African safari 2013: Part 6

July 6, 2013

Since we were in the comfort of our own lodge room instead of a tent, we decided to get up a little earlier than the official “Jambo Jambo” at 6:30. It seems to take us longer to get ready in the mornings. At home we call Genene the “diddler” and nothing is different in Africa. She piddles a lot and has to be pushed to get moving in the morning. Greg and I are not much better, as we spend our time competing for the toilet.

Breakfast was really good, with farm-fresh foods. The coffee is particularly delicious, and we tried rhubarb juice for the first time and found it yummy. We ate prosciutto, salami, and fresh fruits of all kinds. We were supposed to pull out at 7:30, but Genene could not be rushed when it was her turn in the bathroom. We made it out to the car at 7:45 and found that the other two cars were already gone. Our guide said, “Hakuna Matata! (Yes, they really do say that here!) There is paperwork to complete at the entrance to the crater conservation area, and we will see them there.”

The baboons at the crater entrance were amazing. They are completely habituated to people and are thieves and pests. They roam through the cars. Our guide told us we had to leave the top closed and the windows up or they would get inside the vehicles. Sure enough, we watched as one stole a lunch right out of a parked truck. They were close enough to touch, but I had no desire to touch them. They have huge sharp teeth and don’t look friendly or cute at all. Our guide Simon said that he saw one fighting with a tourist once in another park. I asked him who won, but he only laughed.

The thieves with their booty:

Family:

Another family:

The Ngorongoro Crater is 185 square miles, and is 12 miles wide and 2000 feet deep. Its elevation is 5,600 feet (bottom) to 7,500 (rim) feet. Millions of years ago, Ngorongoro was an active volcano, perhaps higher than Mount Kilimanjaro. The volcano eventually became extinct, and when its cone collapsed and sank over 2 million years ago, it formed the crater seen today. It is the largest intact volcanic crater (caldera) on earth. It is home to the highest concentration of wildlife on the planet. The rim is cloaked in moist montane forest and grasslands, while the crater floor is primarily grassland,with patches of spring-fed marshes, freshwater ponds, a salt lake and small forest. There are 20,000 large animals on the floor. My friend Sara (who came here 8 years ago) said it is like looking at Noah’s Ark or the Garden of Eden, and I can’t say it better than that. The conservation area is a World Heritage Site, and it protects both the wildlife habitat and the grazing rights of the local Masaai, who are allowed to use about 75% of the area.

We drove to the crater floor. It was very cold at the rim and warm in the bottom: two entirely distinct ecosystems.

The view from the top of the crater:

The candelabra tree is beautiful, but its poisonous white sap can cause blistering if it gets on your skin or blindness if it gets in your eyes. Admire from afar!

Masaai herders in the crater:

When we hit the crater floor, the wildlife show started.

Wildebeests:

Beautiful birds:

Jackal on the hunt:

Hippopotamus:

Massive water buffalo:

We saw a family of lionesses eating fresh zebra. It was a bit far off, so our view was not perfect. It was still very exciting. If you look closely, you can see the blood on her face.

Another jackal on the hunt:

Wildebeests by the hundreds:

 Sometimes the action takes place quite a distance from the automobiles. We saw a lion and his lioness in a dried lake bed. We wanted them to get up and come closer, but they never did.
 

Hippo takes a dive:

We had lunch by a hippo pool, and Genene and I enjoyed watching them periodically surface and go back down:

This photo gives you a concept of how dusty it was on the crater floor (and everywhere during our stay). We are in the dry season, and it shows:

Flamingoes:

Wildebeest on the left, hunting jackal on the right, and flamingoes in the water. This place is like a Garden of Eden.

The jackals were really posing for me on this day:

The male ostrich is black and white, while the female is brown. When the male’s neck is red, he’s “single.” When it’s pink, he’s “married.” (How the guide explained things to Genene). I like this picture because you can actually see a waterspout on the lake behind the ostrich. We saw several water spouts and dirt devils.

