Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ngorongoro Crater -- Lions by the Score

NOTE to my grandchildren:  I just put three more lion videos on this post.  Enjoy!!

Ngorongoro is pronounced ngoro-ngoro.  I don't know why I have such a hard time saying it.  It's actually quite easy, at least when you divide it up.  Supposedly it is named after the sound of the cowbell.  We met up with our guide, Vincent, at 6:30 a.m. so we could get an early start as it would take about an hour to drive down into the crater and early morning is the best time to see animals.  We liked Vincent immediately and we knew we would have a great day.

Today was definitely a day for lions.  We quickly lost count but we must have seen 40 or 50.  We even saw a pride of lions on the hunt.  So interesting to see two males creeping up on some buffalo and then the females (10 or so) leisurely making their way forward as if they had all the time in the world.  We watched for a long time but as they got further and further away, we decided not to wait for the kill!  I didn't really want to see it anyway.

It was very foggy as we left the hotel to descend into the crater.  The acacia trees looked ghostly in the fog.  We soon dropped below the fog and everything became clearer.

So many kinds of cactus plants grow here.

And the weaver bird nests were hanging from the trees.

Can't remember the story behind this tree.  Anyone know?

This kind of cactus -- the candlebra -- grows particularly in the Rift Valley.  LeRon and I loved to see them on the several journeys we made to Naivasha, Nakuru, Kisumu and Eldoret.  And here they are on the slopes leading down into the Ngorongoro Crater.

Our guide, Vincent, drove us right down into a pride of lions.  We have not zoomed in on this picture.  The lion was right beside our vehicle, just resting in the early morning light.

She probably had spent the night hunting and was looking for a place to sleep.  Not sure why she's in the middle of nowhere.

Vincent says this is a young male lion.  He completely ignored us.  
He was so close that we could have almost reached out and petted him.
You can see in this photo how close he is to the vehicles.

A little further away we discovered a mama lion . . . 
with her two cubs but actually there were three.  You'll just barely see the third one in the video below.

This was close to where the lions were hiding.  Beautiful!

Ah . . . more lions and some Egyptian Geese.

These three lions blended right in to the grass but our sharp-eyed guide pointed them out.

Lazy lions basking in the sun.

And more lions!

We disturbed their sleep, I think.

Aha . . . the lions have discovered . . .

. . . what appears to be a lone buffalo.

Mama and Daddy lion are now on the hunt.  But no, as we watched, we discovered several buffalo hidden behind the bushes.  The lions decided it wasn't worth it.

I told you about the two male lions who were closing in on a buffalo.  Well, here are the females waiting for the signal to join in the hunt.

And more lions again.  This is the day for lions!

We thought this was an empty piece of grassland when suddenly, a lion poked its head up!  You can't trust even an empty-looking spot of grass!