The last day of our safari. We woke up in our tent this morning at the top of Ngorongoro Crater, which Ryan will correct to say Caldera because it’s not really a crater. Anyway, we arose without having experienced much wildlife during the night – however as Ryan was walking to the far bathrooms, watching his feet so as to avoid stepping in zebra poop, he nearly ran into a zebra. Turns out a herd of about 6 zebras were grazing in front of the bathrooms and it was just dark enough that he didn’t notice until he was upon them…and they apparently didn’t notice him either and skittered away quickly once they realized he was coming. Great way to start the day.
We were sure to fill up on warm drinks before heading out and waited as our safari guys packed the truck. This was a bit of a bigger process than normal as Ryan had requested that they avoid packing thins on the front of the truck as, once the roof is extended for the tour, it is impossible to see over the stuff to see out – so instead they were trying to tie it to the back of the roof which was about a third the space. It was interesting to say the least, but they did it.
Then we were off. It was about a half hour from the cmapsite to the entrance gate and a bit further until you are actually in and seeing things. But this was the closest we came to seeing herds numbering in the thousands. Wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and cape buffalo. It was pretty amazing to see something in the distance and know that this blob was really thousands of animals piled together. We drove for a little while, admiring the sheer number of animals we were seeing. Finally coming around a corner we saw a large group of…safari trucks! It’s really the most populated animal in Africa. But a group of safari truck usually means carnivores, and it did not fail this time. We pulled up to see the only male lions of the trip, lying right next to the road, one having a nap while the other groomed himself to look good for the ladies. We admired for quite some time, marvelling at how close they were. You could get out and pet them…although I’m not sure you’d make it back again. At one point one of them crossed the road right in front of our truck, so close and so cool. Meanwhile, while we were watching the men, the ladies came to steal the show. Our driver looked out the other side of the truck and said “look”, we turned to see 8 lionesses walking from way in the distance over to a herd of zebra standing on the other side of the road. The thoughts running through the minds of every safari go-er was “Oh man, it’s going down!” But it was a mean joke. My theory is that one of the zebra’s was down by the watering hole the day before talking smack about the lions, saying they are not that big and scary, and the lions heard about it and thought this would be a funny way of enacting some revenge. The 8 ladies made their way right up to the herd – the herd stopped moving, a complete standstill watching and waiting – the ladies laid down in the grass and just chilled. The stare off lasted for quite awhile before the zebras decided to make a move and start walking away. The safari go-ers were disappointed to not see the ladies attack, but I’m glad no zebras were killed in the making of this safari go-ers day as they are my favourite.
The rest of the day included seeing elephants in the distance, a rhino laying on it’s side far away and looked more like a rock than a rhino, a few more ostrich, and a hippo in the water where we had lunch. Oh, and scads more zebra and wildebeest and gazelle. One of Ryan’s favourite moments was watching a family of gazelle, mom dad and baby, with baby prancing around and kicking and running. Our driver/guide says the baby would be about 2 weeks old. Cute.
The safari ended with lunch, leftovers eaten in the car to escape the brutal wind and the scavenger birds. Then we set off for Arusha, stopping at our first campsite to pick up the tubing for my painting. The trip back in was long, and we were sad to be done. Meanwhile, we saw everything we wanted to see…except maybe the rhino, so we can’t complain too much. Well, Ryan might try…I think he would like to be on safari as a profession so he could do it everyday.
We arrived back into Arusha, stopping at the bank and grocery store before being dropped off at Boots’ house. We thanked our safari team profusely for the great time and wonderful memories and awkwardly haded over our tip before saying goodbye. We went with boots and walked down to Pentagon Garden (a restaurant near Boots’ place) for dinner: chips mayai and beer (chips mayai is our new favourite thing, french friend in eggs, like a french fry omelet…sounds gross but so yummy smothered in ketchup). Beans met us there and Phamy came later to join us. It was nice to recount our safari adventure to our friends and relive the excitement. And now, as we write this, we get to relive it all over again!