More hippos:

Thomson gazelle on the run:

Impala:

I spotted a hyena stalking a water buffalo in broad daylight before the guide saw it. It was a proud moment for me, because usually what I spotted was bushes or rocks shaped like animals. The guides are truly incredible. Their eyes can see a thousand miles, it seems. They can look at something that is no more than a speck on the horizon to me and identify it and tell us something about it. Greg has good eyes and spots the animals quite quickly. We both find that we are getting better at it as the days go by.

The hyena didn’t stand a chance against these brutes:

A young zebra enjoys a roll in the dirt:

As we were leaving the park, a serval cat crossed the road right in front of us. I barely had time to get the camera up, so my shot was not good. I was glad to see it anyway.

It was a fabulous day in the crater. Our only disappointment was that we did not see a rhino. They are critically endangered due to poaching. Their horns are sought out because they are thought to give a man “stamina.” Why not just take Viagra and leave the poor things alone? There are about 30 rhinos on the crater floor, but our guide had told us it was unlikely that we would see one today because it was so windy. According to Simon, the rhino’s ear structure is such that the animal is very disturbed by wind and thus does not leave the wooded areas on windy days.

On the drive back to Gibb’s Farm, we passed a wedding party on the road in Karutu. The bridal party was riding in an open-top car, and cars and bicycles and people streamed along behind it, honking, clapping and waving. Two cars back from the bridal car, a six-piece brass band played in another open-top car. It looked quite festive, but our guides said we would tire of it if we lived here. Apparently it is a common weekend occurrence and clogs up traffic for miles.

Riding in the Land Rovers is harder than you would think. Roads are very rough, and you have to hold tight all day. A fine dust is everywhere and permeates clothes, camera gear, hair and skin. We end each day feeling very tired, sometimes even thrashed.

It was nice to come back to Gibb’s Farm and have another wonderful meal. We will be sorry to leave the comfort of the farm, but the Serengeti awaits us.

African safari 2013: Part 5

July 5, 2013

 

Our peaceful sleep was interrupted last night by the ringing of the cowbell. On our first night at the nyumba, our guides explained the procedures in case of any emergency. Each tent is equipped with a cowbell, and if we had trouble, we were to ring it. They cautioned us that the bell was for emergencies and not for “room service.” We were dead asleep in our tent at about 10:15 when we heard the first “clank-clank” coming from Scott and Jocelyn's tent. It was not particularly loud. In fact, they were ringing it like the aristocrats at Downton Abbey do when they are calling for tea. Consequently, nothing happened. We wondered what to do but just stayed put in our tent. Maybe it was a false alarm. In a few moments, the second ring came, this one much louder and more persistent. All hell broke loose. You could hear the Africans coming from the main tent, and Swahili words filled the dark night. What was it?? Lion, leopard, hyena? We sat up in the bed but kept our tent light off and listened. Then we heard Scott saying, “There are bugs in our tent!” Oh, hell, I thought and laid back down and went to sleep. The next morning Scott and Jocelyn were both sheepish in their apologies to the group. Their tent was covered in a swarm of gnats, and they had to move to another one in the middle of the night. We teased them a lot about the attack of the killer gnats.

We had our last breakfast at the Tarangerie nyumba, said goodbye to our hosts, handed out the tip envelope to the head man at the tent camp, and hit the road. On the road we saw a beautiful lion and an exciting zebra fight.

Genene with our night watchman at the Tarangire nyumba:
The lion we saw en route:
 

Beautiful young zebra:

Zebra fight!

Woo pig sooie!

Delicate fawn:

We passed by Lake Manyara but did not stop. Next time:

We were on our way to Gibb's Farm for a couple of days in a lodge before heading to the Serengeti. On the way, we stopped at a local wood carver's shop. Our safari companions did not like the Cultural Heritage Center in Arusha because they took Visa and were very “touristy.” They were in search of a more authentic place to buy souvenirs, and so our guides obliged. The carvings were beautiful. The artisans held the wood between their bare feet and carved the ebony with sharp chisel and hammer. They let Genene try to carve some wood, and she thought it was very difficult. We bought several items, and cash on the barrelhead was required.

