Ngorongoro Crater

Trip Start Oct 08, 2006
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Monday, October 16, 2006

Head off the next day for Arusha - Tanzania. Was delighted to find out that Irish people do not have to pay for a visa - saving of $50. Once in Arusha I spend about half an hour trying to get a ATM machine to accept my card - the Barclays ATM was broken and they wouldn't accept my visa card as I was not a member - Oh how I wished I had the power of 20 Nick Leesons to bring the bastards down - failing that I proceeded to curse like an unemployed Irish docker suffering from terets. It did the trick and once again calm was restored to my life. Stayed in local shit hole at the edge of town and ate local fish that tasted infinitely better than it looked. Slept well and was looking forward to the following 3 days safari.
Headed off to Baobab studded Tarangire N/P which was neat. These trees aka upside down trees stand sentry over the park and are a sight to behold. The trees can be anything up to 2,500 years old and the fruit is particularly appealing to elephants - who also like to destroy the tree (messy eaters) The park was particularly good for bird watching and has the highest density of elephants per km2 in Tanzania.
The following day we went to Lake Manyarra N/P which had an abundance of hippos which were much easier to observe at close range than previous parks. The setting of the park was super wicked as it is bordered by the dramatic western escarpment of the rift valley.
On our final day we headed to Ngorongoro crater - this natural zoo is roughly 20km wide and 600 metres deep - the biggest complete caldera (crater left from volcano) in the world. As we entered the crater you were greeted by local Masai moving their cattle to pastures new.
The local masai have been living for 100's of years in harmony with the animals.
As you move down the forest dominated ridge and approach the crater floor you are enveloped by a wall of dust - a gas mask would have been handy at this stage. The vegetation on the crater floor is super diverse - yo yoing between tropical forest, swamps, saltplains and a fresh water lake. This is also reflective of the various animals on show. For a brief moment I felt Ace Ventura's plight - to be surrounded by so many animals was Alrighty then!

5 National Parks was a little more than I thought of doing and for brief moments I tended to ignore the majesty of the more plentyfull animals such as elephants and wildebeast. But as was intended the crater was unbelievably magical and succeeded in pulling the proverbial hat out of the rabbit.
mad shit entirely.

The Germans I met a the crater convinced me to stay in the Flamingo Hotel in Arusha - This was a step up from the place I stayed previously - and I was glad to have some hot water for a badly needed wash and clothes cleaning. Each of the 3 nights I stayed in Arusha I headed down to the Old Rock Restaurant for barbecued meet of some kind - lovely stuff.
I was a little dissapointed that I just missed the International Tribunal for Ruwanda - which was being held in Arusha - it's not as if I won't have the opportunity of seeing 1 in Ireland.
From Arusha I headed south with my guide Kareem to a little village called Kolo - to see the famous Kolo rock paintings - Moshi the guy that runs the show got us front seats in the bus - so I could get a good view - me thinks that nobody else wanted them "Thanks Moshi but I would rather have 10 Tanzanians as an air bag if its all the same to you"
On the journey down I had plenty of time to ponder the nagging question - When does a road become a path and vice versa? This along with the numerous cracks on the windscreen played on my mind for a while - especially as Kareem was a quiet chap.
Arrived in Kolo - nice little village - but no time to waste - headed straight up the mountain with another group of Germans - fortunately for me they were an authority on all things rocks - which under normal circumstances would have amounted to conversational meltdown.
With great authority and zeal the Germans (not for the 1st time in their history) along with our guide brought us through 3 sites of paintings. Many of the paintings were over 3,000 years old and mainly depicted tribal ceremonies and hunting etc. Everyone was well impressed.

Overnight in Kolo then off south to Kondoa and finally overnighting in Dodoma - which is the capital in name only - (tumbleweed city). After leaving my mark on the toilets of Dodoma I headed to Dar the next morning - a fine journey for everyone in the isle seats - the window seats got a little wet as the rain was dribbling in through the cracks - how I quietly congratulated myself on my isle seat. Overnight in Dar (Safari Inn) - Dar seems like a nice spot and I felt a sense of comfort in getting lost in the city. (living up to my nick name sat. nav.) Will stay longer on return from Zanzibar as John is wondering when I am going to get my ass on the island.

After much hustle, bustle and muscle I get the flying horse ferry to Zanzibar the next morning. After 3.5 hour pleasant journey I arrive in Zanzibar - yipee - meet up with Germans again and spend little time getting well fed and of course getting lost in my new surroundings of stone town. The streets here are mazer than those of Lamu and it was a pleasure getting lost in the alleyways and amongst the mad architecture. Quiet magical.

Then I headed off to Nungwi in the north of Zanzibar for a few days on the beach - need a break - needless to say the beaches are composed of powdered sand, the waters varying shades of turquoise, all under a bright blue sky - not bad I say - only downside is that it is a little quiet for my liking.
Throughout my time in Tanzania I have been trying the local brew - Kilamanjero - man its bad - "KILIMANJERO EASIER TO CLIMB THAN IT IS TO DRINK"
Spending a few days back in stone town - doing spice tour and generally soaking up the place through osmosis.
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