Tag Archives: nature

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Chopper at Ngorongoro

Living in South Africa is great, but I must just clarify that we don’t all spend our time on a safari, we don’t have lions in our gardens and we don’t ride elephants to work every day (only some days). I know many people have cottoned on to the fact that we are actually a pretty progressive country, but we still get asked some of the most absurd things (see here and here).

Elephants in the mist

Elephants in the mist rain

Speaking of safari… I have never been to the Kruger National Park, even though I live in South Africa. Apparently some people think that is a little bit of treason… I, however, have not yet learnt how to appreciate seeing buck after buck after buck. It’s kind of like going bird watching when you know nothing about birds…

You don't need to know anything about birds to acknowledge just how majestic this one is...

You don’t need to know anything about birds to acknowledge just how majestic this one is…

So going into Ngorongoro Crater was a massive breath of fresh air. It was the last leg of our big adventure. We though we might attempt doing the crater, going across into the Serengeti, and traveling up through to Kenya from there, however, there were supposedly really dodgy border crossings there, so we chose not to risk it. It also transpired that Serengeti was ridiculously expensive, so it worked out well for us that we couldn’t make it.

In fact, most of Africa is just geared to wealthy (American) tourists who have lots of “dollas” – we had to pay to get into the Ngorongoro national park, for both of us as well as our Landy, Chopper. Then we realised that we had to pay AGAIN to get into the actual crater. As if we were just driving into the national park “on the way” to somewhere “better”. Yeah right, you need to actually see this place.

The crater has its very own climate as well... I can't even begin to tell you how quickly rains came and went and came again and then disappeared like they had never happened

The crater has its very own climate as well… I can’t even begin to tell you how quickly rains came and went and came again and then disappeared like they had never happened

Ngorongoro Crater is this massive bowl full of the most incredible African wildlife you could imagine, all enclosed in a natural game reserve of sorts. Except you don’t feel like the animals are actually caved in at all. They also live happily alongside some Masai people. So maybe some African people do have lions in their back gardens…

We saw all the animals. I didn’t realise that I hadn’t actually seen a buffalo in real life, but when I saw this thing, I finally learned the difference between them and wildebeest. It’s largely based on size, in case you weren’t aware.

Sup buffalo

Rolling buffalo

Judgmental Zebra is judging the buffalo who really just knows how to have a good time...

Judgmental Zebra is judging the buffalo who really just knows how to have a good time…

The animals in this little oasis are completely comfortable in their home, they show no fear about tourists because they know that they are the ones in charge. It is really great to see how conservation efforts are paying off, and it reminds you of why they are so important.

IMG_7781 IMG_7888

We had a really friendly and informative tour guide by absolute chance who we somehow managed to squeeze in the Defender with us. It was useful having him there because he knew were to go to find the specific animals, like the lions (who were asleep in the heat of the day. You know, cats and stuff) and the hippos.

Hippo and baby

The drive in and out of the national park as well as into the crater was extremely hectic uphill and downhill with blind rises and hairpin bends and of course, in true Landy style, we had a bit of a smokey moment, which was repaired in no time at all (again, in true Landy style).

Before the trip, I had never even heard of Ngorongoro, but I would highly recommend a trip there if you are ever considering a trip to Africa. It is the reason that going on Safari is so highly revered – nature is awesome, Africa is powerful and we will never truly be able to tame it. And that’s what makes it so special.

Ngorongoro Landscape

Zim Spoils: Part 2

I shared with you the first few days of my Zimbabwe/Victoria Falls trip. What follows is the remainder of that beyond-gorgeous experience. We really maximised our time there, and it was worth every minute of it.

Our second morning in Zimbabwe was an early one, a bitterly cold one that seemed to feel the need to prove that it was, in fact, winter. We were collected from the hotel and driven to a lovely boma where we awaited the arrival of another new form of transportation.

My mother dearest feeding her elephant

My mother dearest feeding her elephant

Riding an elephant was kind of like riding a horse, except the saddle was a lot less supportive: I constantly felt as though I was sliding uncomfortably close to the handler (called a Mahout) in front of me, so I got a really good inner thigh workout by trying to maintain my personal space-bubble. The elephants themselves were lovely, although a bit intimidating, particularly when they started to get a bit aggressive with one another. They were still very tame, however, and they were a pleasure to be around.

We got a really close up view of the inside of an elephant's mouth, teeth and all when we feed them after the ride

We got a really close up view of the inside of an elephant’s mouth, teeth and all when we feed them after the ride

After awarding the elephants some treat, we were served an unexpected breakfast of our own, which almost makes up for the excessive price tag of the once in a lifetime opportunity. It was really great, but certainly not the kind of thing you would be able to pay for on a regular basis.

Waiting for breakfast, which was accompanied by Mazoe, a popular juice concentrate

Waiting for breakfast, which was accompanied by Mazoe, a popular juice concentrate

Granted, we were at a highly popular international tourist destination, but everything was really expensive! We had the option of bungee jumping or the bridge swing, but they were heavily priced, so we opted for the zip-line instead (definitely not because I was too scared to attempt them, because I’m not, obviously…). It was fun, but not as thrilling as the other two extreme sports undoubtedly were.

Zip lining above the Zambezi

Zip lining above the Zambezi

We attempted to visit the market while we waited for a shuttle to collect us and take us back to the hotel, however we ended up at the wrong market. Take note: the market is in a well-established building with charming little shops that we only found after spending so long in the less-established market that our bus arrived before we could rectify our mistake. At least we were genuinely supporting local business.

My brother waiting impatiently to be collected by the bus after being dragged around shopping

My brother waiting impatiently to be collected by the bus after being dragged around shopping

We concluded our final day in Zimbabwe with a sunset Zambezi river cruise, complete with Gin and Tonics (to ward of the mosquitos) and some crocodile meat hidden in the platters that ensured I only ate the non-meat items – aint no way I’m having croc, I’m not that open-minded just yet…

A charming welcome before boarding the boat

A charming welcome before boarding the boat

The hungry hungry hippo calls his friends. There ended up being about seven in this area eventually

The hungry hungry hippo calls his friends. There ended up being about seven in this area eventually

Elephant on the banks of the island in the middle of the Zambezi. It had just been banging it's head against the tree to get fruit

Elephant on the banks of the island in the middle of the Zambezi. It had just been banging it’s head against the tree to get fruit

The sunset over the zambezi was a perfect way to end a lovely holiday in Zimbabwee

The sunset over the zambezi was a perfect way to end a lovely holiday in Zimbabwe