Children hanging around outside the carver's shop:

 

 

Carving the wood:

We arrived at Gibb's Farm at lunchtime, and we were starved. Gibb's Farm used to be a coffee plantation, and they do still grow coffee there. Now it is a luxury lodge where they grow all their own organic foods. We ate farm-to-table meats and vegetables, and it was delicious. I fear I will gain weight on this safari.

After lunch, we toured the vegetable garden and coffee plantation. The beans are turning red and are almost ready for harvest. Genene got to spin the beans in a separator to remove the outer husk before roasting.

Coffee beans:

The coffee plants:

 

Genene running the separator:

This lady sang beautifully as she worked in the vegetable garden:

 

I was, of course, interested in the water supply. This is the well and tank:

 

Planting by hand:

 

Genene got to try her hand at milking a cow. She had done it once before on a school field trip and thought it would be easy. She didn't get much milk out. All of us tried, and no one was any good at it. The workers make it seem so simple. They get the better part of a pail filled in just a few minutes. We tugged on the poor cow's teat until she got annoyed. We also visited the pig pen. The folks from Seattle were gagging and complaining. I had it a little easier since I helped Daddy take care of pigs when I was in high school. Some of you have even mocked a photo of me on Facebook standing with my pigs.

The barnyard census:

 

Greg gets introduced to a big pig:

Genene tries her hand at milking:

 

Our room is spectacular, and I wish we never had to leave this place. We have the Writer's Cottage, and the view off the veranda is magnificent. We have our own fireplace, and it is a necessity during the cold evenings. I wrote a couple of blogs here, while Greg and Genene read their books. Wine was plentiful on the terrace near the main lodge, and I took full advantage.

The view from our veranda:

The Writer's Cottage:

 

We had dinner in the main dining hall. We were separated by a few tables from our safari companions but struck up a lively conversation with an older couple from New York City. It was their first safari, and they were positively radiant about their adventures. They were traveling the opposite direction from us and had already been to the Serengeti and the Crater and were headed for Tarangire, where we had just been. We traded safari stories. The food was wonderful. We had soup, salad, tilapia, and chocolate for dessert. After dinner, the staff came to light our fireplace and used a very old-fashioned but effective means to get things going: kerosene. Soon our room was toasty, and we were snug in our beds. Tomorrow we head for the Ngorongoro Crater.

 

African safari 2013: Part 5

July 5, 2013

Our peaceful sleep was interrupted last night by the ringing of the cowbell. On our first night at the nyumba, our guides explained the procedures in case of any emergency. Each tent is equipped with a cowbell, and if we had trouble, we were to ring it. They cautioned us that the bell was for emergencies and not for “room service.” We were dead asleep in our tent at about 10:15 when we heard the first “clank-clank” coming from Scott and Jocelyn’s tent. It was not particularly loud. In fact, they were ringing it like the aristocrats at Downton Abbey do when they are calling for tea. Consequently, nothing happened. We wondered what to do but just stayed put in our tent. Maybe it was a false alarm. In a few moments, the second ring came, this one much louder and more persistent. All hell broke loose. You could hear the Africans coming from the main tent, and Swahili words filled the dark night. What was it?? Lion, leopard, hyena? We sat up in the bed but kept our tent light off and listened. Then we heard Scott saying, “There are bugs in our tent!” Oh, hell, I thought and laid back down and went to sleep. The next morning Scott and Jocelyn were both sheepish in their apologies to the group. Their tent was covered in a swarm of gnats, and they had to move to another one in the middle of the night. We teased them a lot about the attack of the killer gnats.

We had our last breakfast at the Tarangerie nyumba, said goodbye to our hosts, handed out the tip envelope to the head man at the tent camp, and hit the road. On the road we saw a beautiful lion and an exciting zebra fight.

Genene with our night watchman at the Tarangire nyumba:
The lion we saw en route:
 Beautiful young zebra:

Zebra fight!

Woo pig sooie!

