Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ndutu to Ngorongoro Crater

After packing up and another great breakfast we were back with Shange on Safari checking out tawny eagles, kites, wildebeest, elephants, and a lot of giraffes.  We were on our last morning game drive around Chaka camp before a long drive to Rhino Lodge and the Ngorongoro Crater.  We spent a lot of time in the morning off-roading looking for leopards to no avail.  What we did find was a mother cheetah with two of the cutest kittens we’d ever seen.   We pulled up with several other vehicles and watched them playing with each other and tackling their mom’s tail playfully for over half an hour before moving on.  Simply adorable. 

We again stopped for lunch in the bush about a quarter mile away from a small stream crossing where we saw hundreds of wildebeest and zebra.  Shange again provided us with a delicious lunch and kept an eye out for animals around us.  I took the time to try to capture the sounds of local dove while Emily lost a napkin to the wind and tried desperately to chase it down hilariously.  Unfortunately, we missed getting that on tape but one of the funniest moments of our trip.  

Shange decided to take a backroad back to Ngorongoro Crater so we might be able to see some other wildlife and also to show us areas that most tourists don’t get to see.  It was very slow going on rough roads but we passed by a lot of Maasai children, some of them again with face paint during their warrior training period.  Many of the children whistled at us and stuck their hands out for water or for handouts.  

Shange could tell we felt bad so he explained to us that they actually had plenty of water and that this behavior was very bad and not to be reinforced by us.  The one time we did stop and give them leftover lunch food was very early on when we passed some young girls (only ones who didn’t beg) and he pulled over to give them the remainder of our lunches noting that he (and I agree) hates to see food go to waste.  The girls of course were very appreciative.

At each occasion when the young boys would run up to us he would stop the vehicle and sternly say something to them and they would freeze in place, then take off running in the opposite direction.  We never did learn exactly what he said to them but it was definitely in their native Maasai language which they weren’t expecting from a tourist guide.  

Fortunately for us, Shange had grown up as a Maasai so he was uniquely able to communicate well with them and whatever he said did the trick.  On one occasion a brazen boy stuck his arm in the window and kind off pinched my forearm looking for a hand out.  This was the only time we stopped and Shange actually got out of the vehicle.  I’ve never seen children run away so quickly!  

On the way up to Ngorongoro Crater we kept an eye out for Leopards but again never saw any.  We did stop at a large tree on the side of the road that Shange explained to us was sacred to the Maasai.  Whenever they traveled past this tree they would stop and pray to it and leave something on it.  Because they have so little these things could be as small as bottle cap.  They place the items and pray by the tree before continuing on their way.

We reached Rhino Lodge around 3pm in the afternoon as we had to leave the crater by 1pm.  When we got to the lodge we saw waterbucks throughout the lodge grounds.  I was so exhausted from the early mornings and balancing in the safari truck that I pretty much passed out in bed for a few hours.  My chest had been hurting since we got down from the mountain. I never did figure out why - although doctor when I got home said that I had strained my chest wall from hyperventilating at altitude.  

After the wonderful nap we met up with Eric by the fire in the lodge as it was cooler on the crater rim than down in it or the other places we had visited in Tanzania.  We were able to get online and send some messages out from the lodge.  We also got to eat dinner with Shange this night which was great.  We got to hear more about past and his family and talk a bit more about some famous clients he had (friends with Scott Fischer from Everest) and also the politics of Tanzania as well as America!  

Yes, he was very knowledgeable about American politics and very curious to hear our opinions about the 2016 candidates!  Hilarious, this man in Tanzania was more educated about our government than most Americans.  We had a very early start the next day and I was still feeling a bit weak so it was super easy to call it a night at 9pm.  

No comments: