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Entry 30 // Ngorongoro Crater

Update by: Luke | March 13th, 2011

Sleeping in a tent has it's advantages. One of them being it's a lot easier to not sleep in. We start to stir and get up before our driver shows up. Teeth get brushed and I organize my plethera of Camera gear. I'm taking it all today. Our driver shows up and we hop in. We are prepaired with camera gear and batteries and we even have my 10 liter MSR sack filled with waterr, but we have no food. The guide stops at a little shop in town and we get some snacks for the day. The next stop is to fuel the toyota up with some diesel. Both gauges are on empty. They love putting as little fuel in a vehicle as possible. Of course Nick and I notice the fuel stop and give each other the knowing wink. You see the night before they made us pre-pay half of the rental fee upfront instead of in the morning so they could quote "fuel up the vehicle." It's a shame, but the people here lie a lot.

(Optional Sidestory Read)
The lies are not really about important stuff. They just more or less lie up excuses instead of telling the simple truth. I think it's their culture. There is no brutal honesty here. It's all slightly deceptive talk with everyone having their own adjenda. It is very easy to notice and the lies are not very believable. The funny thing is when you call someone out for lieing here, they are kings of excuses. Of course the excuses are just as weak as the lies, but I think these people believe their own excuses and that they are not lieing. This lieing trend is very hard to explain. I think it's more of a culture difference, than a premeditated lie. I think when they make a statement, we take it as that, but statements here really means something may or may not happen. They don't ever say the word "maybe" but that is exactly the word they should be using.
(End Optionall Read)

Just pulling up to the gate we serve around baboons. This is going to be a good day. We pay the fees are there are no suprises. The total bill is $450 for the day. That includes the park entry fees, the vechile entry fee, and the vechicle rental/driver fee.

It takes about an hour to get to the crater. Along the way we stop at a lookout on top of the crater rim. You can see it is a giant crater from a volcano years and years ago. The land inside is very furtile so many animals live down there and never leave. This makes a very concentrated animal population which pretty much guarentees us to see some lions!!!!!We still have about 30 hour to get to the crater entrence gate. Along the way we see some Maasi tribal people. These people are grandfathered in this national park. They live here in round mud huts. They don't grow crops. They only live off of their cattle. That and now tourist dollars. Apparently these guys can jump really high, but what makes them special is they can jump really high with their elbows locked straight, arms down by the side. Now this is somthing people want to see. So for enough money, tourists can pay these people to jump around with stiff arms. Nick and I passed on this.Alas we get to the gate for the decent into the crater. I notice some Maasi guys throwing rocks into a bush. I immeditally think they are killing a snake. I run over to the bush to investigate. Turns out I am right. They tell me a bad snake crawled in there and they are trying to kill it. I am hoping for a black mamba because I really wanted to see one in the wild. I get out my go pro camera with the 6' pole and start poking around the bush with my camera. We can't find the snake anymore. Nick is filmng with the handheld.We can't get the snake to show it's face. hmm... let's light the bush on fire. Snake hate fire.Don't worry, Nick and I did not light the paper. We let the professionals do that, and it may have been dangerous considering the Maasi guys were calling out "not it" when it was time to put the lit paper in the bush. And out it comes!They Maasi start wacking it with their sticks and the snake makes a U-turn back towards the burning bush. Hmm...the smoke fumes must have got to it. The snake gets burned up in the fire and we flick the dead snake out of the bush.It's just a baby, but many times the babies are the most dangerous. You see they don't have the skill to controll the amount of venium they inject with a bite, so they often give it all away with a strike. I ask if this is a Black Mamba, and they say "yes." This however does not mean it's a Black Mamba because many times when people don't understand a question they respond with yes. Does anyone know this snake?

Ok, a great start to a great day, now into the crater. Our 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser has a pop-up roof so we can stand all day with a great view.

There are animals everywhere. This area is so concentrated. We love all animals, but we are really wanted to see a lion, and our guide tells us that it's only a matter of time. He thinks we will see at least 10. He is right we spot one.Finally, we see a lion, but we want to see them closer.

We aren't allowed to get out of the car, but at one point we convience the guide we need a pee break and he lets us get out when no other vehicles are around us. We get out of the car with our eye peeled in the grass looking for lions. We don't see any unfortunatly and get back inside the truck. We move on.

Cape Buffalo, If you remember we saw these much closer and in the wild at night on our way to the Zambia Boarder. Jesse Neil told me not to try to touch these. He said they are more dangerous than Lions. They like to stampede.Right next to the buffalo hiding in a green covered pond in our first Hippo we have seen. Just like a clockwork he yawns every two minutes.Next is the Black Rhino, It is standing by its self on the top of the photo in the middle. The other animals here are zebras and Cape Buffalo.Later in the day we spoted a lone Rhino again. These things are very rare. Thank you 270mm zoom.Ok, so let's do a recap. So far on our trip we have seen 4 of the famous "big 5". Elephant, Lion, Cape Buffalo, Rhino. All we have left to spot is a cheeta. There is going to be no suspense with this story. We never saw one. We did come across ridge with a bunch of trucks parked. They said they spotted a Cheeta earlier, but it never showed its face again. That's cool, we don't mind. There are lots of other animals to see.We drive down to a big pond and park next to one of the other 100 + Toyota Land Cruisers in the park for lunch. Do the math here. $200 US per vehicle x 100 vehicles = $20,000 made today. No wonder they only accept US money. We eat our snacks by the pond and talk to the other tourists. There are no locals. It's too expensive for them to see their own parks. The only locals that get to see this beautiful place is the Maasi people and the local drivers for the 4x4's. It starts to rain, I hide under a tree until even that becomes wet, then run to the truck. We head in the general direction of the exit and along the way see more lions.It's cool to see them close. In total we saw 11 throughout the day.

Hyenas look crafty, but they just sulk through the fields next to Zebras and wilderbeasts with no signs of aggression.

In fact they look down right lazy.I'm not sure what these guys are called, but they like the shade which is hard to find in this crater.The primates section is the last part of the tour, and it doesn't smell nearly as bad as it does in the zoo.We get to stop here and get out of the car. They have restrooms before you exit the crater. They are nice looking toilets so I have no reason to show you a picture.Our experience in the crater was awesome. It is unbelievable how many animals are down there. I can't believe the land can support that many. I am really glad we spent the money and did it. It's something I'm sure I will only have the chance to do once unless I win a $10,000 African Safari package on on Wheel of Forturne.

Like Elliot says.
The day is over.

Back to the campground. We will cross into Kenya tomorrow.






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