18-19 JANUARY– After breakfast you will be driven to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area for a stay of two nights at Plantation Lodge.
On the way to the front gate: Monitor Lizard, Black Headed Heron, Hammerkop, Baboons, Monitor Lizard, Zanzibar Bishop, Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Terrapin, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl (has pink eyelids), Elephant, Dikdik, Impala, Giraffe, Buffalo, Warthogs, Zebra, Waterbuck, Black Kite.
NGORONGORO CRATER: The rim is 2300 meters high; it is 260 sq. km. and is approx 90 km. long and 16 km wide in the crater floor. There are approx. 20,000 animals on the crater floor and Ngorongoro is a World Heritage Site. Female Elephants and young are all on the rim area of the crater and the males are on the crater floor.
Afternoon Game Drive: Cinnamon Bee-eater, Umbrella Acacia, Cape Buffalo, Western Wildebeest, Burchell’s Zebra, Grant’s Gazelle, Tawny Eagle, Spotted Hyena (and I spotted him a long ways away!) – only species where female also has a penis??? -, Cape Eland – the largest antelope, Cory Bustard, Crowned Crane, Abdim’s Stork, Elephant with big tusks, White Stork, Hippo, Black Rhino, CARACAL!!!!!!! I have to insert some info here. When the guide said caracal I could tell he was a bit more excited than he had been for other things but I thought he said Coucal and I wondered why he was so excited about a bird. Then he said Caracal again and I got excited!!! I never expected to see one ever. This was the third one he had ever seen in 9 years of guiding. They are usually more nocturnal and it was afternoon. He/she was in the grass and in the open but posed and posed and posed. Just ignored us to some extent but kept glancing toward us so my photos are pretty good! He/she hung around for 10 minutes. Still haven’t looked at the photos on the computer but I took over 100 easily. It was a fabulous sighting and it made my week. Now all I have to find is an Oryx, which I should find in Namibia in Sept., and a Pangolin. After that I was excited for the rest of the day. Continuing on, we say Thompson’s Gazelle, Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Coke’s Hartebeest, 2 more Hyenas, a Cory Bustard displaying, Hartebeest, Black Rhino, Black bellied Bustard, Black Headed Heron, Pink _____ Pelican, and 3 lionesses lying beside the road at the top of the crater. It rained two times in the crater, but not where we were.
Jan 19th – Game drive in Crater: Male Lion deep in grasses on the rim drive – there are 5 prides in the Park and some have about 20 lions –, Fiscal Shrike, Buffalo, Zebra, Grant’s Gazelle, Gnu, 2 lionesses lying down in grasslands a LONG way off so that they looked like golden rocks, warthogs with babies, 5 Hyena, Elephant, Crowned Crane, 2 lionesses lying in grass near road. When they got hot, they just went into the shade of the 4×4’s and didn’t move when the engines of that 4×4 were started. One of them had her paws underneath the vehicle near the tire so that the vehicle couldn’t move!. Hippos, and a great 360 panorama of zebra, gnu, buffalo, and Thompson’s Gazelles. We were in the middle of hundreds of all of them except the Gazelles. Hartebeest, Wildebeest, Ostrich, Black Rhino in distance Cory Bustard displaying, Masai Warriors guarding their cattle they bring into and out of the crater each day, Grant’s Gazelle female and baby, White browed Coucal, big tusked elephant, Spur Winged Goose, 3 black Rhino, and a male lion in distance. At a rest area stop there were Euphorbia bussei on the hillside of the crater. Also in the crater is the Euphorbia nyika (? spelling–Jackson isn’t a particularly good speller!) but I am not sure if I got any photos of that species.
Box Lunch in the Crater was Hamburger patty, bun and tomato, apple juice, water, hard boiled egg, carrot sticks, another sandwich, a piece of not very good cake, and a Cadbury milk chocolate bar. I had been having Chocolate withdrawal and Caroline even gave me half of hers!