"With a 04:45 wake up call, we had a quick breakfast and then headed off…
Our arrival at the Crater gate was met by a handful of cheeky baboons and a cloud of thick damp fog. Driving up along the outside, and onto the rim, I half expected gorillas to come out of the mist – see what I did there!? ;) Its so unexpectedly tropical … huge fig trees, lush green bushes, ferns… Although then again being near the equator you’d think it obvious really. From the top of the rim all we could see was cloud, until we got to the main descent. What an incredible view! Its something you should see, rather than have someone try to explain it, like so many things in Africa really. Quite hard to comprehend that its literally a round bit of African savannah, completely surrounded by a dense forest ring. And once you hit the floor of the crater, it changes completely. You’re back in Africa as you’d know it.
Life is good in the Ngorongoro Crater… Animals can want for nothing, and the 6 odd prides of resident lions can literally have their dinner to order. The plains are dotted with buffalo wildebeest and zebra, with hippos in the many pools and prolific birdlife. It’s a little bit of everything all thrown into a soup bowl!
Had a great day of game viewing, saw all of the big five – 2 separate black rhinos very far in the distance, but it still counts! We were just on our way out, stopped at picnic spot to finish off lunch, when we heard of a “chui” in a tree in the nearby Lerai forest. Leopard. Raced off to where of course there were about 5 cars battling for a good view. The leopard – a young male – was slouched over a branch in a tree about 30 meters away, too dark to photograph unless you had a good camera, or good zoom. Both of which I had. Alas, battery dead!!!!!!!!!!!! Needless to say a lot of swearing and muttering under my breath ensued.
We left the crater dusty and tired and headed back to Karatu for some more sightseeing. We checked in at the beautiful Gibbs Farm, where I thought we could chill out a bit, Nope, Cha Cha had other plans. He thought we had all ate too much (and pudding!) the evening before, so we were going for a walk. Just a quick one down the road and back, past some more shacks, maize plantations and make-shift shops. Uphill back, so we were quite shattered by the time we returned. Shower, then get ready for dinner... Gibbs, being in the forest, is prime bushbaby spot and so just before dinner we had the chance to see them come down to grab some banana bits. SO CUTE!! Quick though, so by the time your camera focussed in the dark and you’d pressed click, its gone!
A slightly more generous start to the morning had us heading back into the Ngoro Conservancy and along the Crater rim to cross over to Serengeti.
Suddenly, as we leave the crater rim behind, its like stepping into a different photograph as the scenery changes from lush rainforest to dry arid savannah. Thorntrees replace the figtrees, and short yellow grass replaces the green leafy shrubs.
We arrive at the Nabi gate, where we had our picnic lunch while Cha Cha sorted out the papers. Cars everywhere!!!!
We got underway and headed on… and then suddenly the Serengeti unfolded before us. It really is like a photo book! The plains stretched for miles and miles, dotted with trees, or a few forests on hills. It really is a spectacular place.
Many sight inspections had us driving all over the place. Game was good and actually for all the cars we saw at the gate, not too busy in the Park. It was a 12 hour day of driving from Ngorongoro to our camp for the night, including all the inspections. A Long long day.
The sun was starting to sink low, and Cha Cha still needed to race to get fuel before we finally made it to camp. We drove along in the changing light and saw quite a lot of wildebeest. Then more...and more. Dotted around, up hills and on the plains. THE MIGRATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The ACTUAL migration!!!
They had returned from the north to the Seronera area after rains. Fair enough, they were pretty chilled out and not frantically trying to cross the Grumeti river without getting a chunk bitten out of them – as per picture books – but it was the migration none the less!
Fuelled up, and by this time it was dark already. We found our camp in the dark and as it’s a mobile camp, they move with the migration. We literally sat down for dinner as we got there – bone tired after a long day. We were kept up all night by the snorting and grunting of the wildebeest all around us. And of course where the migration goes…predators follow! Lions and hyenas were a constant backing track to the song of the gnu, and much as I very much love the sounds of Africa, its certainly not conducive to a goods nights’ sleep!
Day 2 in the Serengeti – more driving, more bits of the migration, and loads more plains game. Hyenas, warthogs, vultures, marabou stork, hippos, various birdlife, dik diks. Oh and another leopard slouched over a tree branch...this time I had my camera charged and ready!
Tomorrow day three of Serengeti… More of the above, and hopefully catch the larger part of the migration that has already headed north!"
By Anneli Rudiger
Find out more about our Tailormade trips to Tanzania.