Monday, April 29, 2013

Safari Day 2 - Ngorongoro Crater

Sunrise above Lake Manyara
There was no need to set any alarms as the mosque next door had Fajr morning prayers and a loudspeaker to do the job for us. Despite the fact I only headed to bed just over an hour and a half ago, I was surprisingly perky as the prayers rang out at 4:45am. Breakfast was served at 5:30am and the hotel continued to pull out all the stops in the food department serving us the luxury that was warm toast, pancakes, omlettes and the most impressive part was the appearance from a familiar jar of Nutella (Holiday Fig Resort if anyone is in the area). Muskim had also bought some local filter coffee, alas there was no caffetiere but that didn’t stop most people at this time in the morning, or at least it was to early to notice the difference.

Ngorongoro Crater

An African Traffic Jam
We were bundled into our respective jeeps and other than to watch a sunrise above Lake Manyara, most of us slept straight until the entrance to the gate of Ngorongoro Crater. It was a lot colder there and we had to dig out the down jackets that we had packed deep into the depths of our rucksacks. There were also some more aggressive baboons in the area so time out of the jeep was limited. The first part of the safari was foggy and not the kind of weather the Lion King advertises. Initially I was worried we wouldn't see anything at all but as we descented into the crater a lion appeared out the window. The crater was fairly sparse at first with safari jeeps out numbering most animals but there was more diversity than Lake Manyara. One problem because of the early rise (and late night in some cases) was that we kept falling asleep during the drive but the excitement of a cheetah chase was enough to wake us up! We stopped for a toilet break near the hippo pool and all the trucks and toilet facilities reminded us that a national park isn't really the wild at all. Almost simultaneously everybody seemed to fall asleep but woke up at the view point where we could see across the whole crater which was much bigger than the drive seemed. Then again that could all come down to one piece of Safari advice I can now give you - get an early bed the night before.

After Ngorongoro we had the long drive all the way back to Moshi and our beloved Midlands Lodge. We stopped at Chrisburger which is a heavily westernised restaurant near the centre of Moshi but turns into a club at night. TripAdvisor calls it a "seedy dive" which is demonstrated by condoms being on their menu. When we got back to the hotel where our rooms had all been switched around and we had to be in pairs so I had to bid farewell to Team Disaster but hello to a night in a fancy little room with Sara. It was a shame we were only spending about four hours in the hotel room - something we were shortly going to be coming accustomed too!

Africa isn't all shacks and huts!

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