After our day in India, off we went early the next morning for our 7+ hour flight to Tanzania, landing at the Kilimanjaro airport. Our flight crew was appropriately dressed to welcome us as we boarded in Agra. What a fun group they are!
Unfortunately we were unable to do a fly-over to view Mount Kilimanjaro, as the clouds were too thick. Most of our group went to the Serengeti; because we had done game drives in Botswana last March, we opted to visit the Ngorongoro Crater instead. Our group of 21 flew in 13-seat bush planes to the Lake Manyara Airstrip. We were amused by the signs and VIP Lounge (which we didn’t get to use, darn!)
Then we boarded Land Cruisers (with WiFi! Amazing, though I never got any reception) for the two hour drive into the park, up to the crater rim, and down a bit to the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. At the entrance to the park, where we stopped for entrance permits, we saw lots of baboons. One brazen guy dashed into an open safari vehicle and made off with a box of crackers in a flash! It was a hoot to watch it happen; too bad it was so fast I couldn’t get a photo.
Although we didn’t see wild animals along the route, we did see Masai herders and passed the monthly market at Karatu, the nearest town. Note the special shop. There were also similar shops for President Obama and other notables!
Upon arrival at the Lodge, we were greeted with champagne in crystal flutes, a warm welcome from the staff, and spectacular views. One of our tour leaders had told me the lodge was funky, and boy, was he right! The rooms were unique, to say the least.
Who would think that the hut’s interior would look like this?
Before dinner we took in the view at twilight, gathered for cocktails in the main lounge, and then were treated to a wonderful lecture by paleoanthropologist Louise Leakey, a National Geographic Explorer in Residence, on the East African origins of man and her famous family’s discoveries in Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge and the Turkana basin in Kenya. And look at this elegant dining room and beautiful food presentation! Not what you’d expect in the wilds.
Upon returning to our room, we relaxed by this lovely fire, reminiscing about another great day of adventures.