East Africa Day 15 – Ngorongoro Crater

Another late start to the day, quite a change from Kenya being able to get up at 07:00. Despite the lateness of leaving most the group turned up 20 minutes late. The morning was then spent in the Ngorongoro crater on a game drive.

Inside the Ngorongoro Crater

To start with we were seeing mostly Wildebeest – adults and young, but eventually we saw a couple of Black Rhinoceroses at a distance. Apparently they don’t allow you to get too close as the ones in Tanzania are more likely to charge than the ones in Kenya. There are park guards all over the rim and the odd one inside the park to ensure none of the tour groups break these rules.

Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis)

We also saw several groups of lions. The first group we saw had a very old male, a younger adult male and a number of females and cubs. The older male was being left behind and looked like he may not always get to eat.

Wildebeest

Later we saw a young adult male lion lying in the middle of the road. Eventually it got up and joined some other lions in the grass. We sat and watched these for a while, but they never really did much other than lay down and yawn. It was a great chance to get up close to the lions again though, and it certainly helped that they sat down next to the Land Cruiser so we could get close-up photographs without even needing a long lens.

Young Adult Lion resting in the road

Lion (Panthera leo): Roooawr

The days lunch was a packed lunch from the Serena. Strangely the ones marked “beef” were actually ham, so I’m not sure what happened there. Lunch was eaten at a hippo pool that also had birds of prey circling. We were told not to feed the animals, though that didn’t stop them from swooping in and taking food out of people’s hands.

One from our group did get told off for feeding the birds, and his excuse was that the sign said “Don’t feed the animals” and then said birds aren’t animals. Obviously he hadn’t got a clue, but me being me I explained to him that they were and that the kingdom Animalia has phylum called Chordates which birds, mammals, fish, etc. are all part of.

Yellow-billed Kite (Milvus aegyptius)

It was then close to two hours to drive from the crater back to the Ngorongoro Serena. The rest of the afternoon was left empty, once again with no available activities or anything else to do. It was however an opportunity to get suitcases packed ready for the homeward flight and to catch up on some reading.

Once again the clouds came in as the afternoon went on and the thunderstorm was intense. This time there was flooding on the boardwalks even though they’re covered. It was an amazing storm to watch, and for a while it did resemble a super cell. I was certainly glad at this point that we didn’t have an afternoon game drive or other unsheltered activities and by the time the thunder started it certainly didn’t seem safe to be out in it. Although I did go out onto the boardwalk to watch the storm for a while before the evening meal I didn’t take my camera with me as I didn’t want to risk it getting damaged.

The evening meal was a good one again – I went for the lamb and it was the best lamb I’ve had on this trip. It was a reasonably early night ready for the travelling the next day.

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