We had a remarkably easy crossing into Tanzania. We didn’t have the opportunity to get tourist visas in advance, but it didn’t make a difference. We filled the same entry form as everyone else and simply had to hand over the visa fee with the passports. They were stamped quickly and on we went with no delay. We spent our first night in a small town on Lake Victoria and went to the beach for sunset.
On our next day we drove through the Serengeti to our lodge which is in the middle of the park. That evening on our safari drive we were lucky to see our first leopard up in a tree. With that we completed our Big Five sightings and everything to follow would just be a bonus. The famous Big Five that everyone tries to see on safari are: Leopard, Black Rhinoceros, Lion, African Buffalo, and the African Elephant. We enjoyed an early drive the next morning to watch the sunrise and saw a family of hyenas wandering around their den. Later that day we saw a couple more leopards sleeping in treetops, more lions and we saw a couple of cheetahs from a distance. Around the lodge we were able to get up close to Zebra, some Mongoose and the numerous Rock Hyraxes which were everywhere. That night we were shocked to discover a loud munching Hippopotamus outside our bedroom window. They are massive and it was great fun to watch and listen to it graze on the lawn. It was in an area that guests can walk through and one of our companions was on her way to the lawn to look at the stars before learning of our big visitor. I should also mention that during the early evening monkeys would run along the railing of our window looking to see if anyone left it open so they could get inside.
On our second evening I ordered water at dinner. They brought me a 1.5 litre bottle that was half frozen. It was the first time I’d had really cold water in a long time and immediately drank a lot of it. Unfortunately I was becoming complacent about checking what I was served and I did not see if the container was sealed before it was opened for me. We think they refilled the bottle and put it in the freezer to hide the taste. My digestive system was in disarray for the next few days, I even made a visit to a local nurse to discuss it, and took some medicine before returning to full health. Fortunately it did not impact what we accomplished with our days.
We left the Serengeti on the third day and had a phenomenal up close view of a cheetah and many more lions. We carried on to Oluduvei Gorge, often referred to as the cradle of civilization since it is where the oldest human footprints and skeleton were discovered. We also visited a Maasai village before getting to our lodge on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. The lodge has an amazing view and that afternoon we went for a hike up to Olmoti Crater to enjoy the scenery.
The following day was spent in the crater, watching all the animals including more cheetahs, lions fresh after a kill and much more. We stopped briefly to open the top of the land cruiser and Leanne and I foolishly got out to have our photo taken. Fortunately no predators were close to us. At one point we had a lion walking between our vehicles. It passed so close to where I sat I could have pet it out of my open window. We also spent a while watching the stinky and noisy hippos in some shallow water. They kept doing rolls to keep their backs wet, putting their stubby legs in the air. It was quite amusing. Our new animal sighting for the day was the Serval, which is a small cousin of the Cheetah. We had lunch at a resting area within the crater and took a photo of Topo with some animal bones. Yes Sharon, he is still with us and getting lots of photos despite the lack of posts. ?
The following day we went to Lake Manyara and shortly after leaving the lodge we passed a massive male lion approaching the road in the morning mist. Including this day we saw lions every day since starting the safari, but it would be our last sighting for this trip. Lake Manyara didn’t have much new to offer us from a safari perspective, but it was very different scenery and we did get to see Blue Monkeys for the first time. We also did a village walk in the area.