operator which_safari_operator Comments (1)

Ngorongoro - Oldupai - Ndutu

Education, education, education!


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_7_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

Seeing the clear skies from our balcony this morning, I really wish I’d got up in the night to take some pictures of the stars. I shall just have to photograph the sunrise instead.

large_Sunrise_ov..ro_Crater_1.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..ro_Crater_3.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..ro_Crater_6.jpg

Our room has an amazing view over the Ngorongoro Crater from its balcony. The hotel is rustic to the extreme, having been built from rough local stone with the rooms all set on the ridge, facing the crater.

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_31.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_32.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_33.jpg

There’s an even more spectacular view from the bar!

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_38.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_39.jpg

Walking Safari

large_Walking_Safari.jpg

This morning we leave Malisa and the car behind and set out to explore the area on foot with a ranger called Yohana, in order to get a deeper understanding of the bush and up close and personal with nature.

large_Walking_Safari_-_Yohana_1.jpg

The first wildlife we see is a Cape Robin-Chat, right outside the front door of the lodge.

large_Chat__Cape_Robin_7-1.jpg

We amble at a slow pace, along the Ngorongoro Crater Rim and upwards into the hillside as Yohana teaches us the language of the bush.

large_Walking_Safari_-_Yohana_2.jpg

large_Walking_Safari_1.jpg
These signs always amuse me – do the wild animals read them and refuse to venture past that point (in the other direction) too?

This is not so much a safari in that we are not really seeking out wild animals; we are here to learn what native peoples have known for millennia – how wild plants are used as medicine and food. I am hoping to find something for the back ache I have been suffering with since we left home.

Sodom’s Apple
Although this fruit belongs to the tomato family, you won’t find it in any salads. Known as Sodom’s Apple as it is said to be the first plant to grow again after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the small, yellow fruit is used as a medicine for stomach ache, diarrhoea and to treat external wounds.

large_Walking_Sa..dom_Apple_1.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..dom_Apple_2.jpg
Plant with unripe fruit

large_Walking_Sa..dom_Apple_3.jpg
The flower of the Sodom Apple

Wild Marijuana
This plant, which is in the same family as the common marijuana plant, is used to produce pesticide, as insects do not like the smell of it. Neither does Lyn by the looks of it.

large_Walking_Sa..Marijuana_1.jpg

Leaves are soaked in water, which is then used to spray the fields to keep insects from eating the crop.

large_Walking_Sa..Marijuana_2.jpg

Enkang oo-nkiri Maasai Ceremony
We encounter a Maasai who is in the bush for the Engkang oo-nkiri, or meat-eating ceremony – one the many stages of initiation into warriorhood for the young men of the tribe. A dozen or so men take a bull into the bush and slaughter it, staying there to eat the meat for two weeks. This is said to help them remain strong.

large_Maasai_Man_7-2.jpg

Devil’s Snare
The fact that this invasive species is poisonous has not stopped the Mexicans from making drugs from it apparently.

large_Walking_Sa..l_s_Snare_1.jpg

Stingy Nettle
Like we do in the West, the locals make soup “and wot not” (Yohana’s favourite expression) from this.

large_Walking_Sa..gy_Nettle_1.jpg

Being full of sugar sap, nectar eating birds love this plant, whose name I don't catch.

large_Walking_Safari_3.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..l_Sunbird_1.jpg
Beautiful Sunbird

Natural Insect Repellent

large_Walking_Sa..Repellant_2.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..Repellant_1.jpg

Wild Tobacco
Yohana warns us that it is “not very good”.

large_Walking_Sa..d_Tobacco_1.jpg

Old Man’s Beard
The presence of this lichen on trees is an indication of the air quality – it will only grow where the air is pure and clean!

large_Walking_Sa.._s_Beard__1.jpg

large_Buzzard__Augur_7-1.jpg
Augur Buzzard

Altitude
We have been climbing gently but steadily upwards from the lodge, and here at 2400 metres above sea level I can certainly feel the altitude.

large_Walking_Safari_4.jpg

“I can see your house from here!” - Ngorongoro Serena Lodge

large_B4581082A17689508D5FF567B7DB6884.jpg

Elephants
Yohana tells us elephants came by here in the night, eating the tops of the plants.

large_Walking_Sa..hant_damage.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..hant_Dung_1.jpg
Elephant Dung

Here we learn to read the jungle as a ‘daily newspaper’, by identifying trails, inspecting bushes and trees, studying spoor marks and animal tracks to deduce what animals have passed by recently, which way they were going, how long ago, how fast they were going, what they have eaten and so on. In fact there seems to be a story to be told in virtually every track and dropping that we come across. A bit like opening up Facebook first thing in the morning.

There’s a great view over the crater from up here.

large_Walking_Sa..he_Crater_1.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..he_Crater_2.jpg

Eucalyptus

large_Walking_Sa..ucalyptus_3.jpg

It’s well know for being beneficial for clearing a blocked nose.

large_Walking_Sa..ucalyptus_1.jpg

Chris puts it to the test.

large_Walking_Sa..ucalyptus_2.jpg

large_Shrike__Co..venile_7-_1.jpg
Juvenile Common Fiscal Shrike

This is where we part company with the guys – Lyn and I head for the road where Malisa is waiting with the car; David and Chris continue their walk with a hike to the top of the hill.

large_Walking_Safari_6.jpg

large_Walking_Safari_-_22.jpg

While we wait for the boys to do their daily workout, we chat to a group of school children on the road. One by one, as they pass, they shout out “Shikamo” – the greeting reserved for respected elders. That’ll be me then, I guess. In reply, I shout back: “Marahaba” (the traditional reply), much to their surprise and delight.
The kids explain to Malisa that their bus has broken down, so they have to walk the 40 minutes to their school.

large_School_Chr..on_the_Road.jpg

The guys come back bearing gifts.

large_Walking_Sa..s_-_David_1.jpg

Mushroom – you can't get much fresher than this. And very good it is too.

large_Walking_Sa.._Mushroom_1.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..Mushrooms_2.jpg

Khat – the drug of choice from Somalia to Yemen and beyond (and is also available – although illegal – in our home town of Bristol). It does nothing for me – it’s a bit like chewing grass.

large_Walking_Safari_-_Qat_1.jpg

Quinine – this one might be useful for treating malaria.

large_Walking_Sa..-_Quinine_1.jpg

It’s time to move on to the next item on today’s itinerary – but first we have to get there, and we never know what we might see on the way.

large_Mount_Lemakarot_7-1.jpg
Malanja Depression with Mount Lemakarot in the distance

Emuratare - Circumcision ceremony

A couple of young Maasai lads have their faces painted to indicate that they have just undergone the circumcision ceremony. This is the most vital initiation of all rites of passages in the Maasai society and is performed shortly after puberty.

large_Maasai_Boy..mcision_7-1.jpg

large_Maasai_Boy..mcision_7-2.jpg

Cow Bells

We stop to listen to the sound of the cowbells as Malisa explains that this is how the area got its name. Ngoro ngoro ngoro ngoro. A lot of goodwill and some poetic licence is required methinks.

.

Kaki Weed

Today is an educational sort of day for sure, as Malisa hands us this plant which some people do smoke.

large_Kaki_Weed.jpg

Cooke's Hartebeest

large_Hartebeest_7-2.jpg

Maasai Warriors

Ahead a number of Maasai Warriors are walking along the road, and we are warned by Malisa not to take photos. The scene is surreal, like we are driving through a film set.

A Tower of Giraffes

large_Giraffes_1.jpg

At Endoldol we spot a few giraffe on the ridge, in the distance.

large_Giraffes_at_Endoldol_7-1.jpg

Then a few more.

large_Giraffes_at_Endoldol_7-2.jpg

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-5.jpg

Soon we have a whole forest of giraffe.

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-9.jpg

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-23.jpg

We count 53 animals – which beats Malisa’s previous record of 48 - but it's impossible to put an accurate number down as more and more keep coming from the back.

large_Giraffe_at.._Panorama_1.jpg

I have never seen anything like this incredible spectacle.

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-19.jpg

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-24.jpg

When a Maasai warrior appears in the distance, the whole scenario goes from being fantastical to becoming completely absurd as 50+ giraffe start running.

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-14.jpg

Giraffe are awkward runners, and with their long necks arching and bending as they go, they look like a wave. Totally, utterly unbelievable!

.

There is just one word that will do: WOW!

