Ngorogoro Crater

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Melissa: We dragged ourselves awake the next morning before dawn and groggily ate a light breakfast of cereal and nothing. The cook for our trip had miscalculated the amount of food we would need and had run out of just about everything. No peanut butter, no yoghurt, no bananas, no eggs, nothing. The bread he had bought was moldy. This was especially unfortunate, as we were expected to pack sandwiches for lunch, to be eaten on our jeeps. The cook suggested that we pack the sandwich fixings in bowls and have salads for lunch, despite the fact that there was no dressing. My salad consisted of slices of cucumber, slices of tomato, and some onion.

We boarded our jeep for one last ride through the Serengeti and the descent into the Ngorogoro Crater. By this point, we had already seen four of the big five animals to view on safari (lion, leopard, water buffalo, and elephant) but were hoping to spot the fifth (rhinoceros) in the Crater. The Crater is particularly special because it has a large lake in the middle that attracts animals, and the sides of the crater are unbroken, meaning that animals may wander in but few are able to get out. The day was rainy, but we did eventually see a black rhinoceros and its baby from fairly far away. There were also herds of wildebeest, water buffalo, and zebras hanging around.

After a full day of animal watching, we drove the jeeps back up to the hotel/campground we had stayed in two nights before to meet the truck (Claudia), pack up our things, and head back to the Snake Park. Here there was a small mutiny staged by the Peruvian widow on our trip, who had had enough. Her tent was one of those attacked by ants the night before, and she pointed out that she had picked three biting ants out of her underwear the night before, had not had any breakfast, and had had a bowl of cucumber and tomato slices for lunch five hours before. She had thought we would be staying at the nice hotel/campground again this evening, where at least she could pay to upgrade to a decent room and buy a meal at the restaurant. She was completely unhinged at the notion that we had another three hour drive to the Snake Park, where we would have to erect tents and wait another two hours after that before dinner would be ready. The tour leaders seemed completely unsympathetic (this was their attitude to any complaint made by any of the passengers) so it was up to a few of us other passengers to talk her down and convince her to come back to the Snake Park with us (she was ready to stay at the hotel and make her own arrangements to cross the border into Kenya and get to Nairobi by the next day for her flight). We were also dismayed to learn that, although she had had three days while the passengers were touring the Serengeti to do so, the main tour leader, who had not come to the Serengeti with us and had basically had three days to herself, had failed to get the truck waterproofed, which meant that we and all of our belongings were likely to get soaked if it started raining again.

We rolled despondently into the Snake Park and set up our tents and were glad to hear that we would not be making dinner ourselves. Instead, because it would be the last night of this trip, the restaurant attached to the Snake Park would be making us a meal. Dinner consisted of several types of grilled meat. After we ate, we had a few drinks and played cards for a while before hitting the hay, excited that the next day, we would be ditching the defective truck and picking up some new crew and passengers.

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