Ngorongoro Crater

Trip Start Oct 28, 2011
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Trip End Nov 13, 2011


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Monday, November 7, 2011

Ngorongoro Crater

Somewhere between 4 and 5 in the morning, one of the staff began chopping down a palm tree for the fire. That was our wake up call I guess. We had to pack everything up have breakfast and leave. We were just a short drive away from the Hadzabe tribe. They are more like the bushmen of South Africa because they click when they speak however I didn't hear a lot of it. They live in very small stick shelters that are not permanent. They will stay in an area for 3-4 months and then move on. They also smoke marijuana. When we arrived they were smoking and even the children were taking puffs on the pipe. Unbelievable. Their garments were made of animal hide. We went hunting with them. We think that they had staged the kills for the demonstration. There was a bird, a squirrel and a bat. Yuck. They would yell and scream when they caught something. We continued to follow them. They actually did shoot some other small animals and one of the dogs spotted a catfish in the river which they caught. They climbed a tree to eat some berries. Once we returned they lit up their pipe once again. Our driver was saying that the tribe tends to stay to their own people so the mixing of genes is a problem. Very interesting morning.

Once we left the area down the bumpy road, we arrived into the Ngorongoro highlands. The view from the top of the crater was truly an impressive sight. Many years ago, when the top of the volcano became jammed with rocks, the lava had to escape and the mountain collapsed into a caldera. It creates it's own ecosystem. It is a conservation area because the Maasai continue to live here. We saw many of them with their cattle carrying spears to protect them from the lions. Once down on the base of the caldera, we saw many animals. There were a lot of Thomson and Grant gazelles, elephants,wildebeests, osterich, warthogs, zebras. We spotted 3 female lions in the distance. We also saw a female lion in a culvert with just her head and paw sticking out. For lunch we ate by the hippo pool. They would surface every few minutes. We also ate our lunch in the trucks because the birds would try to steal the food from you which is somewhat dangerous should they miss. After lunch we noticed that the 3 females had moved but there were so many safari vehicles around them it was crazy. We watched them thinking that maybe they were going to take another animal down. No such luck. We then spotted 2 adult male lions. They were so close to us trying to get shade from our truck. Stehano told us to close our windows. We watched as a lady in another truck had her window down and waved at the lion as it walked by. Dumb. We spotted a cheetah off in the distance. We were hoping to get closer but no luck. We went looking for the rhinos too but didn't find them. As we were driving down one of the cross roads, a hyena jumped up out of the mud puddle next to us. We were all surprised. We also saw another lion snoozing by the road.

We all agreed that it had been a long day and wanted to go to the hotel. On the way,we spotted a lot of baboons. The road up to the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge was narrow with hairpin turns and very steep. Unbelievable. Finally at the lodge we showered and got ready for dinner. It was really nice with a view of the crater from every balcony. We went to the bar for drinks and they had an African band playing music. Some of us danced. The same band members then put on an acrobatic show. It was very good. At dinner, we celebrated Peter's birthday. We had another great day in Africa.
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