Trip Start Nov 02, 2008
14Trip End Nov 16, 2008
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Anyway, we headed up for breakfast with the group which was great, as always. Jenn and the group started off to look at birds - an activity which I had absolutely no interest in what so ever. I headed back to our room to finish packing and complete the previous day's blog. Apparently, it didn't interest Jenn much, either, as she ducked out and showed up back in the room about thirty minutes later. Perfect timing as it started to pour five minutes later.
10:00 came and we all set off for the Ngorongoro Crater which was about a 20 minte drive from Gibbs Farm. Many of our companions wanted to stop and shop for fabrics and other assorted crap so we hit two stores along the way. The first was a town called Karatu which had a few shops. Our caravan was immediately swarmed by kids asking for pens, dollars or sweets and others peddling their wares. They all kept asking us if we liked Obama - Jenn responded "yes", I responded "I have to now". They didn't seem to get it but they all adore him - even their little carts had OBAMA written all over them. Jenn and I stayed in the truck and talked to Hashim, our head guide, about debt and credit, it's recent impact on the American economy and why it was good that there was little individual debt in Tanzania. Even cell phones are all pre-paid... these folks have no concept of living beyond one's means or over extending themselves... it was so refreshing.
The next stop was a small house where a man made intricate carvings from ebony and sold them to tourists. He was working on them as we drive up and was kind enough to answer everyone's questions... he ended up doing quite well as many bought carvings to take home to the states.
We left for the main gates and then began the ascent up to he crater rim, a steep incline that is a dirt/mud road. On the way up, we saw a truly scary sight. A bus carrying about 50 passengers had lost its traction and the rear half had slid over the edge of the road - there was a couple hundred foot drop. I don't even know if those folks knew how close they had been to being part of a gigantic tragedy.
Almost forgot! When we were at the main gates, everyone got out of my defender to stretch their legs and use the bathroom. I stayed in the truck to continue reading. A few minutes later, I heard a rustling and glanced up and saw some blond hair so I had assumed Marry, one of our van-mates today, was trying to grab something out of the front left passenger seat. When I looked up again, I realized that there was a gigantic male baboon in the front seat with a candy bar in his mouth looking directly at me with his head cocked. I was just kind of shocked, tilted my head, and slowly began to reach my left hand over to grab the camera. As I did, he bolted out the window fr which he had entered, ran 15 feet, and proceeded to unwrap the candy bar with his hands and devour it. I called to Jenn and Tim, our other van-mate, and he was able to get a great picture. Simply crazy! He stole Hashim's snack and left a couple drops of blood on the inside of the truck and footprints on the door on the outside. Only in Africa, I suppose.
We arrived at camp about thirty minutes later, had lunch, and headed down into the crater for wildlife viewing. We first say a male and female ostrich doing some sort of bizarre mating ritual - the female was sturtting and spreading her wings wide to give the male a show. He was not intrigued as he watched, turned his long neck and head, and went off the other way.
We next stumbled on a huge male lion with a gigantic mane. He was too far away to get a great picture but he was simply magnificent to behold. We then saw a lone female who was lying sleepily just in front of the path. She was huge and very photogenic. We continued down the road and found a mother lion with two baby cubs. They played with each other and her and I was able to get a few amazing pictures of the three of them looking directly at us. We continued on and found a rhino but he was too far off to really see without binoculars. I tried to get a picture - you can tell it is a rhino but he is tiny in the background. We saw lots of wildebeests, zebra, hyena, lions, birds and warthogs. No cheetahs yet...
Around this time it really started to pour and it was getting late so we headed back to camp and our nyumbas. It has been raining ever since - well, pouring is more like it. Jenn thinks this is roughing it! Hahaha. I have some friends that I went through infantry school with who would certainly disagree. It is cold so they put hot water bottles in everyone's bed. This is where we sit now, finishing the blog and then turning in.
There are two great bonuses in this camp - ice cold beer and amazing wireless internet and cell service.
Tomorrow we are spending the morning in the crater followed by a visit to a maasai village.
Hope the weather gets better! We'll post today's pics tomorrow afternoon when Jenn shrinks them down.
BJ & Jenn