Elerai Maasai Boma

large_Maasai_Village_2.jpg

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_42.jpg

We are introduced to David, the son of the chief, who explains – in very good English – about the village and the dances we are about to see. The name Elerai refers to the yellow barked acacia trees that grow around here.

large_David__the_Chief_s_Son_1.jpg

First of all, the men and women perform a ‘welcome dance’ for us.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Boma_3.jpg

The dance is accompanied by a single musical wind instrument (traditionally a kudu horn), an olaranyani (song leader) singing the melody and a chorus chanting harmonies, combined into a sort of screeching syncopation.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Boma_6.jpg

This is followed by a display of the Maasai men's famous ‘jumping’ dance, known as adumu. This dance is traditionally performed during the eunoto, the coming of age ceremony of a Maasai warrior.

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_3.jpg

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_4.jpg

large_Elerai_Boma_-_Jumping_1.jpg

.

Chris decides he would like to join in

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_5.jpg

So he studies the style and technique carefully.

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_6.jpg

His approach is a little strained initially.

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_7.jpg

But he soon gets the hang of it.

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_8.jpg

Elerai is what is known as a ‘cultural boma’. The Tanzanian government restricts visits to Maasai homesteads to just a small selection of villages in a bid to limit the damaging effect it has on their culture.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_39.jpg

The beauty of visiting one of the official villages is that not only are we shown around the village, we can also freely take photos of the people who have ‘dressed up’ for the occasion. Taking photos of the Maasai walking along the road is considered very bad and is strongly discouraged, as mentioned in the RULES AND REGULATIONS at the entry gate.

large_Rules_and_Regulations.jpg

Here at Elerai, however, I can snap away to my heart’s content. And I do.

large_Maasai_Woman_1.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_2.jpg

large_Elerai_Boma_57.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_3.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_5.jpg

large_Maasai_Man_2.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_6.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_7.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_1.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_8.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_10.jpg

large_Maasai_Man_1.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_11.jpg

The women have been hanging around while the men have been jumping, but now it is their turn to dance.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Boma_9.jpg

Over the years we have visited a few Maasai villages, as well as other East African ethnic groups, and never before have we been treated to a display of women jumping.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_35.jpg

They may not jump quite as high as the men, but they make a brave attempt.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_34.jpg

While David (the chief’s son, not my husband) takes Lyn and Chris around the village, Kaki, his brother, leads us into one of the other huts.

large_Kaki_showi..e_village_1.jpg

To us, the village doesn’t look all that big, but this collection of straw-and-mud huts is home to around 120 people.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_36.jpg

The work of constructing the huts falls on the women, who build a frame from wooden sticks, make the walls and roof from acacia grass, they then cover the whole lot with cow dung. During the rainy season the houses have to be re-covered with new dung every night.

large_Elerai_Boma_59.jpg

Standing around or walking very slowly, as we have been doing while watching the dancing, has a terrible effect on my troubled back, it is now hurting so much I am struggling to walk. I therefore decline the invitation to see what the hut looks like on the inside, instead I send David in with strict instructions to take photos using his video camera.

large_Kaki_showi..e_village_3.jpg

large_Inside_the_Maasai_Hut_1.jpg

large_Inside_the_Maasai_Hut_2.jpg

large_Inside_the_Maasai_Hut_3.jpg

The heigh of luxury it ain't, but I guess they don't spend much time inside.

Eventually curiosity gets the better of me, and I carefully put my head around the corner to take a peek.

large_Inside_the_Hut_1.jpg

Although the older children go to school in a nearby small town, the younger ones attend the on-site kindergarten.

large_Kindergarten_1.jpg

large_Elerai_Maa..dergarden_1.jpg

large_Elerai_Maa..dergarden_2.jpg

The children beautifully recite the alphabet and numbers in English for us.

large_Elerai_Maa..dergarden_3.jpg

.

The occasional grubby exterior fails to hide the beauty and innocence of these charming kids.

large_Maasai_Children_6.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_14.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_16.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_7.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_8.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_9.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_11.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_12.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_13.jpg

The Maasai – as well as most other ethnic tribes in this region – build their homes in a circular pattern, with a ‘fence’ made from thorny acacia bushes to keep any wild animals out.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_41.jpg

At night, the domestic animals are herded into a coral for safety.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_37.jpg

Exit through the shop.
A Maasai ‘market’ has been set up in the centre of the village where we are ‘encouraged’ to buy something from the stall belonging to the householder whose home we just visited.

large_Maasai_Market_1.jpg

This stuff always looks so good - and tempting - when you see it like this in its appropriate surroundings, but usually becomes horribly out of place if you take it back home.

large_Maasai_Market_3.jpg

We choose a ‘talking stick’ and a small calabash to go on our wall next to the necklace we bought in Kenya last year.

large_Maasai_Talking_Stick.jpg

The talking stick is a communication tool used by the Maasai elders during their community gatherings as a symbol of authority and a right to speak. Everyone present must listen respectfully to the person holding the stick, and only that person is allowed to speak. When he has finished talking, the stick is passed on to someone else, ensuring everyone present has a chance to be heard.

Not sure how it would work in the Howard Household…

We are only partially successful in getting a mutually satisfactory price, and walk away with a feeling of having been ripped off.

large_Maasai_Market_4.jpg

large_Twende_1.jpg

Moving on to our next educational stop, with a few interesting (or not) sights along the way.

Camels

Tanzania has become a lot more commercialised in just the 20 months since we were here last – these camels are brought to the road side by the Maasai who charge tourists to have their photo taken with them.

large_Camels_7-1.jpg

Dust

This may be the green season, but the only rain we have seen so far is a mere five minutes just as we left Kilimanjaro Airport. Any vehicles, especially large trucks, throw up great amounts of dust from the tracks.

large_Dust_7-1.jpg

large_0FA25651EC7AE943CCFCCBB456FD1E98.jpg

As we slow down for the junction, a group of teenagers shout and wave their arms. One young lad lifts his gown to reveal nothing underneath except a hard-on. I am left in a state of incredulity: “Did I really just see that?” You’ll be pleased to know that there is no photographic evidence.

Eland

large_Eland_7-1.jpg

Dark Chanting Goshawk

large_Hawk__Dark..Goshawk_7-1.jpg

Thomson's gazelle

large_Thomson_s_Gazelle_7-1.jpg

large_Thomson_s_Gazelle_7-2.jpg

Rough track

The vibration caused by the incredibly rough rutted track results in Lyn’s lens filter becoming unscrewed and me shouting: “Can you keep the noise down please!”

large_Dirt_Track_to_Oldupai_7-1.jpg

Beetle

A stowaway flies in through the window, hoping to catch a ride. One of my ambitions for this trip is to see a dung beetle, but this one is sadly dung-less. I know, I know, there is no pleasing some people.

large_Beetle__Dungless_7-2.jpg

Oldupai Gorge – Where human life began

large_Oldupai_1.jpg

The thirty-mile long and 300 feet deep ravine is part of the Great Rift Valley that stretches through East Africa. The original paleoanthropologists who excavated this area over 50 years ago, wrongly named it Olduvai after mishearing the Maa word for the wild sisal plant which grows in the vicinity. The Tanzanian government renamed it (correctly) Oldupai Gorge in 2005.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_Reception.jpg

It is thought that millions of years ago, the site was that of a large lake, the shores of which were covered with successive deposits of volcanic ash. Around 500,000 years ago seismic activity diverted a nearby stream which began to cut down into the sediments, revealing seven main layers in the walls of the gorge. Just one small pinnacle remains standing.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_1.jpg

This is another place I hardly recognise from last time we came – which admittedly was nine years ago in 2007 – there is so much building work and a completely new Orientation Centre.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_2.jpg

Scenic as the gorge may be, it is by no means on the same scale as the Grand Canyon, or even Cheddar Gorge; but then again it is not the gorge itself that is the star attraction here; it is all about the secrets this deep-sided the ravine concealed.

