Travels with V

Tanzania, Zanzibar & Pemba

A dangerous encounter

Safari part five, Ngoro Ngoro part two

Our night camp in Ngoro Ngoro is almost as posh as the Lodge in Lake Manyara, the one that was almost deserted. This one, Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge is, if possible, even more dramatically positioned, it almost hangs over the edge of a high cliff. Just looking out of the bedroom widow gives a slight sense of vertigo.

The problem with this lodge is that it’s icy cold inside. All guests (this one is far from deserted) dine with their winter jackets on. Coincidentally this lodge has the same owner as the one in Lake Manyara. -An idiot, is Daniel’s verdict.

When we’re on our way to the lodge after a whole day of tracking and shooting (with cameras, of course) driving uphill on a long road along the rim of the caldera, we suddenly spot something walking ahead of us. It’s a leopard, a female, Daniel says. We approach slowly, slowly, the leopard stops, turns around to watch us. After some seconds that seem like hours she makes a decision and jumps into the bushes on the steep side of the road. And disappears.

V screams: – Go! Drive!

Daniel slowly drives up to the place where the leopard disappeared, and when we’re there we suddenly, shockingly see her, just inside the bushes, staring at us with yellow eyes. V slowly lifts her camera but in the instant she’s about to shoot the leopard takes a step forward, opens her mouth and makes a very threatening sound.

The Landcruiser’s roof is open and we realize that she can easily jump right into the car. V screams: -Go! Drive! Daniel slams the gas pedal and we speed away, up to the safety of the hotel.

Daniel believes she has a cub nearby, and that’s why she stayed in the shrubbery. Anyway the incident has made us really jittery, and the image of the red jaws and the yellow eyes, and the sound of that throat haunts us. It takes a ridiculously expensive whisky in the hotel bar to calm the nerves.

The following day, our last in Ngoro Ngoro we spend in frenzied crisscrossing the caldera to try to spot a rhino, now our last missing piece of the big five. And we do see something that we’re almost certain is one. But it’s far away in the long grass on top of a slope maybe 300 meters away, and what we see is a big animal, sometimes displaying what looks like horns. We wait for an hour for it to move, but it doesn’t. We move on, come back twice, but nothing has changed. When at the end of the day we drive past it a third time it’s gone.

GAZELLES ON THE ROAD!

Our safari is coming to and end and we’re now traveling over snowy muntains and deep water to our next destination. With a history of slave trade and runaway princesses. 

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