Kwaheri*, Tanzania!

Feb. 13, 2018

Our last day in Tanzania was spent in transit. We had a nice breakfast at Ang’ata Camp and bid farewell to the staff. A group photo was taken, while the drivers packed the vehicles with our luggage.

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Group photo including some of the staff at Ang’ata Camp, Serengeti NP

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Our drivers were very efficient packers – both vehicles were loaded to the hilt!

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Our expert drivers from High Peaks Expeditions, Livingstone and Elias!

We were headed toward the Serengeti NP Visitors’ Center and the airport, where we would catch a flight back to Arusha (one hour flight vs 9 hours by car!).

Along the way, once again on the dirt roads in the park, we saw more animals:
Lovebirds in an acacia tree
SONY DSCMale cheetah – he’s filled his belly so he’s not hunting now!SONY DSCLots of impalas, including this beautiful maleSONY DSCTopi and zebraSONY DSCVervet monkey in an acacia tree
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The tree the monkey was in was full of puffy white seeds or blooms.

Time allowed for us to observe another hippo pond. There were two males either fighting, or play fighting.

We arrived at the Visitors’ Center with a little time to look around. The Visitors’ Center is built around a kopje (rocky outcrop), so that we saw hyraxes very close up (not only in the rocks – they ran along all the paths and sunned themselves on a deck). From there, we also had a view of the Serengeti Plain beyond.
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SONY DSCI spotted this colorful lizard basking on a sunny patch of rock.
2-13 lizard at Serengeti NP Visitors CenterThere was a collection of animal bones, which David (our guide) identified for us.2-13 David with animal bones at Serengeti NP Visitors CenterThere were also metal sculptures of a lion and a dung beetle.


The airport was practically next door to the Visitors’ Center and this is where we parted company with some members of our group who were staying in Africa and visiting other places. We saw the plane the rest of us would be returning to Arusha on – an 18-seater!
20180213_121249The pilot greeted David warmly – old acquaintances, apparently. When she boarded after we were all strapped in, she warned us to expect a bumpy ride, as it was very windy that day. I had been nervous about this flight, so this news didn’t calm me down!

In fact, though, the ride was unexpectedly smooth and we were able to look down at the places we had traversed – the landscapes were beautiful!

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Serengeti Plain

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Serengeti – wooded areas with rivers

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Maasai villages

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Maasai compounds

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Mountain that was once a volcano (not Kilimanjaro)

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Lush green – looks like the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, although that was off to the right.

Arriving in Arusha, we were taken to the Kibo Palace Hotel, where we were assigned day

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Arusha clock tower

rooms – this was a luxurious hotel, unlike the accommodations we had been used to! Our safari lodgings had better views though! Even so, we were greeted the same way as we had at each accommodation: People saying, Karibu! (welcome) to us, giving us hot towels to refresh ourselves and small glasses of fruit juice.
We had a three course luncheon on the patio of the hotel’s restaurant. Service was not fast – which was not expected, but I was getting antsy: I was anxious to take a shower and have time to spend at the craft market as we had been promised.

 

Dale and I, along with two others from our group, walked to the market, about six blocks away.  We had a very successful shopping trip! I bought a skirt, a “dashiki” shirt, pants with an elephant print, and another pair of shorter pants. We also bought Tanzanian coffee and souvenirs for our kids.

The market was large, with a labyrinth of alleys lined with shops. At each one, whether we went in – or even showed interest – or not, the vendors called out to us, “Lady, please come in! We have just what you are looking for!”  Some of them were more aggressive than others, and I felt bad having to say no to any of them! But actually, many of the shops had similar merchandise, so once I’d bought something, I didn’t want to buy more of the same thing. The vendors would observe what we’d bought at the shop next door and immediately hold up a similar item from their shop, waving it at us and imploring us to come in and buy something at their shop, too!  We were always polite and smiled, as David had reminded us to be; sometimes we’d stop and chat with this or that vendor. I noticed sewing machines at several of the shops that sold women’s clothing. When I was looking at a pair of pants that was gathered at the ankles, I expressed that I didn’t really want that style. Immediately, the vendor would offer to take out the elastic and before I could refuse, she was hard at work removing stitches!

Back in the hotel room, we both took showers and charged our phones and tablets. We logged into the hotel’s WiFi to update our friends back home on our travels, posting photos on Facebook.