Cradle of Mankind Museum

large_Cradle_of_Mankind.jpg

Oldupai Gorge is considered to be one of the most important pre-historic sites in the world. In the 1930s Mary and Louis Leakey discovered fossils of early humanoid dating back some 5 million years (give or take a few hundred thousand years); which has been hugely instrumental in furthering our understanding of early human evolution.

large_Oldupai_Mu..is_Leakey_1.jpg

large_Oldupai_Mu..is_Leakey_2.jpg

Realistic replicas of some of their most important discoveries are on display in the modest museum, including the ‘Laetoli Footprints’ – perfectly preserved marks in the rock showing two upright bipedal hominids, out for a stroll more than 3.5 million years ago. If that doesn’t make you feel humble and small, nothing will.

large_Oldupai_Mu..ootprints_3.jpg

large_Oldupai_Mu..ootprints_2.jpg

large_Oldupai_Mu..ootprints_1.jpg

Other exhibits include fossils, tools, artefacts and display boards with old photos from the Leakey’s time.

large_Oldupai_Mu..f_Mankind_7.jpg

large_Oldupai_Mu.._Mankind_10.jpg

large_Oldupai_Mu..ootprints_5.jpg

Part of the exhibition is dedicated to Dr Yoshiharo Sekino, who set out on a remarkable journey following the routes of ancient civilisations.

large_Dr_Yoshiha..s_Journey_1.jpg

large_Dr_Yoshiha..o_s_Bicycle.jpg
Dr Sekino's bike

large_Dr_Yoshiha..s_Journey_3.jpg
His route on the map within the exhibition

We have our picnic lunch overlooking the gorge, next to the group of American college students we saw on the flight from Nairobi as well in Tarangire National Park. They are incredibly noisy, but I am more concerned about the fact that this girl thinks it is perfectly acceptable to eat her lunch in public with her great big walking boot on the table!

large_Picnic_Lun..n_the_table.jpg

History comes to life with a short presentation on how the various layers of rock strata have formed over the past 5 million or so years.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_3.jpg

We can clearly see three of the five layers here:

1. Basalt from 2 million years ago
2. Volcanic ash from 1.75 million years ago
3. Iron oxide from 1.2 million years ago.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_4.jpg

The top two layers (ash and mud – 800,000 and 150,000 years ago respectively) have eroded over the years.

Different types of humanoids inhabited the different time epochs. With my tongue firmly in my cheek, I have my own slant on evolution…

large_Evolution.jpg

We are also given the low-down on the sisal plant – which the gorge is named after – and its many uses: rope and mats, painkillers from the roots and animals will chew on it for water.

large_1ABB4616D0708A05052F17C562FB8B0B.jpg

After our educational break, we head down into the gorge itself, on some pretty basic tracks.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_5.jpg

large_Naibor_Soit_1.jpg

What I want to know is how we can be sure we are not actually driving on top of some hitherto undiscovered important archaeological remains.

large_Naibor_Soit_3.jpg

The Mysterious Shifting Sands

Having come across articles about this phenomenon while researching our trip, I asked Malisa if we could make a detour to try and find these elusive dunes.

large_Shifting_Sands_1.jpg

These fascinating crescent-shaped mounds are a remarkable occurrence known as barkan. Dunes are formed when ground dust blown by unidirectional wind collects around a stone and continues to accumulate until a small dune is formed. As more sand is added, the process continues and the dune moves, in this case around ten metres a year.

large_Shifting_Sands_5.jpg

Shifting sands is not a new experience for us; but this one is different in that it is not only made up of very fine black sand, but it is also highly magnetised due to its high iron content.

large_Shifting_Sands_9.jpg

Despite its very fine texture, when you throw a handful of the stuff in the air, it doesn’t blow away on the wind, it falls almost straight down. The whole thing is eerie and ethereal, like an alien world.

large_Shifting_Sands_6.jpg

.

The volcanic sand that makes up the 9-metre high and 100-metre long dune originates from the Maasai’s most holy of places, Ol Doinyo Lengai - meaning ‘Mountain of God’ - which erupts with frequent intervals sending plumes of steam and ash over the surrounding countryside.

large_Shifting_Sands_11.jpg
Erm... why Chris?

The sands have moved around 500 metres since people started to take notice of it – there are markers on the road to indicate its route – the first recorded resting place was over by those trees in the background some time in the 1950s.

large_Shifting_S.._moved_from.jpg

Lemuta

Instead of taking the direct route west from Oldupai to Ndutu, Malisa heads off towards Lemuta, “to see what we can find”.

large_Oldupai_-_..-_Ndutu_Map.jpg

Giraffes

The first thing we see is four giraffes lying down – a most unusual sight. In this position giraffes are very vulnerable to predators because of the time and effort it takes them to get up.

large_Giraffe_7-101.jpg

Beetle

Another dungless beetle flies in through the window and lands on Chris. “Throw him out” I shout, and with that Chris gets out of the car! Doh!

large_Beetle__Dungless_7-3.jpg

We make sure he is not on his back on the ground (the beetle, not Chris), before we drive off.

Thomson's Gazelles

A large herd of gazelles start running as we approach. One little baby gets separated from the rest and instead of running across; he sprints along the track as fast as his little legs will carry him.

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_7-21.jpg

Malisa slows down so as not to cause him any more stress, and soon mum comes in from the left to collect him. Phew. Another disaster averted.

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_7-22.jpg

A few gazelles refuse to run – instead they stand and stare eerily at us as we pass. David waves out of the window, but they don’t wave back. Ignorant so-and-sos.

(Ex) Wildebeest

It was the end of the road for this wildebeest as he died of natural causes.

large_One_that_didn_t_make_it_1.jpg

Vultures

Something obviously didn’t make it here either – Malisa explains that it is an old cheetah kill which the vultures are now finishing off.

large_Vultures_7-1.jpg

large_Lyn__the_Photographer.jpg

large_Lyn__the_Photographer_7-1.jpg

Endless Plains

Seeing the Short Grass Plains at Lemuta, I can understand how Serengeti got its name – it means “Endless Plains” in the local Maa language. As far as the eye can see in every direction there is nothing but grass, dotted with a few animals. It is quite overwhelming, and none of my photographs do it justice.

large_Lemuta_Sho.._Plains_7-1.jpg

The panorama below – joined together from nine different images, shows a 180° view, to give you some idea.

large_Lemuta_Sho..ns_Panorama.jpg

Secretary Bird

This large bird - standing at 125 cm - gets its name from the crest of long quill-like feathers which gives it the appearance of an old-style secretary with quill pens tucked behind their ear. Although it has the ability to fly (I have never seen one in flight), the secretary birds is largely terrestrial, hunting its prey on foot

large_Secretary_Bird_7-1.jpg

Lappet Faced Vulture

A lappet Faced Vulture surveys the plains, looking for food.

large_Vulture__Lapped_Faced_7-1.jpg

Vultures and Jackal

Another old cheetah kill attracts a number of vultures (White Backed, Woolly Necked, and Rueppell’s Griffon) as well as a Golden Jackal.

large_Vultures_a.._Jackal_7-1.jpg

Squabbles are almost constant, with everyone looking for an opportunity to grab a piece of meat for themselves.

large_Vultures__.._Jackal_7-1.jpg

The jackal is definitely at the top of the pecking order, while the vultures fight amongst themselves.

large_Vultures__.._Jackal_7-3.jpg

large_Vultures__.._Jackal_7-8.jpg

large_Vultures__.._Jackal_7-5.jpg

large_Vultures__.._Jackal_7-6.jpg

A couple of Lappet Faced Vultures arrive to join in the party

large_Vultures__..Griffon_7-1.jpg

large_Vulture__White_Headed_7-1.jpg

More fighting, and even the jackal joins in with a growl.

large_Vultures__..Jackal_7-10.jpg

large_Vultures__..Jackal_7-12.jpg

It looks like the jackal has his fill as he licks his chops and walks off.

large_Vultures__..Jackal_7-14.jpg

Then, and only then, do the vultures get a look-in.

large_271C95BAB6512DE3069F2E0B1B2B0644.jpg

They tuck into what's left of the once cute little Thomson's Gazelle.

large_Vultures__..Griffon_7-3.jpg

Having access to the meat doesn't stop them feuding, however.

large_Vultures__..Griffon_7-4.jpg

We continue across the short grass plains, looking for cheetah at every kopje. No luck. Not one.

Hyenas

We do, however, spot a cackle of female hyenas. They lie down in puddles and streams to cool down while digesting their food. Unhappy at being woken up from her afternoon nap, this one takes flight when she sees us.

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-2.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-4.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-6.jpg

Female hyenas have a false penis (which you can just about make out in the photo below) and are the pack leaders.

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-14.jpg

For a while they circle a Tommy family (Thomson’s Gazelle), but eventually decide it’s too much like hard work and call it a day.

