At sunset on our last day of safari we arrive at our campsite overlooking the Ngorongoro Crater, as I look out over the vast crater that was once a mountain larger than Kilimanjaro there is only one thing on my mind: is there a hint of pink in that salt lake far in the distance or is the first country on my Flamingo roving list going to be a disappointment. There is no guarantee, Flamingo habitats in Tanzania have been dwindling for years leaving the fragile birds with less and less to call home.
True we saw Flamingos on our first day of safari- but they were so far away on the distant edge of Lake Manyara that despite my many times zoomed pictures, and squinting through the binoculars I still did not feel like I had seen them.
Not when you compare our sightings Elephants just a few feet away and a Lion using our vehicle as cover during a hunt. No- my tight schedule in Tanzania means that if there are no proper sighting in the crater the first leg of my trip will be a Flamingo failure and my only proper picture will be the model at the entrance to Lake Manyara.
I try to be philosophical- surely no trip with so many highlights can be classified as a disappointment; but then again can I really going to be satisfied without my gangly pink birds?
The truth is that even if there is a Flamingo fail I will still most defiantly consider my time in Tanzania as 100% a success on the life experience front, and I will trek on to my next Flamingo destination with happy determination to hunt down my pink birds in the end.
As the sun sets I gaze into the distance, hoping rather than believing that there is a touch of pink below.
I manage to pass the night without too many nerves, what with an excellent dinner, Elephants ambling about the campsite and travelers from all over the world sharing our last Tanzanian camp fire it is not so hard.
Finally, with the sun just rising and the mist rolling spectacularly over the crater rim we set off.
We start the day spotting a male lion who is the full Aslan, and then as we are watching yet more Wildebeasts do their thing the remains of the salt lake come into view… and though the lake is still in the distance there are real life Flamingos there and today we are going to get a closer look.
I am one extremely happy girl as our safari vehicle gets as close as it is allowed to the lake. There is still a distance between me and my pray- but it is much diminished.
I try to listen as our guide tells us about the Greater and Lesser Flamingos in front of us (Greater are less pink) but I am too busy taking photos, looking happily through the binoculars and smiling at the world to take in much information. My fellow safari-ers very kindly linger while I drink in my first proper encounter.
Eventually I agree to depart and as we move away the line of birds stretches out behind us doting the lakes edge with pink.
My first few photos are rubbish and the video I took to indicate the quantity of birds before us is a seasick making blur, but there are some decent shots as well. They were there, they were really right in front of me. And I still have a smile on my face.