Before we peak at the animals on our third day in Africa, take a look at our hotel: a bonafide treehouse!
More of that soon, but let me back up. We left Manyara and drove about 90 minutes through similar landscapes
with narrow cows and cube-like houses in colorful strips lining the roads
We were headed toward our second national park, Ngorongoro Crater, more formally known as Ngorongoro Conservation Area. If you, like us, are curious about this pronunciation, kindof swallow the n sound and pronounce a hard G like this. To enter the park and find our hotel, we had to drive some of the roughest, muddy roads of the trip and then wait for our guide to pay at the entrance, which took quite a while.
But so worth it!
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Resting on the gaping rim of the Crater, we finally arrived at the aforementioned Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, the most whimsical place we’ve ever stayed.
I call it Swiss Family Robinson meets 1920's African expedition. The hotel was designed to look like a collection of Maasai huts perched on the edge of the huge Crater we would explore the next day.
Here's a look down. It's a little hard to tell the expanse from photos, but you could drive for days within the Crater's 18-mile length.
We were greeted warmly with cool drinks and towelettes, as we were at each hotel on the trip, and taken in a golf cart through the huts,
with these gals next to us.
The small resort is divided into a few sections of rustic huts, like these
Happily, we were in the Treetops section with about four large huts surrounding the main lodge where we took all our meals and which actually was supported by tree limbs!
As we ate our first lunch in the Lodge after arrival here,
baboons jumped onto the deck and snatched the food off the neighboring table. The staff looked at ease pulling out long, dull spears to scare them off, those cheeky monkeys who scooted down the yard by our hut all afternoon.
Each couple had our own hut, and our huts' clay doors opened to this.
At night, it was pitch black with nothing else nearby except the bickering of baboon families.
Perfect viewing of the rare supermoon!
Each morning, our ‘butler’ (as he was called) woke us with coffee and treats
and it was so dark that I nearly knocked down the whole room when he rang the bell. Another night, a mouse somehow got in the chimney and it’s safe to say that we were equally petrified. I hid under the sheets in our regal bed (with its magical electrical blanket) the rest of the night, hoping I was getting enough oxygen.
The Lodge was also our first experience with wild animals roaming around and we were escorted everywhere off walkways by staff. Our first sighting: water buffalo!
Nearby, Maasai women made beaded goods at the resort's shop.
This trip would include the most charming and unreal hotels, but we have to give the Best Food Award to the Crater Lodge, with their elaborate multi-course meals complete with an entire tabletop full of rose petals and the staff choir harmonizing our dessert. Of all the things we ate, the only one I noted in my journal was the African bean soup! Another thing I remember was the amazing gluten-free sandwich wraps that were packed in the safari truck for the day. There were also stunning petit fours in the room and I can still taste the white chocolate and English fudge I snuck all day from their elaborate wooden box.
We came back to this after our day on Safari, so they also win Best Bathtub Award
We feel so lucky to have stayed in such a unique hotel, isolated in the clear African air.
Next up, our first lion sightings in the crater!