Today it was time to depart the Serengeti after 3 fantastic days of safaris. But there was a slight catch as the departure from Serengeti had to coincide with the arrival in Ngorongoro National Park – and this would be a 24 hour pass to include the crater. So the day was planned for a 2.30 arrival at Ngorongoro to allow us the correct time for th our following day’s crater safari!
So we managed a final safari in the Serengeti and were not disappointed. We discovered a pride of 6 lions having a snooze after filling themselves and then a couple of other lions also having a nap. Sleeping also seems to be the theme as a snoozing leopard in his tree and also a snoozing cheetah on the grass. We also managed the usual sightings of the “usual beasts” on our way out of the park. As we got closer to the gate the landscape become quite baron and apparently is only filled with animals in the wet season when the wildebeest graze there.
After a picnic at the gate to fill int one we excited Serengeti park and entered Ngorongoro National Park right on time. And then it was a long drive up the the crater rim and around to our lodge. We arrived at 5.30 just in time to witness a spectacular sunset over the crater. Hot showers were a welcome sight after our tented camp which we all enjoyed. After dinner it was off to bed for an early start awaited us tomorrow. Special mention to Nath who battled a fever today but was an absolute trooper with a long day in the car on very rough roads.
We left at 7am and had one question – after all the sights and excitement of the past 10 days, how would the crater safari at Ngorongoro match up to the expectations? As we descended 600 meters onto the spectacular bowl with its own ecosystem, we were about to see. And after 30 minutes we knew we were in for a treat as there was a pride of 16 lions finishing their breakfast of what had been a very large buffalo. There were several lionesses with cubs varying between teenagers and youngsters. All obviously had fed and some were playing in the morning sun. As they departed the site we waited for the Hyena to close in for his share (a little timid so we gave up) and also a jackel. The bravest was the lone vulture who started his feast.
We then followed the pride along the road, seemingly with all the other vans in the park, one cub was obviously in trouble with what seemed like a major hernia and his stomach hanging down (as in by his legs). Abu assured us that once reported to the rangers there are vets in the park who would try and save him. The pride didn’t seem disturbed by vans, but it did seem to get a bit out of hand as people jostled for a view. We gave up and carried on.
Then we managed to discover a black rhino and calf, but just a bit far away lying on the ground. Then we found Hyena cubs with their mums which made Emma one happy girl. Just around the corner we managed to have a pride of 6 lions to ourselves for 10 minutes as they crossed the road and basked in the sun. Some great photos here. There was a large male just further down who may have been a member of the pride. And then we found 2 lionesses who had literally just killed a wildebeest and were starting to eat. Hard to believe Abu says sometimes it’s hard to find lions here!
We had a quick stop at the hippo pond where Emma played patience with a hippo near the shore, trying to get his photo while he struck his head up. The hippo won – no photo of him! We drove across the crater to see the grazing herds with flamingo in the background, in the salt lake. Into the forest we finally found a large herd of elephants and saw some crossing the road having just enjoyed their mud bath. Included here was the smallest elephant calf that we have seen so far – very cute as he ran to keep up.
Just time for lunch, Abu fashioned tea break on his table at the front of the car.. the envy of their Drivers! and then back up the crater edge to exit by 2.30pm! Then it was a quick drive to the lovely Farmhouse lodge for a relaxing afternoon by the pool. Some soccer on the lawn with the kids in a beautiful garden befor dinner. A nice relaxing way to finish a busy few days!