We woke excitedly at 6.30am, all ready for our expedition in to the Ngorongoro crater. We left in the safari vehicles at first light, and headed up up up into the clouds. We climbed up to the top of the ridge, through verdant atmospheric forest, and then had our first glimpse of the incredible steep caldera and grassland bowl of Ngorongoro.
Everyone was so excited as we popped up the roof and grabbed our binoculars, eager for the first wildlife sighting.
We were swiftly rewarded with cute warthogs and elegant Thompson gazelles.
Next came wildebeest, hyena, crane crown birds, flamingo and zebra. It was all wonderful, but everyone was secretly hoping to see lion.
So our wily drivers sped off, following tips over the radio, and clouds of dust from other jeeps. Soon we came across a miraculous sight; a pair of mating lions!
They repeated this 'ritual' every 15minutes and we stayed to watch for an hour, as it was so engrossing! We saw other male lions too, strolling along the road and resting in the shade.
Before lunch we also spotted a rare black rhino; majestic and awesome, we tracked its path for half an hour.
At one point we had the full spectrum of African Safari animals within view; buffalo, elephant, hyena, zebra, wildebeest and the rhino.
One of the volunteers remarked that this was the best day of her life!
We ate lunch by the hippo pool, then wove our way back out of the crater and up to the fantastic viewpoints at the top of the ridge.
We celebrated with a drink and some reflections on the trip at Serena Lodge overlooking Lake Manyara, then headed back to our hotel for a hearty supper and a final game.
Now it's time for thanking everyone for their work, kindness and company. We are all packing and getting ready to say fond farewells at the airport tomorrow. It's been a brilliant trip with a lovely group of people.
Leaving behind the friends we made in the village was hard. But the distraction of looking forward to safari made it a little easier.
Two hour's drive took us to Tarangire National Park. The first few animals we encountered were feathered. These included an eagle and, less appealingly, a large number of watchful vultures. But, before long, we came across a small herd of impala, half a dozen languid giraffes, and a watering hole for wildebeests and zebras. They seemed confident that no predators were nearby and were completely at ease while waiting and drinking.
Then we went looking for the elephants, for which Tarangire is famous; but, before we found any, we came across a sleeping boa constrictor bloated by the meal that it was still digesting.
Although we were hungry for lunch by this time, our next encounter with wildlife made lunch worth waiting for. We parked our safari vehicles within a few metres of a herd of elephants, including a calf still not competent at pulling plants out of the ground but very good at nursing and stealing plants from the grasp of its mother's trunk.
During our late lunch, we took care not to allow the monkeys to steal any of our food and noticed that some of the other safari groups were less fortunate.
Afternoon sightings included a kingfisher bird and two enormous monitor lizards. We left Tarangire early enough to allow time to shop at the Masai market before going onto our lodge.
Marianne is an experienced bargainer, but newcomer Frankie Song's coldblooded ruthlessness also won admiration.
At the Twiga Lodge, some of us enjoyed hot showers; and we all enjoyed dinner and the thought of a second day of safari tomorrow in the legendary Ngorongoro Crater.
Arguably one of our best mornings; we awoke to Marianne's jar of Nutella for breakfast.
Next, we headed off to our last day of the project site on a sugar high. Cleaning tiles, cement floors, and our usual lunch classroom seemed to be a bittersweet moment for all of us.
The maternity centre is finally starting to take shape, with pastel yellow walls and baby blue trimming. Everything was done by hand, from the cement mixing to the mopping. It was truly incredible to see the hard work we put in, even if it pales in comparison to the fundis (workers).
Though we were exhausted from our last push at the worksite, the last walk back to the institute was still filled with excitement as Ling bought vegetables from the local market and was preparing another delicious meal for us.
As expected, the dinner was incredibly tasty (curry pork and fresh salad!). It's currently almost nine o'clock and everyone is preparing for bed and the exciting farewell festival that will be held for us tomorrow.
Today was the second, much appreciated, day of rest from project work.
In the morning half of the group went with Julia to the Lutheran church, and the other half stayed behind at the institute with Jack.
These lazy loungers spent the morning napping, reading, and playing cards. A few of us even listened to music for the first time since our arrival, and were surprised at how rich the sounds seemed. One of the things we are all experiencing here is that the absence of the usual (and often unnecessary) embellishments that fill our days at home creates an intense appreciation of such pleasures that we would normally take for granted.
Tonight, for example, Nelson gave everyone a small bag of gummy bears, causing a ruckus of excited shouts of gratitude!
In the afternoon, we all participated in the "pea fair"; a sort of market of skills and talents organised by Julia.
These talents included yoga poses, back massages, portrait drawing, personal haikus, song writing, Chinese name writing, and, my personal favourite, love advice.
We are currently playing the game two truths and a lie after a fabulous dinner featuring Chinese food cooked by Ling.