16th Jan.. We left the Sopa Lodge at Tarangire at 7.30 am with a game drive on the way out as we headed for the Ngorongoro Crater. It was a full days drive with a lunch stop at Gibbs Farm which is high up in the hill country, a wonderful place. From there we pressed on to the crater or more correctly the caldera which is 9 miles in diameter, 2000-2500 ft deep and got spectacular views from the 7,500 ft high rim. It took a half an hour to drive around the rim to reach the lodge where we arrived at 5.45. These safaris do involve a lot of time travelling, often on lovely new roads but many, many miles on tracks.
A 7.30 am goodbye to our stay at the Tanrangire Sopa Lodge and headed for Ngorongoro Crater.
Next, a day in the crater.
A brief stop at the gate for the driver to complete all his exit paperwork and time for a drink and use the washrooms, some better than others. Mid-morning saw us speeding on through the country on lovely metalled roads and hardly any traffic. Climbing up the side of the rift valley we moved into more green and fertile areas finally arriving at Gibbs Farm for lunch. One of the first guesthouses in Northern Tanzania, Gibb's Farm began as a coffee plantation in the late 1920s. Neglected through the war years the farm was bought in 1948 by James Gibb, a retired war veteran and his wife started the large organic herb and vegetable garden and ran the farm until 2003. At this point we were in the Ngorongore Conservation Area where the animals and peoples have to co-exist as it acts as a corridor between the national parks. The approach track up to the farm was full of birds inc. citril finches, red cheeked cordon bleu, streaky seedeaters etc..
The path leading into Gibbs Farm
A view back down the path
View of vegetable garden from the gents loo!
We had a super, help yourself lunch overlooking the rift valley and a bird table attracting this red-headed weaver, common bulbul, village weavers. etc
After lunch we had a guided walk around the gardens and shown how the coffee bean harvest was processed. Lots of birds as we walked around but felt it rude not to pay attention to the guide.
Snapped these two photos on our guided walk but couldn't get a good shot of the firefinches.
White-browed robin Chat
Yours truly, at possibly one of the best birding spots.
However, couldn't stop any longer we needed to get our skates on, still a long way to go. No more stops this pm until we reached the crater view point except briefly at the National Park Entrance.
Always a lot of paper work to do at entrances and exits and a lot of money paid out, often fees were $60 dollars a day per person plus $100 for the vehicle!
Finally, the track arrived at the crater rim where you could stop at the viewpoint. Steep sided drops down into the crater, 2,500 ft but a good place to see black saw-wing, 3 off, 1 male blackcap (tick for the driver), several red-eyed doves and an olive pigeon.
Next, a day in the crater.