My private safari guide, Alfred, picked me up at 6:00 am sharp from Acacia Farm Lodge for a full day game drive in Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This is the place where I am meant to see the “Big 5” safari animals. These are the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, cape buffalo, and elephant. I’d say I saw 3.5 out of 5… no leopard (here) and Alfred said he saw a rhino far away, but I could not make it out. I guess one of the black spots I was looking at in the binoculars was a rhino, but since I could not really discern the horns, I give it half a sighting.
After driving through the tropical rainforest on the rim of the caldera, we descend into the crater itself and spot Big 5 animal #1, the cape buffalo. Shortly after, we came across a small group of zebra, which really makes me feel like I am now on a safari, seeing such an animal that I am so familiar with from African wild life documentaries. We then saw a kori bustard bird, arguably the largest flying bird in Africa, but it was at quite a distance, so no good picture. We were then greeted by a black backed jackal and a couple of elephants (Big 5 #2) in the distance.
Then on to Big 5 #3, a pair of mating lions. Although we did not get to see them actually mate, they were very close to the roadside so we spent quite some time observing them to see if they would “do the deed.” I know, animal perverts. It was an amazing encounter and I was in a state of awe seeing such beautiful creatures, so close that I could smell them.
And what safari would be complete without gazelles. The two kinds of gazelles that are common in this area are the Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles.
Saw some hippos in the distance, so I will hold off on pics until I can get some from a closer vantage point. I will close this post out with a gallery of the remaining wildlife spotted in the beautiful Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Animals in the above gallery: greater flamingos, ostrich, warthog, crowned crane, eland (largest African antelope), golden jackal, Speke’s weaver, wildebeest, baboons, and a panoramic of the caldera.