The Champagne Backpacker: Michael's Round the World Trip 2005-2007-- The Adventure of a Lifetime travel blog

Entrance to Ngorongoro Conservation Area

First View of Ngorongoro Crater



Lunch Near a Lake

Naozumi Videos

Elephants and Hippos

A Lone Black Rhino


View from the Crater Rim

Sunday, November 13, 2005. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. From Lake Manyara, it's only a couple hour drive to Ngorongoro Crater which at 12 miles wide is purportedly the largest unflooded volcanic caldera in the world. We dropped Mburi at Simba public campsite on the crater rim and proceeded down into the crater for an afternoon game drive. Under the itinerary I agreed upon, Ngorongoro Crater was supposed to be the third and final park in my safari. David changed the itinerary without informing me. Needless to say, I was a little upset in the itinerary change. David explained that it was better to do Ngorongoro Crater before the Serengeti. (To get to the Serengeti, you must drive past and along Ngorongoro Crater.) It would turn out to be the right decision particularly in terms of animal viewing. As I learned, it's a good idea to discuss the itinerary with your driver prior to departure and at the beginning of each day of your safari to avoid unexpected surprises and to ensure that you get what you are paying for.

From the entrance to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the road turns to dirt (and would remain so throughout the Serengeti). It's a dusty, bumpy ride. Along the road, many Masai, wrapped in their traditional brightly colored dress (usually red) walked or sat near the road. We passed several Masai villages with their instantly recognizable round mud huts and circular layout. It was a steep, slow drive down into the crater floor. We spent the afternoon on a game drive exploring much of the largely flat, open crater floor. Unlike my safari in the Masai Mara (Kenya), most of the animals kept their distance from the dirt roads that crisscross the crater floor. Binoculars and a telephoto lens would have been extremely useful here, but regrettably we had neither. Still, we did manage to see four of the "Big Five" game: Lions, buffaloes, elephants, and one black rhinoceros (Leopards are the fifth). These five animal species were the most sought after by old-time big game hunters. All in all, it was a good day for safari.

While viewing lions in the distance, I looked over at the vehicle next to ours. Standing and also observing the lions were four Dutch women who I had met a month prior at Nairobi Backpackers and a couple days earlier at my hotel, Arusha Tourist Inn. We exchanged smiles and greetings at the coincidence. Indeed, I had mentioned to one of the women in Arusha, "Maybe I'll see you guys out on safari?" It turned out to be a remarkably prescient comment. Alas, I still haven't figured out how to select a safari company with all post-college female guests. Just my luck, I select a company that pairs me with an older Japanese guy...

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