Delicate fawn:

We passed by Lake Manyara but did not stop. Next time:

We were on our way to Gibb’s Farm for a couple of days in a lodge before heading to the Serengeti. On the way, we stopped at a local wood carver’s shop. Our safari companions did not like the Cultural Heritage Center in Arusha because they took Visa and were very “touristy.” They were in search of a more authentic place to buy souvenirs, and so our guides obliged. The carvings were beautiful. The artisans held the wood between their bare feet and carved the ebony with sharp chisel and hammer. They let Genene try to carve some wood, and she thought it was very difficult. We bought several items, and cash on the barrelhead was required.

Children hanging around outside the carver’s shop:

Carving the wood:

We arrived at Gibb’s Farm at lunchtime, and we were starved. Gibb’s Farm used to be a coffee plantation, and they do still grow coffee there. Now it is a luxury lodge where they grow all their own organic foods. We ate farm-to-table meats and vegetables, and it was delicious. I fear I will gain weight on this safari.

After lunch, we toured the vegetable garden and coffee plantation. The beans are turning red and are almost ready for harvest. Genene got to spin the beans in a separator to remove the outer husk before roasting.

Coffee beans:

The coffee plants:

Genene running the separator:

This lady sang beautifully as she worked in the vegetable garden:

I was, of course, interested in the water supply. This is the well and tank:

Planting by hand:

Genene got to try her hand at milking a cow. She had done it once before on a school field trip and thought it would be easy. She didn’t get much milk out. All of us tried, and no one was any good at it. The workers make it seem so simple. They get the better part of a pail filled in just a few minutes. We tugged on the poor cow’s teat until she got annoyed. We also visited the pig pen. The folks from Seattle were gagging and complaining. I had it a little easier since I helped Daddy take care of pigs when I was in high school. Some of you have even mocked a photo of me on Facebook standing with my pigs.

The barnyard census:

Greg gets introduced to a big pig:

Genene tries her hand at milking:

Our room is spectacular, and I wish we never had to leave this place. We have the Writer’s Cottage, and the view off the veranda is magnificent. We have our own fireplace, and it is a necessity during the cold evenings. I wrote a couple of blogs here, while Greg and Genene read their books. Wine was plentiful on the terrace near the main lodge, and I took full advantage.

The view from our veranda:

The Writer’s Cottage:

We had dinner in the main dining hall. We were separated by a few tables from our safari companions but struck up a lively conversation with an older couple from New York City. It was their first safari, and they were positively radiant about their adventures. They were traveling the opposite direction from us and had already been to the Serengeti and the Crater and were headed for Tarangire, where we had just been. We traded safari stories. The food was wonderful. We had soup, salad, tilapia, and chocolate for dessert. After dinner, the staff came to light our fireplace and used a very old-fashioned but effective means to get things going: kerosene. Soon our room was toasty, and we were snug in our beds. Tomorrow we head for the Ngorongoro Crater.

African safari 2013: Part 4

July 4, 2013

We were worn out and slept well in our tents. The tents are called nyumba, the Swahili word for home. “Jambo Jambo” (the wake-up call) happened at 7:00 AM. Hot showers were delivered to our tent, and we had breakfast at the main tent at 7:30 and headed out to view wildlife. The kids had their own car again today, and Greg and I were in our own car with Simon, while the other two couples rode together with Hasheem. We drove all through the Tarangire National Park viewing wildlife.

We checked the lion off our list of the Big Five today. He was a lazy fellow laying under a tree. He never raised his head. We had a very close encounter with an elephant. He was a large male, and he strode right up to our car. Our guide told us not to worry. The elephant was relaxed in his demeanor and exhibiting no signs of aggressive behavior. He just seemed curious. It was as if he were looking into the car to see if he recognized anyone. It was exciting beyond words. You could smell the musky scent of him. You could hear him chewing. I swear I could almost smell his breath. The temptation was strong to reach my arm out, but that would have been a mistake. He passed by and crossed the road directly in front of our car.