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-19.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-16.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-10.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-11.jpg

Yellow Throated Sandgrouse

large_Sandgrouse..hroated_7-3.jpg

large_Sandgrouse..hroated_7-4.jpg

Kori Bustard

Another tall bird at almost one metre in height.

large_Bustard__Kori_7-1.jpg

Capped Wheatear

large_Wheatear__Capped_7-2.jpg

Crowned Plover

large_Plover__Crowned_7-11.jpg

Golden Jackal

large_Jackal__Golden_7-31.jpg

Eland

As a result of hunting (eland meat is highly prized), these animals have become very skittish, so it is good to get some photos that are not ‘bum shots’ for a change.

large_Eland_7-22.jpg

large_Eland_7-24.jpg

Dung Beetle

large_Dung_Beetle.jpg

Each time I go on a safari, I have a wish list of animals I would like to see. This year the dung beetle is one of my top requests for Malisa to try and locate. As always, he comes up trumps, and much excitement ensues when he stops the car to introduce us our new little friend.

large_Beetle__Dung_7-29.jpg

Aren’t dung beetles just the coolest, most fascinating little animals? OK, maybe you think I am very sad for getting excited about a small shit-eating insect, but just hear me out first before you poo-poo my statement.

large_Beetle__Dung_1.jpg

These tiny bugs (about twice the size of my thumbnail) prefer excrement from herbivores rather than carnivores, as the former is largely undigested vegetable matter. OK, so now we have a vegetarian poo-eating insect. Although, the veggie poo is not so easy for them to locate as it gives off less of an odour than the meat waste. So, it has now become a vegetarian poo-eating insect with a sensitive nose.

large_Beetle__Dung_2.jpg

Most dung beetles are fussy eaters, so they won’t just eat any old shit; it has to be waste from a particular animal. They also like their poo to be fresh – don’t we all – the fresher the better. I think I am beginning to understand this; these are finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian poo-eaters. A new patty can be descended on by up to 4000 dung beetles within 15 minutes of being dropped, and as many as 15,000 have been observed on one pile of dung at the same time. A real sociable, finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian, poo-eater it seems.

large_Beetle__Dung_3.jpg

All I wanted was one single beetle carefully rolling away his prized poo!

large_Beetle__Dung_7-30.jpg

You could say he is on a roll... actually, they move surprisingly fast!

large_Beetle__Dung_7-27.jpg

Dung beetles can eat their own weight in less than 24 hours, and are probably the most industrious resident on the savannah, clearing up the mess left behind by other animals. The original recyclers! We can now add another string to his bow, making him a sociable, finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian, poo-eating eco-warrior.

large_Beetle__Dung_7-32.jpg

So how does a dung beetle know which way he should be rolling his poo? He navigates using the Milky Way of course. Now this is starting to get serious: he is a sociable, finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian, poo-eating environmentally friendly astronomer.

large_Milky_Way.jpg
This image is all mine, although the pictures of the sky and the beetle were not taken at the same time.

Although not all dung beetles roll their dung away, those that do, do so to feed their young. There is nothing like passing poo to your babies eh? Those beetles that don’t move the poo, make their home in the pile of dung. You could say they are happy as a pig in shit – or it that beetle?

large_Beetle__Dung_7-34.jpg

As well as food and housing, that pile of manure is also great for cooling off your feet (or rather for the beetle’s feet) – a bit like us trying to get off the hot sand on a sunny beach. Dung is considerably cooler than the parched African soil, mainly due to its moisture contents. So, how is that little insect doing now? He can now be described as a sociable, finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian poo-eating, hot footing environmentally friendly astronomer.

large_Beetle__Dung_4.jpg

The last point I want to make is about their strength (I’m am not going to mention about his horn) – imagine yourself pushing a giant ball (just try not to think about what it is made from) which is over a thousand times your body weight, which is equal to an average gym-goer pushing 80 tons!
Now our little friend has become a sociable, finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian poo-eating, hot footing, athletic, environmentally friendly astronomer. He sure is my hero!

And you thought he was just another beetle!

large_Beetle__Dung_7-25.jpg

You think I am talking a lot of crap? Check it out for yourself.

Dung Beetles guided by Milky Way

Wikipedia

.

Safari Vehicle

large_Safari_Vehicle_1.jpg

This is what our ‘home’ for the eleven days in Tanzania looks like. Based on a Toyota Landcruiser, it has been especially converted for safari use, with plenty of room in the back (six seats plus luggage compartment), an elevating roof means we can stand up for a better view to take photos, and it is easy to move around on a flat floor. There are charging points for camera batteries, and a beanbag for photography, plus we can attach a clamp with a tripod head to the rails too. All mods cons (including a fridge full of cold drinks), and comfortable seats - it has everything we need for long days on the African savannah.

large_Calabash_S..Vehicle_7-1.jpg

Pregnant Hyena

This pregnant hyena is very close to giving birth, and all she wants to do is sleep. Instead she has to pose for these horrid tourists. It’s a hard life isn’t it?

large_Hyena__Pre.._Female_7-1.jpg

large_Hyena__Pre.._Female_7-2.jpg

large_Hyena__Pre.._Female_7-3.jpg

large_Hyena__Pre.._Female_7-5.jpg

large_Hyena__Pre.._Female_7-6.jpg

A congress of Jackals

Five or six Golden Jackals turn up.

large_Jackal__Golden_7-43.jpg

large_Jackal__Golden_7-44.jpg

A couple of Ostriches

large_Ostriches_7-11.jpg

large_Ostrich__Female_7-11.jpg
Female

large_Ostrich__Male_7-11.jpg
Male

And some Zebra

large_Zebra_7-11.jpg

large_Zebra_7-13.jpg

Spotting another vehicle makes us realise that the last time we saw one was actually four hours ago. I like this low season safari lark.

Wildebeest Migration

Because the rains arrived later than normal this year, the wildebeest seem confused and appear to have split up. You can see from the map below where they normally are during May, and where we spot large herds of them today.

large_Migration_Map_1.jpg

large_Wildebeest_Migration_7-2.jpg

Grant’s Gazelle

The wildebeest are accompanied by Grant’s Gazelle.

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_7-11.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_7-14.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_7-16.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_7-18.jpg

And a Tawny Eagle

large_Eagle__Tawny_7-2.jpg

Lion Pride

large_Lion_Pride.jpg

Not far from our lodge, and with the light fading fast, we come across a pride of nine lions spread out over a swampy area between Lakes Ndutu and Masek.

large_Lions_7-11.jpg

The females and young males lie in the late sun, stroll around or play fight.

large_Lions_7-2.jpg

large_Lions_7-6.jpg

large_Lions_7-7.jpg

large_Lions_7-14.jpg

large_Lions_7-25.jpg

large_Lions_7-27.jpg

large_Lions_7-28.jpg

By reason of a strict pecking order, these guys are waiting their turn to have dinner – once the two alpha males have had their fill.

large_Warning.jpg

large_This_Entry..ns_Scenes_3.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-1.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-4.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-6.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-7.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-9.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-13.jpg

And for those of you who are wondering exactly how close we are to the lions – THIS is how close!

large_Lion_Kill_7-22.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-21.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-30.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-31.jpg

When one of the boys has had enough and gets up and walks away, the others look at the kill expectantly.

large_Lion_Kill_7-45.jpg

large_Lions_7-29.jpg

But it seems his brother is still not finished.

large_Lion_Kill_7-47.jpg

Has he had enough?

large_Lion_Kill_7-48.jpg

Has he?

large_Lion_Kill_7-49.jpg

It seems that way…

large_Lion_Kill_7-50.jpg

Has he heck!

large_Lion_Kill_7-51.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-53.jpg

The youngsters resign themselves to having to wait a little longer for supper.

large_Lions_7-32.jpg

large_Lions_7-31.jpg

One of the braver ones decides he is going to risk it.

large_Lion_Kill_7-55.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-56.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-57.jpg

Finally!

large_Lion_Kill_7-59.jpg

Seeing the look on this guy’s face as he struggles to bit off a slice of the fresh rib, I am instantly grateful for steak knives.

large_Lions_7-36.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-62.jpg

And after all that, all he ends up with is a mouthful of bones. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

large_Lion_Kill_7-63.jpg

Maybe, just maybe… he is trying to bite off more than he can chew…?

large_Lion_Kill_7-64.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-65.jpg

He looks forlorn: “There’s got to be an easier way than this.”

large_Lion_Kill_7-66.jpg

“I’ll try a different approach”

large_Lion_Kill_7-67.jpg

“Or maybe I’ll just lick the plate”

large_Lion_Kill_7-70.jpg

Malisa points out that meanwhile, behind us, a glorious sunset is painting the sky orange over the lake, signalling the end of another extraordinary day and time for us to say goodbye to our lions and head to camp.

large_Sunset_ove..e_Ndutu_7-1.jpg

Ndutu Lodge

large_83ADC988DBF1FAA860915D23ADBCAD1F.jpg

As with our previous visit, it is dark by the time we arrive at Ndutu Lodge. Despite several other safari vehicles arriving at the same time, the check in is impressively swift and efficient. After a quick shower and change, we meet up dinner.

