Contiki East Africa Safari – Days 12 & 13: Serengeti National Park to Ngorongoro Crater
Our penultimate day of our East African Safari was here and a level of bittersweetness began to hit us. Even though it felt like we had been away for a lot longer than 11 days, it was hard to believe the trip was coming to an end. The hallmark of a good trip is when you forget what day it is and it feels like you’ve been on vacation for a lot longer, that is how it felt when we woke up in the morning. We bid farewell to our amazing and unforgettable accommodations in the middle of Serengeti National Park and headed out for our final game drive in the park on our way to Ngorongoro Crater.
The drive was quite long, so we just took in the scenery as we voyaged across the plains of the Serengeti. As we drove, we made a few stops for pictures along the way.
After we left the Serengeti National Park, we headed for Ngorongoro Crater which is home to a few rhinos. They are intentionally in the crater as it allows park rangers to track them and make sure they are not poached, given that the rhinos are very endangered. Our main goal for the day was to try to get a really good look at a rhino. In order to descend into the crater, we took very windy roads similar to what I had to take to get to Machu Picchu via bus. The drive was beautiful in that we had a view from the top of the crater looking down.
Once we were in the middle of the crater, it was awe inspiring to just be in the middle of a valley where the only way out in all directions was up.
There was a large lake in the middle of the crater, so our itinerary took us around the lake in a loop over the course of the day. The wildlife was sparse compared with the rest of the trip, so the drive was more about taking in the natural beauty.
Unfortunately, our drive around the lake was complete and we did not see a rhino. On the way out of the crater, a lot of vehicles were stopped near a brush area as a rhino had supposedly just walked into it. We stopped and, while I think I may have seen part of it, I am not counting that as a sighting as I could not even tell if it was actually part of a rhino or a tree. It was getting dark, so we left the crater and headed to our hotel for our final dinner.
The following morning, we woke up and headed to Arusha for our flights. As we drove, I tried to take it all in. We were literally in the middle of the famous Serengeti on a safari. It is a trip that people have on their bucket lists and I was doing it during a pandemic when I turned 31. Moments of reflection like that make me remember how fortunate I am in that I have the ability to travel and see the world.