Although I took several pictures in Arusha, I lost them all when I lost my phone!  Late in the afternoon, a driver was hired to take us to Kilimanjaro Airport, an hour’s drive away. One other couple from our group was with us, because they were taking the same flight to Amsterdam, where we would part company. We had a quick dinner/snack with them in the airport, and they rushed off to the waiting area, even though they had more than two hours before the flight was due to board! Dale wanted to follow them, so I grabbed the food I had just been served “to go”, gathered up my camera bag, mini purse, and backpack and followed him.

It was an overnight flight and I didn’t notice until we were about to arrive in Amsterdam that my phone was missing. We searched the whole area around our seats and the flight attendants did an additional search as they were cleaning up, but it was not found!

in Amsterdam we had a long layover, so I went online on my tablet. There was an email from Sprint to confirm that I had changed my password on Feb. 13 in Tanzania, which of course I had not done! I called Sprint and had the phone blocked so that whoever picked it up would not be able to access my data. Theft of cellphones is rampant in Tanzania, but I don’t think it was stolen – I think in my rush to leave the restaurant at the airport, I left it behind or it fell out of my purse and someone picked it up.

Usually Google uploads my photos automatically so they can be accessed anywhere, but for some reason, it had not done that the entire time I was in Tanzania. So I lost a lot of photos. Fortunately, my best photos were on my camera and I was also able to retrieve the ones I had posted on Facebook.

I bear no ill will toward Tanzania or the Tanzanian people due to the loss of my cellphone (and my Fitbit, as I noticed later also). I LOVED my time there and would gladly go back. In fact, I’ve already done research on other safaris in Tanzania and other countries in southern Africa!

Safaris get into your soul. Seeing all those animals in the wild and getting close up photographs of them was amazing. Taking the time to observe animal behaviors in their natural environment. Admiring the beauty of the land. Appreciating the welcoming friendliness of the Tanzanian people.

I don’t think I can go to a zoo again for a long, long time.

*kwaheri – good-bye in Swahili

ASANTE SANA, TANZANIA! I hope to return someday…

Day 1 at Serengeti National Park: Awesome Day!

Feb. 11, 2018

Although we’ve been on the Serengeti Plain since we arrived in Ndutu, we were officially in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Today we would enter Serengeti National Park. A song has been going through my head since we got to Tanzania, one that I like from several years ago. The “one hit wonder” band, Toto made no. 1 on the charts with their song Africa. It has this line: “I miss the rains down in Africa.” It also says, “Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.” I’m a bit disappointed in the song now because Kilimanjaro DOESN’T rise above the Serengeti. You can’t see the mountain from anywhere in the Serengeti. Have those guys ever even been in Africa?? (On the other hand, maybe if you are on Kilimanjaro, you CAN see the Serengeti, even if the reverse is not the case.)

Today was special, however, for a couple of reasons. First, we had the opportunity to go on a hike with an (armed) guide, just like at Arusha. This walk, however, was shorter and more leisurely. It gave us the opportunity to notice little things, like a giraffe footprint,
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bones,

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Buffalo skull

birds,

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Lilac breasted roller

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A superb starling staring down at me!

 

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Stork in a tree

SONY DSCand dung beetles busily carrying out the amazing feat of rolling balls of dung much larger than themselves to holes they have dug, where they lay their eggs in them. SONY DSC

We also got to examine weavers’ nests close up.
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We stopped for gas and paperwork shortly after entering the national park. 2-11 entrance to Serengeti NPApparently it’s also a bus stop, because there were a couple of buses there loading and unloading passengers, and there were many local people milling around. 1083

 

 

 

1080There was also a café and well-kept toilets. I headed for the latter, carrying my camera case, which had become like a purse – I used it every day and keep a lot of things in it. There was a slab of cement to create a bit of a ramp for the step up to the sidewalk that led to the bathroom. I don’t know why – I didn’t trip on anything, even my own feet – but suddenly I lost my equilibrium and fell backward onto the cement of the parking lot – on my tailbone! My camera case also hit the ground, but fortunately due to the padding around the camera and the extra lens, there was no damage.

I was mentally checking myself for injuries when finally two people from our group came over and reached out hands to help me up. I stood, with their help, but with difficulty and tremendous pain in my buttocks. I figured there would be a huge bruise but it didn’t seem as though I had any fractures.  They asked me how I was and I lied, saying, “Fine” – I didn’t want anyone else to worry about me. I felt like a klutz and an idiot.

We continued on, along bumpy roads and I was in pain – I’d fallen on my tailbone. I was not about to complain, however, even though I winced at every major jolt and when I stood up or sat down.

