Monday, December 24, 2007

One year ago today

Last December I was at the beginning of a huge adventure. I was in Tanzania along with my friends Jim and Carrie. A year ago today I was at a lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. The Crater is an UNESCO World Heritage site. The road into the crater drops 2,000 feet from the rim to the floor. The floor of the crater is 9 miles across. Approximately 30,000 animals inhabit this area. If you saw the movie Out of Africa, the scene where Robert Redford's character takes Meryl Streep's character flying includes flying over the crater. You can read more about the crater here. Maasai people still herd cattle in the crater alongside elephants, rhinos, zebra, ostrich, lions, and cheetahs.There had been unseasonable long rains in December, and the roads were very muddy, and slick. Lions do not favor wet grass, and on the way down into the crater this young male was laying right next to the road in an attempt to avoid the wet grass.

This male baboon was sitting alongside the road as we drove along the rim of the crater.
We saw our first cheetahs in the crater. This one woke up, stretched, and walked away as we watched from the landcruiser. 
Zebras were plentiful in the crater, and due to the protection from poaching in the elephants here were the largest we saw. 

From my balcony at the lodge I could look into the crater and see elephants with my binoculars.
So on Christmas Eve, Carrie Jim and I spent our late afternoon gazing into the crater from our room. That evening we had a delicious dinner in the dining room. On Christmas night girls from the nearby Maasai village sang at the lodge, and men from the village danced in an evening performance. 

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