In Moshi we hooked up with a guide and found a tour that two Belgium guys had already booked. There was extra room so we joined the “Budget Safari Tour”. The highlight of the trip was Ngorongo Crater National Park. Once in the park we popped the top off of our Safari jeep and stood to watch out the roof as our car bumped along the dirt paths. As you enter the park you start at the rim of the volcano crater and drive down into the flat bottom. At the top were Massai children dressed in their traditional clothing peddling all kinds of good jewelry, swords, and photos (if you wanted to pay). It was a bit shocking, as I did not realize how commercialized/exploited the Massai have become. Since they have lost so much of their land and the dollar is king many children and adults (in addition to tending their cattle) pedal Massai goods as well as selling their face for a photo. I can’t say I blame them, I understand the reasoning it is just unfortunate this is what it has come to.
So as we descended to the crater floor and we were greeted by every kind of African animal imaginable. And more animals than I have every seen in one place at one time anywhere. It was strikingly beautiful as we were surrounded by herds of wildebeest, gazelle, zebras, and giraffes grazing in sunlit green fields, with the crater wall covered in vegetation, and the sky darkened by an approaching storm behind. We were fortunate enough to find some lions asleep on the grass right beside the dirt road. We watched them sleep and wake up from about a foot away. At one point standing looking out the roof realizing we had not closed the side window to the back seat. One of the Dutch guys dove into the car to close the window as the female lion got up to stretch and look around!