Tarangire to Ngorongoro Crater (8/4)

We had breakfast at the lodge and then hit the road by 8:00 am. It was a zoo getting out. All of the groups are trying to get out at the same time. According to Allen, this is the most crowded he has seen it. Jamie and Shaun are not feeling very good. It's going to be a long day for them on the bumpy roads. We toured through more of the park on the way out. We got very close to several elephants. There was 1 baby in the group. The baby stayed very close to it's mother. One of the adults had a hole in its ear. We saw a lot more birds. In addition we saw lots of the same animals we saw yesterday. 

After exiting the park, we head to Lake Manyara National Park.  The other truck went to the hotel where we were going to have lunch to let Shaun rest. At Lake Manyara there  are tree climbing lions. Unfortunately we did not see any.  This is a very heavily forested park. We did see some really cool birds including the Marabou Stork, White Pelican, and the coolest bird, the little  bee-eater. We drove to the lake area and saw Hippos hanging out in the water. They really were not doing much. They were grouped together like seals.  We also saw a big group of Zebra and Wildebeest.

We came across a bunch of Baboons in a Tamarind  tree. They were munching away on the Tamarind seed pods on the tree. 

At the lake itself we could see thousands of Flamingos. We were too far away to get a really good shot.

We then drove to lunch at the Lake Manyara Hotel. We had a buffet lunch that was OK. Nothing great. We also did some shopping at the gift shop.

After lunch we drove to the Ngorongoro Crater National Park. On the way to the park, the paved main road ended and we continued on a dusty bumpy road. Ngorongoro is the largest unbroken crater on earth and claims the highest density of wildlife on the African continent. We drove along the crater rim to our hotel. We stopped at an overlook. I hunted around for a geocache  but could not find it. The view into the crater was unbelievable. Along the road to the hotel you could see where Elephants had dug into the sides of  cliffs. They dig the holes looking for minerals they need to help with digestion. You have to be off the roads by dark. So many animals use the roads at night it becomes dangerous to drive.

We ended our day at the Sopa Ngorongoro Lodge.  The lodge is on the rim of the crater, so there are incredible views to take in. You are also up pretty high (7,800 ft) so it gets cold at night up here. Our rooms were big. We were one the first floor so we had a solarium where you could sit and enjoy the views. Jamie crashed. He still wasn't feeling well. I headed back to the main lodge area. They were serving tea and had some great pastries to go along. I sat around and worked on my journal and enjoyed the treats. 

A bunch of us gathered in the bar to have some beers and watch the sunset. Once the sunset was getting good, we raced outside to take some pictures. It was already starting to get cold, so we didn't spend too long outside. We then went back into the bar to enjoy the rest of the sunset with some more beer.

Dinner tonight was again a multi-course meal. A bunch of use went with the "African Fusion" dinner. The waiter described it and it sounded really good. I thought it was fair. Basically some chicken with a coconut sauce over rice. The sauce had no flavor to me. Oh well, you have to go for it sometimes. 

I then did some more gift shopping at the hotel. It seems like the hotel prices are just as good as what you can get at some of the souvenir shops we have stopped at. 

I didn't stay up too late today. We are going to leave early tomorrow so we can beat the traffic jam getting into the crater.

 

One of my favorite shots

Lilac-breasted Roller

Mom & baby elephants

Elephant with hole in ear

Waterbuck

Baboon

Hippo in silhouette

Little Bee-eater

Baboons eating tamarind

Monitor lizard

Sunset

overlooking

Ngorongoro crater

Panorama of Ngorongoro crater