January 17th, 2003

Wind during night rattled tent, otherwise good. Crickets pm, birdsong am. Woke at start of dawn, able to peek at it through gaps in trees.

Breakfast fruit, eggs, bacon, toast. Lil bananas tasty! Not as sweet as big bananas. Juice pineapple or mango. Sugar for coffee brown.

Pics of spectacular view. Also tent.

On the road!

Stopped for drinking water at place w/v. agressive huckster. Another place for fuel, w/nice (by local standards) facilities. Also had hut w/internet, photocopy, fax.

Road v. bumpy.

Many Masai - herding cows, goats, donkeys. Masai nomadic, free to cross national borders. Masai believe all world's cows belong to Masai - have mental image of Masai warriors, Wisconsin dairy farmers squaring off over herd of befuddled cows.

Up Ngorongoro Crater wall. Incredible view of crater. Pics will not do it justice! Is huge old volcanic caldera. Will be going down into crater later in trip.

Olduvai Gorge inside conservation area. Museum all about Leakeys, discovery of fossils, etc. Also Laetoli humanoid track - 3 people, through volcanic ash 1.8 million yrs ago. Nice juxtaposition of Laetoli footprint w/Armstrong's print on moon.

Had mini-lecture in front of gorge. Locally is actually Oldupai, not Olduvai. German misheard word. Oldupai named for local plant - sisal. Also called Mother-in-Law's Tongue because is v. sharp.

Had lunch there. Lil birds v. colorful, v. bold.

Drive through Ngorongoro Conservation Area - into plains. Saw giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, Thomson's gazelles (v. cute!). Is migration herds. Also kori bustard (largest bird that can fly), storks.

Also Grant's gazelle, jackal, hyena, buzzards.

Into Serengeti, more of same. Grasslands of Serengeti not heavily populated this time of year.

Drove around kopjes (pronounced "caw-pees", are outcroppings of rock in midst of plain - probably thrown by volcano) looking for lions, but saw none.

Did spot hartebeest, gazelles.

Much ado about leopard in tree. Was, but hard to see - could see paw, tail hanging off limb. Had kill up tree. Also movement, possibly cub.

More elephants, including tiny baby.

Then rain! Put roof down by hippo pool without hippos. Then short drive to Seronera Wildlife Lodge. V. nice, less primitive.

On way to dinner, stopped to look at ad for balloon ride over Serengeti. Talked to pilot - has been ballooning 21 yrs - 4 w/Gulf Air - here since May. Flight costs US$400/person. Balloons v. expensive, also maintanance, crew, etc.

Dinner buffet, tasty. Had Tusker - E. African beer. Can tell used to be German East Africa - beer v. important. Tusker brewing since 1923, named for elephant that killed one founder.

Now to bed!