. Tire was fixed and we headed down again. As we were driving, you could see several groups of Masai men with their herds of cattle either going into or out of the crater. The last time I was here I didn’t see anything like this and would think the park wouldn’t allow them to graze their cattle there. It isn’t called Ngongonoro Conservation Area for nothing. But I guess they are allowed to because there were hundreds of cattle there. We made it down to the crater floor and started our drive across the expansive floor. Immediately I noticed something different from last time(other than cattle), it was that the Crater seemed a bit empty of animals. I was here in June before and it was now October. When my friend Joe and I basically reached the bottom, we saw zebra, warthogs, and gazelle everywhere and it took us a long time to get anywhere because we just couldn’t stop taking pictures. Not this time! A lot of the animals have moved northward because of the lack of water and you could see that most of the lake in the middle was dried up. There were some animals and we did find a pregnant lion by a small pond that was pretty cool. More driving and more driving and I think we weren’t really looking too well for animals when all of a sudden I noticed a boat load of cars lined up along the road in the distance. I thought…that is odd. So as we were pulling up to see what was going on, I poked my head up and counted the # of jeeps, I counted 33 including us.
Something big was up and at first all I saw was a lion sitting there. Big deal we all thought! Then we looked around a bit and noticed another lion and he appeared he was laying down. I also saw a few warthogs off in the distance and then it all clicked to us. WE WERE ABOUT TO WITNESS A LION KILL!! We were all immediately so so excited. This was the final thing we wanted to see and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I of course pulled out my camera w/ zoom lens and checked the scene out. The action was going to be quite a distance away but I really wanted to try and get a shot of the chase. So the action unfolded like this - 1 lion was creeping up on a mama and two small warthogs piglets. The lion was crouched and slowly crawling closer and closer. Then all of a sudden another lion appeared behind him and made a slow calculated move to the left flank of the warthogs. He disappeared somewhere in the grass and I didn’t see him until later. The first lion was still slowly crawling up and seemed pretty close to me. I would guess something like 10 meters away but I’m probably off a bit because again, they were real far away and I was watching this all through my camera lens. As the lion was still working his way closer, you could just feel the tension with everyone in the car. We were all just so excited and couldn’t believe this was happening. Then all of a sudden, the warthogs took off and I quickly placed my finger on the shutter button and tried to capture the action. The lion on the left was running hard and fast on the warthogs and picked out the mama. The warthog started running towards us but then the first lion popped up and targeted the same warthog. So the warthog had to change directions and ran left for 15 meters before the first lion caught up with him and just took him to the ground and did his thing. As he was trying to finish him off the second lion ran in and they both tag teamed the warthog and it was all over
. You could even hear her squeal right before she died way over where we were at. Pretty cool! The pig was dead and now had two orphaned piglets. Right after the kill, lions were appearing out of nowhere and made their way over to the meal. I counted six different lions there eating their snack. Right after all this action everyone in the car was ecstatic and super thrilled. It was so awesome to experience! Afterwards, I kind of wanted to just head out of the park early because I had seen everything that I wanted to see. I saw every kind of animal possible, saw animals killing animals, and saw animals eating other animals. Who wants to go see some zebras and buffaloes after that? You just can’t top something like that. But we did have a little more driving to do. Right after all of this, I realized that my shots were probably not going to turn out very well and I probably should have just put the camera down and used my binoculars. Instead somebody else was using them and saw everything better than I did. There were a few neat shots of the chase but nothing even close to magazine worthy. It is what it is though. It was still great though. Kind of a bad thing about the kill was that only 2 out of the 4 jeeps witnessed the kill. One had missed it by about a minute even though the driver was flying to get there in time when he heard the call on the radio. Tough luck! We stopped for lunch next to a hippo infested lake and was getting attacked by hawk like birds for our sandwiches
. Then we drove around a bit and found the same pack of lions that just killed the warthog, just sitting in the road and trying to get some shade next to the jeeps. There was a massive traffic jam because everyone wanted the lions to come next to their jeep for the tourists. 3 of them laid next to one jeep and we actually saw the driver put his hand out of the window and quickly touch a lion. I quickly put my finger on the shutter because I really wanted the lion to jump in the window for a second meal, but no dice. What kind of idiot does that? The lion had just eaten and looked really tired and probably just wanted to sleep. Lazy lion! After 30 minutes of traffic jam wrangling, we made it out and headed out of the park. Man this was the best game drive yet! PS..........Next time use binoculars.
We had the usual early start and packed up and made a quick drive out of the park. We were heading for Ngongonoro Crater which was only a short drive away and is on par with the excellence of the quality and # of animals as Serengeti. We arrived at the gate and had to stop for a bit because one of the 4 jeeps traveling with us got a flat tire. 20 minutes later we were heading down into the crater. About 5 minutes of driving, our jeep got a flat too. Our driver didn’t seem to be too surprised and quickly got to work changing it. As we were standing around, we noticed three Masai women heading up the road with something huge on their backs. As they walked closer to us, we saw that they each had a load of wood on their back and it was being held by a leather strap on the top of their head. It was amazing to see them do this with ease. At least the ease one would expect an oldish women carrying a huge load of wood up out of a crater on her back. Apparently there aren’t any lazy housewives in Masai culture