We woke up early this morning. 5:30 a.m. We had breakfast and were on the road by about 6:45. The Serengetti Stop Over was only a short distance from the gate into the Serengetti. While we waited for Dan to pay the entrance fee, we saw a bunch of baboons.

Not far into the park, there were a bunch of wildebeests. There were also lots of gazelles, antelopes, and other deer-like creatures.

Throughout the day, we saw thousands of zebras. There were a few giraffes, some water buffalo. Twice we stopped at ponds to watch hippos cooling themselves. Close to one pond there was a herd of elephants – we must have seen 30 of them. There were also a couple of other solitary elephants. And we saw lions twice. We climbed up on the roof of the bus to get a closer look at the lions.

What else did we see? Water buffalo, storks, ostriches, monkeys, all kinds of birds, hyenas, warthogs, etc.

We stopped for lunch at a lodge in the middle of the Serengetti. It was quite amazing – the place was gorgeous. It was built into the rocks, and there were big rock faces incorporated into the architecture. The buffet lunch was pretty amazing too.

When we left the Serengetti, we were told we had to pay a fine because we’d gotten out of the vehicle and climbed on the roof. I guess someone spotted us and reported us. The fine was $50 U.S.

After we left the Serengetti, we had to cross another park – Ngorongoro Crater. We drove through some more Maasai territory, and then drove up a mountain to the edge of an old volcanic crater. It was quite spectacular up there. The crater was about 30 miles wide and quite deep. We couldn’t drive into it without a 4 wheel drive but we drove along the edge of it for quite awhile.

We didn’t have much time, because we had to get to the exit gate by 7:00 p.m. Max, our driver, was a little stressed by how late it was getting so we really rushed, missing a lot of photo ops. It was amazingly green and lush up in the mountains – a real tropical jungle.

Not long after we exited the second park, we got to our accommodation in Karatu. It’s a place called the Octagon and it’s AMAZING! It’s brand new (just opened in September). It has a bunch of sleeping huts, and then separate buildings for the restaurant, bar, and office. The guy who owns it, Rorie, is from Ireland and his wife is Tanzanian. His wife is the chef at the restaurant.

They treat us like royalty here. The best thing was when we arrived, all dusty and tired and hot – they greeted us with warm moist towels (REAL towels, not just paper towels) and glasses of fruit juice. It was one of the special touches that makes a place stand out.

I’m sharing a room with Corrie Lynn again tonight. We’ve developed quite a solid bond. We’re both quite dreading the church service tomorrow morning.

I phoned Marcel today to wish him a happy birthday. It was good to talk to him and the girls. They all sounded quite content, which was nice. I was afraid they might be weepy or whiny, and I’d come away from the conversation feeling guilty, but it didn’t happen that way, so I’m happy. They were watching the video for “Vertigo”, the U2 song on the cd/dvd I gave Marcel for his birthday.

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