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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday's Tanzania

Safari, Day 3 - Seregenti and Ngorongoro.  But before we begin some background on "Just who is that German couple following us around?"

Now, first, you need to understand that Tanzania is a large country - 364, 898 square miles to be exact - coming in at the world's 31st largest country.  Not a very small place where you would just be running into people you might "know" on a regular basis. 

On our trip over, we had a layover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - where we found out the hard way that once you go through security for your gate, there are no amenities other than restrooms and the overcrowded gate seating areas.  No restaurants, shops, vending machines....just a long wait at the gate with limited seating.  Fun :)  We were sitting at our gate and being the rude Americans that we inadvertantly were, had placed our carry-ons on a seat next to us.  A couple approached us, both strikingly attractive, and motioned to our bags which we immediately removed and smiled at them (attempting to amend the "rude Americans" appearance) as they sat down next to us.  They talked quietly so we couldn't quite pick up the language or accent.  We finally boarded our plane to Kilimanjaro and didn't see them again...or so we thought...

Our third day of the safari continued in Seregenti with some incredible lion pride sightings.

In one area were some lionesses and the cubs...

...and, a bit further down the road, the lion of the pride, was off alone, mating time, with one lioness.

                                              We also saw two leopards - which are sometimes difficult to find.  These pics are my favorites from the day's sightings.

As we were heading down the dirt road out of Serengeti National Park, we came upon a safari jeep from another tour company parked on the side of the road with its hood up.  We pulled along side it, and Swalehe jumped out to talk with the other driver/guide about what the trouble was.  Glancing over at the passengers, we saw....yep, you guessed it - the couple from the Addis Ababa gate, now standing in the back of the safari jeep, shading themselves from the hot afternoon sun.  They recognized us, smiled, and waved.  We waved back, started laughing, and explained to Andrew the connection.  Swalehe returned after a bit, saying that their jeep was having some engine difficulties, but the guide thought they would still be able to make it - but Swalehe had left his cell number just in case.

We continued on to the Ngoronogo Crater - my favorite of the safari sites in terms of scenery. The crater is:
a large, unbroken, un-flooded caldera, formed when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed some three million years ago. The Ngorongoro crater sinks to a depth of 610 metres, with a base area covering 260 square kilometres. (
 After driving around the crater's rim and a few zebra sightings,

we headed for our lodge (remember that we arranged for an upgrade after last night's tenting experience). :)  We stayed at The Rhino Lodge and found it to be the perfect match for us - although we still knew we were really "on safari" when we were shown our room and told to be sure to lock the porch door due to the possibility of wild animals at night, including lions -- and when we came out of our room after dark to go to dinner, we found that the central courtyard was blocked off with guardrails, protecting the walkway in front of our room doors from the possibility of any straying animals. 

Dinner that night was an incredible buffet of American, European, and African cuisine - and a wine list, yes!  We were just settling in with our first glasses of wine and going over the day's stories when a heavily accented "Hello" greeted us - yep, it was "them" again - the same couple from Addis Ababa and the broken down safari jeep earlier that day.  The woman explained that at first they had tried running the jeep back on "one piston" (?) but that gave out, and their guide finally had to call for someone to come get them (we later learned that Swalehe had rescued them and brought them to the lodge).  I was beginning to think we were being stalked, lol ;)  We guessed that the gentleman perhaps did not speak English as he never spoke - just smiled, nodded.  Hubby later explained that from the accent and bits of conversation we gathered from the jeep stop, they were probably German.  After that third encounter, I told hubby if we met again, we were going to have to ask for names and email addresses.  The following week when we were awaiting our flight in Kilimanjaro I really half expected to run into them again - or in Addis Ababa for our layover - but no, third time was the charm, I guess. We'll never know the rest of the story - at least not on this trip.

Next week - "Circle of Life" in Ngorongoro


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