“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Journal – African Safari 9

Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater

Leaving Nduara Loliando, we fly in a sixteen passenger plane from Kleins Airstrip to Lake Manyara.

We don’t stay in a camp here, but at a charming coffee plantation called Gibbs Farm. Our cottage is fantastic, with a bedroom/sitting room about twenty by forty feet, a bathroom about ten feet by fifty feet with a beautiful, deep bathtub, and inside shower as well as an outside shower, and a good-sized deck. There is a large fireplace that opens into the bed/sitting room and the bathroom! The cottage is surrounded by lush foliage, making it very private. Although we had come to accept dirt toilets and bucket showers, it sure was nice to have a “real” bathroom in the middle of our trip.

Gibbs Farm has ten acres of vegetables and thirty acres of coffee. We get a quick tour, but we also take time to get a massage by the local Maasai healer—wonderful! Just what we needed!

Nearby Lake Manyara Park is quite different from the Serengeti areas we had been in so far. The park area has been forbidden to hunters and has vigorously combated poaching for many years so the animals are much more trusting. The elephants and baboons in particular will come very close to vehicles. At times, they were no more than five feet from us, which made for some fabulous photos!

Lake Manyara Park is famous for their “tree climbing” lions. Our guide told us that actually all lions climb trees, but Lake Manyara Park publicizes it. We did see some beautiful lionesses in a tree while we were there and, I must admit, we didn’t see them in trees anywhere else!

The next day we go to Ngorongoro Crater. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles. The centerpiece of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater which is a volcanic caldera. The Crater floor is a natural sanctuary for thousands of animals and many species of insects and birds. Lush highlands surround the Crater, falling away to the tawny plains and alkaline lakes of the Great Rift Valley. Again, the animals are not quite as skittish here and we were able to see some of the animals much closer than we had in the Serengeti.

In the crater, we see a black rhino! These animals are very rare even here — only about twenty-five live in the entire conservation area and most people don’t get to see them. Okay, so he was really far away, but Cyndi’s picture clearly shows his horn!