Thursday, Oct 26 (Tarangire—Kikoti to  Ngorongoro—Serena)

We started out by packing up, having breakfast, and then doing a half-day safari. Most of the trees were bare of leaves, waiting for the rains to come. One of the Land Cruisers saw a bunch of baby baboons right off the edge of the road, where the people got a good view of them playing. Unfortunately, our Land Cruiser missed it.

We then drove out to the main road and up to the Ngorongoro crater. Along the way, we passed a lush green area that had a town whose name in translation was “Mosquito River”. I guess the bugs are bad, but here there is water so that farming can be done.

We stopped for lunch at a souvenir shop. There I had to use one of those dreadful squat toilets. I really despise them.

I was interested in a giraffe mask for Michael, but I thought that it would be too easy to damage (the ears stuck out), so I settled on a zebra mask, which had smaller ears. The guy wanted $30, which I balked at. He subtly suggested that I negotiate. I really don’t like doing that, but that is the way things are done here. He was asking me about my watch. I think he would have taken my watch in trade for the mask, but I wanted my watch more than I wanted the mask. (One of the other guests did trade a watch for a souvenir at a different place.) I wanted to pay $20 for the mask, but I thought that offering less (so that we could come up to $20) would be an insult. So I offered $20, he countered with $25, and then we settled on $23.

Then we drove up over the rift. It got cooler and greener. Then we started up the side of the old volcano, and things got really green. We got up to the overlook and could see the inside of the Ngorongoro crater. It was maybe 10 miles across and about 1600 feet deep. It looked pretty awesome.

We drove along the rim for a while, until we came to the Serena lodge. People had been saying that it would be hard to top the Kikoti Lodge, but this comes close in a different way. Kikoti was more outdoors and rustic, with hot water being carried to a tank for your shower. It had very good service, however. This place (Serena) is more Western, with beds, shower, and toilet in individual rooms as in any hotel. It also has robes for the guests to wear and a hair drier. On the other hand, there was a herd of goats right outside the door to my room a while back.

It is much cooler up here (8000 feet?), which should be nice. Once again, there is a Maasai dance at 7:15, and then dinner at 7:30.


This whole place is much bigger and more commercial than any place we’ve stayed in so far. We were commenting to each other at dinner how many *people* there were here. After being in much less crowded places for the past week or two, it was rather a shock.

The Maasai dance was similar to the previous one, except that this was a little more elaborate, had children in it, and no audience participation. They did, however, put out a basket for donations afterwards.

Dinner was nice, as one might expect from such a place. There was a good dessert bar. It seems that every place has the meal included or prepaid, but that beverages (even water, which is bottled) are on us.

This is a fairly posh place. They even come in to turn down the bed for you. On the other hand, they have steam radiators, and I had to call up and someone come down to turn it off, as there were no user-friendly controls on the radiator, and it was rather warm in the room. Here, we are much more removed from the environment than in either previous place, and it is easier to imagine that we are back home, just in a place with an African theme.

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