However, I wasn’t going to let this spoil the day for me.  I nearly forgot my pain when we spotted animals close to our vehicle.

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Male and female ostriches

 

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Grant’s gazelle

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Male baboon with group of female impalas behind

 

 

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Male impala

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Mongooses

 

But the most special animal that we saw today was the elusive leopard! Actually, we saw two! The safari drivers communicate with each other in Swahili, but also in code. They call a leopard “spots above” (because it’s usually spotted in trees).

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Leopard #1

Not much later, we saw Leopard #2.
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After the people in our vehicle had spent all the time we needed taking photos and looking through binoculars, Elias started the engine again and we went on searching for other wildlife.

Not long after that, Elias got a message over his radio:  “Spots above” (Leopard #2) had come down from the tree! He turned the vehicle around and we went back to the tree where we had first spotted the second leopard. There must have been 10 or more vehicles, including Livingstone’s with the rest of our group, stopped there! Some drivers were rude: One began to honk at another truck and then wormed its way in between two others, obstructing the view of those who’d been there first.

The leopard was sitting at the base of the tree, a little intimidated by so many vehicles around her. We were told that as soon as she came down from the tree, she urinated around it to claim it as her territory. Now she sat looking around and waiting. In spite of so many people watching her, everyone was totally quiet.
SONY DSCFinally she chose her safest path. She got up and started walking toward us, DSC04450.JPGpassing within five feet of our vehicle! SONY DSC
It was quiet enough to hear the sound of camera shutters clicking like at a politician’s press conference. It was amazing how close that leopard was to us – not more than a few feet from where we were leaning out of the top of our Land Cruiser!SONY DSC
In addition, we saw lots of impalas as well as vervet monkeys in a tree. SONY DSCSome of them scampered down the tree trunk to have a look at the impalas. SONY DSC

 

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SONY DSCOne young impala had a tête-a-tête with a monkey perched on a mound of twigs next to a small tree!  When they were practically nose to nose, the monkey jumped up and scampered away, but was soon back again. I think both of them were ready to play together!

In this area of the Serengeti, for the first time since Arusha, there were palm trees scattered here and there. The grass here is tall, good for hiding. We saw herds of elephants (including very small babies),SONY DSC

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an African hare (the first one we’d seen),
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One of the hippos seemed to be giving me the evil eye.
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We watched the hippos for quite awhile, then headed back to our camp, Ang’ata Safari Camp, where we had already checked in earlier. Ang’ata was our last lodgings on the safari.

On the way back, we saw beautiful sunsets and animals in trees silhouetted against the sky.SONY DSC
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Ang’ata was not only our last lodgings, but also the smallest. There was only one other guest there besides us, a Danish man from Copenhagen, and the camp was full!

At dinner, we had a long table (actually, several tables pushed together to make one, including a round table at the end), while at the only other table, set for two, was the Danish man, Lars, and his driver. Our drivers also sat with us at our table. Our group occupied all the tents except two – one for Lars and the other for the drivers, I suppose. We were truly out in the middle of nowhere!

That night, I heard animals passing by our tent. At least one was a hyena – the first sound he made I didn’t recognize and thought was a monkey, but then he made a series of other sounds including the “laughing” sound hyenas make. It creeped me out. I’m not fond of hyenas.

 

 

 

 

 

CB&WPC: Animal Heads

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week, with the topic of Heads or Facial Features, I am featuring animals of Ngorongoro Crater.

Photos in black & white (or nearly so) allow one to see details that normally wouldn’t stand out, such as the individual hairs on this vervet monkey’s head:
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The horns on this male Thomson’s gazelle are quite spectacular.
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Close-ups of heads emphasize an animal’s facial expression, such as this African buffalo chillin’ in the grass…
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or this zebra foal’s curiosity.
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Profiles of heads show their contours, such as this beautiful lioness…
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…and the self-satisfied expression of a hyena who has just finished a meal.
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Hippo mostly submerged
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Finally, I can’t resist including this picture of Van Gogh’s eye from a self-portrait (taken at Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam).
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High drama in Ngorongoro to follow!!

