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African Surf and Turf

Author: John D.
Date of Trip: September 2006

The sunrise was awe inspiring and after breakfast we were on our way. The shock lasted about 20 miles. They would meet us at the Ngorongoro Crater road with a new vehicle. We got to the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge (late as usual) which is located at 7800 feet above sea level. It was cool, and the view was stupendous. The lodge is total luxury from the rooms to the dining area. The next day we would be in the crater.

After breakfast we entered the crater. The morning mist was just starting to clear off. One of our first sightings was three lions (one male and two females) lying by the road next to their fresh kill, a wildebeest. It had been partially eaten, and the lions were resting between feasts.

The day only got better from there with hippos, lions, hyenas, and even three black rhinos. By the end of the day we were ready to leave. The week had allowed us to see every animal available in the three parks. As we climbed the hill it began to mist and then rain; as even the sky was sorry our trip was ending. It rained all that night so the next day we encountered mud in place of the dust.

We were on our way to the Masai Village Lodge for our last night. A pristine lodge located in the heart of Masai country. For the first time we arrived somewhere early in the day. That left time for a hike to the local waterfall. Most wanted to rest, but four of us followed our two Masai guides on the walk to the falls. The Masai use old tires (preferably motorcycle) for footwear. Our guide must had been on motorcycle ones as he turned the hike into a recreation of the Bataan Death March. When we finally got to the falls after a 50 minute forced march, we had to rest a few moments before we had the strength to pick up our cameras and take some pictures. The Masai were not even sweating. The walk back was much slower as I think the guides suspected we were fading fast.

When we got back to the rooms we had a shower and then went to dinner. An excellent South African wine was available (as it was at all the resorts) so we sat there drinking as the sun went down and we waited for dinner to be prepared.

That night the Masai put on a traditional dance exhibition for us. And after the show was over we all went to our rooms. The next day would be driving to Arusha, and then on to Nairobi for our flight home.

Our bags were waiting at Nairobi as promised. After a few more minor delays (British Airways said their system would not allow them to check the baggage through to San Antonio) we were on our way. The trip home was long, but not as tiring or irritating as the trip over. We did have one final inconvenience as we all had at least one bag missing when we collected our baggage in San Antonio. The missing bags were delivered the next night and the trip was then officially over.

Would I do it again? Yes, and I will, but not on British Airways. It will take me a year or two to prepare but the diving is world class and the animals will not be around forever. The vast plains covered with wildlife are a sight you will never forget. It is sad to think that one day it will all be gone.

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