Trip Start Jan 10, 2012
91Trip End May 15, 2012
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We have an unprecedented three rest days in Arusha. We arrived at the Ma'asai Camp and spent the night of the 13th tenting. We were picked up at 2pm on the 14th to go on safari.
Our group consisted or Rosalyn and I, two German riders Peter and Karstine and two Dutch riders, Femke and Jurgen. Our guide Wilson arrived in a land-rover and after buying provisions at Shoprite we set off for the 3-4 hour drive to the Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is an extinct volcano formed 4 million years ago when the centre of the volcano collapsed downward. This has left a crater rim 600m above a 21x19km or 400 square kilometer flat sunken floor
In the land-rover we climbed the outside of the crater to a breathtaking lookout. The entire floor of the crater with its salt lake, numerous streams and vast expanse of green grazing area was visible. After taking photos we got back in and drove westward along the road around the crater rim. Almost immediately we stopped as a large male lion was lying down on the road. We were flabbergasted as we hadn’t been in the park 30 minutes and were already snapping pics of this creature six feet away from the safety of the vehicle. Two female lions arrived and we watched them for a while until they all sauntered off into the undergrowth. We were abuzz with excitement as the sun set and we continued along the crater rim. After 20 minutes and as darkness set in we came upon several female elephants and their calves. They were walking away and disappeared into the forest. Immediately after this we saw two buffalo in the headlights walking along the road. We had seen 3 of the "big 5" in our first hour!
We arrived at the Sopa Lodge where we were spending the night. Fancy spot. Many tourists going on safari as well. After checking in and showering we met for a wonderful civilized dinner
We awoke early and after a quick breakfast set off at 6:30 with Wilson in the land-rover. The roof lifts so we could all stand to see and take photographs. As we descended to the crater floor we came upon animals. There were large herds of buffalo grazing. There were innumerable zebra and wildebeest. There were eland and Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelle. We saw ostriches, warthogs, jackal, hyenas, a bull elephant and three hippos walking to another pond. There were many birds. Storks, egrets, ibis, cranes, kites, weavers and far away on the lake a large patch of pink, all one could see of the hundreds of flamingo.
When we stopped to pee and Rosalyn walked away from the truck. As she returned we noticed a female lion on the hill not 100 yards away. She won’t be straying too far again. There were several other lions from that pride about and while the zebra seemed to be walking very close to them we didn’t get to see a chase or a kill. We had a box lunch by a pond with hippos then saw a rhino from afar. We drove out of the crater at 2 to head home to Arusha.
We stopped at Manyara National Park on our way back to Arusha. The treetops were full of hundreds of nesting storks. We stopped as well by the roadside where we took photos of a giraffe. Rosalyn walked right up to him before he walked slowly away.
We returned to Arusha exhausted. We took a room at the Karama hotel near the campsite. The room is actually a large hut up on stilts on the side of a mountain overlooking a village. There is a lovely pool and the food is good. We are advised to keep our balcony doors closed as the monkeys come in and steal things. We are relaxing, eating and updating the blog for our last day off. Tomorrow we start eight consecutive days off off-road cycling. Back to work!