Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti

I don’t know what else to say except that the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti are absolutely amazing. We had low expectations going in since we had already seen all the wildlife we hoped to find in Africa. Well, we’ve learned you should never underestimate how exciting Mother Nature can be. But we’ll start from the beginning…

The remaining seven of us from our overland tour were picked up by a safari company and driven to the outskirts of the Ngorongoro Crater to camp for the night. I don’t know if it was the excitement for our game viewing the next day or the alcohol that we were consuming, but our gambling started to get a little more interesting. We stopped playing our usual card game and started upping the bets and playing high card. You get one card and whoever is dealt the highest card wins. When some people started getting low on cash, we started playing for other things, like haircuts. The girls started betting inches off their hair and the guys stated betting facial hair, leg hair and armpit hair. Our friend Dean has been growing his facial hair for nearly five months. Chris and Dean agreed that the loser of their hand had to shave off their moustache. Well, Chris lost and true to his word, he shaved his stache and is now rocking the Amish look. He still looks as handsome as ever…ha!S SThe next morning we departed for the crater. Ngorongoro Crater was formed 25 million years ago when a volcano collapsed. The crater rim spans 16-19 kilometers in diameter creating a natural enclosure and refuge for thousands of wildlife. The scenery is gorgeous.S S SThe middle of the crater is flat and grassy making game viewing fairly easy since there are only a few places animals can hide. Although we’ve already seen the majority of these animals, we were able to get much closer to them than in any other game drive.S S S SWe spotted three more black rhinos in the crater making it a total of five that we’ve seen on our trip. Given that there are only 5,000 left in the world, we were pretty pleased to have seen 1% of the total population while in Africa.

A few hours away from the crater lays the Serengeti. On our way there, we came across a herd of giraffe right on the road. We’ve seen giraffes but not this close and not the Masai giraffes which are much more vibrant in color.S SMasai for “endless plains,” the Serengeti is exactly how you picture Africa to look in your head. Beautiful acacia trees litter the vast expanse of land where the wild animals roam. S S S S
Nearly done with our first game drive through the Serengeti, we saw rapid camera flashes coming from a overland vehicle in the distance. We headed their way curious to know what they were viewing. Just a few feet from where we pulled up was a lion pride of 20+ lions and cubs. They were climbing trees, wrestling and pouncing on each other. Our guide said it was extremely unusual for so many lions, especially cubs, to be in one pride. They were everywhere and surrounded the vehicles that were rapidly showing up.S S S S SThe next morning, we set off just before sunset on our last game drive through the Serengeti. We thought it would be hard to top the lion pride from the night before so were focused on finding one last leopard. Ask and you shall receive. A leopard came sauntering down the road trailed by two other safari vehicles. We followed it and watched for a few minutes when a pair of jackals started trotting around in close proximity to the leopard. We asked our guide if there was any chance the leopard would kill the jackals for food but he replied it was highly unlikely. Not even 10 seconds later, we watched as the leopard crouched behind the brush ready to pounce. In an instant, we saw the leopard take a few long strides towards the jackals. The next thing we saw was one of the jackals lying limp in the leopards mouth halfway dead. It was awesome. In 12 years of game drives, our guide has never seen a leopard kill. He was thoroughly impressed with how lucky we were in our game drives.S SSadly, jackals mate for life and when the one jackal was killed by the leopard, the other jackal was devastated. It followed the leopard for the next 30 minutes nipping at its back legs and tail while barking and howling the whole time. It was sad to see it so distraught but incredible to watch the jackal’s bravery as it tried to seek revenge. As it wailed the entire time, we guessed that it was begging for the leopard to kill him, too.

Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti are so dense with wildlife, we found the Big Five (elephant, cape buffalo, lion, black rhino, lion and leopard) in less than a day. Everything we saw in Chobe and Etosha combined could be found in Serengeti plus more. If you can only go to one game park in Africa, Serengeti has it all. A big thanks to the Buns (Bunny) for the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti trip! We decided to use your wedding gift for the safari since Chris didn’t get to accompany you on your earlier Africa trip. It was one of our favorite things we did in Africa!SAfter spending 10 days in Tanzania, we left for the border to cross into Kenya, our last country on our Africa trip. We stayed one last night with our tour group at a campsite in Nairobi and drank late into the night, gambled on pool and played rock, paper, scissors for $5 a game while reminiscing over the past six weeks.  The next morning it was time to say goodbye to the last of our friends. It was probably the most depressing moment we’ve had in Africa. It’s heartbreaking to think that even if you try your best, you may never see these people again. The photo below was taken just two minutes before all the girls broke out into tears.  SA big thanks to Africa Travel Company and everyone who made our trip unforgettable – we had an amazing time and miss you all already.

Stay tuned…we still have two more nights in Nairobi, Kenya, before we fly out of Africa and have one last stop planned before we leave!

Disclosure: We are traveling on an overland safari with Africa Travel Co. and have received a trip discount in exchange for sharing our experience. These thoughts and opinions are completely our own.


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