Cute Thompson gazelles.
First pair of lion and lioness on our safari trip. They rule! Unafraid of all the safari vehicles around them.
Safari vehicles and elephants on opposite banks of Tarangire River- who's watching who?
A family of elephants enjoying their bath. So adorable.
Migratory cranes busily building their huge nests from twigs and leaves.
Dried up carcass of a cape buffalo's horn with views of a saltwater lake at Ngorongoro.
Day 3 took us to the Ngorongoro Crater- scenic drive all the way to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area bypassing Lake Manyara. We saw many herds of migrating cranes building their nests on treetops. Endless plains with wild animals and cattle tended to by the Masai people. Nice, cool temperatures on the highlands provided for very refreshing air. Came face to face with huge cape buffaloes on the roadside. What a sight to be had.
Birds hitching a ride on a zebra.
Kori Bustard- the largest bustard of Eastern Africa.
Not afraid of people or vehicles.
We were coerced by our driver to visit a Masai village in the conservation area- paid US$60 entrance fee. The villagers performed a welcome dance for us. We were told all the villagers were related as they share the same father (village chief) but different mothers (27 of them if I remember correctly). The son of the chief showed us the inside of the huts that the villages lived in. The huts were made out of sticks, wood, and cow dung. He made us walk around a "shopping bazaar" of souvenirs and crafts (bought US$30 worth of a necklace and a porcupine spike) and visited their kindergarten as well. Children ranging from 2 y/o to 12 y/o were in the same class doing alphabets, simple math, English and Swahili. We donated US$50 to the kindergarten teacher. Not sure if the money will benefit the children but I hope they do. As we were leaving, we saw another safari vehicle pulling up with a family- another cha-ching!
School kid reading off the blackboard.
Stayed at Sopa Lodge on the rim- huge rooms with bedding that reminded me of the Best Western motels in the States. Bathroom was nice and updated with a huge shower. Rooms had enclosed balcony overlooking the crater rim. Unfortunately, it was foggy and visibility was poor during our stay. Dinner and breakfast buffet were just alright as the lodge caters to large tour groups. My kids could tell that the fried potato slices for breakfast were actually recycled from previous night dinner's whole baked potatoes. Overall, the green and cool Ngorongoro area is a nice change from the dry Tarangire National Park.