POOLEWOOD MACHINERY - PETT FARM - STOCKBURY VALLEY - Nr. SITTINGBOURNE - KENT ME9 7RJ

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CLIMBING KILIMANJARO IN AID OF BATTERSEA DOGS HOME

 THE RONGAI ROUTE

 

Sunday 26th February 2012    Day Eleven

 

Up at 6.30am this morning for breakfast at 7am and then off to the crater by 8am.  It only took about 30 minutes to get to the gate and after visiting the tourist centre, which was very informative, we made our way through (luckily there were no baboons to deal with!) and started on our way to the edge of the crater.  After about 15 minutes we had our first view of the crater floor.  Words cannot describe how amazing it was, absolutely breathtaking!  Itís like your looking down into a lost world!

 

Basically the crater was a mountain as high as Kilimanjaro that collapsed millions of years ago pushing all the rocks to the sides creating the crater wall.  The bottom of the crater was liquid lava and as this cooled and set it created the crater floor.  Grass is plentiful inside the crater but larger trees find it difficult to establish their roots as the lava floor is too hard to penetrate.  The animals have everything they need inside the crater and once inside have no inclination to leave.  Perfect for spotting them!

 As we wound down the crater we saw evidence of elephants crashing around, basically everything was broken!  Although there are some elephants in the crater there are not many.  Patrick told us this was because the slope is so steep they are worried they will fall and beak their tusks.  Some clever ones have worked out it is safer to go down backwards!  This and the fact that there arenít many trees in the crater is why you donít see any giraffe here.

 Our first new sighting was of an Eland. 

These are very large deer about the size of a cow.  They really are huge but still very pretty and graceful looking. 

Next we found a hyena who was trying to get something from a hole.  He was quite distressed that he couldnít get it but was determined not to give up.  We gave up before him and moved on where we soon came to a cheetah lying down sleeping.  We get the impression that most of the animals are extremely laid back and lazy and spend most of their time sleeping.

 

After spotting a lot more animals our next big find was rhino.  Great big monsters they are with that deadly looking horn at the front Ė donít think we want to get too close to that!

 

Time goes so quickly and we were soon off to the water area

for lunch and this is where we found the hippos. 

It was very picturesque here and when we arrived they were all lying in the water seemingly on top of each other.  We jumped out to use the toilets and as we were walking back to the truck we saw a black kite take a brightly coloured hat from one of the guideís heads.  We had lunch in the car because the kites are known to take your food (and your fingers if you donít let go).  Terry fed some small birds called golden weavers from the car door

and as he was doing this a kite swooped down and took the lot from his hand!  Patrick wasnít looking so we tried it with a piece of banana and Terry managed to get a video of the kite taking it from my hand.

 

We watched the hippos for a while, they had all dispersed by now and were swimming around stretching and yawning and you could see their massive teeth.  They all stayed in the water and Patrick said they only come out at night to graze.

Buffalo were next

After moving away from the water we came across our highlight of the day!  We saw a few hyenas moving very quickly and soon realized one of them had found something to eat.  They were making a lot of noise and more hyenas seemed to be coming from all directions.  They were fighting and squabbling over whatever they had found and one of the hyenas came away covered in blood.  After a while they began to move off, one of them had what was left of what they had found, although there were still more coming from all around and we thought it was all over. 

As we moved off Terry spotted a male lion sauntering towards the scene.  Then from the opposite direction a lioness was approaching. 

This soon cleared the rest of the hyenas as the lions investigated what had been going on.  The male lion decided it wasnít too interesting and came and sat down quite near our truck, while the lioness stalked a warthog.  I donít think she was ever going to chase it but went through the motions because it was there.  Patrick pointed out the jackal that appeared to be following the lioness.  It was actually being stalked by a warthog and the jackal knew that if it kept close to the lion and the warthog attacked it would run straight into its path and the jackal could just slip out of the way!

We saw some Guinea fowl, Ostrich and Thompson Gazelles

After all this excitement it was time to leave Ė watching animals certainly takes a lot of time! We were now off to olduvai tented camp

 

that was a good few hours drive away, but still within the Ngorongoro National Park.  The road was abysmal and by the time we arrived we were well and truly rattled and very very tired.

 It was well worth the journey though as the place was amazing.  Set totally in the middle of nowhere and the tents were fantastic.  The electricity is from a solar power only and the water which you are asked to use sparingly is brought in by tanker.  Saying that there is no feeling of being deprived Ė the shower was warm and the toilet flushed.  The tents were cosy and warm and extremely comfortable.  The bar and restaurant were very authentic and there were plenty of masai roaming around giving you an insight to their culture.

 We could have gone for a sunset walk around the camp and seen the shifting sands.  These are black sand dunes that move around with the wind but always stay together.  However, we were very tired and Terry wasnít feeling too good so we settled for a drink in the bar instead.  Dinner was served at 7.30pmm and to our surprise was amazingly tender pork with mash and vegetables after a delicious pumpkin soup and chocolate tart for dessert. 

After this we were off to bed for an early night.  We would have liked to spend another night here to really appreciate our surroundings.  It was so peaceful and quiet (other than the crickets) and we really felt we had left civilization behind.  

GO TO SAFARI DAY THREE