Wednesday, 17 March 2010

NGORONGORO


Today I was a tourist for the first time in this trip.On our bikes, we never feel like that. When you use your own energy to go forward, you are part of what you are traversing, but when you sit at the back of a Landrover, you are a tourist... So I dressed like a tourist, I wore a khaki shirt and trousers.


One exception though, I did not have a tourist breakfast... I had a hungry cyclist breakfast... One of the biggest breakfast ever... The lodge buffet breakfast was not the greatest, but it had freshly made pancakes and something I have been missing... Bacon!

There was a huge pile of just made pancakes... I took the entire pile on a plate and brought it to my table accompanied by a full plate of jam. Yes, I took the huge pile of pancakes that the kitchen had made for the entire lodge, feeling like a hyena that had just stolen a kill from another predator. These pancakes were mine and I must have looked dangerous as nobody dared saying anything... The look some gave me clearly indicated what they thought of me... but none of these fat looking tourists made a comment loud enough to be heard... he he... As I was on a mood to eat half of the buffet, I also took over the bacon platter and politely asked the kitchen to start preparing more to accompany the fried eggs I was ordering as well. The pork sausages looked a bit dry, so I only took three to sample them. As I noticed that the yogurt supply was starting to run low on the buffet, I built a pile on my table. This was the last drop, now everybody could see it, I was an ass hole... I didn't care, today I was gonna eat and was not gonna be polite. I need it plenty more than the people surrounding me and I have no time to go to each table and explain them why, so I will live with the fact that they probably hate me by now... But who cares, the pancakes were on MY table... As the fried eggs and extra bacon arrived, I was only half way through my pancake pile, so I asked the staff to bring me some foil, I would eat the rest later in the day during the game drive.
I could hardly move after that, so luckily all I had to do was what tourists do.... Nothing.... Just sit at the back of a Landrover and be driven around by a game ranger.
So, off we went, Jos and I had this private ranger and a vehicle just for the two of us. What a pleasure when we saw how many tourists they manage to stuff in one of these vehicle. Luckily, we were not part of a group with one of these special packages and we had the full luxury of a car all for ourselves.
There are just as many animals inside that crater as there are kids in Ethiopia.... Plenty and everywhere! Unbelievable.... About 90 % of all big game is made of 3 species: Zebra, Wildebeest and Buffalo. Huge herds of them, they fill the landscape. It is crazy! How can they all survive in there? It looks like Time Square on New Years eve... There are also plenty of predators. It did not take long before we came across our first lion group with cubs. Hyenas are also everywhere and hunt in big packs.
At times, it wasn't even game viewing, it was game avoiding as the roads were completely obstructed by game... Guys, if you have never been in a safari, don't start with Ngorongoro, you will get the wrong picture; you will be spoiled and nothing can come close to it. It is like going fishing for the first time and catching a trophy Marlin on your first cast...
Anyway the picture talk more than words so, have a look.
Talking of pictures, I was struggling today with my compact camera which is definitely not ideal for this kind of shots. My Canon reflex with tele lenses was out of question for this trip, too big, too bulky. I am actually using a compact LEICA. What a wonderful little camera. It is a real Leica with a Leica lens and as you have come to appreciate on this blog, it really shoots great quality pictures. It is just not the right camera for shooting wildlife. But I have to compliment the manufacturer on the quality and robustness of that camera. It has been travelling with me on the bike going through the extreme heat and fine sands of Sudan, the stoning of Ethiopian kids and the heavy rains and humidity of the equator without any sign of fatigue... well done Leica! The model by the way is called "Leica D Luxe".

                                                     Elephant at the local coke stop....
                                        Pack of hyenas eating a freshly killed baby wildebeest
                                                         Wildebeests on the move
                                               One of the lakes at the bottom of the crater.
                                                                      The Great gazelle
                                   The very rare black Rhino, still on the endangered species list.
                                   There are only 23 of them here at Ngorongoro. The white rhino
                                   is no longer on that list thanks to the great job of South Africans.
                                                                  The Thomson gazelle
                                                                   Warthogs bathing
                                  This gives an idea of the size of the herds here at Ngorongoro
                                                    Wildebeest and Flamingos in the lake
                                                                 Lion herd with cubs
                                                             Female lions on the move

                                                                       Spotted hyena
                                                 Zebra rolling in the dust to get rid of parasites
                                                    A close up of the white wildebeest
                                         Acacia Umbrella trees are covering the side of the crater

3 comments:

Eero said...

Oh boy, reading about your breakfast made me hungry! And I'm not cycling, just reading. Wonderful photos, again. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Dear Gerald: I've beem working really hard today. When I open your blog in the night what I'm searching is to know about you suffering, various aches and terrible experiences. I feel better when I imagine you trying to survive...... But when you explain the Norongoro tourist experience....I am eaten up with envy!!!! So please return quickly to bad times struggling with your bike! Joan from Andorra

Charmaine said...

Hi Gerald
I hope Leica give you an endorsement! The photos are wonderful and I am pleased that you are finally having a good rest and a big breakfast. It really is very beautiful there so enjoy and good luck with the rest of the tour. I look at your blog first thing every morning, they are very descriptive and often amusing :)

Take Care
Charmaine