Lake Malawi and Ngorongoro Crater
Graham made it off the mountain and met me at the hotel around lunch. He cleaned up then we watched the driver, Abdul, fiddle under the hood for a while before heading out. About a half hour out of Lake Manyara National Park the Abdul slammed on the brakes and pointed out in front of us. Graham and I’s jaws dropped as we watched a herd of giraffes cross the road in front of us. We ran out of the car and snapped about fifty photos within two minutes. There were five adults and two infants with the group.
A big, tall roadblock
Such a tourist
The four adults
When we arrived at the park, Abdul popped the roof off the Jeep and Graham and I climbed onto the roof. We sat on top spotting all sorts of wildlife like excited little kids at Christmas. As we toured the park we saw all sorts of animals. Instead of listing them, I’ll just post the best pictures below.
Our first elephant sighting! It was only about three minutes into the park
He was very cooperative for the camera
The face of an amazed African cowboy
Wildebeest (yes that is spelled right, I checked)
Baboons. Lice. Yummy.
The hippo pool
A baby hippo yawning
Wild hogs and a crane
A lone zebra
Thompson Gazelle up close and personal
Stork without the baby
Gazelle looking at a stork and herd of thirty elephants on the horizon
Close up of what the gazelle was looking at
Sunset in Lake Manyara National Park
That evening we arrived at the campsite and sat down with a Norwegian couple and a woman from France. We talked about everything we had seen that day and were disappointed to find out they had seen three female lions eating a baboon right before we entered the park. They hadn’t seen a family of giraffes though so we were even. The tents were the Ritz Carlton compared to what we were used to from Kili so we were actually able to get some decent sleep.
The next morning we headed for Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is a conservation area instead of a national park. The government classified it as such so the Massi people could live there (no one is allowed to live in a national park). They are a tribe who has resisted change for centuries and lives the same way they did hundreds of years ago. All their decisions are made around the well being of the cattle. Think of what you would expect someone to look like in a Africa documentary on the Discovery channel. That’s what the Massi look like.
I guess Abdul didn’t do as good of a job under the hood as we had hoped because on the descent into the crater the Jeep broke down. He ran off to try and get someone to solve the problem but it must have been bigger than we thought because a half hour later he came down with a new car and new driver for us. I have no idea where he brought this guy off the bench from because there was nothing around for miles. I didn’t care though, I was just happy to have a vehicle.
King of the broken down vehicle
We made our way into the crater and the wildebeest and zebras herds were the first things we saw. Our jaws dropped again. There had to have been thousands of each of them. After we followed wildebeests, zebras, jackals, hippos, antelope, flamingos, and hyenas around, our new driver, Sampson, told us to hang on because he saw something. We went tearing off down the road. I didn’t see what he was talking about at first but then he pointed left. It was a cheetah stalking a herd of Thompson gazelles! He said seeing the cheetah was very rare and we were lucky. The cat meandered alongside the road, giving me enough time to take entirely too many pictures of him. Thank God for digital cameras.
Zebras in the front, Wildebeest in the back
In case you couldn't see him I'm pointing at an elephant
He got mad at me for getting on top of the car and psudo charged us
Grahammy and his zebra
Trying to get artsy with my camera
Cheetah stalking a herd of gazelles along the water
It was surreal to watch him hunt 20 meters from us
See the cheetah getting ready to cross in front?
From there we headed to the hippo ponds where we watched them splash around. There were also a lot of flamingos along the shoreline. A couple of hyenas were cooling off in the pond as well. Some ostriches made an appearance as well.
Flamingos at the hippo pond
Hyena taking an afternoon dip
One last hippo yawn
We told Sampson we wanted to see the black rhino and try to find some lions. We buckled back up again as he sped off to where the other drivers had told him they had seen the animals earlier. We ended up finding the rhino and three female lions stalking wildebeest, but they were pretty far off in the distance. We needed binoculars to see them clearly so I didn’t get many pictures of them.
On the way out, we ran into some African pelicans and a couple other types of birds. By this point, Graham and I were in disbelief that places like this actually exist. Content we had seen everything on our list, we told Sampson to start the four hour drive back to Arusha.
Bustard (yes this one is also spelled correctly)
Now it's off to the Ukraine