Alchemist in Tanzania, day #2. Ngorongoro and the Serengeti

25 02 2013

Steve and I woke up early to knock out what Matty O refers to as a “prison style work out”.  The reference is to calisthenics that can be done in a small space. This is not to be confused with prison style showers.

Kili Day 2

Stu and I on the Ngorongora Rim

Stu and I on the Ngorongora Rim

Heading down into the Crater

Heading down into the Crater

Ngorongoro is, along with the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro, three of the 8 wonders of Africa. These three being located within ,or partly within, Tanzania.  It got it’s name from the sound made by cowbells, which, according to our trusted driver, Isaac, was the first thing heard by the folks who named it.  Apparently, the local who lived here before that made cowbells.  That’s what I’m told.

Wildebeest Herd

Wildebeest Herd

Millions of years ago, Ngorongoro was a sizable mountain, even taller than Kilimanjaro.  A violent eruption blew off the top, and left the massive crater we see today.  Measuring 12 x 11 miles, it’s kind of a big deal.  The view from the top of the rim was breathtaking.  Not a bad way to wake up in the morning.  Isaac took us down the inner slope of the crater for the morning safari, and it didn’t take long before we were right up next to wildebeests and zebras.  Isaac says they often travel together since the Wildebeests see well, and the zebras smell well.

Zebras in the Crater

Zebras in the Crater

So they combine these superpowers to keep track of lions and leopards. The zebras also graze off the tops of the grasses, with the wildebeests coming in behind them to munch on the shorter vegetation.  It’s possible I got that I mixed up, but you get the point.

Warthogs, gazelle, impala, jackals, hyenas, ground birds, flamingos, and more were all around. Cool as those things were, we were hungry to find some of the “Big Five”,  Lions, Rhinos, Elephants, Cape Buffalo, and Leopards.  We hit pay dirt with an up close view of a male and female lion mating.

Oh look! Those lions are hugging. How adorable.

Oh look! Those lions are hugging. How adorable.

Natalie captured this priceless photo of the amorous couple, prompting a multitude of compliments from fellow travelers.

Hippo family in paradise

Hippo family in paradise

We stopped for breakfast in the crater by Hippo paradise.  Though we were strictly forbidden to exit the vehicle on the safari, for some reason, we were cut loose to frolic in the grass and picnic along the water’s edge, while a quarter mile away, lions were doing it.  But whatever, I was eager to stretch my legs and . . . frolic.

Hippo family in paradise

Hippo family in paradise

The hippos didn’t seem to mind us ogling 20 yard away from the shore.  Though, it is my understanding that they are the most dangerous animal in Africa, killing more people than all other animals, including the big cats, crocodiles, and poisonous snakes.  I edged as close to the water as I could without falling in.  It wasn’t every day that I could be this close to a hippo in the wild.  Anyway, I sized up my fellow gawkers, and figured I could outrun at least a few of them, so I wasn’t too worried.

After breakfast we made our way out of the crater for lunch at the hotel, and then on to the Serengeti for more Safari.  The incredible size of the Serengeti plains and the 2.5 million wildebeest occupying it was awe-inspiring.  We had already seen 4 of the 5 “Big Five”, but the elusive leopard was still nowhere to be seen.  We got up close and personal with a giraffe when word on the CB was that a Leopard couple was spotted in a tree, getting affectionate.  We made a desperate dash for the spot, but alas, no leopards were found.

We arrived at our hotel in the Serengeti wind blown and sun-soaked.  We were handed moist, white towels to wipe down.  When I handed mine back, it was brown.  The hotel is amazing.  The rooms are individual huts spread around the property.  They are built to look like the Masaai clay huts, but they are spacious and beautiful inside and out.  We gathered in the reception area for an orientation by the hotel manager.  The primary purpose of the meeting was to discuss the most important rule, do NOT walk around by yourself between sunset and sunrise.  If you want to leave your room, dial 2 on the phone, and a nice man with an AK-47 will come escort you to your destination.  While this made for endless jokes about calling for an “escort” to keep you company at night, the danger is no joke.  Leopards are all around looking for a snack, and Cape buffalo are just angry and mean.

4:45am departure this morning.  We need to be at the hot air balloons early, before the winds pick up.  Even with the rough roads, all the driving keeps putting me to sleep during the day, and I can’t seem to acclimate to the time difference, which is 10 hours ahead of Boulder.  It’s like being on a string of night shifts, which generally makes me psychotic, homicidal, or both by the third night.  I got about two hours of sleep tonight.  I feel fine, but I’m a little worried that it will catch up to me on the mountain.  I brought 7 different antibiotics, and a whole pharmacy of other meds, but I forgot to pack the melatonin.  I need to find a way to get some real sleep tonight.  We start climbing tomorrow.

More to come.

The Africa Jackal looks like a smaller version of our coyotes back home.

The Africa Jackal looks like a smaller version of our coyotes back home.

Wilidebeest and her baby

Wilidebeest and her baby

Safari trucks pop the top for 360 views

Safari trucks pop the top for 360 views

Jenn enjoying the Safari

Jenn enjoying the Safari

As sea of Flamingos

As sea of Flamingos

Male Ostrich

Male Ostrich

Kori mating ritual

Kori mating ritual

Kori mating ritual. No one around.

Kori mating ritual. No one around.

Pair of mating lions

Pair of mating lions

Ground Fowl joined us for breakfast

Ground Fowl joined us for breakfast

Capre Buffalo.  One of the Big Five. They can be agressive.

Capre Buffalo. One of the Big Five. They can be agressive.

Mud time for the Warthogs

Mud time for the Warthogs

After the mud bath.  All clean.

After the mud bath. All clean.

The animals walk by like we aren't even there.

The animals walk by like we aren’t even there.

What are you lookin at?

What are you lookin at?

Hey! Does my butt look big?

Hey! Does my butt look big?

I got your big butt right here, Buddy.

I got your big butt right here, Buddy.

I got your big butt right here, Buddy.

Camels

We saw loads of giraffes on the way out of Ngo Rongora

We saw loads of giraffes on the way out of Ngo Rongoro

Some of them came right up close

Some of them came right up close

Elephant Herd

Elephant Herd

One of my favorite trees in the world. Then Acacia tree.

One of my favorite trees in the world. Then Acacia tree.

About these ads

Actions

Information

2 responses

25 02 2013
Del, Chris, Drew and Alexa

Love the pics! You guys saw so many amazing animals! So jealous. :) Jeff, you might have a new favorite tree when you hit what we like to call “Dr. Seuss-land.” Happy climbing! Just remember…pole pole. We’ll be following your journey every day!

26 02 2013
Inga McKinnon

Thanks for the incredible photo album – ALMOST as good as being there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 608 other followers

%d bloggers like this: