After booking and paying for our entry permits in Arusha, we headed towards the Ngorongoro Crater area. When we planned the trip we had not realised that the already expensive park fees were going up substantially on the 1st of July. We booked and paid in Arusha and then entered the park at 17hoo on the 30th June. We were apparently literally one of the last people to enter the park at the old rates, according to the park official at the gate! A SAVING of a cool $120/R1800… Wow, that was a close one…
After viewing the amazing scene of the crater from the rim we headed towards the Masai village of Endulen where Katie had booked us in at the village hospital’s guest quarters (better facilities and much cheaper than camping in the area). We passed a number of buffalo standing right next to the road as well as elephant crossing in front of us, hyena and many zebra on our way there. All in all, a good introduction to the crater area and of what was to come the following day.
We woke up early and headed towards the crater, as it is the most expensive park we had ever entered and we intended to make the most of it! The crater drive down is quite spectacular and we soon realised that we were the only self drive car in the entire area. All other vehicles were Safari (Swahili word for ‘journey’ by the way) tours.
And were we blessed… the Safari guides have ” insider” info sources of where the lions etc. are and yet we drove right into the path of lions a number of times before they did, much to some of the guide’s eventual consternation. The crater is unique and a limited area so you are almost assured of seeing excellent game. We also saw herds of buffalo, zebra and wildebeest and even saw a massive black rhino cross the road near us…he/she really caused a traffic jam, as everyone wanted to see a rhino!
The trees, vegetation and general scenery is very beautiful and the whole experience was almost surreal! We eventually rather grudgingly left the park, just in time, we hoped, to make it through the outer park gate before the dead line time. We had been warned that even a minute late would result in an extra $200 charge!
The road outside of the crater area deteriorated rapidly and 5 km before the gate, with 20 min to spare, we heard a noise under the car. The metal bracket, partly holding our 70 litre extra fuel tank in place, had broken right off and was dragging on the ground.
Marc used spare rubber cables and plastic cable-ties to temporary hold it in place, for how long we were not sure…and rushed to the gate, making it with 5 minutes to spare!