A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about seneto

Ndutu: lion in a tree - Lake Eyasi

Goodbye Ndutu, hello Lake Eyasi


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

Having enjoyed our picnic breakfast, we set off again for more game viewing.

large_a18cdb00-d052-11ea-9b7a-ed18610915d2.jpg
Dik Dik

We are heading back to Ndutu Lodge to use the facilities before we leave the area, but the route Malisa wants to take is impassable. “There used to be a road here” he explains.

large_d2b64e00-d052-11ea-9b7a-ed18610915d2.jpg

large_4156ec20-d053-11ea-9b7a-ed18610915d2.jpg
A Greater Spotted Thick Knee doing her best to hide from us

Malisa drops us off at the lodge while he goes off to get fuel for the car.

large_96a685a0-d053-11ea-9b7a-ed18610915d2.jpg

Meanwhile, we spend our time walking around the grounds, looking for birds and taking it all in for the last time.

large_fe0058c0-d053-11ea-9260-1bbb71d85ea4.jpg

large_279cd000-d054-11ea-9260-1bbb71d85ea4.jpg
Northern Grey Headed Sparrow

large_8d947b10-d054-11ea-9260-1bbb71d85ea4.jpg
Great White Pelicans flying in formation

large_c76ab1b0-d054-11ea-9260-1bbb71d85ea4.jpg
I can't believe how overgrown the gardens are at Ndutu Lodge, after all the recent rains.

large_292b69d0-d055-11ea-9260-1bbb71d85ea4.jpg
Hildebrand Starling

large_0bec96f0-d05a-11ea-8e10-117197f8b284.jpg
I am really impressed with the individual terry towels in the 'public' toilets at Ndutu!

Malisa returns and we make our way towards the gate that takes us out of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, of which Ndutu is a small part.

large_3fda08c0-d056-11ea-9260-1bbb71d85ea4.jpg
Black Faced Sandgrouse

large_772b1b20-d056-11ea-9260-1bbb71d85ea4.jpg
Lesser Flamingo

large_50079db0-d057-11ea-9260-1bbb71d85ea4.jpg
Southern Red Bishop

large_066dcca0-d058-11ea-9260-1bbb71d85ea4.jpg
Lesser Masked Weaver

large_128580a0-d058-11ea-9260-1bbb71d85ea4.jpg
They weave the most exquisite nests!

large_a5af57e0-d18c-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg
Strange horizontal rainbow

Lions

Malisa hears on the radio that a lioness has been spotted in a tree near the lake – it sounds like our lady from earlier this morning. We go to check it out.

large_93e2ea90-d18c-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

large_d128cc80-d18c-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

The lioness looks most uncomfortable and keeps shifting her position.

large_f21747a0-d18c-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

Under the tree is a male lion, who is periodically sniffing the air, hoping for his mate to come back down.

large_1dd1bce0-d18d-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

Meanwhile tourists are busy taking selfies with the lions – I wonder if you can actually see the big cat in that photo, or just the outline of a tree?

large_50c28260-d18d-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

Much as we'd love to stay and see what happens with our two kitties, we have to leave in order to get to the gate. Permits are strictly timed and any overstay faces a heavy fine.

There is still quite a lot of flooding in Ndutu.

large_d34d8bd0-d18d-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

large_de720630-d18d-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

large_ea180ca0-d18d-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

Zebra

large_9d515b10-d18d-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

large_a937c5e0-d18d-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

large_b5250e80-d18d-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

Just less than an hour ago we travelled through heavy flooding, now the roads are annoyingly dusty!

large_3d859fb0-d18e-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

The dust covers everything in a thin layer of dirt – look at the state of my camera!

large_04b41260-d18f-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

The dirt being thrown up by passing vehicles also plays havoc with the windscreen of our Landcruiser. A crack developed earlier on the trip, and now, every time we meet a car travelling at speed, Malisa has to hold on to the glass in fear that it would shatter if a stone was to hit it.

large_43c73a40-d18f-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

large_54ee8df0-d18f-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

We join up with the main road through Serengeti, where a new gate post has been erected since we first started coming here, with tourists lining up to have their photos taken, and vendors hoping to sell them some souvenirs.

large_81710390-d18e-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg
The original gate

large_9158d260-d18e-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg
The new sign

large_b3edaa80-d18e-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg
Ndutu Lodge also has a new sign, with the new brand created since the lodge changed ownership.

large_c1326cd0-d18e-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg
Sculpture advertising the Museum of Mankind at Oldupai - also new

large_dc03b360-d18f-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg
A would-be vendor heading for the tourists

large_e603aaf0-d18f-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

Lots of giraffes - we count twenty of them!