 

Where the Tall Grass Grows

Feb. 4, 2018

In Tarangire National Park, the tall grass offers cover for animals to hide. Today, in fact, we saw our FIRST LION! Here’s what we could see of what seems to be a young male:SONY DSC
A young impala also has cover, but prefers to raise her head and look around:
SONY DSCOn our first drive in Tarangire, we saw a number of ‘new’ animals. Impalas are ubiquitous here. They are mostly found in all-female and all-male groups. Notice the warthog passing through a group of grazing female impalas!
SONY DSCWarthogs are also very common, usually seen in groups called “sounders.”  SONY DSC
Like many of the other animals that live here, a sounder consists of adult females and their offspring, while males go off on their own and may join up with other males.
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Warthogs are herbivorous and feed on short grasses during the rainy season (which starts in late January to early February). SONY DSC
Half-hidden in the tall grass, young warthogs playfully wrestle with each other.
SONY DSCAdult warthogs are mostly bald, while the young have tufts of hair along the back of their necks. SONY DSCWarthogs make their dens in holes dug by aardvarks. Female warthogs will fiercely defend their young if threatened.SONY DSC
I got most of this information about warthogs from Wikipedia. I always thought warthogs were  rather ugly, but observing them in the wild, playing or running with their tails in the air, I thought they were rather cute!

Another animal that burrows in “homes” made by others is the dwarf mongoose, most often seen poking out of large termite mounds. Apparently the termites don’t bother them or have already abandoned these mounds.
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According to Wikipedia, they are social animals that live in groups of 20-30, headed by the dominant pair. All adults help raise their pups.SONY DSC
Also appearing among the grasses were guinea fowl…SONY DSCmonkeys,
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What are these two vultures doing in the grass?
SONY DSCWhere there are vultures, there is a carcass to feed on – in this case, a hyena.
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Up above were a wide variety of bird species, such as this white-headed buffalo weaver,SONY DSCa pair of go-away birds,

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a marabou stork standing at the very top of a tree,
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a grey-headed kingfisher,
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a Von der Decken hornbill,
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and the all-black common drango.
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By the time we returned to the Tarangire Safari Lodge, it was nearly dark and we had dinner late (even by safari standards) – at 8:45 p.m.!

 

Tanzania Safari Journal: Arusha to Tarangire

We had about a 3-hour drive to our next destination, Tarangire National Park.
I took a few shots of the noisy colobus monkey that resides at Rivertrees Country Inn, but there were other monkeys too – blue monkeys and grey vervet monkeys.  I was sad to leave – it seemed our stay here was so short. In my Mindful Travel Journal, I wrote about or drew each place we stayed. My observations about Rivertrees:
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At 8:00 a.m., we were on our way. We drove through the city of Arusha, which has a population of about 1,000,000, stretched out along miles of road so that it looks more like a series of small towns, which perhaps it is – this population figure includes the metropolitan area.

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Waiting for a bus

This drive was a good chance for taking  quick shots of people along the road. As it was Sunday, there were a lot of people dressed up in their best clothes for church. The women wore colorful wraps and the men wore Western style suits and ties. I also saw Muslim women, some covered head to toe, others wearing simple hijabs. About 40% of Tanzanians are Muslims; an equal percentage are Christians.SONY DSC

 

There were also a lot of markets being held, causing crowds and commotions in that section of the town.
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Most of the dwellings we saw were quite poor – simple structures or shacks. There were also Maasai-type dwellings, which are round with thatched roofs. SONY DSC
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I took a picture of a group of boys all dressed in black with white designs painted on their faces, who were standing along the side of the road. Before long, I saw more of these groups of boys.
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David, our guide, said this is something very unusual to see. These boys are undergoing the Maasai coming-of-age ritual which includes isolation from the rest of the village and circumcision. They paint their faces so that they will not be recognized (supposedly) by others in the village and they live for about three months in huts isolated from the rest of the community. This ritual only takes place once every three years, so these boys range in age from 12 to 15.

Girls apparently do not undergo a similar ritual, and female circumcision is now officially illegal, although some traditional people still practice it.

We stopped at a modern shopping mall, most of which was closed because it was Sunday. Some people wanted to exchange money, so the rest of us either headed for the bathroom, or the supermarket (the only store open), or both. The only people we saw outside the supermarket were workers cleaning the hallways – mopping the floors of the corridors and in the bathrooms.
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This is where only 15% of Tanzanians can afford to shop, I thought. Dale and I went into the supermarket and I casually perused the aisles full of neatly stacked merchandise. One aisle had school supplies and I decided to buy colored pencils to draw in my Mindful Travel Journal.

