WPC: Hit the Road!

Feb. 5, 2018 Tarangire National Park, Day 2:

WP Weekly Photo Challenge this week is “I’d Rather Be…” Back in the winter (although admittedly mild) weather in Chicago, I look back on our sojourn to Tanzania with longing, as I do with any trip we take, so I’d Rather Be Traveling.

I’d rather be riding in a bumpy, dusty Land Cruiser…

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Me and Dale in a safari vehicle

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Dale and my cousin Susan (at the door) with one of the vehicles.

and watching creatures great…SONY DSCand small…

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and in between.

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I’d rather watch egrets congregating on the banks of a lake…

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and male impalas grazing.2-5 male impalas
I’d rather be photographing birds, such as this ground hornbill with a snake in its mouth…SONY DSCor this crowned plover looking for bugs next to our vehicle.SONY DSC

I’d rather be spotting animals in the distance, such as a group of oryxes (the only oryxes we saw during our safari)…SONY DSCor a male ostrich….SONY DSC
and a female ostrich.SONY DSCI’d rather be at Tarangire Safari Lodge, watching the sunrise…
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2-5 Tarangire Safari LodgeSo how soon ’til we hit the road again??!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Rio de Janeiro: Sugarloaf

November 27, 2016

Sugarloaf (Pão de Açúcar in Portuguese) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rio.  It has become a tradition for me to go up to the top and watch the sun set on my last evening in Rio.  I look down on this beautiful city and am filled with a desire never to leave. But leave I must.  That’s why each and every time, I say, “I’ll be back. This is not good-bye, it’s see you later.” Não digo adeus, digo “até logo.” This thought comforts me a little and so far, my promise has been fulfilled!

The last time we were here, 13 years ago, Dale’s fear of heights got the better of him and he only rode the cable car to the first stage, Urca. While Jayme and I took the next cable car up to the top and looked around waiting for the sunset, Dale stayed below on Urca. This time, however, he was determined to make it to the top.

There are two stages to go up to Sugarloaf.  You first ride up in a cable car to Urca, the lower part of the mountain, named for the small neighborhood you can see directly below.

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The fruit on the tree is “jaca.”

 

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Guanabara Bay; the city on the far side is Niteroi.

 

 

This time, my husband just stood in the middle of the cable car surrounded by people and didn’t watch the ascent to the top. I was proud of his bravery!

 

Witnessing the sunset from atop Sugarloaf is an amazing sight: first seeing the city from above during the day, then watching the sun go down beyond Gávea Rock, and then the lights gradually wink on in the city.  Of course, virtually every other tourist visiting Rio (and plenty of locals too) have the same idea, so I had to be a bit aggressive to be able to get to the railing where I could take photos unmarred by silhouettes of human heads. People did not relinquish their spot at the railing easily!

I went around exploring, sometimes with Dale, sometimes alone. Because Carlênia can’t get around easily, I didn’t suggest that we go down to the bar a short flight of stairs down and have a drink there; it would have been a relaxing way to wait for the sunset.  But anyway, I got great photos and videos of a cidade maravilhosa. They pretty much speak for themselves!

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Dale, me and Carlenia at the top. Flamengo is barely visible behind us.

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Behind the green hill is Leme/Copacabana Beach

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Praia Vermelha, the origin point to get the cable car, has a small beach.

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Cable car ascending, below is Praia Vermelha.

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Flamengo and part of downtown Rio

 

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The distant rock with a flat top is Gavea. In front of that, between the two hills in upper left, is Ipanema. 

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On the far right, you can barely see the Corcovado, which has the famous statue of Christ on top. Like the Statue of Liberty, it was a gift from France.

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Botafogo neighborhood – the harbor is dotted with yachts of the Rio Yacht Club

 

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On right, Urca cable car station

 

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Sun setting behind Gavea

 

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Corcovado with Christ Redeemer statue and lots of cellphone and TV towers

 

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Looking north/northwest after sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CFFC: 3 generations of cable cars

The theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is OLD and NEW. In November, I spent 5 days in Rio de Janeiro with my husband, Dale. My favorite thing to do in Rio, especially on my last night there, is to ride the cable car up to Sugar Loaf in the late afternoon and watch the sun set. It is a gorgeous sight! When the lights begin to come on at dusk around the city, I say my silent good-byes and always end with, “I’ll be back!” And so far, I’ve kept that promise.

At the top of the mountain are relics of the older cable cars. I realized that I have ridden all three generations of cable cars!

The oldest cable car operated from 1918 to 1972. I must have ridden up in one of these on my first trip to Rio in 1971! It looks scary! In fact, Wikipedia reports that there was a near accident in 1951, when one of the cables snapped and the car full of passengers hung on one cable for 10 hours! (Needless to say, I didn’t know about that incident when I rode up in 1971.)  However, there has never been a fatal accident in over 100 years of operation.

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This car was replaced by a newer, sleeker cable car with floor to ceiling windows on all sides.

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The 2nd generation of cable cars (with the older one behind it).

The last time I had been in Rio was in 2003, so I, along with my husband and son, rode in this 2nd generation cable car.

In 2007, an even newer, slim-lined generation of cable cars began. It is reportedly even safer, with a hi-tech infrastructure.  This was the one we rode on our recent trip in November 2016.

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3rd generation cable car ascending the mountain. Below is Praia Vermelha.

And just for fun, here’s a video I took while riding from the first stage (Urca) to the top (Sugar Loaf). Enjoy!