Part 7: Game Drives In Ngorongoro, Ndutu, Serengetti, Lake Manyara, And Tarangire

Intro – An African Safari With A Little Seychelles Sprinkled In
Part 1: Getting To The Seychelles Via Dubai
Part 2: A Soggy Stopover In Dubai
Part 3: Stunning Seychelles – Praslin And La Digue
Part 4: Stunning Seychelles – Mahe Island
Part 5: Kilimanjaro Bound
Part 6: Tanzania – Beginning The Adventure At The Arusha Coffee Lodge
Part 7: Game Drives in Ngorongoro, Ndutu, Serengetti, Lake Manyara, And Tarangire

 

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The ride was long and bumpy to Ngorongoro. In fact, most of the trip would be over bumpy dirt roads – mud when it rained.   We checked into Ngorongoro Sopa lodge in time for dinner and an early night in preparation for our first game drive early the next morning.  The rooms were basic, but the views were spectacular!

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View Of The Crater From Our Lodge On The Rim

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage area, located approx. 110 miles west of Arusha.  And its breathtaking.  Our lodge was located on the edge of the crater, with the majority of the animals residing on the crater floor.  The next morning as we made our way down to the crater floor and ran into lots of baboons.

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Baboons On The Road

Throughout the long day, we saw a whole range of amazing animals, including lions, wildebeest, a black rhino, hippos, elephants, gazelles, wart hogs, ostrich, hyaenas, and a plethora of birds.  The animals are fearless!  We almost ran over this lion lounging in the middle of the road!

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Can I Help You??
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Zebra And Wildebeest Grazing Together
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Hippo Welcoming Us To His Watering Hole

After an amazing and full day in the crater, we overnighted once again at Ngorogoro Sopa, and set off early for the Serengetti Plain.  It was a long drive, but only because our amazing guide took us on a slight detour to the Ndutu reserve, where the other guides had tipped him to some great animal spotting.  Each has a 2 way radio, and they are in constant contact with each other, sharing info.  It wasn’t long before we ran into a cheetah!

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Cheetah Looking For A Meal

And later, this lioness.

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Lioness Relaxing By The Side Of The Road

With some serious weather looming, we needed to get going to our home for the night, the Serengetti Sopa Lodge.  The roads are all dirt, and rain pretty much turns them into a slip n’ slide.  On the way out, we ran across this pride, as well as another cheetah staking out a wart hog.  Unfortunately, he failed at the endeavor – it was probably too slippery!  It was great fun watching him stalk and eventually go after his (in this case) very lucky prey.

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Lion Looking After His Pride

After a wet and wild ride to the lodge our vehicle was covered in mud!  But we made it just in time to have dinner and prepare for our next day, a visit to the Serengetti National Park.  The rooms in our lodge were again basic, but very comfortable – with breathtaking views!  Hot water was provided only at certain hours of the morning and evening, and there was no TV.

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Basic But Comfortable Accommodations At The Serengeti Sopa Lodge
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View Of The Plain From Hotel Pool Area

We again had an morning departure, and all subsequent  all day game drive was equally spectacular.  There were more giraffes, elephants, and gazelles than I have ever seen.

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Lots Of Giraffes Everywhere

It was the beginning of wildebeest Great Migration so there were literally thousands.

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The Beginning Of The Wildebeest Great Migration

We even spotted a leopard lounging up in a tree.  They are primarily nocturnal and sleep during the day, and also very hard to see because of their spots!  We got lucky and caught this one was coming down from his perch.

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Leopard Taking A Break From Sleeping All Day

We overnighted once again at the Serengetti Sopa Lodge, and spent another day in the Serengetti, where there was plenty more amazing game viewing on offer.  The animals are literally right outside the window.

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Close Enough To Touch – And Lose A Hand

After another full day, we made our way to Lake Manyara.  Along the way, we passed many Massai people and villages, and even got to visit one.

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We arrived at Lake Manyara Serena Lodge after another full day.  The lodge was similar to most we had experienced on the journey, comfortable yet basic rooms in amazing locations with hit or miss, yet decent food options.

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View Of Lake Manyara From Hotel Pool

Lake Manyara National Park is relatively small, and we mostly saw monkeys as the lake was quite small this time of year due to lack of rains (even though it was technically the rainy season.)

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Monkeying Around On The Car

The park is also known for the extensive range of bird species, including flamingos, which we sadly didn’t see this visit.

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One Of The Many Exotic Bird Species Found In the Park

After about 2 hours, we headed off to Tarangire Sopa Lodge where we would overnight before our final game drive in Tarangire National Park.  We mostly saw elephants – loads and loads of elephants at this park.  And they came really close, almost close enough to touch!

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Elephants Crossing Our Path

We also ran into more monkeys and giraffes.

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Um, Hello?

It was finally time to go home, and we made our way back to Arusha for a final lunch at the Arusha Coffee Lodge, and transport back to the airport.

I boarded the first of 4 planes I’d be riding for the journey home – an Ethiopian Airlines 757, and again had amazing views of Mount Kilimanjaro out my window as we passed.

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My routing home was via Europe, and after a combination of Turkish and Air Canada long haul flights, thankfully all in business class, 35 hours later I landed at LAX, exhausted yet once again truly grateful for this and all the experiences this hobby has afforded me.

 

 

 

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