Destination: Nagorongoro Crater Day two
Date: May 2014
Activity: Game Drive in the crater!
Our last two days of safari was spent at two different locations. Our first place was at the Nagorongoro Crater. Our lodge was a great location right off the top of the crater with a ski village type feel. It was beautiful just at the side of the crater overlooking the lake and the veldt below. Our room wasn’t as fancy as some of the other locations but the lodge itself was beautiful with river rock and large fireplaces. We enjoyed our time at the lodge and after our first night there we were ready for an early morning game drive.
Since our guides wanted to get started early we were told to meet for a 6am departure for the crater below. This was our best chance to find a rhino so we were all excited to finally cross off the last of the “big five” off our list. The big five being the rhino, elephant, lion, water buffalo, and leopard. I’m not sure why some of the creatures are listed when others aren’t but that’s what we were told the “big five” consisted of.
We had a great morning being entertained by a group of baboons at the first bathroom stop along the trail. Soon we moved on to find more birds we hadn’t seen and finally we got the much anticipated walkie-talkie call that a rhino had been spotted. We soon were racing to catch our first glimpse at a Black African Rhino! Since there are only twenty in Tanzania we knew we were lucky. We grabbed our photos of the cute little guy grazing with some water buffalo and we were on to the next sight.
We had a great breakfast buffet right on the waters edge watching about twenty hippos huff and puff water and snort at us as we enjoyed a beautiful crisp morning in the crater. The beauty of the crater is hard to describe. There are many beautiful flowers and tall fields covered in small yellow daisies that are capped off with an exotic animal here or there. I loved to listen to the sounds of Africa with the birds chirping, frogs croaking, a monkey screech here and there. It was all very comforting after ten days on safari.
Our last major even for our last day in the crater was on our way back to our lodge. We had climbed the side of the crater and were headed back on the densely jungle area passing many Masai people walking to and from their villages. We weren’t really looking for any animals except the occasional bird when all of the sudden we came across a lioness and two cubs. The lions are always a favorite so we stopped to admire her beauty and take a few photos.
As we were taking her picture she wasn’t looking our direction so someone in our party meowed a little to get her to look over at us. Remember we had been on safari for ten days and had no problems with these majestic creatures as most just ignored any sounds we made from our vehicles. When the meow didn’t work Trent did a low sounding growl. Within a split second that lioness pounced from the side of the road growling and showing her teeth at our car coming within two feet of Trent’s open window. Trent jumped so quickly that he was soon sitting on the lap of our friend “D” in the seat next to his. The rest of us hit the floor of our Landcruiser and our guide was fumbling with the keys to get the car started.
Soon she turned around and we took off having just had a near death experience. At least that’s how we felt. It was the most frightening experience of our whole trip but a story we will share for the rest of our lives. Our driver said we were lucky and that obviously this lioness has had problems with the Masai in the area since she was so aggressive toward humans. In the end it will probably be one of our most retold stories of the safari! This gives new meaning to Safe and Happy Travels!!