On our way again, we passed more villages, more colorfully dressed Maasai women fetching water, more groups of boys dressed in black, before finally reaching the national park. I thought I would spend at least part of this ride sleeping, but instead was wide awake conversing with the others in the group.SONY DSC

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When we got to Tarangire Safari Lodge, we were given our tent assignments. Yes, literally tents! They are thatched structures with canvas walls and zipped screens at the front and back of the tent. There is a vertical zipper and two horizontal zippers.

Travel Journal p46-Tarangire Safari LodgeThere are no keys to lock the tent, just a “monkey lock” to keep the monkeys from coming in while guests are out! The monkeys have figured out how to use the zippers, but the lock is slightly too complicated for them: The lock consists of a small block of wood with three drilled holes, two of them connected, with a thick wire attached. The wire has a plug on the end. To lock it, first you loop the wire through the horizontal and vertical zipper tabs; then you insert the wire end into the big hole in the middle and slide it into the smaller hole so it doesn’t come out. Behind the tent itself is an add-on structure containing a bathroom and shower area. Electricity is only on in the morning from 6-10 am and in the evening from 6-11 pm. We have to charge our electronics during those hours in the main building by the bar.

 

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Camels near the road! They must be part of somebody’s herd, although I didn’t see any people around. However, this was the only time we ever saw camels on this safari trip.

We had only a short time before a drive through the park, after which we had dinner (about 8:45 pm!). We first stopped at the entrance to Tarangire National Park, where there were restroom facilities, a gift shop, artwork, informational signs, a large baobob tree, and a bold hornbill bird!
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In Tarangire National Park, there were fewer giraffes, but lots of elephants and impalas. Here are several of the different animals we saw.

 

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This giraffe has to splay its legs to eat grass from the ground!

 

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Giraffe butts – tails swinging in tandem!

 

 

 

 

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Hornbill

 

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Hyraxes

 

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A monitor lizard lies in the sun on a rocky bank of a river.

 

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Heron

 

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A group of young male impalas

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Sometimes young males will practice sparring with each other.

 

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A colorful bird on thorny acacia branches. Unlike the giraffes, the thorns apparently don’t bother the birds!

Then we saw OUR FIRST LION!! It was a young male lying in tall grass so we could only see the top of his head and his eyes.
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Fowl or quail

 

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Buzzard

 

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A group of female impalas (there’s a warthog passing through on the left!)

 

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Mongooses poke their heads out of a termite mound where they’ve made their home.

 

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Lilac breasted roller

 

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Guinea fowl

 

 

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Turtle

 

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Egyptian geese

 

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Old (abandoned) weavers’ nests

 

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A starling, perhaps

 

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Hornbill

 

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Dik diks are shy, reclusive animals. They are normally seen in pairs, usually in tall grass. I got a good shot of this one after it urinated in the road in front of us!

 

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Vervet monkey

This day was more awesome than yesterday – and each day would increase in awesomeness!!
Next: Elephant stories of Tarangire! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tanzania Safari Journal: A hike and a drive in Arusha National Park

Saturday. Feb. 3. 2018

Today, our first full day in Tanzania, I awoke to a loud, animal sound, “Brau, brau, brau, brau, brau, brau, brau!”  I didn’t know what it was but found out it was one of the colobus monkeys that hangs around our lodgings, Rivertrees Country Inn. Amterdam-Tanzaia 391

I got lost looking for the dining room this morning, because we’d arrived late last night. However, I was soon set on the right track and found our table, a long table next to an open area where we could appreciate the wildlife. It reminded me so much of Costa Rica!

Since it was our first morning, our group had an introductory session so we could learn everyone’s names, their passions, and why they came on this trip.

Breakfast was buffet style: there was freshly squeezed juice (including passion fruit!), fresh tropical fruits, breads, jams, cheeses, and an omelet making station where a staff member stood ready to take our orders. Dale had an omelet, I did not. There was enough other food to fill my plate!

Our guide, David, told us the plan for today. We were going to Arusha National Park, along the way perhaps seeing some animals. We would stop at a nice rest area with good bathrooms and a small shop, and displays to read. From there, we would take a hike with an armed guide and have a picnic lunch next to a waterfall. Then we would go for a drive through the park to see animals! We met our drivers, Livingstone and Elias, in the reception gazebo, where we had been greeted last night.225.JPG

They had jars of cookies – one called “Digestives” and the other was ginger snaps – that were kept in the trucks. These cookies were good for the digestion, we were told, to help us with all the bumping around. There was also a supply of water bottles in each of the vehicles, Toyota Land Cruisers.

