Monday, July 7, 2014

Africa Part 2: Ngorongoro Exploreans Lodge

After two nights at Manyara Ranch Conservancy {it was supposed to be 3, but unfortunately they had computer issues and booked a group of 12} we headed to the Ngorongoro Exploreans Lodge.   As we drove over the Western Rift Valley Wall the streets were lined with baboons! Baboons everywhere…quite a site. We arrived at the lodge, greeted with fresh juice and warm wash clothes to freshen up with, just in time for lunch. 

Lauren, Michael and I had our own private cottage. 

The volcanic landscape was so green and lush.  

While it wasn't warm enough to enjoy the pool, we enjoyed the view everyday at lunch. 

Our cottage included a fireplace in both the bedroom and living room {good thing because the rooms were freeeeezing}, 2 twin beds plus two daybeds, spacious bathroom with a large shower,  and a comfortable living room with arm chairs, sofa bed, and coffee table.  


The view from our balcony was spectacular. 

We rested, relaxed and just hung out at the lodge the first afternoon we were there.  The following day, we headed out early for Lake Manyara National Park.  Lake Manyara National Park Reserve sanctuary extends from the northern and western parts of Lake Manyara to the top of the wester rift valley wall.  The dense groundwater forest of giant figs and mohagany shelter blue monkeys, baboon, bush buck, common water buck, elephant, and silvery-cheeked horn bill.  South of the forest, buffalo, wildebeest, impala, giraffe, zebra, lion and gray backed fiscal shrike frequent the acacia woodland and open grassland.  

I'm not going to lie, I really enjoyed Safari fashion. And yes, it is recommended to, and most people do wear khaki/neutral colors.  

Following our wake-up call of coffee, hot chocolate, and a breakfast bread, we were ready to go. 

Top up…we're ready to go! 

A decent pair of binoculars are a Safari must-have, especially in the national parks, as the vehicles are not allowed to go off the road; many animals were viewed from afar.  

It was so fascinating to observe the baboons' behavior 

How they would constantly clean one another, and then another baboon would step in and take over

No matter what animal, the babies are always adorable.

The trees are amazing. TREE OF LIFE 

Elephants…so majestic. 

After a great morning game drive, we headed back to the lodge and relaxed the rest of the afternoon.  Of course we were able to squeeze in a game of cribbage too.  That night at dinner one of the other guests was celebrating her birthday and the entire kitchen staff came out and not only sang, but put on quite the choreographed performance {dancing, singing, dishes clanking} to Jambo Bwana..which later became our favorite song.  When we went back to our room that evening, not only had our beds been turned down and the mosquito nets down, they had placed heating pads in our beds, heavenly. 

The following morning, Father's Day, we headed to the Ngorongoro National Crater, which is said to have the largest concentration of wildlife to be found on the African continent.  The drive down to the crater floor was in itself an adventure; sometimes its best not to watch…

I started this day not feeling well…I was up several times during the night, and woke up feeling dizzy and somewhat nauseous, but determined to rally through the drive, and rally I did.

God's perfect creation.

It was here where we saw our first hyena.  This baby was playing with an organ of another animal, almost like it was his security blanket.  Safari life...

The cast of The Lion King. I just loved the warthogs, especially when they would run and their tails would stick straight up, and their entire body would wiggle.  Who knew they were so feisty {maybe that's why I like them so much}!? These lil guys will take on a lion!

And you're gonna hear me ROOOOAAAR….our first lion siting.

There were at least 10, and more the longer we were there, safari vehicles around the lion…Modi did a great job of getting us up close.  The lion got up and made his way through the vehicles, marking several of them along the way, and walking close enough to our vehicle to reach out and touch him {NO, we didn't actually touch him, although Michael really wanted to}

Nothing is attractive about hyenas.

After a great game drive we headed back to the lodge for lunch, and my rallying came to an end.  I went back to the room, feeling feverish with the chills, and crawled into bed. I slept, hydrated, showered, took some tylenol, skipped dinner, and woke up the next morning feeling so much better.  What a blessing and relief, as I was nervous about being sick in Africa {especially since I rarely, if ever, am sick}

The following morning it was time to say goodbye to Modi {who we gave the title of Best Dressed Guide} and make our way to the Serengeti.  

Modi was a kind, soft spoken,  gentle soul, who's smile lit up his entire face.  

The journey to the Serengeti.  

Welcome to the Manyara Airstrip, where a landing strip equals a patch of gravel…A Xanax would've been nice, just saying.

We were told we had a 33lb limit for this flight {total for luggage, carry-on, personal item}; we stressed and eliminated non-necessary items, only to find out they have no way to even weigh the luggage and weight really isn't an issue.  Even with only 33lbs I felt like I was able to pack sufficiently for the trip. We sent our luggage through the scanner, walked through the metal detectors {evidently when it beeps it really doesn't mean anything because we just kept on going}, and waited outside until they told us which plane to board.

We boarded the front of the plane, as 7 other passengers were joining us

and took an Ellen Style selfie.  

As the plane accelerated, we reached the end of a cliff and up we went! While I wasn't a fan of the pilot and co-pilot constantly fiddling with all of the controls, it was actually a very smooth, enjoyable flight.  

I enjoyed our stay at Exploreans, but preferred the more intimate, safari feel of the tented camps.  One thing all of the places we stayed at took pride in was making it a personal experience while genuinely getting to know us.  Every time we left a place it was like saying goodbye to family.  

We touched down in the Serengeti, and so began my favorite, most impactful part of the trip...


  1. How amazing!! Love all the pictures of the animals especially the lions. Your camp looks so different than I would expect.

  2. Speechless! -- it looks like a dream! I am so happy that you were able to experience such an incredible adventure. Thank you for sharing with us!!!

  3. Ummm….WOW! Your photos are so amazing and what a beautiful place. I also couldn't agree with you more…hyenas are just not attractive anyway you look at them :). Can't wait to keep reading about your adventure!

  4. Beautiful!! I would love seeing the Lions that close, they fascinate me! Can't wait to hear more!!

  5. I can not get over your photos from this journey! Absolutely amazing! Can't wait to hear more and see more of pictures!

  6. I read this article, it is really informative one. Your way of writing and making things clear is very impressible. Thanking you for such an informative article. Tanzania Safari Tours From India