Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Safaritastic

Vervet Monkey

Hey everyone. Well we’re back from our three-day Safari and it was amazing! What an experience. We visited three different National Parks and did what they call “game drives.” On our drive to the first park we got to see more of Tanzania and as we passed villages and different landscapes it really hit me that I’m in Africa! I could feel the age and magic of the Great Rift Valley as we drove through it.

Tarangire was our first park, known for it’s huge Baobab trees and wildlife. The landscape itself is spectacular and was made even better by standing up in our Land Cruiser with a pop-top. It was like being allowed to jump on the bed as a little kid; you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Driving down the dusty dirt road through the park standing in the front seat my hair tied up with a scarf my huge camera in hand, I felt completely in my element. Granted it wasn’t quite the same as the experience of intrepid explorer a century ago, but I felt adventurous and alive. 




Anyway, we saw lots of animals! Zebras, giraffes, elephants, monkeys, baboons, antelope, wildebeests, hippos, warthogs (we called them Pumbas) and a lion! A beautiful female lion resting the shade. Definitely the highlight of my day. The other highlight was the troop of Baboons (I love the term troop). We saw them from across a river and watched as one by one they all climbed into a huge tree. Tons of them disappeared until slowly we started to see them on top of the tree. A large male looking very in charge perched himself on the tip top and watched over his troop.




Covered in dust and elation we arrived at Twiga (giraffe) Campsite that evening. A refreshing dip in the pool and delicious feast ensued. It was nice to sit and drink tea with our fellow Safari goers- two young Brits, a student from Princeton and a lovely nurse from Perth. That night a loud chorus of birds and bugs like none other I’ve ever heard before sang me to sleep. 


Our second day was spent at the Ngorongoro Crater. One of the wonders of the world it is the most amazing place. The caldera was formed 2.5 million years ago when the volcano erupted. I couldn’t help thinking of the funny story our guides in Moshi told over and over again. They were poking fun at another guide who’s limited English told this to his clients: “long, long time ago big mountain. One day whoosh! –gone. Animal in, take picture, no questions”. 


On our way down the rim of the crater we stopped to visit a Maasai village. I was stuck by the fact that these people get to live inside this majestic crater amongst the giraffes and zebras. The villagers greeted us with a song and dance before inviting us in to see their traditional huts. I had mixed feelings at first feeling like these people were just another attraction at the zoo. But then I noticed the women laughing with each other and truly enjoying themselves. I was also told that they are very proud of their culture and like to share it with visitors. The women even put their beautiful beaded necklaces around our necks and danced with us. The woman next to me held my hand and I tried to bounce with her movements. We crawled into the dark warm hut and asked our guides questions. I won’t forget our language barrier when Julia tried to ask for a Maasai expression or poem. Oh well, we tried.




The highlights inside the crater were seeing the rare and endangered black Rhino, the strange looking Ostriches and huge herds of wildebeests, zebras and buffalos. The most memorable encounter for me was crossing the huge long line of Zebra. They were walking single file by the thousands and the flash of Land Cruisers split the line when we drove up. The last Zebra who had made it across the road, stopped and turned around waiting for the others. He or she stood for a while looking concerned (at least in my human interpretation) and then called loudly- a sound I’d never heard before. When the next Zebra crossed over he/she came up and nuzzled the concerned one. I felt very touched by this as well as a little upset with us stupid humans. The crater felt wild and ancient to me, but also felt a little like a zoo with the large numbers of Safari trucks buzzing around. I do feel good about the regulations in the parks and it didn’t keep me from having an incredible time.

Zebra line

Land Cruiser line

Group shot

Our last day was spent at Lake Manyara. Known more for it’s birds, we didn’t see a ton of large game, but what we did see we got to see up close. We saw a large male elephant eating a branch of an Acacia tree, almost breaking it off. We parked right next to a giraffe and got to watch it also eat an Acacia. A troop of Baboons stopped us in the road, and one little guy climbed on the car. We saw a family of hippos with two babies playing together and we almost saw Simba! We found his tracks in the dirt just minutes (!) after he passed, but he evaded us. All in all, a spectacular day!


So that was my Safari experience, sorry for the long read. Enjoy the pics, it was a blast capturing them.


 Pumba!


 Still miffed at how they don't get poked by the Acacia thorns











3 comments:

  1. So much fun reading and seeing your adventures!

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  2. I appreciate your narrative and I think you do a great job of describing your wonderful pictures. Have Fun

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  3. Absolutely incredible! I love how you weave together the full experience from the animals, to the local people, culture, and history, to your experience and what you find magical. Loving being there through your blog!

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