Trip Start Aug 22, 2012
63Trip End Jun 16, 2013
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We had reports of other people who went on safari and whose experience was marred by the behaviour of one of their group members and/or the group dynamics. We were so lucky with our safari-mates: Jim, myself, Jackie and Irina - a compatible group who collectively valued sustained time observing and photographing wildlife and scenery.
Those first glimpses of wildlife are indescribable! From the odd looking lizard-like ‘Go-Away’ bird to that first sighting of the majestic lion, it just got better and better
We travelled from Arusha to Tanangire National Park, staying in a campground surrounded by a cement wall to keep the wild animals out. Our safari Land Cruiser, with its pop-up top which allowed us to stand and watch from a safe place, always offered a bumpy ride. Musa, our cook, prepared delicious meals every day. Our gentle guide and driver, Pray God, offered his 17 years of experience in safari guiding. We were set to go!
The Ngorogoro Crater is breathtaking to see. In choosing our campsite at the crater edge, Pray God warned us against placing our tent below the beautiful acacia tree because that is where the elephants like to hang out during the night. We dropped our tents and Musa off and drove a windy, steep road down into the crater. As we drove away excited about our upcoming day, Jackie reported from her reading that there were only 2 black rhinos left in the crater and how challenging it has been keeping them safe from poachers. Well, I think they have been reproducing with success or poaching has subsided because we saw 6 black rhinos! According to Pray God, this was a highly unusual sighting of these very rare animals.
I loved those moments of anticipation as we scanned the landscape for movement and then our complete and utter awe at the sighting of, for instance, a wheat coloured lion peeking through the blowing grass or a herd of male gazelles with their unusual horns grazing on the dry grass. We saw hippos, baboons, hyenas, elands, flamingos, Coke’s hartebeests, buffalos, Cory bustards, and other various animals and birds.
Completely satiated, we returned elated to our campsite to find the entire field covered in tents, vehicles and people. It was abuzz with activity as a couple of school/college groups and other safaris had arrived and set up camp – all under that beautiful tree. Would we be the safe ones by pitching our tents away from the tree?
Although we heard animal noises throughout the night, everyone in the campsite arose safely to the glow of the sunrise on the crater edge. Following breakfast, we packed up our jeep and headed out for a dusty drive to Serengeti National Park. As we neared the entrance to the park we were welcomed by a view of a kilometer-long line of migrating wildebeest and zebras as they headed north for water to the Maasai Mara. Truly the most spectacular sighting of the entire safari was, first the hyena which piqued Pray God’s curiosity (what else must be here for a hyena to be prowling about?) which then led us to a pride of 24 lions lazing under the shade of a tree including a couple finishing off the remains of some kind of animal. Feeling both exhilarated and vulnerable, we drove closer until we were literally looking eye-to-eye with these incredible animals not 10 feet away from us
Our afternoon was filled with continuous animal encounters – sightings as well as experiences including a leopard high in a tree, a group of giraffes hanging out with us with two elephants jousting in the background. The sky provided us with an ever-changing light show of colour. What a day!!
Wide open. Expanse.
Puffs of white above
Wildebeest and zebras seeking water.
Who am I in this cosmos
but just another player in life?
I’m watching them
They are watching me
We communicate in
More giraffes, baboons, zebras, crocodiles, hippos and an array of antelopes such as Thompson's gazelles, Grant’s gazelles, Kick’s dik diks, and impalas. The highlights were the leopard we viewed fairly close as he lounged in the tree and then later when he crossed the road on the chase. The other highlight were the male and female lions who apparently mate every 40 minutes for 7 days. We think we must have caught them on the 7th day because we waited and waited for an hour and a half and just as we were about to drive away, they did it for us!
Unfortunately, one of our safari-mates became ill and it spread through the females in the group. I had diarrhea and Pray God told us we could not come out of our tents at night as the animals roam free and we could get eaten. Have you ever tried to hold diarrhea in for an entire night?! Well, I can proudly say that although I got no sleep, I succeeded in doing just that. However, by 5:00am I could no longer stand it so Jim escorted me across the field to the toilets, his tripod braced for an encounter and my Swiss army knife ready in my hands. We can happily report that we returned in one piece to our tent!
On our way out of the Serengeti park, we searched for hungry lions (after those 7 days of mating) and a cheetah. Alas, it was not to be. We did see a variety of animals and continued our journey to Manyara National Park.
Along the way we saw many Masaii villages and people tending their herds
Up early to catch the animals at the lake, we were greeted by a group of very active baboons who entertained us. As we drove through Manyara, we enjoyed the forest which we had seen so little of during the previous 5 days. The highlight of this day was the herd of elephants at a water hole. Again, we spent about an hour just watching and photographing them. The one-month old baby elephant was one of the cutest things I have ever seen!
Back to Arusha, we checked into a hostel, dove into the shower, gave our heaps of dirty laundry to reception and began preparing to leave Tanzania the next day.
In this entry we've included an embarrassing number of images because folks have been asking to see them. We've put a sampling up top and threw in another hundred for good measure. Didn't even have the time to title these ones but will add those over the coming days. We apologize for the flood and hope you'll simply pick through the few that hold some interest.