Happy 40th Birthday!!!!!

Trip Start Jul 26, 2012
Trip End Aug 22, 2012

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Today is my 40th birthday and we spent it driving 10 hours to Ngorongoro crater with another "lovely" packed lunch box, yummo! On the road out of Serengeti, we saw a vehicle rollover which had only just happened.  It had Mum, Dad and two children travelling on safari with a driver.  The young boy was in terrible shock and the father had a nasty cut through his head which someone was tending to for him.  Our hero driver Francis jumped out and took the boy aside and gave him a big hug to get him away from seeing his hurt dad.  Mum and the sister came over and they all hugged and cried.  Fortunately as far as we know, there were no major injuries.  The locals gathered around and rocked the vehicle back onto its wheels.  Ten minutes later, we saw another vehicle rollover, this time with locals in it.  They were all okay, but their vehicle was a mess.  Certainly sobered us up to the dangers that can happen on those rough, dusty roads in Africa.

The crater was magnificent!  A definite favourite for me.  So much wildlife and in large numbers.  Wildebeest, zebra, impalas, gazelles, elephants, lions male and female, hippos, hyenas, and our first and only golden jackal.  Secretary birds, bustards, crowned cranes, storks, pelicans, and even FLAMINGOES!!  Although technically we didn't realise they were flamingos until we saw our photos on our large tv back at home after the trip and could see the pics properly.  

 We had lunch at a beautiful waterhole with the mandatory numbers of hippo popping their eyes up and down out of the water.  A bit eery as they come and go so quickly.  Beautiful yellow birds like canaries hung around our vehicle hoping for handouts of food as well as dozens of helmeted guinea fowl.  The setting was beautiful and so green and lush.  A great place for lunch, even if it was another of those lovely packed boxes.  But this time we were prepared – when we stopped at the exit gate at Serengeti we grabbed some snacks for the road as well.

We watched the mating dance between two females and one male ostrich.  The male went running towards them from over 100 metres away to be with them.  It was a spectacle to see and then to watch as they serenaded each other.

We headed to where some lions had been spotted and the lioness came and lay at the back tyre of the vehicle in front of us.  So close to us!!!  We thought that was great, until she stood up and walked along our vehicle and sat by our back tyre!  Our cameras were working overtime.  It was so difficult to not put my arm out the window and touch her as she walked past.  Fortunately I managed to refrain but it was not easy!  I sooo wanted to touch her!!! 

Up a bit further was the male lion, basking in the sunshine, asleep on the road!  He was totally oblivious to the scene he was creating as the vehicles manoeuvred around him.  He was beautiful, just like a big cuddly teddy bear, only more dangerous.

We didn’t have enough time at Ngorongoro, only one night.  Even our driver said it is not enough and you need at least two nights here to see it all properly.  I totally agree.  The exit road from the crater to our hotel was closed for repairs so we had to take the long route which added an extra two hours travel time to the hotel.  The dust was phenomenal.  There was soo much of it!  It was hard to open the windows of our vehicle to let some fresh air in - the air was just so full of dust.  All the plants on the sides of the road were completely brown as they were covered in such thick dust.  If you didn't know any different, you'd say they were dead going by the colour, but they weren't!  

That evening was a Masai cultural show before dinner.  The local Masai villagers came and performed, singing and doing their trademark dance where the males jump in the air.  The higher they jump, the more they impress the females as they are considered the strongest.  The children of the village were adorned with beautiful beads around their necks.  In sets of twos, the children would perform by doing this most bizarre thing - you could see the concentration in their faces before they started and then suddenly their neck beads would vibrate extremely fast as the children jiggled their necks/shoulders to make the beads move.  It only lasted seconds, but wow, amazing!  I have no idea how they do it.  I would have thought movement that fast could only be achieved by batteries!!!
The views from our hotel room were amazing.  Waking up the next morning and opening the blinds to the sun rising over the crater was just stunning.  Absolutely beautiful.  And on the grass just outside were two water buffalo eating the grass.  Wow!!! 

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