Saturday, January 26, 2013

At the Foot of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater


Three days later we left the country of Kenya and said good-bye to the beautiful Masai Mara.  We both agreed that it cannot get any better that what we just experienced, but it did.

We flew out on a gravel airstrip on the Masai Mara in a four engine turbo prop and headed back to Nairobi.  Here we met the driver that would take us to the border of Kenya and Tanzania.  This part of the trip was very comfortable.  We rode down paved roads to the border of Tanzania.  Here we did the usual stand in line and presented our paperwork along with our passports and yellow card showing we had received a Yellow Fever vaccination.  This is where our guide with Odysseys Unlimited really got to work.  He had seventeen people to get across the border and it was like herding cats.  We also changed vehicles, and luggage had to be transferred.  Under our guide's direction, he made it all happen.  Edwin was truly outstanding and not a discouraging word was said.  I wondered what he was thinking.

Over excellent paved roads we headed to the Amboseli Plain at the foot of the great Mt. Kilimanjaro.  This magnificent road soon ended and it was back to the African Massage where we bounced and jostled our way to the plain.  In the evening we entered the park and arrived at our lodge within site of the mountain and a Masai village.  Another five star lodge operated by Serena Lodges was nestled on the plain.  Security was tight here and the lodge was surrounded by fencing and patroled at night by employees looking for animals that might have breached the security barriers. We felt perfectly safe.

The next morning we visited a Masai village.  Here we were met by the residents of the village and learned about their life and customs.  Dating back centuries the people remain as herders of cattle, goats and sheep deriving their living primarily from the land.  Education has become an intregal part of their life.  The picture below shows the students all dressed in their uniforms as they began the day attending school. 
Masai homes are constructed by the women and consist of a framework made of branches and then covered with a combination of mud and dung.
My wife with the Medicine Man in the Masai Village

Introduction to the Masai and their beautiful dress

School Children in the Masai Village.  Kids are kids wherever you go.
In the afternoon we were out on the Amboseli plain in the shadow of Mt Kilimanjaro.  The park holds some really large elephant herds along with lion, zebra, wildebeast, hippos and various other creatures. 

This elephant walked right by our back door at the lodge.  Notice he is in the sprinkler system.  He paused there, got good and wet, and then kept on going.

Mt. Kilimanjaro looking over the plain holding a plethora of animals.
This elephant was the largest one we saw on the whole trip.  Look at the size of the tusks.

The next day we had another African Massage as we traveled over unimproved roads to leave the park and then to the Ngorongoro Crater.  The crater is actually a caldera surrounded by mountains.  Again we were treated to another five star lodge perched on the side of a mountain overlooking the crater.  Outstanding service at another Serena Lodge offered all the ammenities of a first class hotel in a major city.  
A view of the crater as taken from the balcony of our room.  The white area is salt and the wind is lifting clouds of salt into the ar.  We toured the crater viewing many animals in a different setting.

Wart hog checking us out.

Two hippos have agreeded to disagree.  The fight was something to see.  Hippos roaring, biting each other, muddy water churning.  The shot here is right before an attack on the one waddling up to the one with his mouth open.  Our guide said they fight until one dies or gives up. 

After two days at the Ngorongoro Crater, we continued the African Massage over the unimproved washboard roads to the Serengeti and more excitement.  I should point out that this trip was taken at the end of the dry season and we were covered with the red dust of the plains as we travel the roadways of Tanzania.  In the evening we arrived at another of Serena Lodges positioned on the Serengeti.

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Good hunting, good fishing and good luck.  Hank.

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