The Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
Thankfully, after many hours of driving the bumpy, dusty, gravel road from our adventure in the Serengeti, we started our climb to the ridge of the Ngorongoro Crater. Our accommodations were on the opposite side of the Crater so we had to drive up, along the rim, and then back down the other side to reach our lodge. Although once again I wasn't a fan of the drive through the crater, the scenery was something out of a movie. Vast open land with rolling hills in the background, five girraffe walking by, Massai herding their livestock, baboons sunning themselves on the side of the road. For a girl from Canada, this was all very surreal.
Our Beautiful Accommodations in the Hills of the Ngorongoro Crater
As we turned down the path to our lodge, the dusty memories of our long drive that day were quickly erased. We were staying at the Farm House Valley Lodge, perched in the lush hills of the crater. To be surrounded by such greenery, after a day of seeing nothing but dust and rocks, was divine. The setting for the lodge could not have been more dreamy. We loved our previous stay at the Katikati tents in the Serengeti but we did not hide our excitement to see the luxury of the Farm House accommodations before us :-)
We had our own little unit consisting of two adjoining rooms. Large mosquito-netted beds, enormous bathrooms, beautiful windows looking out onto all the greenery-it was really special. A jackfruit tree and a banana tree in full bloom sat outside our front door and even better, was the large open football like pitch just waiting to have three boys practice their skills on. To top it all off, there was much needed laundry service and the all-important "wifi" in the lounge area.
Our walk With the Eccentric BabaDingy
Right from our first introductions, I knew our time spent with BabaDingy would be memorable. He was funny when I'm not 100% sure he was trying to be funny, strange in a way that was sometimes awkward and often found a way to give an answer to a question that wasn't asked. To start off with, he told us his tribe name and made us all try to repeat it. "Eera "gcluck" tribe. The "gcluck" is a weird noise you make in the back of your throat like a clucking sound. BabaDingy was a unique character to say the least. He led us on a beautful walk of the Farm House grounds, showed us where the lodge grew all their own organic fruits and vegtales, and let us sample some of their own Arabica coffee beans.
So many beautiful flowers spectled throughout the greenery.
Game Drive in the Ngorongoro Crater
Our game drive in the crater was a completely different experience to our days spent in Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti. It was much colder than the previous locations, very overcast, and quite a few more safari jeeps than we had seen the days prior. The road down to the bottom of the crater was long, very steep, and winding. But we made it down and back up again at the end of the day for that matter
Before you start your descent into the crater there is a lookout spot to see the enormity of this massive sunken volcano. However, you don't really get a proper sense of scale until you are at the bottom looking up.
There are plenty of animals to see in the crater, wildebeest, hippos, birds, rhinos, lions...But after just visiting the Serengeti it was hard to compare. We did see plenty of interesting animals- the hippos were really fun to watch. We witnessed a lion stalking her prey and then make a failed attempt at a kill. We saw the hard to find Rhino way off in the distance. We saw the weather patterns change multiple times throughout the day. We saw a huge cobra swimming in the lake. We saw, we saw, we saw!
Things with Wings
The Hungry Hippos
The Lioness on the Hunt
Finally, the Wildebeest
Rift Valley Children's Village
On our last day in the Ngorongoro area, we had the privilege to visit a nonprofit organization caring for the needs of many on a variety of levels, called Rift Valley Children's Village (RVCV). I had contacted RVCV prior to our trip and had requested spending half a day with them so the boys (and Rob and I) could experience first hand, the importance of organizations like this. What we learned that day about vision, perseverance, compassion, care, drive...the list goes on and on, will not be forgotten.
RVCV literally is a small village of children. It gives a loving home for nearly 100 children who are either orphaned or whose parents are unable to care for them at this time. There are two government schools- a primary and a secondary, that RVCV helps support financially and with staff. They cater to not only the children at the village but also to the children in the surrounding rural areas. The "pass" success rate is almost 100%- a gigantic leap from the Tanzanian government school average.
On top of educating and housing hundreds of children, RVCV provides medical care to over 10,000 individuals in the surrounding rural area through an onsight nurse as well as partnering with Foundation for African Medicine and Education (FAME) for more complex treatments. RVCV also runs a microfinance program to help adults have the opportunity to have "the necessary tools and support to empower local entrepreneurs to break the cycle of poverty."
The scope of this organization went far beyond what we had originally thought when finding it on the internet. You really need to see something to get a better understanding of it. After being in Tanzania for over a week and seeing other local and private schools, the lack of medical supplies and hospitals for the public, and the overall extent of poverty in the country, we had a far greater understanding and appreciation for the need of organizations like RVCV. They are crucial to the bettering of so many families. Please check out their website for more information about all the great things they are doing.
Trying to Find the Remote Rift Valley Children's Village
A Place to Call Home at RVCV
A Place to go to School at RVCV
A Place to Play and be Loved at RVCV
The Neighbouring Villages Desperatly Depend on RVCV
Goodbye Ngorongoro Crater
We would have loved to stay longer at the RVCV but time did not permit us. I am fairly certain one or more of us will return again one day.
It was time to leave the Crater area and start our drive towards our last stop for this trip, Tarangire Park. On the way, we drove through a big town called Karatu. I loved watching all the action on the street as people went about their daily activities. I wish we could have pulled over for a while to take it all in. Truely fascinating.