Serengeti to Ngorongoro Crater

Trip Start Jul 26, 2010
Trip End Oct 31, 2010

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 54

We woke up still finding bits of mud all over ourselves from the previous night's escapade despite our best efforts to get clean. But the most important thing for the day was to get the clutch fixed and move on out of the Serengeti. It’s not a cheap place to be stuck with no transport.

Spoon had been saying for a week the way the clutch had been fixed previously didn’t make sense to him and after a flash of inspiration and another take apart and put together, the clutch was back in full action.

We packed up at pace and headed out of camp only to stumble on a leopard up a tree with its kill, on the main track out the park. It was too good an opportunity to miss so we spent some time watching it before pushing on.

The Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater are a continuous conservation area but are treated as separate parks for visitors. We again parted with an excessive amount of dollars for the privilege of camping plus an extra $200 to allow Corrie down into the Crater itself, then we were also informed a guide was required if you want to drive yourself which we organised in a hurry at the head office for the trip the next day.

We arrived at Simba A camp and were greeted by a freezing wind on the slope overlooking the edge of the crater. We finally needed the use of our extra warm sleeping bags, and that night were very happy they had been carted all the way with us, with the temperature hovering around freezing and us in our summer tents.

Day 55

We were up in the freezing cold and dark, and got some coffee going before picking up our guide at the camp gate. He was very good throughout the day and quite knowledgeable about the area. Apparently what is now the crater was once a mountain taller than Mt. Kilimanjaro and after erupting millions of years ago, slowly sunk back into itself.

What is left is a crater about 25km across with a lake in the middle, and although it was not what we had expected, it is very scenic and a haven for wildlife. The day was passed watching a lioness with her cubs, hyena and jackal chase the thousands of flamingos in the lake and an injured buffalo walking 2metres away from two lionesses, who just watched it much to our dissatisfaction. We also finally rounded off the Big 5 for our trip when we spotted 2 black rhino quite a way off.

The entrance and exit to the crater are very steep and were tackled in low range. Ironically it was after we got out of the crater whilst turning a mild corner that we heard a big bang and Corrie ground to a sudden stop. The bolt on a ball joint from the wishbone had completely sheared off and there was no moving the vehicle an inch.

Our guide showed his worth and got a couple local mechanics on the phone who ran off with the joint and welded it back together with cast iron. We were stuck on a corner along the main road out of the Crater so there was a lot of directing traffic and panicking as cowboy tour operators raced along the track at top speed. Fortunately it was only 2 hours and Corrie was back in shape.

Back in camp we started a big fire to keep the icy weather at bay and then zipped ourselves into our mummy sleeping bags, hood and all, to try keep warm.
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