Our day in Tarangire was a real treat. We had the safari van to ourselves (thanks, Jackpot Safaris!) and were able to take our time enjoying the wildlife and baobab-studded landscape at our own pace. We watched several families of elephants playing in the mud or munching on the last of the green foliage that had not yet succumbed to the heat of the dry season. It was particularly enjoyable to see several baby elephants up close, drinking milk as their mothers eyed the van with suspicion.
We had lunch by the bend in the dwindling river that feeds Lake Manyara , which gave us the opportunity to watch many animals (zebra, wildebeest, waterbucks, giraffes and more) refresh themselves in the mid-day heat. It also gave Gil the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature when a band of hungry baboons attacked our table and tried to steal his lunch box. He fought with the leader and punched him in the face getting back all but his yogurt and a bag of peanuts!
The Ngoronogoro Crater also held up to its reputation as one of the world's most amazing places. We skirted along the crater highlands - which consists of alternating rain forest and Maasai grazing land - for several kilometers before descending down a steep, windy road to the crater floor. The crater has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife anywhere in the world, owing in part to the wide variety of habitats found in the 20 km area, including swamps, forests, lakes and savanna. We saw many of the same animals we had seen on our previous safaris, but they seemed even more spectacular than before against the backdrop of the steep crater walls. Highlights included seeing a female lion stalk a warthog drinking by the river, watching several hyenas feeding after a kill, enjoying lunch by a hippo-filled lake and practically touching an old, male elephant that crossed by our van.
Safaris in Tanzania aren't cheap, but they are certainly worth it.