October 31, 2014 (3 lions + 3 lions = 6 lions) Stayed at Sopa Lodge at Ngorongoro Crater
We got up, packed and went for breakfast. As usual, it was very good. We said our goodbyes and headed out on the bumpy road. We see eland with ostrich, olive baboons, impala, zebra, giraffes, black faced vervet monkeys, cape buffalo, elephant. We also saw a flower cluster called a fire barellie (it’s red-orange in color). We left the Serengeti National Park through the Tabora Gate and drove west and then south through a Kurya village. The houses are round like yurts. They are constructed with sisal plant (which looks like a yucca). They use the stalk, vertically, and pack mud and dung around it, and have a thatched roof. The sisal plant is also used for rope, carpet, etc. They grow it on farms. We drove past a prison and Michael said we couldn’t take photos — too bad. The prisoners help raise vegetables and livestock for the local camps. As we drove we talked to Michael about holidays, as it was Halloween. He wasn’t familiar with it. They do celebrate Christmas, Easter, Mother and Fathers’ Days, and Valentine’s Day. Michael thinks that Valentine’s Day is a bad day as the young people make bad decisions. We drove through Mugumu, a busy little village, where we turned south and drove to Fort Ikoma, where we turned right (south-east) and drove through another village called Robanda. We re-entered Serengeti National Park at Ikoma Gate. Michael signed us in and we stopped for lunch. Michael shared with us that he is going to be a grandfather for the first time. His 22 year old daughter, Irene, is expecting a baby any time and Michael will be known as Babu, the Swahili word for grandfather. The Swahili word for grandmother is Bibi (This grandchild, Darius, was born 11/21). We also found out that they are Pentecostal Christians and have some strange notions. He shared that his wife Grace had an abortion when their son, William, was very young, as she was going through a rough time. Many years later, his daughter Irene had a miscarriage. He believes that they were being punished by God for the abortion and sought advice from a religious person from the US. Finally, they were absolved and now were being blessed with the new grandbaby.
We started seeing zebras, wildebeests, warthogs, impalas, giraffes, and a float of stinky hippos in a river. We saw two groups of lions, lying near each other. There were three in each group. One of the females was collared. We checked out of the Serengeti National Park at the Naabi Hill gate. We took the long road back to Ngorongoro Crater. It was hot, dusty, and bumpy. We could see a mirage of water in the distance. Naturally, it was just the atmosphere creating an illusion. We passed many Maasai children tending to their goats and cows. It seems like a lonely job for a small child to be out all day by themselves. They would smile and wave to us. Maybe, they hoped we would stop to give them a gift? Maybe, their parents ask them to wave to create interest in visiting their village. Maybe, they’re just lonely and friendly. We continued up the long steep road to the Ngorongoro Crater. We arrived at Sopa Lodge at Ngorongoro Crater and were met with warm washcloths and a glass of fruit juice. We bid Michael farewell till morning and were escorted to our room. The two that greeted us and took us to our room each had 3” slanted scars on each cheek below their eyes. We think it’s a traditional tribal scar. Our room was big with a glass enclosed sun room with rocking chairs and a table overlooking the crater. It’s a beautiful view. This lodge has 90+ rooms and was built in the 70’s. It’s kind of dated with its furnishings, but we didn’t mind. While walking to our room, we saw a black cat! How neat to see that on Halloween. When we asked, we were told that it was a resident cat named Midnight.
We headed back to the terrace (with pool) overlooking the crater and set up our tripods with and cameras to take time lapse photos of the sunset. It was very chilly outside as we are at 8,000 feet on the crater’s rim, so we were bundled up, but relaxed on chaise lounge chairs, drinking a glass of red wine, while watching the sunset. When we were through watching the sunset, we went to dinner in the main hall. It’s a beautiful round room with thatched roof and views of the crater. After dinner, there was a Maasai choir that sang several songs for us. I recorded most of the performance. It was quite beautiful. We were escorted back to our room. Once again, hot water bottles in our bed, to keep us warm. Sweet dreams. ~ Mary & Mark
Click on photo below for better viewing.