Good food, Savanna Cider, Genets in the Rafters, coffee in the lounge and Dik Diks on the lawn – a perfect end to a perfect day!

large_Chicken_and_Rice_7-1.jpg
Chicken and rice

Small Spotted Genet

large_Genet__Small_Spotted_7-1.jpg

Cat-like in appearance, the genets are wild but encouraged to hang around the rafters of the lodge by staff who occasionally slip them tidbits of food in exchange for keeping the rodent population down. They are also obviously very popular with the guests.

large_Genet__Small_Spotted_7-8.jpg

Apparently the roof of the dining room / bar area was originally supported by huge wooden beams which the genets used a climbing frame. When the rafters were removed during the refurbishment, one of the beams was retained purely for the pleasure of the genets

large_Ndutu_Lodg.._Lounge_7-1.jpg

Dik Diks

Normally extremely shy, these tiny antelopes have become accustomed to people and feed happily in the grounds of the lodge.

large_Dik_Dik_7-5.jpg

large_Dik_Dik_7-7.jpg

large_Dik_Dik_7-8.jpg

Yet again Calabash Adventures and their wonderful guide Malisa have given us a day in the bush to remember.

large_85AE5A1FB59EE3E1FE8B9825BD936DA4.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 03:04 Archived in Tanzania Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises animals birds sunset road_trip view travel vacation views shopping village adventure roads kids scenery museum sunrise africa safari tanzania lodge zebra lunch beetle unesco birding chicken souvenirs lions maasai giraffe roadtrip lion_cubs ngorongoro dust hyena kill tribes anthropology wildebeest olduvai jackal ngorongoro_crater rip_off bird_watching game_drive road-trip eland african_food dung_beetle safari_vehicle great_rift_valley night_photography canon_eos_5d_iii school_kids qat calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators which_safari_company best_safari_company nature_trail maasai_cattle ngrongoro_serena ngorongoro_conservation_area tower_of_giraffe maasai_boma kindegarten shifting_sands oldupai lamuta lion_kill Comments (0)

Maramboi - Ngorongoro

How can we possibly top that?


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_6_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

large_B8F1E3A8E6D039BF4099DA322DF4CC84.jpg

large_Breakfast_at_Maramboi_1.jpg

Breakfast at Maramboi is interrupted this morning by a family of warthogs coming through...

large_Warthogs_at_Maramboi_21.jpg

large_Warthogs_at_Maramboi_23.jpg

... a couple of birds visiting the dining area...

large_Starling__Superb_6-3.jpg

large_Bulbul__Common_6-3.jpg

...and the sunrise.

large_Sunrise_over_Maramboi_5.jpg

large_Sunrise_over_Maramboi_7.jpg

This morning we get to pick the contents of our own lunch boxes – another thing we like about Maramboi.

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_1.jpg

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_2.jpg

There is quite a selection to choose from – something for everyone.

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_3.jpg

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_4.jpg

Including for Chris, who struggles with the weight of his over-full box!

large_Maramboi_-..hris__Box_1.jpg

Why have a healthy lunch when you can have cake?

large_Maramboi_-..hris__Box_2.jpg

We are off to pastures new this morning – another park, another lodge, another eventful day filled with exciting animal encounters.

large_Maramboi_-..p_the_car_1.jpg

In order to try and contain the elephants within Tarangire National Park, bee hives have been hung from the trees along the park boundaries – it has been found that those big, brave, huge animals are afraid of a tiny little bee! And I thought it was just mice that freaked elephants out, and then only in cartoons. Apparently not.

large_Bee_Hive_3.jpg

large_Bee_Hive_1.jpg
The old traditional style

large_Bee_Hive_4.jpg
And the more modern type

Minjungu

At Minjungu Village, Maasai women are busy setting up the weekly market.

large_Minjungu_W..ai_Market_1.jpg

large_Minjungu_W..ai_Market_2.jpg

Today we are heading for Ngorongoro.

large_Ngorongoro..Area_sign_1.jpg.

We may not be in one of the national parks right now, but that doesn’t stop us seeing a plethora of wild animals along the way.

large_Ostrich__Z..he_road_6-3.jpg
Ostrich, Zebra and Wildebeest

large_Thomson_s_Gazelles_6-1.jpg
Thomson's Gazelles

Chris spots some animals in the distance and excitedly exclaims: “zebra!” They turn out to be donkeys, but shall be forever known as ‘Chris’ Zebra’.

large_Donkey_6-4.jpg

large_Chris__Zebra_1.jpg
Maybe Chris has discovered a new species? A zonkey known as Debra?

Donkeys have extremely strong bones and in an impact with a car they can easily get up and walk away even if the car is a total wreck.

large_Donkey_6-3.jpg

large_Donkeys__Albino__6-1.jpg
Albino donkey?

large_Donkey_6-5.jpg
Nice ass!

Maasai Manyatta (village)

In the far distance we can see a huge Maasai Manyatta (terrible photo, sorry), belonging to the local village chief and his 27 wives! With over 100 children between them, he has even built his own school; which, with the help of the government, has since expanded to allow other local children to attend. One of the richest men in the area, he built his empire to become the biggest supplier of milk in the region . (And he's been milking it ever since)

So it is true what they say about the milkman then!

large_Maasai_Manyatta_6-1.jpg

I can’t remember seeing so many tuk tuks on our previous visits. These three wheeled auto rickshaw taxis are known as bajaji here in Tanzania. They are cheap and readily available, but probably not a good idea for a safari.

large_Bajaji__tuk_tuk__Taxis_2.jpg

large_Bajaji__tuk_tuk__Taxis_1.jpg

large_Bajaji__tuk_tuk__Taxis_5.jpg

Mto Wa Mbu

The small town of Mto Wa Mbu is just beginning to come to life as we pass through this morning on our way to the highlands.

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_4.jpg

The town owes its fast increasing population to Medicine Men in Loliondo near Lake Natron, some 250 kilometres away. Offering to cure all incurable diseases, the witch doctors are extremely popular with believers who overnight here in Mto Wa Mbu before being taken to meet the doctors. The medicine dispensed is very reasonably priced at 500 shillings (ca. 22cents in US$) – the transport required to take you there, however, will set you back US$100. Sounds like a dreadful, but apparently successful, scam to me!

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_5.jpg

Hanging out of the window with my camera in hand, I practise my usual drive-by-shooting.

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_9.jpg

Meaning Mosquito River, Mto Wa Mbu is one of the few places around where you can find all Tanzania’s 120 ethnic tribes represented; mainly because of the lure of the tourist dollar and also the aforementioned racket involving greedy quacks.

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_10.jpg

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_11.jpg

Mto Wa Mbu is where you find the entrance to Lake Manyara National Park, so there are plenty of tourist stalls around. Also, all road traffic to Ngorongoro and Serengeti come through here.

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_9.jpg

Malisa stops the car and buys some little red bananas for us to try. They are sweeter than the normal yellow type, and Malisa explains how they will only grow successfully in volcanic soil – plant them anywhere else and the fruit turns green rather than red.

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_12.jpg

large_Red_Bananas.jpg

This area is a major breeding site for storks (Marabou, Yellow Billed and African Open Billed) as well as Pelicans.

large_Storks__Ye..Marabou_6-1.jpg
Yellow Billed and Maribou Storks

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-5.jpg
Yellow Billed Storks

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-4.jpg

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-3.jpg

large_Pelican__P.._Billed_6-1.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork and Pink Backed Pelican

large_Pelican__Pink_Backed_6-2.jpg
Pink Backed Pelican

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-2.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork

It also seems to be a favourite place for Olive Baboons to hang out – maybe they are after berries dropped by the birds, or it could be that tourists stopping to photograph the birds feed the baboons too…

large_Baboons_6-2.jpg

large_Baboons_6-4.jpg

As we start to climb onto the Ngorongoro Highlands, we can feel the temperature dropping. We are doing some serious climbing today – thankfully by car – from an altitude of 4,150 feet above sea level at Maramboi, to around 7,200 on the crater rim. That’s a difference of a whopping 3,000 feet!

Putting it into perspective, the peak of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in UK, sits at 4,416 feet.

large_Climbing_u..o_Highlands.jpg

We stop part way up to look at the view over Lake Manyara, from the shores of which we watched the sun rise this morning.

large_Looking_ou..e_Manyara_1.jpg

large_Looking_ou..e_Manyara_2.jpg

large_Looking_ou..e_Manyara_3.jpg

As with all places where tourists routinely stop, a number of salesmen hang around. We negotiate a good deal on some fun little necklaces with carved animals, and we all wear one, including David and Chris.

large_Necklaces.jpg

large_Necklaces_with_Animals_2.jpg

large_Necklaces_with_Animals_3.jpg

large_Necklaces_with_Animals_1.jpg

While sandals made from old tyres are quite a common sight all over sub-Saharan Africa, Malisa has a very much more upmarket version!

large_Malisa_a_Sandals_5-1.jpg

Especially commissioned and made from brand new motorcycle tyres, they are totally unique and even have a cool antenna at the front! I love them, I can’t imagine, however, going in to a Clark’s shop in Bristol and asking for a “size 180/55ZR-17 with a six inch pole and four beds please”.

large_Malisa_a_Sandals_5-2.jpg

large_Malisa_a_Sandals_5-3.jpg
That's the best grip I have ever seen on any sandal!

