Charlie and Sam were not aware of the amazing adventure they were about to embark on as they prepared for their safari in Tanzania. The Ngorongoro Conservation area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts a huge volcanic caldera—the Ngorongoro Crater (meaning “big hole” in the local dialect). Their guide explained that a caldera is a crater formed after a volcanic eruption and the ground collapses beneath it. As well, the chances of seeing “The Big 5” animals (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and cape buffalo) all in one day were very high. They began their journey tingling with excitement of what they may see. The drive down was both exhilarating and time consuming as there are no paved roads and many hairpin turns, yet the scenery was breathtaking.
Once they reached the crater, they started taking pictures! There was so much to snap—game wandering and grazing in their natural habitat, the beautiful horizon and of course, the crater itself! As they made their way across the crater, a herd of gazelle wandered past, grazing here and there as they went by. A short distance away, a giant flock of flamingoes could be seen in the central lake. Their pink feathers stood out brightly against the blue of the lake and sky. Their truck was moving closer towards the lake when it suddenly slowed and then completely stopped. The guide turned around and excitedly pointed out 6 lions walking beside them! They lazily padded by and stopped to enjoy the shade that the van created. As there is very little tree growth inside the crater to provide shade, the lions seemed content to stay! Charlie and Sam’s excitement was in overdrive. They opened their window to get a better look and take tons of close up pictures. They could almost reach down and touch them! One of the lions was even using the step on their truck as a head rest. Their guide stressed the importance of not disturbing them as this is a wildlife preserve and it is their job to make sure all the game remain safe, as well as the passengers. Almost 2 hours passed while the lions kept them hostage as they napped and lounged on the shady side of the truck.
On their way back to the lodge, they excitedly discussed their unforgettable experience. As they arrived at the end of their safari, the beautiful orange sunset over the crater provided a perfect end to that fantastic day.