Sunday, July 24, 2005

Kilimanjaro to Ndutu

Ndarakwai – Tarangire – Ngorongoro – Ndutu
July 24, 2005

Ndarakwai Ranch in West Kilimanjaro is a gem. Peter Jones and his staff are among the most welcoming, capable and cheerful people we have ever had the privilege to stay with. Our praises to Eliza the manager, Thomas the expert Maasai guide, and staff members Msuya, Jackson, Janet, Emmi, Rose and Phillista, as well as guide Puce who is in training. And our special thankjs to Hendrick for his excellent cuisine!

On day one we saw 35 elephants at the watering hole and numerous other kinds of wildlife. On day two we visited a real Maasai village nearby and spent two hours with the people and their goats and cattle. Far more happened at Ndarakwai, and we'll post it later. Owner Peter Jones is our guide throughout our stay in Tanzania; more about him below.

Tarangire National Park was exceptional as well. We saw our first baobab trees there, plus hyrax, banded mongoose, wildebeest, and much more. A spectacular view from the lodge is replicated at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Ngorongoro Crater (really a caldera, as Peter pointed out) is massive, deep, and extraordinary. We saw 45 hippos in a pool, some of them turning on their backs and wiggling their surprisingly delicate feet. Cheetah, lions, jackals, crowned cranes, huge elephants, and beauty at every turn.
Ndutu Lodge ( is in the western part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, just east of Serengeti National Park and on the Serengeti plain. We’ve seen 8 giraffes at a time, eland, flamingos and – most remarkably – a leopard in the wild only 15 feet away, growling as it sprang from hiding right next to us and ran deep into the bush. We were at Olduvai Gorge today with our guide Peter, whose photograph is there at age 19, working with Mary Leakey and others on the fossilized Laetoli hominid footprints from 3.5 million years ago. Peter is an amazing person: totally practical on the one hand, yet living a lifetime of study and research as well, on hominid evolution and its African context. Great sense of humor and great with a Toyota Land Cruiser. We are exceptionally lucky to have found him.

Surprises and particular pleasures so far on this trip: The climate in the dry season (now) is bright, dry, breezy, warm by day and cool or even cold by night. There are essentially no mosquitoes or other annoying insects in the highlands where we are now. Tangawizi ginger ale is the perfect refreshing drink after a warm and dusty day on safari. Serengeti and Tusker beers are our local favorite. The landscapes are superb. The food has been superb. Endless fascination. Endless absorption. Very happy to be here. Very lucky to be here.


At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a difference a week or two makes!! The photography is superb. I have been aching to sit down and absorb a percentile of you experiences.

Rich Crandall


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