Our second day on Safari begins at 5 am. Our driver, Will, picks us up at 6 am and he has a box breakfast in the vehicle for later. We have a 30 minute drive to Ngorongoro Crater Park. After getting through the gate (where Will has to go first to one station on the right side of the road and then to another station on the left side of the road and then do both stations again) we begin the drive up. A couple of trucks have entered before us which means we will experience the thrill of Tanzanian driving again. They have the steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle (which already messes with our minds) and they all believe they have the right to pass no matter how narrow the road or pretty much who is coming. It is always an adventure to be riding in a vehicle here. We stop at a look-out point on the rim of the crater and look down into the bowl. It is beautiful and very green with Makata Lake covering part of it and it looks like a long way away.
Will is anxious for us to get back in the vehicle (“ready guys?” is a common phrase we will hear time and again) and after a little more climbing we begin the journey down into the bowl. Will tells us how this place was discovered by the Massai finding grass in the belly of a bird they had killed. So they figured there needed to be a green place nearby. As we descend Lathan spots some elephants on the side of the road so Will backs up. After a couple of minutes one of the elephants speaks to Will and he backs up a little farther. The elephants cross the road ahead of us. We ask Will how he knew to back up and he said, “The elephant told him.” You know, it was kind of hard to argue with him about that! We got some great pictures of the elephants.
Soon we meet a spotted hyena walking up the dirt road toward us. Will tells us he is looking for a place to sleep after being up too late last night – now it is time to sleep it off. Soon we are off the main trail and on one of the many side trails. We begin to see a variety of animals: Wildebeest, Cape Buffalo, Crown Crane Birds, White Storks, Antelope, Zebras. Then Will stops and talks to a driver who has been sitting at a spot for a few minutes. We see Wildebeest on the hill and then Will tells us to use the binoculars and look at the green grass to the right of them. There we see four Lions lying in the grass. Will thinks this would be a great place for breakfast if it is okay with us. We are more than willing after Will tells us he is hoping the Lions will do something (hunt).
Our breakfast consists of: Coffee, 2 boiled eggs, Bacon in aluminum foil, pineapple, watermelon, banana, apple, 2 pieces of bread, Mango juice, and a piece of corn bread. We notice the Wildebeest leave and the Lions don’t seem to be in any hurry to engage in any activity. As we are sitting there it begins to rain and Will puts the top of the vehicle down. (The top goes up about 2 feet so we can stand in the back and look around. After a brief shower we are moving again looking for animals. We see: elephants, a Tawny Eagle, Ostrich, Spius Winged Goose, Hatlubs Bustard (bird), Golden Jackal, Flamingos, Crowned Pluvas, Rhinos, Lions, Hippos, Cape Buffalos, Waterbuck, Baboons and Yellow Barked Acacia Trees. (You need to thank Lori for the correct naming and spelling of the animals.)
We stop for a boxed lunch next to a water hole where a few hippos are. Will tells us we need to eat in the vehicle because the Kites (birds) will swoop down and try and take food from us, sometimes grabbing more than food and injuring people. Our lunch includes: 2 hardboiled eggs, 2 pieces of bread with cheese, a piece of cold chicken, a pastry thing baked with veggies inside, a piece of corn bread, an apple, a banana, and mango juice.
We are supposed to be back to Arusha by 5 pm – 5:30 at the latest – so we can return to SCV before dark. However we are running late. Will tells us he has received a phone call and he is to drop us off at Ahady Lodge. As we drive along we come upon an accident. A bus has had its front end smashed in. Our assumption is that it was trying to pass a tanker truck which is a little further up the road. Don’t know what hit it but it sure didn’t look good. We are reminded to pray for traveling mercies.
We arrive at Ahady Lodge about 6 pm but there is no STEMM vehicle to pick us up. It has been in for repairs and it should have been done yesterday but it wasn’t. So Steve dropped off Laurence and went to get a vehicle from Lazaro. Guess what? The car wasn’t ready. Steve couldn’t get the other car either. About 7 pm Laurence shows up to get us and we are on the road out of Arusha to Mbuguni about 7:30. It is dark. As we drive along we meet a truck pretty much in the center of the road. Laurence pulls over to the side and slows down. BANG!!!! The truck has hit our vehicle. By God’s grace he has only hit the mirror. Laurence gets out and check out the vehicle. We are slightly shaken but begin to continue the journey home. What else is there to do? The truck never stopped. As we travel the glass on the sun-roof begins to rattle loudly. We notice one side is totally loose. Lathan and Dave grab hold of it and keep it in place until we arrive at SCV. We are thankful to be home safely and offer a prayer of thanks to God!
We have a light supper of homemade tomato soup and bread and head off to bed.