The Safari

Empekai Crater at dusk
Our two week safari left a big impression on me - it was one incredible experience after another. Saw huge numbers of wildebeest and zebra. Lots of lions, giraffes and elephants. We witnessed a stunning show of nature at its rawest where three cheetahs ran down a juvenile wildebeest, attempted the kill, but were foiled by some hyenas - the Cheetah Incident. Many smaller animals too: gazelles, impala, baboons, monkeys, warthogs, jackals and bat-eared foxes, among others. The colourful birdlife was amazing and varied.

There were stunning landscapes that could dramatically change their scenic character in a matter of a half hour - particularly in the Mount Lengai/Lake Natron area. Tarangire Park is an incredibly scenic place with many stately Baobab trees, a healthy elephant population and a cliff-top lodge.

Half of our nights were at a variety of very comfortable lodges. Some nights were camping in the bush, hearing the nearby lion's rumble and hyena's bark. Big kudos and thanks to our hard working drivers, cook and crew for keeping us well fed and comfortable (most of the time anyway - through no fault of their own).

Waiting for the rangers to give the OK to cross a flooded bridge.
There was a Christmas day not soon to be forgotten - in the middle of the Serengeti! A drenching downpour in the morning. Land Rovers stuck twice getting out of camp. An unplanned pitstop at a luxury camp to get cleaned up, have lunch and allow our amazing drivers to go back and help unstuck the supply truck. A 2.5 hour wait at a flooded out bridge. A treachorous 43km track-soaked, night drive to our next lodge. A full xmas buffet waiting for us upon our late arrival. And culminating with a few complimentary glasses of scotch around the campfire. It was all fantastic!

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The following "watch" links take you to
some slideshow and video clip compilations.

Viewing tips:
A broadband internet connection is essential.
You may need to click the player to activate. Then click
Right-click image and choose
Zoom > Full Screen if desired.
Launching in external viewer works well with some setups.

For Firefox users:
I've found they play best when launched from IE.
The stream buffers better for some reason.

Not sure how well they work on a Mac... if at all.

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Checking out the sunset over the caldera from near our camp at the peak of the crater rim.

Ngorongoro Crater
Our first taste of what safari was all about. Great game drives and listening to the lions from our campsite at night.

Day 1
watch - Outpost Lodge, Arusha to Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) to caldera rim.
watch - Arriving on the caldera floor and our first game drive to Lamala campsite.
Day 2
All day game drive...
watch - Wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, guinea fowl and more.
watch - Flamingos, a baby zebra, cape buffalo and lions.
watch - Pride o' lions. Can you follow the behaviours? Hint: the dominant pair are to the right.
watch - Lunch stop at Lerai Forest. Intro to us.
watch - Rhinos, lilac-breasted rollers and camp tunes.
Day 3
watch - Breaking camp and drive to Nanokanoka.
watch - Drive to base of Empakai crater rim for start of trek. Includes shots of the spactacular Embulbul Depression.
Trekking along the heavily forested Empekai Crater rim.

The Trek
A 3-day hike through some of the most scenic landscape of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Along Empakai Crater rim, down escarpments of the southern Great Rift Valley and majestic Odoinyo Lengai volcano following us the whole way. Also some amazing encounters with the local Maasai people.

Day 3
watch - Start of trek up Empakai Crater rim. Meeting our supply truck and then watching them high-side and get stuck. Continue to top of rim for some amazing views. First glimpse of Oldoinyo Lengai.
watch - Arrival at rim camp, meeting local Maasai couple on their commute and waiting for our donkey porters to arrive.
watch - Celebrating arrival of donkeys (the second group of donkeys - the first ones weren't ours). Great evening views of the crater and the valley.
Day 4
watch - A very wet morning after a very wet night tenting. Hiking along the crater rim.
watch - Descent into the valley and visit to Naiyobi village.
watch - Lunch in pasture outside village. Don shows local kids how to use video camera. Dung beetle.
watch - Continue hike down to the beautiful Yellow Acacia camp. Encounter with Maasai warriors who treat us to some singing and dancing.
Day 5
watch - Incredibly scenic decent of escarpment to Great Rift Valley floor and arrival at Lake Natron Camp.
Meeting the local Maasai.
(photo courtesy Teri)

Lake Natron
Welcome relief at a tented lodge after the trek. Another amazing Maasai encounter and a very scenic wine & Pringles sundowner. Ending this leg with a big change to our itinerary because of all the rain we'd encountered - which meant driving the long route around to enter Serengeti National Park.

Day 6
watch - A visit with the local Maasai with some amazing traditional dancing and singing.
watch - The walk back to our camp was quite magical.
watch - On the shores of Lake Natron, ending the day with a walk in the infamous "black cotton soil" and a wine and Pringles sundowner.
Day 7
watch - Video tour of Camp Lake Natron.
watch - The detour from our original itinerary, starting with a drive along the foot of Oldoinyo Lengai and a stop at the "Hole of the Gods" crater.
watch - Vehicle troubles and a lengthy stop in a village to repair a tire rim - beer, cards, soccer and the origins of the yellow "hoo hoo" bird. Then on to Mbu wa Mtu, spotting a giant flock of birds and fields of termite mounds on the way.
Simba near the lodge.
(photo courtesy Leslie)

Serengeti National Park
We'd seen alot of animals so far but the best was yet to come. So many wildebeest and zebra they'd sometimes black out the horizon. Stunning landscapes. A Christmas eve camp in the middle of the Serengeti - sitting around the campfire with xmas lights in a thorn bush and xmas tunes playing in the background. A loooong Christmas day and evening. Ending with a few restful days at the wonderful Ndutu Safari Lodge.

Day 8
watch - Leaving MwM, Welking's "aah Roger" and NCA entrance baboon encounter.
watch - Ngorongoro Crater lookout to Olduvai Gorge. Giraffes video.
watch - NCA game drive - turn, turn, turn.
watch - Wildie and zebra procession. Ndutu camp life - quill and streaker.
Day 9
watch - Enter the Serengeti.
watch - Lotsa simbas.
watch - Gol Kopjes drive.
watch - Land Cruiser life and lunch on the plains.
watch - The Cheetah Incident.
watch - Simba cubs. Early evening drive to Kori Buster campsite - wonderful lighting. Campfire life.
Day 10
watch - Christmas Morning 2006.
watch - Raiders of the Lost Ark. We needed an ark!
watch - Flooded bridge.
watch - Long and slippery night drive to turkey buffet.
Day 11
watch - Ndutu Safari Lodge. Elephant dust bath. Game drive - Simbas, giraffes and zebras.
watch - The lion sleeps tonight (and cubs too).
watch - More zebras, great video of a dik dik and a bush devouring elephant. Evening at lodge with secret santa and genet.
Huge Baobab tree

Tarangire National Park
Probably the lodge with the most scenic view of all our stays. Great game drives - lots of elephants and Baobab trees. Sadly, our last two days out on safari.

Days 12, 13 & 14 still to come...

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