We are up at 6:45AM and out the door with our luggage at 8:00AM. George is waiting and we are on the road by 8:10AM. We have about 150km to go to get to Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and a lot of it is very rough. The creek under the weak bridge is running very fast from all the rain last night.
The male lion is gone this morning and the vultures are crowded onto the Cape buffalo carcass.It is nature at work! Other than Cape buffalo, some giraffeand the usual impala, gazellesmonkeysand zebra, we do not see many animals as we drive the 32km to the kopje with the gate to the Serengeti. The wildebeest have moved on from this area and we are glad to have seen them over the last two days.
Eighteen kilometers after the gate, we catch up to the wildebeest at the border between the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. While the wildebeest are not as bunched together as we saw the first day, they are still plentiful and fill the land to the horizon.The large groups of zebbra are still there also.Just after we cross over into Ngorongoro Conservation Area land, George heads off road for a free wheeling drive through the grass. On the off road drive, we see eland, ostrich, zebra, impala, Thomson’s gazelle and, of course, many more wildebeest.This was a fun experience and we missed part of the rough, main road.
After our off-road drive, we pick up the horribly rough road that we must take to reach Ngorongoro Crater. Carolyn abandons the raised back seat and sits up front with George. Dick endures the bouncing in the back alone for the remaining 100km of our drive through the Massai lands of the Ngorongoro Conservation. We reach Ngorongoro Crater Lodge about 1:00PM and are received and greeted warmly by the manager and staff. The lodge sits on the rim of the crater and our room, #8 of the north unit, has a spectacular view of the crater.We can see all the way across its 20km width and breadth. We can see a thunderstorm developing on the far slope as we go to lunch.
The whole lodge is African style and is spectacular.Lunch is very nice and we visit with a couple from Canada for a while. Carolyn talks with the chef about having some simpler, less seasoned food than what we have been eating. The rain has started by the time we head back to the room.We settle in for a restful afternoon.
By about 4:30PM the sky has cleared again. Our bodies have quit shaking from the ride and we have a beautiful view of the crater with a double rainbow!Cocktails are ordered and our butler, Simon, brings them and lights a fire in the fireplace. It is not that cool yet, but what the heck! He offered and we accepted. The crater rim is 2,300 meters above sea level (approximately 7,000 ft.), the nights are cool to cold, and the fireplace is the only source of heat in the room. Oh, by the way, there is no electric power from 3:00PM until 5:00PM so plan accordingly!
We go to the main house that serves as the lounge and dining room for dinner about 7:00PM. Cocktail hour is in progress and all the guests are sitting around visiting with each other and the staff members. We have some wine and pleasant conversation for about an hour then head to the dining room. Dinner is excellent. We are really tired by now and have agreed to meet George at 7:30AM for our departure for the crater floor. Therefore, it is off to bed.
A guide escorts us back to the room, since the Cape buffalo are grazing by the cabins. Back at the room the fire is blazing, the butler brings us some hot tea. We sit on the deck for a while and enjoy the tea while looking at the crater floor and the lake by the light of an almost full moon. The scene is magnificent!