Simon is a pleasant guide. He is knowledgeable on many subjects but is not afraid to let some time pass in companionable silence. He has visited America more than once. He went to Florida and San Diego. He thinks he may come to Texas one day. He told me that he ate enchiladas in San Diego and loved them. He thinks Spanish is the most romantic sounding language, so Greg has been obliging him with a few words. We asked Simon if he could identify different tribe members by sight, much as Americans can sometimes recognize someone of Italian or Irish heritage. Simon said that it was possible. According to him, the Masaai are very distinctive. Many of them remove a front tooth so that they can spit. Other tribes mark their faces in particular ways.

We had lunch at the Tarangire Safari Lodge. There was a gorgeous view of the valley below. We could see elephant, zebra, impala: all were marching toward the river for water. We took a swim after lunch. The water was freezing. Genene went in first. Greg and I had to follow. A bunch of German tourists went in, each screaming as they hit the water. Eventually all of “our” kids got in the water. It was a nice diversion.

We viewed more game in Tarangire on the way back, and towards the end we stopped to see a herd of zebra. We were attacked by tsetse flies! They filled the car in moments. It was like the moment in “The African Queen” when Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn were swarmed by mosquitoes. Suddenly we were under attack, slapping ourselves. The flies bite, just like a horsefly. It hurts a bit and is very annoying. Simon did not stop to close the top but just started driving like a bat out of hell. When we got to the camp, the kids greeted us with their own stories of the attack.

We washed up at the tent and headed out for a kitchen tour. I am amazed at what the chefs can do out in the bush. They have a propane tank for cooking, a big box for cooking bread, a charcoal cooker for grilling, and one refrigerator and deep freeze run by a generator. The vegetables are kept in racks. The boiler is very simple by design and makes the hot water for the tents and the laundry. One of the workers at the tent approached Greg and asked him for help. He had $20 worth of small bills that were torn and marked. He asked if Greg would be willing to take them for a crisp $20 bill. The Tanzanian shilling is apparently volatile, so American dollars are welcomed, even preferred, in many places. We had been told to bring unmarked new bills and had followed instruction. We were happy to make the trade, as the crinkled bills spend just as good in the US. The man was very happy, and we had excellent attentive service for the rest of our stay at Tarangire.

We had another delicious meal: pork chops, garlic mashed potatoes, carrots, salad, pineapple dessert. Tomorrow we leave the Tarangire nyumba and head for Gibbs Farm and the Ngorongoro Crater.

Water buffalo:

Female ostrich:

Male ostrich:

Hornbill:

Riding on the roof:

The lazy lion:

Our close encounter with “tembo”:

Genene is enthralled:

The view from Tarangire Safari Lodge. You probably cannot tell from this landscape, but animals were everywhere.

Family photo:
 
 Bird of prey:

Giraffe family:

The inside of our tent. We are really roughing it:

The baobab tree at sunset:

Postscript: I am uploading this on the 6th, so I am already days behind on my blogging and we leave the wifi area tomorrow. I will take good notes and do what I can!

African safari 2013: Part 3

July 3, 2013

This morning, we left the comfort of Rivertrees to begin our adventure in the countryside. After a hearty breakfast, we said our goodbyes to Joel and the other kind people at the lodge and packed up. There are three families with us, and the other two families have two kids each, so there are five kids. Two are 14 years old, two are 11, and Genene is the youngest at age 9. The kids all rode in one car, while the adults are rotating in the other two cars. Today we would ride with Jim and Sheryl. The other couple had a car to themselves.

Our first stop was Arusha, often called the safari capital. It is the gateway for all safaris on the northern circuit in Tanzania. It is the home to the international tribunal that has judged the war crimes that took place in Rwanda some years ago, and apparently those trials are still ongoing. Justice runs slowly here, as in America. We stopped first in the Cultural Heritage Center, which amounted to a very nice upscale tourist shop. We got Genene a pair of tanzanite earrings. Tanzanite is a stone found only in Tanzania. It is blue/purple and very beautiful. We noticed Bill Clinton’s picture on the wall in the shop. I mentioned to the owner that I was born 35 miles from where Clinton was born. He replied, “Then you must be from Arkansas. You must know the late Don Tyson. He was one of my best clients.” I told the man that I didn’t know Don personally but had eaten a lot of his chickens. We Arkansans get around.

