Thursday, 6 March 2014

A lion-packed end to a Tanzanian safari

The final stop on our Tanzanian safari was the stunning Ngorongoro Crater. We approached from high on the rim, sweeping down a narrow track as occasional gaps between the line of trees revealed dramatic views. This was a place I had longed to visit for many years and it was even more spectacular than I could have imagined.

We entered the crater bowl, the smaller area resulting in a higher concentration of vehicles than we'd been used to and forcing us to weave past cars to watch hippos lounging in a lake. It was a shock to see so many people, making wildlife spotting more difficult than in the other parks as 4x4s competed for the best positions. The increase in noise and human presence didn't deter the lions, however - every turn or crest of a hill seemed to reveal lone males on rocks, pairs mating and family groups resting in the shadows of low bushes.

Dead carcases littered the landscape, the last remaining scraps of flesh picked clean by circling vultures who protected their finds in large, intimidating groups. As we drove around, we kept our eyes peeled in the hope of glimpsing a black rhino, the main draw of this particular park. We had actually already had the pleasure of seeing one in Kenya in the past, but this time around our search was in vain - it seemed the rhinos were disinterested in company and kept themselves hidden within the thick forested area of the crater.

We spent the maximum six hours allowed in the park driving around, making the most of the last of our time on safari. Our time in Tanzania had been full of extraordinary luck and we'd seen everything we could possibly have hoped for and much, much more.


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