We were up early this morning with the chirping birds and the sun casting shades of yellow and orange over the gardens. Bellies full from home baked pastries and fresh coffee, picked and roasted on the farm, we headed towards the Ngorongoro Crater. Thanks to our early departure, we were one of only five cars at the gate to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and had no line at the entrance to the Crater. It was the first time on safari for most of the group, and we had a spectacular day! The skies were blue, the sun was warm, and the breeze was cool…a welcome change for this group who resides in Colorado and Utah.
Our guide Japhet spotted a plethora of animals (an understatement). We saw big herds of buffalo, wildebeest, zebra and gazelle (Grant’s and Thompson’s), skittering warthog, hyena and jackal fighting over a carcass, hippos, ostrich, a stunning cheetah from afar, and about 15 different lion! Lions greeted us throughout the day, including handsome males with big manes, a pride of hungry lioness teaching their older cubs to hunt (unsuccessfully) and a few other sleepy girls snoozing on the road. With 2 elephants and 2 black rhinos spotted in the distance with our binocs, I’d count that we spotted four out of the Big Five today…not too shabby!
After a picnic lunch on the Crater floor, we drove around the rim road to the edge of neighboring Olmoti Crater for an afternoon hike. Our trusty armed ranger and Maasai guide led us up a steep path flanked with vegetation to the most awe inspiring view of the NCA. It was nice to stretch our legs and the incline reminded us of our big hike next week! The local Maasai were warm and friendly. The teenage boys practiced their English and spoke of future plans after secondary school. The visit was extremely special.
Now back at Gibb’s Farm, I’m soaking in the remaining daylight before the night stars will blanket us again, and our hunger will be satisfied by today’s harvest.