As darkness fell we were enjoying a beer around the campfire and Sammy one of the tour leaders asked us if we wanted to meet his friend, we said yes. We followed Sammy around the truck and right there stood a fully grown elephant! GAH! I've never been so scared and excited at the same time - it was literally in front of us! The reason I loved this moment so much is because it was dark and a flash on a camera would have caused chaos and a probable stampede, no one could take a photo, we just stood and watched this elephant right there chomping away.
That was probably my wildlife highlight of this trip, there was so many highlights, but they all fall in to different categories as it was such a varied trip!
So the next day was Crater Day (I've given it capitals as I was so excited about this!) I was excited about it for so many reasons:
- We were leaving the truck behind for the morning and piling into jeeps where the roof popped up so we could hang out the top!
- The itinerary described us 'descending in to the crater in our jeeps' which sounds very exciting
- We were going in to a crater baby! A crater!
Photos don't really do it justice, but heck I'll post them anyway!
I'm getting good at this jumping lark! Anyway, it was FREEZING at the crater; I had so many layers on it was crazy! Who knew a woolly hat would be necessary in Tanzania?? I think it was warmer in the UK that day :) but who cares WE were at the crater hanging out the top of a jeep looking at a cheetah!
Cheetah, warthog, zebra, hyena, wildebeest, buffalo, hippo, birds :), impalaaaaa, elephant skull (huge!) flamingo, ostrich, elephant, brown kite birds stealing other people's lunches and........LIONS!!!!!!
The crater was the end of the wildlife element of our trip, which is why we probably gave the jeep driver such a bad impression of us...every time he slowed the jeep down for a bird or an antelope we'd yell "sawa!" which means ok! Or in our case, "We're not bothered if it doesn't eat another animal! Only stop the jeep if it's a predator!" But do remember that we'd been to a few different national parks by now, gazelles were akin to pigeons for us now! We meant business in the crater and Samson, our driver sensed that we were in no mood to look at wildebeest, we wanted lions.
Samson even called himself the Lion Man, so we were confident that we were with the right guy. Although he kept stopping to wait for the other group members and their jeeps to catch up with us, but we yelled something about snoozing and losing at him, and he put the pedal to the metal.
We saw three different male lion sightings that day and they were all incredible, but Lion Man, I mean Samson, saved the best until last for sure. Just as we were about the take the road up and out of the crater, our jeep pulled up and there sat at the roadside was the lion in the last photo above - incredible. We just sat there watching him, he sat there watching us - although he was probably sat there thinking 'why on earth is that mazungu wearing a pink wollen hat in Tanzania...it's supposed to be hot here'
I would highly recommend the crater to anyone for wildlife watching and in general if you want to experience a crater!