23 October 2017 Monday – Ngorongoro Crater ~ Day 14

This morning we got up early and bid farewell to our Serengeti camp and its hosts. The were a great bunch of guys.

I got one last photo of the tents.

I also had to get one last photo of Kathy next to one of our vehicles.

Today we’re driving back to the Ngorongoro crater. The first thing we saw along the way was a group of hyenas playing and drinking in a mud hole in the road.

I can’t imagine drinking that muddy water, but they did.

Next, we saw another lion matriarch; obvious because she was wearing a tracking collar.

We saw some eagles.

Another one of those Superb Starlings.

It took a long time to drive out of the Serengeti, but we eventually got back to the crater, took some photos, and started out descent down inside.

The crater is much smaller than I expected to see, but reality rarely matches expectations.

The first thing we did was drive to a small wooded area of the crater, hoping to find rhinos. We didn’t find any, but we saw a giraffe, reaching to the tops of the trees for something to eat.

We saw a bunch of those guinea fowl.

We also saw some cape buffaloes near the rim.

An elephant was also trying to get to the top of the trees. It was fun to see it stretching so much. It even stood on its hind legs.

We finally gave up on the rhinos and drove away from the wooded area and into the mini-savanah. There were other elephants near the edge.

Vultures were also hanging around.

I got a good photo of a bird that looked kind of like an osprey.

We were amazed to see such a diversity of wild animals in such a small crater, even though there was almost no protection from predators. We even saw a black-backed jackal.

Zebras were walking around as if they were safe.

A male ostrich.

A female ostrich.

Finally, we came to a small lake. A pair of hippos were resting on the shore. The area was lush and green.

Pelicans swam in the lake.

We took a potty break and visited a nearby picnic area.

We talked one of our friends, Stephan, into taking a couple photos of Kathy and I at the lake.

Walking from the bathrooms to the picnic area, we saw a Sacred Ibis.

Our guides recommended we eat our boxed lunch inside the car. That’s because there are lots of birds trying to steal your food. A few of us didn’t like the idea, so we sat outside the land rovers and ate, carefully guarding our food. Soon we were visited by lots of these birds. It was amazing how close they got to us. We had to keep shooing them away, but they never got our food.

After lunch, we drove through the park some more. We saw some interesting birds. I’m not a bird person, so I couldn’t identify them. Our guides told us what they were, but I don’t remember and I didn’t write them down.

If I remember correctly, this is another one of those hoary bustards though:

Then we came upon a pair of lions on their honeymoon. They were just lying on the grass.

Our guide explained that to ensure the species comes from the strongest of the species, the male mates with the female a ridiculous number of times, like every ten minutes, over the course of several days.

As we watched, the male lion stood up. He decided he wanted sex.

The female was lying down, and her tail was in the way. That didn’t stop the king of the jungle. He picked up her tail and moved it!

Then he mounted her. I would have thought she would stand up, but no.

This is “Kitty Porn!”

It kind of looked like simultaneous orgasm.

But it only lasted seconds. Then he got off, yawned, and looked ready for a nap!

She rolled over like a cat.

He yawned, and even his yawn looked fierce.

He walked beside her, as if contemplating what to do next.

Then he lay back down beside her.

We drove down the road, and after a while, we saw another male lion just lounging leisurely on the grass.

We came across some birds.

Near the birds was a large pod of hippos.

We started driving back out of the park, but then we some an unusual sight. It was a bobcat-looking cat called a Caracal.

Supposedly, seeing this cat was a rare opportunity that not many people get. The impalas were cautious and watched the strange animal intently, but didn’t seem to mind when it got close. They even seemed to follow it around.

We ended up at a restroom; one last opportunity to pee before we resumed our drive. There was a cool old gnarly tree there I liked.

There was a black faced vervet monkey there, holding a small baby.

The baby clung to mom’s belly as she walked.

It was very cute. Kathy and another photographer tried to get good photos of it, as did I.

We headed up the crater and exited it, stopping once to take photos. On the way up, we saw a couple baboons.

We drove back to the same lodge we were at a few nights ago. This time, they put us in a better room, that had flowers and a nice view of the valley.

I snapped a photo of Kathy sitting on the porch outside our room. The rooms are named after animals, in Swahili.

There are bees here at the lodge that are absolutely huge. I’ve never seen a bee so big. And they were orange and black.

Sadly, our trip to Africa is winding down. Soon we’ll be heading home.