Thursday, July 31, 2008

Africa #11: Japanese Highway

Wildebeast, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

OK, that was not good. Someone at reception got their 12s and 12As mixed up, phoning us at 6 am for a wake-up call we never requested. Fair enough, mistakes get made. Let’s order some coffee and watch the sun rise. Over an hour later and still no signs of the order actually showing up. Hmm. This is starting to feel like a pattern. And it goes without saying, of course, that the coffee finally did arrive just as we were heading out the door for breakfast. Bummer.

Today we head southeastwards out of the crater and towards our next stop, Lake Manyara. Do a brief run into the crater first to see what we might see before heading back for lunch and then setting off. The good news is that we see a rhino! Bad news is that it’s about half a mile away, asleep and hiding in the long grass. Still, we can legitimately claim this one as “Seen” and check the appropriate box on the big 5 list.

We did see some flamingoes on the lake but it was far from the carpeting that apparently it gets at certain times of the year like, shall we say, last week? Oh well, we came close! Turns out we also missed the real migration of the wildebeest too, that taking place further north than where we’ve been exploring in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. Different rain patterns change both the migration route and timing, and this year we were out of synch with nature.

Heading out we stopped with another couple of vehicles to watch something off to the side of the road. Probably an ostrich, but hard to tell. S then won the game spotter of the day award by looking forwards instead of sideways to see a pride of seven lions strolling down the road towards us!

Lunch, and then time to hit the open road. And amazingly enough, an open road that’s been surfaced! Turns out that a (the?) Japanese princess visited Ngorongoro a few years back and spurned the idea of flying out after her tour, preferring instead to go by road. She was so appalled by the merciless pummeling this resulted in that when she got back she poked at the Japanese government and made them donate a road to the Tanzanians! Wonder if she’d accept an offer to try my driveway any time soon?

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