large_cb9ffdd0-d18f-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

We stop at Seneto Descent Road (the entrance to Ngorongoro Crater) for a picnic lunch, as are several other people. This is the most crowded I have ever seen this spot. It seems it is not just the camera that is covered in dust – my face was pretty dirty too!

large_32c57a80-d190-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg
The cloth after wiping my face

Baboons

We see a small baby playing, but as soon as we stop, the parents gather him up and leave.

large_78802020-d190-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

large_875f5890-d190-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

large_95bbcc70-d190-11ea-914e-b7956ce85e6b.jpg

There are more baboons at Lodoare Gate (the exit from Ngorongoro Conservation Area), including one that jumps on the bonnet of the car while I am in the loo. David tries to quickly grab a shot with my camera.

large_d7af7f00-d190-11ea-84f7-33950e3a835e.jpg

large_e6276a20-d190-11ea-84f7-33950e3a835e.jpg

large_f4c4b790-d190-11ea-84f7-33950e3a835e.jpg

Once we're through the gate, we hit the sealed road – the first time for eleven days! Not for long though, a mere five kilometres down the road, we turn off right, onto another fairly rough dirt track. This is all new and unexplored territory for us now.

We later turn off the dirt track to an even smaller and narrower lane, winding its way through small hamlets and into the wilderness. This is real off-the-beaten-path stuff, and a completely different type of vegetation – thick and verdant, more jungle-like - to anything we've seen in Tanzania before.

large_04fb0f00-d1a6-11ea-92cc-df8b390e5313.jpg

large_13f57090-d1a6-11ea-92cc-df8b390e5313.jpg

Kisima Ngeda Lodge

As we pull up in the lodge car park, an army of helpers appear out of nowhere. Unless we really want to, there is no need to carry any of our own luggage. After a welcome drink while signing in at the reception, we are shown to our room.

large_417917a0-d1a7-11ea-92cc-df8b390e5313.jpg

large_4f0199b0-d1a7-11ea-92cc-df8b390e5313.jpg

large_5e0dd590-d1a7-11ea-92cc-df8b390e5313.jpg

Our room is, in fact, a large tent on a wooden base with a thatched roof. The room is well furnished and there is an en suite western style toilet and shower at the rear of the tent.

large_b7b4bb40-d1a7-11ea-92cc-df8b390e5313.jpg

large_c3d289c0-d1a7-11ea-92cc-df8b390e5313.jpg

The local guide, who will be with us tomorrow for our excursions, arrives to give us a briefing. As he walks up onto our balcony, I get an instant feeling of recognition. He looks familiar. As he introduces himself as Alex, my mind starts ticking. I am not even sure what I am trying to think of, but suddenly it hits me. “Alex” I ask, “what is your surname?” As soon as he replies “Puwale”, I smile – we are already friends on Facebook! What a small, small world!

Alex's Facebook page

After a quick shower and change, we pop down to the bar for a drink, delighted that we can walk about freely without having to call an askari (a Maasai security guard armed with a spear) to protect us from any potential wild animals. It's the first time on this trip that we've had some time to spare before dinner, and Malisa soon joins us.

large_088e4080-d1a9-11ea-92cc-df8b390e5313.jpg

There is one other group of tourists staying tonight, six people from from the US. I am horrified when I overhear them asking their guide if hunting is allowed, as they'd really like to be able to kill something. Malisa's face is a picture, and I really feel for their guide having to explain to such misinformed and misguided visitors. They are also querying the availability of public conveniences during their trip to see a hunter-gatherer tribe tomorrow. What do they think this is? Disneyland?

As they start to discuss US politics (they are all ardent Trump supporters – there's a surprise!), we try our best to ignore their conversation, which proves rather difficult due to the volume at which they speak. We have a good laugh with Malisa, however, joking about the overheard comments by Whatsapping each other across the table. Little things for little minds.

Dinner

Tomato soup for starters, followed by pork medallions with creamed potato and vegetables, and finished off with a passion fruit mousse.

large_7f0019e0-d1aa-11ea-b034-516a75965bf5.jpg

As always, I am impressed with the arrangements Calabash Adventures have made for us – they really are the best in their field.

large_d6f4bbb0-d1aa-11ea-b034-516a75965bf5.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:59 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds pelicans wildlife africa safari rainbow tanzania zebra birding lions baboons flooding sparrow flamingo giraffes trump ngorongoro dust starling weaver diesel bird_watching ndutu calabash calabash_adventures seneto seneto_descent_road ngorongoro_conservation_area oldupai thick_knee lions_in_a_tree sandgrouse wildlife_photography windscreen lake_eyasi red_bishop american_tourists ndutu_lodge african_animals african_birds alex_puwale animals_of_africa birds_of_africa cracked_windscreen serengeti_gate lodoare lodoare_gare museum_of_mankind kisima_ngeda trump_supporters Comments (2)

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)

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 - 3 of 3) Page [1]