January 20th, 2003
Woken in night by loud birds. Was 2am. Birds v. loud.
Had v. amusing dream - was in Front Room at OU telling Mike, Laura & Liz about Africa trip. Said had perfect gifts. They said "where". I said was dream, would have to wait to get presents in real life. Laura said "Oh, okay."
Woke up to see dawn, got pics. Breakfast included Tanzanian donuts (like donut holes, really) & millet porridge. Got goodies from gift shop. Did not drink enough beer to put on Visa, so had to use cash. Now have some shillings.
On road to Ngorongoro, passed part of migration. Baby zebras so cute, jumping about in dewy grass.
Passing by border between parks. In Ngorongoro, can go offroad. In Serengeti, not supposed to, but do. Fine if caught by rangers. Also fine if hit animal - v. high, US$200.
Gazelles so pretty when running. Gazelles so pretty. Zebras so pretty. Wildebeests not so pretty, but have certain dignity, especially when running.
Mini-cliffs (less than foot high) caused by erosion, started from migration track. All over in plains.
Cheetah ran across road on way to highlands. Are v. shy in Masai territory. Reached crater descent road. View incredible. Will open roof when down in crater. 2000 feet down.
Drive to crater floor v. steep, v. bumpy. Swear was 45 degree angle at least!
In crater floor, cape buffalo, zebras, ostriches, gazelles, flamingos, jackals, hyenas, etc. Crater about 10 square miles.
Came upon concentration of vehicles. 2 lions taking shade under landrover. If lion using car for shade, is against law to drive 'til lion decides to move.
Lions finally got up to hunt warthogs. Saw hunt, but was unsuccessful. Warthogs too fast. Was close shave for warthog.
Down to designated picnic spot by freshwater lake. Hippos in lake. Many landrovers around lake. In human vs. kite (bird) competition, kites win. Food snatched from hands if try to eat outside of vehicle. Witnessed this twice.
Then rain, coming over crater wall. At 3 different spots, but lingers in highlands, not coming out into crater. Saw v. old warthog, survivor of lion hunt. Went to big hippo pool, but no hippos.
Rain finally came into crater. Seems to be in waves. Found grey heron while out of rain ourselves, but could hear thunder & behind us see wall of rain.
Everything smells so fresh w/rain. Greens so green.
Caught sight of lions out in aftermath of rain. Had been hiding in rocks. Colors so sharp.
Sacred ibises milling about, w/male lion in distance. The King is down, rolling on back, paws in air. Making fool of self. Silly kitty!
Passed 4 busloads of Sikhs. Then stopped to see if something was rhino, but wasn't. Are 15 - 20 rhinos in crater, but are v. shy. Can't imagine big armored thing w/horns being shy!
Then stopped at other spots and those did turn out to be rhinos! 2 of them, v. far away.
Finally saw rhinos close enough for indentifiable pics. Was mama & adolescent. 1.5 ton teenage rebel, v. scary concept.
Passed massive group Sikhs, looking for lions w/only hour left of time in park. Must be through gate before 6pm or get fined.
Rangers on lookout for speeders, too. 25 kph is max speed in crater. Also weilds hefty fine. Ranger v. tough job - salary good, but if rhino is lost, ranger goes to jail for life. Also if rhino shot by poacher & ranger does not shoot poacher, ranger gets jail.
Drive up crater wall v. steep & bumpy w/tight turns. Was petrified. Crater worth trip, but if come again, will have to hide head for entire trip. 2000 ft is long way.
Reached Ngorongoro Wildlife lodge in one piece. Is nice, but not as nice as Ndutu. View astounding.
Have now showered. Feel bit better. Will go up & enjoy beer w/view. Or view w/beer. Either way, will be good. Warthog evidently on dinner menu. Should be interesting.
View from balcony spectacular. Tried Kilimanjaro - lighter on taste, heavier on alcohol than Tusker. Safari still tops. Came w/homemade potato chips. Crisps if you're British.
Dinner v. good. Warthog v. tender, marinated - like delicate pork. Topi like peppery beef, too tough for my taste. Desserts v. good.
Bought stuff from shop. V. nice salesman.
Music & acrobat in lobby. Mostly percussion & stiltwalker. Jim thinks kinda creepy. Would rather watch lightning over crater.