As we climb higher, large fields of sunflowers brighten up the scenery.

large_Sunflowers_6-11.jpg

large_Sunflowers_6-12_Nik.jpg

So far on this trip we have been extremely lucky with the weather – especially as we are here in the Green Season – but those clouds looming over the hills do not look very promising.

large_Souvenir_Shop.jpg

Karatu

There’s a different look and feel to this town up here in the highlands than the atmosphere of Mto Wa Mbu in the lowlands.

large_Karatu_1.jpg

large_Karatu_2.jpg

large_Karatu_3.jpg

large_Karatu_4.jpg

large_Karatu_5.jpg

large_Karatu_6.jpg

large_Karatu_7.jpg

And they have motorcycle taxis – known as pikipiki – instead of tuk tuks.

large_Karatu_-_P..ycle_Taxi_1.jpg

large_Karatu_-_P..ycle_Taxi_2.jpg

Loduare Gate

As the portal to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as well as the Serengeti further along, each year more than 1.5 million people pass through this gate!

large_Lodoare_Gate_1.jpg

It is not just safari tourists who enter – goods and passengers come this way too as this is the main B144 highway travelling north-west from Arusha.

large_Lodoare_Gate_2.jpg

While Malisa completes the registration and pays the fee, we have time to inspect the small information centre with a cool 3D map depicting the dramatic ecology, ethnography and topography of the region.

large_Lodoare_Ga..on_Centre_2.jpg

large_Lodoare_Gate_-_3D_Map_1.jpg

large_Lodoare_Ga..on_Centre_1.jpg

large_Lodoare_Ga..on_Centre_3.jpg

There is also an even smaller shop.

large_Lodoare_Gate_-_Shop.jpg

At least the toilets here have improved drastically since our first visit in 2007, although that wouldn’t take much!

large_Lodoare_Gate_-_Toilets.jpg

Malisa has our permit and we are ready to move on to the next part of our adventure.

large_Lodoare_Gate_8.jpg

large_Lodoare_Gate_6.jpg

large_Lodoare_Gate_5.jpg

Immediately after passing through the gate, the road goes from being a super highway (OK, that may be a slight exaggeration... but at least it is sealed and relatively smooth) to a simple dirt track. This is one of the things I like about Tanzania compared with places such as South Africa – you do feel that you are visiting a real African wilderness rather than a commercial safari park.

large_Ngorongoro..o_the_Rim_4.jpglarge_Ngorongoro..o_the_Rim_6.jpg

Over a distance of around six kilometres, we negotiate a number of switchbacks as we climb ever upwards. Here the vegetation is more like a tropical rainforest, and I am very surprised – disappointed even – that the usual heavy mist is absent from the densely forested slope of the outer crater wall today.

large_Ngorongoro..o_the_Rim_8.jpg
In the photo above, you can see the road we just came up at the back on the left

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_10.jpg

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_12.jpg

We even get some quick glimpses of the ‘lowlands’ below us.

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_15.jpg

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_16.jpg

Just as the road levels out, the mist finally appears.

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_17.jpg

Then the dense vegetation surrounding the road abruptly opens up into a clearing and we are greeted by the most breathtaking panoramic view from the crater rim, a vista beyond all imagination.

large_Ngorongoro..m_the_Rim_4.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..m_the_Rim_6.jpg

Chris’ reaction as he looks out from the viewpoint brings me to tears.

.

Throughout our trip so far, we have all being uttering exclamations of delight with “wow” being one of our favourite expressions.
Chris on the other hand, has been more level headed. “I am not a ‘wow’ kind of person” he has been saying, “I was prepared to be amazed, and I have been”. For him, therefore, to be calling out “wow” at this point is really stupendous.

large_DDEDC653ADA48DA1895E79F90170B558.jpg

I know how he feels, however. That first glimpse of the crater floor spread out below never fails to excite me as I gaze in awe at the small dark specks, trying to make out individual animals below through binoculars.

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_14.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_17.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_15.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_12.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_20.jpg

This is our first visit in the Green Season, and I am almost overwhelmed by how verdant the crater floor looks. It looks totally different to the dry season, like a completely different park! I love it!

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_24.jpg

large_Ngorongoro.._Comparison.jpg

As we continue on our way around the rim in a clockwise direction, the mist descends on us.

large_Mist_1.jpg

The Tomb of Michael Grzimek

HE GAVE ALL HE POSSESSED
INCLUDING HIS LIFE
FOR THE WILD ANIMALS OF AFRICA

The German film maker and passionate conservationist Michael Grzimek is best known for the film 'Serengeti Shall not Die', and his tireless work (and infinite generosity) on the survey of the annual migration in East Africa which resulted in the mapping and extending of the Serengeti National Park.

After his plane crashed following a collision with a vulture in 1957, he was buried here at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. Later this memorial was erected in his honour.

large_Michael_Grzimek_s_Grave_.jpg

I am totally blown away by the colours of the Ngorongoro Highlands in the Green Season. I didn’t notice the difference to the same extent down in Tarangire and surroundings, but up here the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking, with entire hillsides of the Malanja Depression covered in yellow flowers.

large_Malanja_De..n_5_Smaller.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_10.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_13.jpg

large_Malanja_De..ildebeest_1.jpg
Zebra and Wildebeest

In fact the surroundings look so different this time of year I am beginning to think that I have never been here before. David agrees. Malisa assures us that we must have come this way last time (and the time before), as there is a one-way system in and out the crater, and the only descent route is further down this road. That makes sense, so I guess the greenery makes all the difference.

large_Ngorongoro..th_arrows_1.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_6.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_15.jpg
Maasai herders taking their livestock to softer grass

large_Malanja_De..ai_cattle_1.jpg

large_Malanja_De..ai_Cattle_7.jpg

Red Duiker

Despite its best efforts to hide in the tall grass, Malisa spots a Red Duiker – a small, shy antelope. Malisa never ceases to amaze me how he can pick these smallest of animals out while still concentrating on driving. And an excellent driver he is too!

large_Duiker__Red_6-1.jpg

Patience rewards us with a better view as the antelope forgets we are there and starts to move around, feeding.

large_Duiker__Red_6-4.jpg

large_Duiker__Red_6-7.jpg

I am particularly excited about being able to photograph this guy, as I have only even seen one very briefly once before, and that one was far too quick for me to be able to capture him on film.

large_Duiker__Red_6-9.jpg

He eventually decides he’s had enough and makes a run for it.

Unlike Tarangire – and the more famous Serengeti – Ngorongoro is a conservation area rather than a national park. What this means in reality (amongst other things) is that the Maasai are permitted to live and herd their cattle within the area.

large_Maasai_Manyatta_6-2.jpg
Seneto Boma, a temporary Maasai settlement

large_Malanja_De..i_Cattle_11.jpg
Maasai cattle co-exist happily with wild zebra

The further we drive along the road which skims the rim of the crater, the more convinced David and I are that we have not come this way before. And the more insistent Malisa is that we MUST have done, as there is no other route. Because my memory is usually extremely good (as the tree in Tarangire proved), it bothers me. Greatly.

large_Malanja_Depression_7.jpg

It plays on my mind and I keep trying to recall our journey from 20 months ago. I fail miserably, vowing to check blog from that trip when we get to the hotel – and Internet access – tonight to see if that helps to throw any light on this.

large_Malanja_Depression_9.jpg

When we reach Seneto Entrance, I have to concede that I have a vague recollection of having been here before, but it seems a lot longer ago than two years. I am beginning to get seriously worried about my mental recall here.

large_Seneto_Descent_Road_2.jpg

The entrance area is full of flowers and plants.

large_Flowers_at..cent_Road_3.jpg

large_Candelabra..cent_Road_1.jpg

large_Flowers_at..cent_Road_2.jpg

And birds.

large_Wagtail__African_Pied_6-1.jpg
African Pied Wagtail

large_Chat__Nort..nteater_6-1.jpg
Northern Anteater Chat

The Maasai are allowed to herd their cattle inside the crater, but they have to be out by nightfall. They don’t use the same access roads as tourists – here you can see their path leading in and out.

large_F33CFE8AB7894849730F11CBB29A5CDB.jpg

And this is our road.

large_Seneto_Descent_Road_3.jpg

Seneto Descent Road offers a different view over the crater – I love the way whole areas are shrouded in purple flowers!

