Before we left on our trip I talked about expectations and that we try not to have to high expectations in case things don’t turn out the way we think they should. Pascel, our guide, asks me what I want to see while we are in Tanzania, and I tell him everything and anything from termites to birds to elephants. Just whatever we see, we see. After a few days in the parks of Tanzania, our expectations, or lack of, have been exceeded by the weight of an elephant.
I also talked about being excited before the trip. Yes, I am now excited!
We spend the day in the Ngorongoro Crater. The caldera was formed when a volcano erupted and collapsed. It is the world’s largest caldera that is not filled with water. The drive down into the crater is hair raising at times, the road narrow, steep, mist covered and gravelly. The crater is about 16-19 km wide and is about 100 square kms. Roads crisscross the bottom.
At first we do not see many animals, and then we start to see wildebeest and zebra. Then gazelles – Grant Gazelles and Thompson Gazelles. L&R, Murray and I get excited as we are seeing animals that we have not seen in Tarangire. We are keeping track of the critters we see, just like we do when we scuba dive. The tally for the crater is 28 different species by the end of the day.
There is a lake in the crater and it is filed with flamingos. The mass of pink looks like icing. They are too far away to see details, but it is still a gorgeous sight. There are also storks, ibis, geese (Egyptian not Canadian!), eagles and cranes in the crater.
Pascal listens intently to his 2 way radio and notes where the other guides are finding popular animals. We can also tell when a popular animal is located as there is a gathering of safari vehicles. We get wind of lions. Two males perched on top of a rise, overlooking the crater. We drive up and Pascal seems to know where to park to get the best pictures.
I have learned that the best quality to have while on safari is patience. After all the other folks have snapped pictures and left to find the next beast on their list, we are still parked and watching and waiting; for something, or maybe nothing. All of a sudden one male gets up to reposition himself. We snap away. Then a few minutes later he does it again! We are the only tourists that get these pictures!
Patience pays off again while watching a black rhino. He is very far away and we watch him through our binoculars. He is sitting down, bum towards us with his head at an angle so we can see his two horns. We wait, and wait some more. All of a sudden, R says, He’s getting up! The rhino rises and starts grazing and walking sort of towards us, but still very far away. He stops, pees, continues grazing. Again, we are 1 of 2 safari vehicles witnessing this. Patience and luck that we have Pascal as a guide, who is willing to sit and wait, have allowed us to witness extraordinary sights.
I have wanted to travel to the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti for a very long time. When we were watching the male lions, I was struck with a deep sense of… …I am not sure what the word is…serenity, contentment, fulfillment and pleasure all rolled together. My unspoken expectations have been met.