Next we were off for another long drive. We went through Ngorongoro Crater to the Serengeti to the Lemala Ndutu Camp. This is a mobile camp, and very difficult to find, but it was not problem for Karato that knew his was around here like the back of his hand. Karato had the car loaded with lunch from Escarpment Lodge, and cold drinks for the drive. We were in the same Land Cruiser, which had plenty of space, and a top that opened for great viewing of animals. Later we would find out that we could have flown from Lake Manyara to Ndutu, something that would have saved us hours off our journey, and something we were again not aware of. While it was good to do the drive and see the animals on the way to the Serengeti, this would have been good to do one way, but not both.
Once we arrived at Lemala Ndutu we had grown accustomed to a pretty high standard. At first it was a bit of adjustment, especially being as removed as you are in Ndutu. But this changed quickly. The staff at Lemala Ndutu does more with a temporary camp than anyone would think possible. The tents have their own bathrooms, with hot water on call, and flushing toilets. They are located with elephants and buffalo walking through the camp at all hours of the night. The staff prepares 5 star restaurant meals with nothing but solar power and coal. The oven used for baking is all coal, but produces amazing meals. On both nights birthdays caused cakes to be brought out, and the entire staff came out singing, and entertaining. It was truly unbelievable, especially considering we were camping. At night we were walked and zipped up in our tents, and never so much as saw a mosquito. The tents themselves had very comfortable king sized beds, with electric lighting, and wood floors. The staff was always ready to go with a beer, a glass of wine, or anything else you needed (including great conversation). In the evenings everyone would sit around the bush TV (fire pit) while you were served drinks and exchanged stories from the day.
On the first morning we were up at 5am for a hot air balloon ride. It was dark and very cold, but when we got out to the balloon it was all worth it. The first attempt didn’t go too well, and we were unable to get off the ground, but the second attempt went perfectly. Once up in the air we had unbelievable views of Ndutu and the Serengeti. We saw Giraffes, Lions, and Wildebeest and Zebra. The colors were beautiful, and the captain made sure that everyone in the balloon could see at every angle. Because of some winds we encountered we went very high into the air. This gave us a chance to see so much, and to move a bit more slowly. When we came down we were greeted with the best breakfast we have ever had. Right inside the migration a beautiful table with linens was set up for us, where champagne was served with a full English breakfast on fine china, with silver. There we enjoyed breakfast with all from the balloon, and the captain. This was a great experience.
Karato was there waiting for us after our ride, and ready to go for our first game drive in the Serengeti and Ndutu. We were on the hunt for a pride of eight lions we had seen from the hot air balloon, and our pilot had told Karato approximately where we could find them. As we were driving we came across about fifteen safari vehicles all looking out at something. At first we thought it was just the front of the migration, but then Karato spotted the Cheetah, three of them. They were on the hunt, and next thing you knew they were racing at full speed. As the Cheetah ran we were driving full speed along with the other safari vehicles. The three Cheetah chased down and caught a wildebeest, and Karato put us right into the action. We were in a circle with the other vehicles, snapping photos as the three brothers first killed then ate the wildebeest. Later that day Karato and just I would return to find the Cheetah full as could be. After spending a few hours with the Cheetah, we moved on to find the lions we had originally been looking for. Karato tracked them down with no problem, and we hung out for a while, watching a pride of eight lions, and getting many beautiful photos.
During our drive we decided that we didn’t have enough time at Ngorongoro Crater planned, and that we didn’t want to do the drive back to Kilimanjaro. We asked Karato to look into this for us when he had a chance. We went back to our camp where we relaxed, had showers, a few drinks, and then I went solo on another game drive while Kristen enjoyed the tent and the camp. On the game drive we saw the Cheetah again, and ran into a pride of twelve lions. This was pretty amazing, and they were only 5 feet or so from the vehicle. We hung out there for a while before starting our return. At that point we again ran into the pride of eight lions that were now awake and walking around with the drop of the magnificent Serengeti sunset behind them. We returned