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_1.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_2.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ent_Road_21.jpg

The scene is quite surreal, like an impressionist painting.

large_Ngorongoro..ent_Road_22.jpg

By the time we get to the bottom of the road, I am still feeling perplexed as I look – unsuccessfully – for any familiar signs within the surroundings. Nothing. Total blank.

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_3.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_5.jpg

Never mind, I will just enjoy the crater floor and check on my photos / blog tonight.

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_1.jpg

Descending the 2000 feet high walls of this natural amphitheatre is like entering another world. We drove through a rainforest earlier, now we appear to be in the desert. It may only be just over ten miles across, but the flat-bottomed floor of the sunken caldera contains a wide range of eco-systems featuring the whole world of East African safari in miniature.

large_Buzzard__Augur_6-1.jpg
Augur Buzzard

Warthogs

large_Warthogs_6-1.jpg

large_Warthogs_6-3.jpg

Wildebeest

large_Wildebeest_6-1.jpg

large_Wildebeest_6-2.jpg

large_Wildebeest_6-4.jpg

large_Lark__Flappet_6-1.jpg
Rufous Lark

I really can’t remember seeing Maasai cattle mingle with wild animals on our previous visits to the crater. I drive everyone else mad with my constant doubts: “are you sure there is no other way down?”

large_Zebra_and_.._Cattle_6-3.jpg
Zebra with Maasai cattle in the background

Zebra

large_Zebra_6-5.jpg

large_Zebra_6-4.jpg

large_Zebra_6-10.jpg

large_Zebra_6-12.jpg

“Is he dead?” We worry about a lifeless zebra on the grounds with two of his mates looking on.

large_Zebra_6-13.jpg

You'll be pleased to know he is only taking it easy in the heat of the day.

large_Zebra_6-14.jpg
Baby zebra are a delightful chocolate brown when they are young, gradually turning to black as they grow up.

Thomson’s Gazelle

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_6-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_6-2.jpg

Thomson's Gazelle is the second fastest land animal in Tanzania after the cheetah; which is why you only tend to find them on the menu for the cheetahs: they are too fast for any of the other predators.

Grey Crowned Crane

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_6-2.jpg

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_6-9.jpg

Grant’s Gazelle

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_6-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_6-2.jpg

These are the first ungulates we’ve seen in any numbers, as they are not present in Tarangire at this time of year. During the dry season large herds of zebra, wildebeest and gazelles can been seen in all three parks, so this is a new experience for us.

large_Lark__Fisc..Sparrow_6-1.jpg
Fischer's Sparrow Lark

large_Zebra_6-17.jpg

There’s nothing like a dust bath on a dry and dusty day…

.

large_Wildebeest..tarling_6-2.jpg
Wildebeest with Wattled Starling on its back

large_Ostrich_6-1.jpg
Female ostriches

Ngorongoro Serena
From the crater floor we can see the hotel we are staying in tonight, the Ngorongoro Serena, perched high on the rim overlooking the caldera.

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_3.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_2.jpg

A couple of spotted hyenas (with dirty bottoms) stroll by and appear to upset a lone elephant who disappears back into the woods with a loud trump.

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-1.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-4.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-8.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-9.jpg

large_Elephant_6-2.jpg

Ngorongoro has much to boast about: it is a UNESCO Heritage Site; the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera, it has the densest population of large carnivores and herbivores anywhere in the world (as in density, not lack of intelligence!), and it is arguably the most impressive geological feature in Africa – no wonder it is commonly referred to as the 8th wonder of the world. The crater delivers some of the best game viewing Africa has to offer, the Africa of wildlife documentaries.

An African White Backed Vulture flies overhead – I love watching the daily life in the Ngorongoro Crater.

large_Vulture__A.._Backed_6-1.jpg

When Malisa claims that the hyena is his favourite animal, I am not sure whether he is joking or not as I personally find the hyena quite sinister looking without any real redeeming features.

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-10.jpg

A very unhappy wildebeest alerts us to the presence of a male lion, mostly hidden in the grass.

large_Wildebeest_6-7.jpg

large_Lion_6-1.jpg

Not that the lion appears to take any interest in the wildebeest, but I guess if you are considered a menu item you can’t be too careful.

large_Lion_and_Wildebeest_6-2.jpg

large_Lion_6-2.jpg

Lerai Forest
Its name being Maasai for the tall, yellow barked acacia trees that grow here, Lerai was once a thick forest, but over the years elephant destruction has reduced this area to a mere woodland glade.

And, as if on cue, here are the elephants.

large_Elephants_6-31.jpg

large_Elephants_6-20.jpg

large_Elephants_6-11.jpg

The big male is in musth and ready to mate. Apparently they pee down their own leg at this time – I will be eternally grateful humans don’t do the same!

large_Elephants_6-12.jpg

This guy lost one of his tusks when trying to bring down a tree. I would say “serves him right”, but I guess it is what elephants do. When asked if park rangers ever replace the trees decimated by elephants, Malisa replies: “No. They just let nature take its course”

large_Elephants_6-19.jpg

In order to exit Lerai Forest, we have to ford the Lairatati River. It looks like they’ve had some serious rain here!

large_Fording_th..ati_River_1.jpg

large_Fording_th..ati_River_2.jpg

large_Woodpecker__Nubian_6-1.jpg
Nubian Woodpecker

Driving through the forest triggers a thought process in my brain, and I suddenly remember that last time we came, we descended into the crater through a host of flat-topped acacia trees. I mention this to Malisa, and he somewhat sheepishly admits: "yes, there is another road into the crater, right over the other side, and there were a few months in 2014 when Seneto descent Road was closed for resurfacing"

large_Ngorongoro..th_arrows_2.jpg

Eureka! I am not cracking up! We really didn't come down the same way last time. I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

It also follows that we used that other road the previous time too, as we were staying in the lodge you can see just to the right of the red arrow.

The mystery is solved and I can sleep soundly tonight!

large_Picnic_6.jpg

large_Lerai_Picnic_Site_1.jpg

large_Picnic_Lun..cnic_Site_2.jpg

large_Picnic_Lun..cnic_Site_1.jpg

We have company for our picnic.

large_Starling__Hildebrand_6-2.jpg
Hildebrand Starling

large_Weaver__Rufous_Tailed_6-1.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

Ngorongoro Crater has to be one of the most iconic safari locations in Africa, and this incredible caldera is a haven for around 20,000 of Africa’s most cherished animals, virtually the whole range of East African wildlife including all three big cats but no giraffe (the trails along the crater walls are too steep for them to negotiate). We continue our journey in a quest to watch the dramatic unfolding of wilderness action. Malisa is on a mission to find a Rasta Lion.

Black Faced Vervet Monkeys

large_Black_Face..Monkey_6-32.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkey_6-33.jpg

A barrel of monkeys (I have been checking out the various collective names of animals) hang around in the trees. This particular youngster is enjoying an afternoon nap.

large_Black_Face..Monkey_6-34.jpg

Blacksmith Plover

large_Plover__Blacksmith_6-32.jpg

I’ve never seen one sit like this before.

large_Plover__Blacksmith_6-31.jpg

large_Lark__Rufous_6-21.jpg
Rufous Lark

Wattled Starling

A deafening cacophony emanating from a tree draws our attention to a great number of wattled starlings.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-22.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-23.jpg

Dozens of tiny hungry mouths beg to be fed. Every time one of the parent birds arrives in the tree, all the babies clamour for attention, not just the offspring of that particular adult. What a racket! No wonder the collective word for a group of starlings is chattering!

large_Starling__Wattled_6-26.jpg

And when mum – and the food – flies past to feed their offspring, the other babies sulk.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-27.jpg

Until the next mother arrives with food for another baby in a different nest.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-28.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-32.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-30.jpg

It’s all too much for one little baby, who promptly falls asleep.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-35.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-36.jpg

He wakes up just as mum arrives…. to feed his brother!

large_Starling__Wattled_6-39.jpg

Once again he is left hungry as mum goes off in search of more grubs.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-40.jpg

This one’s not for him either.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-41.jpg

Much as we’d like to stay on to make sure ‘our’ little baby gets fed, we have places to go and animals to see.

Sacred Ibis at Gorigor Swamp

large_Ibis__Sacred_6-1.jpg

large_Ibis__Sacred_6-3.jpg

While we’re busy looking at the ibises, Malisa spots a mother and baby rhino way out there on the horizon. The rest of us struggle to locate them, even with binoculars. Eventually, after a lot of directions, we do pick them out through the heat and dust haze that always hangs heavily in Ngorongoro Crater.

large_Rhino_6-1.jpg

More wildebeest.

large_Wildebeest_6-51.jpg

large_Wildebeest_6-53.jpg

Including this suckling baby.

large_Wildebeest_6-52.jpg

Zebra - or horse in pyjamas as Lyn calls them. Or maybe we should call them 'Chris' Donkeys'?

large_Zebra_6-52.jpg

Always on the lookout for predators, the zebra can smell danger.

large_4D8ED378F3C7D1945133AF40F8372B16.jpg

The threat appears in the form of a spotted hyena.

