A moment's rest between lions and our next boma stay
We descended through heavy fog high on the crater rim, emerging from the clouds down onto the crater floor of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Having slept in tents at Simba Campsite, we woke up early before the heat of the afternoon drove the animals into the shade.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a protected wildlife area in Tanzania centered around a caldera, a crater that is the remnant of mountain that once stood taller than Mt. Kilimanjaro. Down on the crater floor, encircled on all sides by mountains, we faced the chilly morning air and kept our eyes peeled as our drivers maneuvered the land rovers through bumpy roads and mud.
And it was certainly worth getting up at 5:30! We saw great herds of wildebeest, zebra, and buffalo. Hippos lay submerged in lakes while crown-crested cranes and ostriches strutted about on long legs. Our drivers and guides pointed out and taught us about the wildlife around us (for example, zebras have the better distance vision, but wildebeest have better hearing, so by grazing together they keep each other safe). We watched a hyena scurry off while dragging a haunch, and a pair of lions sprawled out for a nap. Three lions even crossed the road right in front of our vehicles!
But eventually we had to climb back up to the crater rim and leave the highlands behind. As the afternoon sun beat down on the crater floor, the animals sought to lay down and escape the heat. At the same time, we had to be on our way, as more adventures lay ahead.
Now, after some travel with stops along the way, including staying the night at a Lutheran Hostel in Karatu, we are back in Monduli staying at the Emanyatta lodge.
We are taking a day of rest, but then it is off to our next boma visit in Eluwai, which is the home of one of our cultural guides, Musa. The next time we are back in Monduli, it will be for Musa's wedding!