March 11 - Living Large at Ngorongoro

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Hippo pool

It’s the afternoon of the 11th of March and I’m calling you from our lodge which is situated on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. I’m looking out across the green expanse of the crater itself, there’s a rain falling and it’s a beautiful afternoon. Yesterday after I reported to you from Olduvai, we ascended up into the crater highland which is an amazing landscape. It is more different than the short grass plains and the kopjes of the Serengeti than you can imagine.

Masai tribesmanAs we ascended up to higher elevation someone in the group commented, this must be what Ireland looks like because of the expanse of green rolling hills. The only difference being the striking characters, the figures of the tall thin Masai with their spears walking behind their little bands of cattle I see out over the hills and along the road. Not something you would see in Ireland, this is definitely situated in Africa.

This morning we awoke very early here at the lodge, right after 5:00am in the darkness. The reason being, Adam and Haruna had managed to get the keys to the gate that allowed us to descend down into the crater from the Park Wardens. At about 6:30am we dropped down into the crater to view wildlife in the active morning hours when everything was moving around. We had the entire crater to ourselves for at least 2 hours, the first few hours that we were down there today before we saw any other vehicles.

Adam on safari.We saw a male lion right off the bat when we got down there and just a little bit later we saw two females and 4 cubs. At about 8:15am we saw what was probably the highlight of our trip down in the crater today and really what we were looking for, we did see black rhino. First we saw one lumbering towards us out across the distance. We were hoping he would come across the road so we could get a closer view but he met two other huge rhinos and they decided to just stand around out in the grass for awhile. We enjoyed viewing them with binoculars.

We had a boxed breakfast that we stopped and enjoyed by a hippo pool of course, we always like to stop at hippo pools and enjoy listening to their grunting and their guttural sounds as they waddle around in the water. After we ate our breakfast we continued driving around and even though we have seen thousands of wildebeest and zebra over the last few days we saw a heard of wildebeest and hundreds of young calves. Wildebeest calves are amazing you know they are always migrating so a newborn wildebeest can walk within 20 minutes after it’s born. The ones we were looking at were probably no more than 3 days old, maybe a week old. They were frisking around and very active it was beautiful to watch them.

The rest of the group right now is down at a Masai village with Adam. He is a Masai himself, although we call him town-Masai because he grew up in Arusha, not out here in the bush. His aunt lives at this village, most of the group went down to visit with Adam.

Dining room overlooking the NgorongoroWe are going to enjoy another nice dinner here. You would be surprised to know, I keep describing these scenes it may not be quite what you pictured from East Africa. To sum it up the scene at lunch today when we came back from our early morning crater drive would really have surprised you. We went immediately into the large dining room with glass windows that face down onto the crater, a beautiful view. We made sure we got seated next to the large fireplace with a roaring, crackling fire something you would imagine at a ski lodge probably more than East Africa. After being down in the crater with the chilly morning air of the crater the warmth of the fire really felt good.

Lion cubOne of the most beautiful places in the world, you can’t imagine it. We are nearing the end of this section of the Climb for a Cure. I know some of our companions are already home. We have got only a few more nights left in Africa. We are living large and full every day, satisfied from our climb and enjoying the adventures we encounter every day. We are thinking of everyone back home. We are tired but we are pushing on for more great experiences in East Africa before this all ends with that evening KLM flight back towards Canada on the evening of the 13th.