Africa XVIII: Nomad Tours Day 5, The Ngorongoro Crater

I’m very excited to share with you all the details of my Africa (Kenya/Tanzania) trip, and hopefully it helps you plan your own trip, encourages you to visit these places, or at the very least teaches you about another culture in another part of the world. I loved my Africa experience. To catch you up on my trip, check out all my Africa posts:

Africa I: Planning Logistics + Budgets + Immunizations + Clothing/Gear + Getting There
Africa II: Kenya Stop1, Baby Elephants
Africa III: Kenya Giraffes, Karen Blixen and Artcaffe
Africa IV: Arriving in Moshi + The Good Hope School
Africa V: Kilimanjaro Details
Africa VI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 1
Africa VII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 2
Africa VIII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 3
Africa IX: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 4
Africa X: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 5
Africa XI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 6 and 7
Africa XII: Nomad Tours Day 1, Visit the Snake Park
Africa XIII: Nomad Tours Day 2, Off to the Serengeti
Africa XIV: Nomad Tours, Our First Game Drive
Africa XV: Nomad Tours Day 3, Game Drives
Africa XVI: Nomad Tours Day 4, Game Drives!
Africa XVII: Nomad Tours Day 4, Maasai Warriors

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Last I left off, Erica and I were with our Nomad Tours group for our Serengeti & Zanzibar 10 Day Trek South, where we just finished 2 days out on the Serengeti and visited a Maasai Warrior tribe. We got back into our trucks and made the drive back to the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater where we are spending the night at the Simba Camp overlooking the crater.

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We got back into our trucks and headed to the crater!

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Here’s an overlook by the entrance down into the crater. We were just in the Serengeti, which is such a vast land for animals to explore, where as the crater is a much smaller area for the animals to live in. These areas aren’t fenced, but the steepness of the crater makes it hard for animals to migrate out. This means that it’s a much more concentrated area for animals. We would find out the next day just how many animals there are to see!

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Above is the Dutch Aunt and nieces from our Nomad Tour group. They were a lot of fun. I’m glad we stopped to take these photos, as the next morning the view point was fogged over, and the views were incredible.

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The landscape here is just beautiful.

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But you have to keep your eyes on the road, as you never know when a bunch of giraffes might go running across it!

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Just another 20 minutes down the road and we reached our Simba Campsite. The tents were all setup for us when we arrived (they were the same type of tent from the Serengeti). Being right on the rim meant the views were incredible.

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This campsite had restrooms and showers in that blue/green building above. Funny story- later in the night Erica went to use the restroom and had to wait for a pack of zebra to go by before she could reach the bathrooms. There’s no fences here so you never know what you’ll find outside your tent! Adventure!

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Once our Nomad Tour group got settled in for the night (it was chilly when the sun went down, so many layers were added) we headed to the dining hall (this also looked just like our dining space on the Serengeti). Below you can see they made us stew with spaghetti with veggies, yum!

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The next morning was foggy right around the rim of the crater, but once we made our way down into the crater it was pretty clear. The upper layer of fog kept it chilly for our morning game drive, but we all dressed in layers.

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On the Serengeti the two animals we hadn’t seen yet were the wildebeests and black rhinos. And our day in the crater started with tons of wildebeests! Notice the grey crowned cranes in the background.

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Oh and of course the occasional ostrich just running around. Oh Africa 🙂

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Wildebeest crossing ahead! There’s one of our other Nomad Tour trucks ahead.

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Wildebeests!

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Now once we got down into the crater our guide was clearly rushing to bring us somewhere, but he wouldn’t tell us why. Since the guides speak swahili to each other on the radio we couldn’t tell what they were saying, but something exciting was happening. Sure enough there were 2 very rare black rhinos that we were trying to get to before they hid in the grass. It’s rare to see the black rhino walking around and once it sits down in tall grass they are nearly impossible to see. We got there just in time! See the two above!

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The landscape here is incredible.

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We turned another corner and saw this mama lion…

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With her two baby cubs! So adorable!

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We looped around to get closer and more trucks joined us to see these cuties playing.

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The cubs were so playful.

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I want one!

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They’re just big adorable cats, right? I could watch them all day.

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We continued on as there was so much to see in the crater. No more than 5 minutes down the road and we ran into these large male lions sharing a meal. You’ll notice the zebras and wildebeests keeping a wide distance behind them. Also notice the other animals waiting to get their chance at the lions leftovers. There were even birds circling overhead for their chance to get a snack.

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This was our first time seeing adult male lions with the full mane. Just incredible.

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After seeing all the lions and the incredible landscape, I really felt like I was in the Lion King.

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We ran into a group of zebras walking right by the road.

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These zebras loved rolling in this spot. One after the next, they kept coming up and rolling in that same spot, what a sight!

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Why did the wildebeest cross the road? To join his buddies!

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Here’s one of our Nomad Tour trucks (above).

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Midmorning our guides timed a restroom stop (with toilets) at a spot near a bunch of hippos.

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Above is the kori bustard, another giant bird that was common in the Serengeti and in the crater.

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The white stretch in the distance is not snow, but salt! Way far out we could see flamingos and other birds enjoying it.

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Our other Nomad truck off in the distance.

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Cranes and wildebeests sharing the same watering hole.

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On our way out of the crater, we ran into another black rhino! Since there are only about 15 rhinos in the crater, to get to see 3 of them is pretty special.

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Bye, bye crater. Our time here has come to an end and it’s time to head back to Arusha.

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Just as we exited the Crater gates, we passed about 50 baboons in and around the road. They were being so playful and even one couple got into a fight.

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Cuties.

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Family love. At this point we heard the baboons climbing onto the truck and even saw their hands trying to climb into the windows. At this point we decided to take off and get back to our campsite in Arusha.

Next up, we make our cross country overland drive to Dar es Salaam, where we take a ferry to Zanzibar for the island resort portion of the trip.

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