From the Serengeti, we drove to the rim of Ngorongoro Crater for our second-to-last night. Before leaving the Serengeti, we had the fortune of running into the great, annual migration of wildebeest (1,500,000 of them), zebra and impala. As far as the eye could see.
We were also fortunate to meet some Maasai
The Ngorongoro Crater is a nature reserve, 9 miles across with a flamingo-filled pool in the middle. It’s also among the last unspoilt calderas: essentially a collapsed mountain rich in resources. Many of the same animals we saw in the Serengeti made appearances here, with the notable addition of black rhino (we saw 2, which is 10% of the total population in Ngorongoro, I understand!). Unfortunately no cheetah.
Look closer… those are flamingoes
And hyena looking for something to eat
We had a spate of animals stealing our food – we ate a picnic lunch in the car but this guy took his banana outside to eat and had a kite sweep down and snatch it. And then the baboons! Oh god. Just outside the park, I got out of the car to take a brownbag of rubbish to the trash and stopping a moment to talk to someone through the window a huge baboon came bounding at me from the side at full speed. I remembered from my visit to Gibraltar that the only thing he wanted was the bag in my hand and – miracle of miracles, as he was a bound away when I saw him out of my periphery –I screamed, threw the bag way away from me and proceeded to… fall sideways on myself. Terrifying but in the end really just hilarious. One man from South Africa had told us a truly gruesome story of baboons attacking their family dog when he was a little boy and the family was taking it out for a walk, so I had that imagery in my head and the face on that baboons face definitely betrayed “oh it’s about to be a problem.”
The campsite at Ngorongoro was honestly the most beautiful, atmospheric campsite I’ve ever stayed in. Last night was our last – given mostly to bonding and fawning over each other. The people on this trip would need a huge email all to themselves. There were (half were dropped off in Arusha) some really, really lovely people – really everyone, to be honest, with an odd ball or two bouncin’ about, but really good luck with a group 25-large (including staff). The chemistry was great and many of them will be friends beyond, I hope. It felt like overnight camp for adults (only more rudimentary provisions with a full week of camping, drop toilets and meals eaten around a campfire). I’d do another group trip in a heartbeat; a great way to travel as a single person and see so, so much more than you’d otherwise have the means to.
And at night
And in the dawn
Some of the group rode camels our last evening