The flight took us over the greater part of the Serengeti, and it’s patchwork of rivers and bush became drier and drier as we flew south. Eventually the distant scar of the Oldupai river showed against the dusty landscape and I knew the crater rim was not far. Empakai and Lengai (the crown hidden in the clouds) were on our left, and suddenly a green, forest clothed the slopes of the western crater rim. We traversed the centre at 6000 feet and the crater unfolded below us, with lake Magadi white and drying stark below us. A few dusty tracks like veins showed against the brown grasslands, and the swamps were green swatches against the dryness. The forest was a relief after the stark bottom of the crater, and then settlements and fields indicated human habitation again. In the distance the edge of the Rift showed, and lake Manyara beyond that. We circled and lined up for landing. The airstrip is right on the edge of the Rift it is a bit disconcerting when nothing shows beyond the runway during the taxi landing!
Gustav, our driver/guide was there, and soon we were on our way. Karatu was en route and we found a bank to draw cash again, before the long trek up the ‘hill’ and eventually to camp. We stopped a moment at the viewing point for a photo and look-see.
Lemala Tented camp is located in the Acacia forest north of the crater itself, just inside the gate to the reserve. Ebenezer greeted us and after a short introduction to the camp, we had a very good lunch and settled in for a quiet afternoon. The tents are set in a line, beneath a stand of very old Acacia abyssinica, facing the forested slopes towards Empakai volcano.
It had been a long day.
Our new address is: Tents 5,6,7,& 8, Acacia Close, Lemala Tented camp, Ngorongoro.