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-31.jpg

Two more rhinos – another mother and baby – can be seen on the horizon. This time they are considerably nearer and we can make them out to be a little more than just two blurry blobs.

large_Rhino_6-2.jpg

Seeing a couple of lions walking on the road in the distance, we rush off to join up with them.

large_Lion_6-11.jpg

large_Lion_6-12.jpg

This one appears to have a broken tail. I wonder how that happened? I'd like to imagine some heroic escape from the clutches of a predator - but as lions have no predators in the crater, perhaps an elephant stood on it?

large_Lion_6-13.jpg

These are two youngish brothers, and not the Rasta Lion Malisa was hoping to see.

Malisa gets word from a passing vehicle - one of the very few we have seen - that there is a lioness nursing her two babies further ahead, so we speed off to see for ourselves.

As we approach, they get up and start walking towards the road.

large_Lions_6-31.jpg

They come right up to the side of the road, just a few feet away from us, and settle down in the part shade of a small bridge. To our absolute delight, the babies start to suckle!

large_Lion_6-14.jpg

large_Lion_6-25.jpg

large_Lion_6-19.jpg

large_Lion_6-26.jpg

.

If ever there was such a thing as cuteness overload, this surely is it!

large_Lion_6-15.jpg

large_Lion_6-16.jpg

large_Lion_6-21.jpg

large_Lion_6-28.jpg

Having had their quota of mother’s milk, the babies are full of life and mischief. If I thought the feeding cubs were adorable, when they start to play, it is almost too much to bear and I feel sure my heart is going to burst!

large_Lion_6-56.jpg

large_Lion_6-57.jpg

large_Lion_6-59.jpg

large_Lion_6-60.jpg

large_Lion_6-61.jpg

large_Lion_6-63.jpg

large_Lion_6-64.jpg

large_Lion_6-67.jpg

large_Lion_6-68.jpg

large_Lion_6-51.jpg

large_Lion_6-70.jpg

large_Lion_6-74.jpg

.

.

.

.

Mum, however, is exhausted and all she wants to do is sleep.

large_Lion_6-36.jpg

large_Lion_6-86.jpg

After spending a few tender moments with her little ones, mum is not amused when the cubs start jumping on her and pulling her tail.

large_Lion_6-33.jpg

large_Lion_6-34.jpg

large_Lion_6-72.jpg

large_Lion_6-78.jpg

large_Lion_6-37.jpg

Eventually she loses her temper and lets out a frustrated snarl at her cubs: “will you guys leave me alone. Please!”

large_Lion_6-87.jpg

.

As so many other mothers all over the world have done before her, she gets up and walks away is sheer exasperation to try and find a place where she can have a few minutes of peace and quiet.

large_Lion_6-90.jpg

large_Lion_6-82.jpg

large_Lion_6-84.jpg
Time to smell the flowers

Much to the cub’s displeasure: “Where are you going mum?” “Mum??”

large_Lion_6-83.jpg

She crosses the road to lie down in the shade, leaving her offspring behind, hoping that a bit of rough-and-tumble will have them worn out by bedtime.

large_Lion_6-92.jpg

large_Lion_6-93.jpg

large_Lion_6-91.jpg

large_Lion_6-100.jpg

large_Lion_6-105.jpg

One of the cubs appears to have lost interested in playing.

large_Lion_6-106.jpg

large_Lion_6-98.jpg

large_Lion_6-107.jpg

large_Lion_6-108.jpg

At a mere three weeks old, these cubs are incredibly inquisitive and heart-stirringly adorable.

large_Lion_6-103.jpg

large_Lion_6-104.jpg

When I look into those deep eyes, I feel like I am very much part of a wildlife documentary, not just merely on holiday! I have to pinch myself that this really is happening. I feel exceptionally privileged to be here, witnessing this.

large_Lion_6-101.jpg

We spend fifty minutes with the lioness and her delightful cubs, during which time we see one other vehicle. They stop for just a few minutes, take some photos and move on. I don’t understand that mentality at all – observing the interactions between the family members is what differentiates this wilderness experience from a zoo, surely?

This year's experience is also in stark contrast to our last lion cub encounter in the Ngorongoro Crater, in September 2014 during the dry season, when we struggled to get anywhere near the cats!

large_Ngorongoro_2014.jpg
Ngorongoro 2014

As we bid our cats goodbye and head towards the exit, I rib Malisa: "These cubs are very cute and all that, but you promised me a Rasta Lion! Where is he? It’s just as well Malisa understands my twisted sense of humour.

We see our two young brothers again (the one with the broken tail), walking across the marsh, but no Rasta Lion. I think Malisa is making this up.

large_Lion_6-48.jpg

Further along, a couple more lions rest in the grass right by the side of the road (that’s the shadow of our car you can see in the photos). Did Lyn say before we left home that she was worried about not seeing any lions on the safari? How many is that so far? Twelve? And it’s only Day Two of the actual safari.

large_Lions_6-203.jpg

large_Lions_6-204.jpg

large_Jackal__Golden_6-1.jpg
Golden Jackal

Finally, there he is – Malisa’s Rasta Lion, an eight years old king and a very powerful one.

large_Lion__Rasta_6-2.jpg

Really? He looks more like a big pussycat to me.

large_Lion__Rasta_6-4.jpg

Now, there’s a reason why I spent this afternoon teasing Malisa about his ‘Rasta Lion’ – we brought over a T shirt as a gift for him from Bristol Zoo, which coincidentally features… yes, you guessed it: a Rasta Lion! Although we had planned it as a parting gift, now seems to be the right moment.

large_Malisa__the_Rasta_Lion_1.jpg

We make it to the exit with seven minutes to spare until closing time – being late carries a $200 fine!

large_Ngorongoro..Exit_Road_1.jpg

As he does every evening, Malisa asks us about today’s highlight. As if there is any doubt!?! Malisa, of course, claims seeing the hyena was his favourite moment. Really?

Ngorongoro Serena Hotel

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Hotel.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_1.jpg

As usual, we arrive at our accommodation for the night after dark. So do a lot of other people, so check in is not as quick and smooth as we are used to.

large_8857486BB838418A52CCA311CB0285B8.jpg

Our room seems to be down an awful lot of steps, and after a very quick shower, it’s time to climb back up them for a drink in the bar while we watch the Maasai dancing.

large_885C1CEBA38F71A0CAAC6A3C619EDA94.jpg

For such a big hotel (also part of a bigger chain), I find this evening’s set-up quite amateurish – there is no stage as such, just a small area of the bar, which has been cleared of furniture. A good view of the dancers is limited to those people in the front row only. The outfits are colourful, and the dancers fairly enthusiastic, but I find the whole scenario too commercialised and touristy for my liking. The main dance moves are rocking of the necklaces for the women and traditional jumping for the men. At least half of the performance is dedicated to ‘audience participation’. No thanks.

large_Maasai_Dancing_6.jpg

large_Maasai_Dancing_9.jpg

large_Maasai_Dancing_3.jpg

.

large_8A1E7A9DF285A0C4FC7F94E3C982F746.jpg

The hotel redeems itself over dinner. The restaurant is super, the staff friendly, the menu table d'hôte and the food tasty.

large_Ngorongoro..estaurant_2.jpg

large_Nguru_wa_Kupaka.jpg
Nguru Wa Kupaka - king fish in exotic Swahili sauce

What a day! What can I say, apart from “How can we possibly top that?”

Thanks, yet again to Calabash Adventures – not forgetting our wonderful guide Malisa - for what is turning out to be a holiday of a lifetime!

large_8A50EC48F050D8987AAF11796EE7AEB0.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 12:26 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds monkeys food road_trip travel vacation elephants adventure roads sunrise cute holiday africa safari tanzania zebra birding tourists photography souvenirs lions maasai donkey baboons flip_flops babies roadtrip lion_cubs ngorongoro woodpecker memory cattle glamping caldera boma wildebeest ngorongoro_crater bird_watching suckling karatu game_drive road-trip african_food adorable safari_vehicle manyatta calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators best_safari_company out_of_africa maramboi olive_baboons vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys cuteness_overload maasai_cattle seneto seneto_descent_road malanja mto_wa_mbu Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 8 of 8) Page [1]