Alarms woke us up and it was time for the last breakfast (at 0530) at Ang’gata before packing up our second home with all our belongings. Yawning and wearing fleece jackets we could at least comfort us with the fact that Ngorogoro Crater area opens at 0600 and since we were inside the Ngorogoro conservation area already we didn’t have to drive for a few hours to get there but rather 30 minutes.
Ngorogoro Crater is, as one almost can guess given the name, one big ass crater – the remains of a collapsed volcano from back in the days. Masai are allowed to live and herd their cattle here (when they were banned from Serengeti they “got” this permission) but it gives the whole Jurassic Park feeling when descending into the crater and seeing the volume and diversity of the wildlife.
I have not been able to reduce the number of pictures to a reasonable amount yet but will at least only post a few here.
Hippos with baby on board
One of the world’s few remaining black Rhinos
At lunch we left the crater and headed towards Serengeti instead, we had our first night in central Serengeti at Kati-Kati wilderness camp so there was a bit of driving to get there. Serengeti started with setting pretty decent standards by after just one and a half km we were greeted by below sight.
Two brother Cheetahs
So how do you beat a Cheetah seen in broad daylight from close distance? Add his brother in the same picture.A few (tens of) photos later we continued and it didn’t matter a bit we got to Kati-Kati just in time for sunset. It was several other groups there which was a change from Ang’Ata but groups were placed with separate tables with their guides so we were the usual trio. After another nice three course dinner we had a quick hot shower we hit the bed after a long and epic day.
We woke up by the alarms, and it was rather chilly outside of the bed, I’m very happy I brought my fleece jacket and the bush babies were still lukewarm. We had a nice breakfast with Matthew and were then just to get our gear from the tent before heading towards Empakai crater. This proved to be a challenge now in the daylight and no local to guide us like last night. After returning and asking for assistance I’m quite sure we made a great impression as tourists who got lost within the camp area.
We picked up a ranger who would do the actual trek with us and started the decent through a winding path. The views were marvelous and after some 326 meters lower down (meaning on 3200m altitude) we walked out through the forest on the slope of the crater and saw the salt water lake in the bottom of the crater. Masais were herding their cattle and flamingos and other wildlife completed the scenery. By now it was a good time to remove the fleece jacked since it was getting warmer. We walked perhaps a quarter around the lake and back before starting the ascent, and when we got up one of us were rather flustered. We headed back for a lovely hot lunch at Ang’ata and some slacking before doing the afternoon crater rim walk along the Ngorogoro crater.
We were on time but Matthew was nowhere to be seen and after some time we were informed that he was on his way, 45 minutes late they arrived at the camp, or Matthew at least – the ranger had done an AWOL but Matthew had found a replacement from the ranger station. Unfortunately this ranger did not speak English and seemed to have little clue of what the rim walk would consist of, after some 30 minutes he wanted to turn back while we tried to explain we expected a walk along the rim for quite some time. In the end he pulled the safety card (well ahead of dusk) and we were back after perhaps 90 minutes. Not so worth it and Matthew was very apologetic for this, which I guess he couldn’t do much about. The camp staff stated that now and then rangers do a no-show – TIA.
We had a hot shower before dinner today and indeed it was more pleasant getting dressed before the temperature dropped to the low 10’s. Dinner was really nice today as well, and since the other couple had left during the day we were the only guests which meant impressive service and staff to guest ratio. We packed for an early morning departure towards Ngorogoro crater the next day.
It seems having the AC off wasn’t that good idea after all, at 04 I woke somewhat warm and thirsty. To Mona’s delight it took some searching after power switches before getting it in action, and a minaret later we woke up. That is, not by the alarm, in my eager to fall asleep I had adjusted the weekday alarm – silly me.
Due to quality as well as lack of time the breakfast was a fast affair and we then checked out and headed towards the airport with a decent but not great buffer. Tanzanian queues have potential for improvement and at the luggage disk we were asked where we paid the luggage fee and that we need to buy this at a separate disk. I insisted this was included in my ticket and we were let go. Apparently this is often asked of foreigners, and we overheard some who indeed had paid extra at the disk in confusion – and only now realized this was wasted money.
It was a smooth flight, and I’ll admit we could make it with less buffer next time. We arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport and had another sign with our names greeting us, this is quite convenient and something I could get used to. After a 40 minute drive to Arusha to Roy Safari offices we sorted out some out paperwork and met our driver/guide – Matthew.
We stopped by a supermarket for some extra water and local currency, I failed to withdraw cash for unknown reason but could exchange a 100 USD bill before finally heading off to Ngorongoro. There was prepared picnic lunch in the car that was significantly better than the breakfast. While we waited for Matthew to sort out permits at Ngorogoro a family of baboons strolled by.
As we entered the conservation area the roads were no longer concrete or asphalt and we appreciated the modified Toyota Landcruiser with double fuel tanks, pop-up roof and six passenger seats with cushions. Since we were the only ones that meant plenty of cushioning of our behinds. We stopped at a viewpoint over the crater along the way for some photos but otherwise headed towards Ang’ata camp.
We arrived around dusk and given the altitude it was quite chilly, luckily our tent had in addition to a flush toiled also a hot shower and two sets of bathrobes – so we would make do in the wilderness. We had a nice three course dinner with Matthew and detailed the plans for tomorrow before taking that warm shower. While we were having our dinner some of the staff had prepared hot water bottles inside in some fuzzy containers and placed these “Bush babies” in our bed, a welcome surprise that sure helped to keep the bed cozy.