The Hike

The hike was an opportunity to see some animals, but especially the small things, like bugs and flowers. The guide showed us things along the way. Overall, I found it quite taxing and hot – some areas were hilly and I huffed and puffed. A year ago, I thought, I wouldn’t have been so tired from a hike like this. Also, I’d neglected to put on sunscreen and was wearing a blouse with ¾ length sleeves, so my hands and wrists got quite sunburned.

The guide pointed out a bush with small round yellow fruits growing on it. This is a type of apple. In the background, we could see Mt. Kilimanjaro, often shrouded in clouds; like Denali in Alaska, we were told we were lucky to see the mountain so clearly – it was a cloudless, blue sky day!DSC03121.JPG

Before we saw any animals, we came across what the guide told us were giraffe turds! There is actually a way to tell if the turds were from a male or female giraffe – the male turds are slightly pointed on one end; while the female turds are flat on both ends. He picked up a male turd to show us.DSC03171.JPGWe soon came to an open field with some acacia trees where we saw our first big animals: giraffes, of course!  One was lying down in the field; another was  grazing nearby.
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We came to a stream that meandered through the landscape. It was a beautiful view!

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Dale admiring the landscape. In the background is Mt. Meru.

Near the giraffes was a herd of grazing zebras. A warthog family passed by, their tails held up as they ran! We saw monkeys in trees and a giraffe completely camouflaged by the forest. Skulls of giraffes, monkeys or baboons, antelope and buffalo were displayed on some rocks, which the guide identified for us.
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Warthog family

Buffalo and antelope skulls

The sun was hot and I felt the heat. The hike seemed very long, but I didn’t complain, just kept going.  The guide stopped to show us a young acacia tree, which was covered with sharp, white, intimidating thorns! He told us that these thorns were to protect the leaves and branches of the growing tree from being eaten by giraffes! Giraffes can only nibble on the very tips, where the thorns are not developed and are soft enough for animals to consume.SONY DSC
The stream became a river and we crossed on a hanging bridge.  We saw monkeys camouflaged in the trees.

Finally we reached the waterfall. As we approached, we could hear the gushing of the water and felt a cooling mist. We had to cross the stream to get to the place where we would rest and have lunch.

Sitting on the rocks, feeling the cool mist, was a great relief. I somewhat regretted not having my lunch box, but not too much – it would have been a drag to have to carry it. My cousin, Holly, was sitting near me and offered me some of her lunch – including her hard-boiled egg, which I readily accepted. I could use some protein for the return trip! I peeled the egg and wondered whether it was okay to leave the egg shells – the chicken who laid this egg wasn’t native to this ecosystem. I had decided it was probably okay, but Holly picked up the pieces and put them in her box.
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The hike back was quite a bit shorter and cooler, because the path led through some woods.  We saw some fragrant jasmine flowers. I never realized they were so small!2-3 jasmine flowers
Those of us who had lunches waiting for us at the vehicles took them over to the picnic tables to eat. I looked up and saw a couple of baboons who had appeared nearby. There was a young one and a larger one, which I thought was the daddy, but may have been its mama. Suddenly there were more, including a female with a baby clinging to her back.

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They must have been attracted by our food – in fact, they may be used to associating human presence with food. Hopefully, people don’t give them anything, although the most daring might come over and try to snatch something! They didn’t do that to us, however.

The Drive

After lunch, we got back into the Land Cruisers and headed into Arusha National Park, with bumpy dirt roads. This was our first day out, and everything we saw was exciting.

A young waterbuck stopped and stared at us from the trees; its parents – the male with long slightly curved horns, the female without horns – grazed in the open grass nearby.

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We saw buffalo, more waterbucks, giraffe and warthog families, baboons in trees, a bushbuck, guinea fowl,  and various other bird species.

Bushbuck

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A waterbuck watches as zebras, giraffes and other waterbucks run toward him, apparently spooked by something.

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Guinea fowl


I never got tired of looking at giraffes. In spite of their ungainly shape, they move gracefully and peacefully.

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One way to tell the sex of a giraffe: the females have tufts of hair on top of their ossicones (the protrusions on their heads), while the male’s are flat.  The giraffes use a tree like this one to scratch an itch on their necks!

 

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Mother giraffe with calves. When the calves are born, they are six feet tall and then grow one inch per day!

 

We returned to Rivertrees in the evening in time for dinner.

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This building at Rivertrees, where our room was, is called the Farm House. The rooms are situated around a central lounge area, with couches, tables and chairs.