We drove through Arusha, and I was amazed at the teeming crowds of people. Many of them wore brightly colored clothes, some were pushing or pulling carts or riding bicycles or motorcycles. They were carrying every manner of thing: fruits, vegetables, water, supplies. People burn wood for cooking, heating water, warmth. The smell of smoke and gasoline was in the air, and we got the occasional whiff of weed. Arusha is a busy place.

It is about a three-hour drive over increasingly rough and narrow roads to Tarangire National Park. Along the way, we passed through several bustling towns having market days. Our driver told us we would not be stopping and that it was not polite to take pictures of people, so I do not have any photographs of this to show you. There were Maasai people everywhere along the roadside tending cattle and goats. The Maasai are the pastoral people known to everyone from the movies or “National Geographic.” Tall and slender, the men are typically clothed in red garments and elaborate beads. The women wear purple and have close-cut hair. They are nomadic and live as they did many years ago, tending their livestock. They do not kill their cattle. Instead they try to accumulate them; one’s status in the community is based on how many cattle are owned. The children tend the cattle, and they are YOUNG. They waved at us from the road.

Our guide mentioned that there are over 100 tribes in Tanzania. Each of them speaks a distinct language, but none of the tribes comprises more than 10% of the population. All Tanzanians are required to speak Swahili, and this common language unites them. Our guide explained that his father had two wives, but this is now frowned up and besides that, it’s too expensive.

We had lunch at the entrance to the park. Monkeys were hanging around at the picnic tables, waiting to steal any food left behind. We drove straight into the park and started looking for wildlife. It didn’t take long. We had not gone a quarter-mile when we saw large herds of zebra and wildebeest. Elephants, giraffes, impalas, lovebirds and warthogs followed close behind. We heard an elephant trumpeting repeatedly. That is an exhilarating sound:  Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!

We arrived in camp hot and tired at 5:30. We were greeted by the camp staff with cold towels and fresh juice. They demonstrated how everything in our tent would work. The tent must be zipped up at all times or creatures will get in. The tents have a king-sized bed with luxury sheets and a twinner for Genene. We are not roughing it that much. There are solar-powered lights, showers and a camp toilet in each one. If you want a hot shower, you must order it up. The camp staff brings what looks like a 5-gallon bucket full of water. You wet yourself, turn it off, soap up, and finally rinse. I was scared that the bucket would not be enough, but it is plenty of water to do the job. It made me realize how wasteful I am when I stand under the shower for 20 minutes. There are pitchers of water for hand washing and bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth.

Genene loves playing with the other kids and wants nothing to do with us. There is a mentor who rides in the car with them and plays games with them at camp. It is a joy to hear her shrieking and laughing as she plays. Thomson’s camp food is plentiful and delicious. We had potato and leek soup, beef, spinach, eggplant, salad, chicken, rice, red beans, banana split ice cream. There are several varieties of beer and Greg has tried Kilimanjaro, Tusker, Safari, Ndovu and Serengeti. He is still trying to decide which one is his favorite.

Colorful birds are everywhere:

This elephant was giving herself and her baby a dirt bath:

Zebra crossing:

Impalas on the run:

Genene snapping photos:

Acacia tree:

The baobab trees can be over 2000 years old:

Vulture on the nest:

Baby elephant running to catch up with his momma:

Looking right at me:

This girl is the one who kept trumpeting:

Playing in the water hole:

The kid car:

The giraffes love to peek at us from behind the bushes:

Zebras take their turn in the watering hole after the elephants finished:

Impalas locking horns:

Candelabra tree:

Zebra in the brush:

Home sweet home:

More to come.

African safari 2013: Part 2

July 2, 2013

Today was our first day to meet our Thomson safari guides and start looking at animals, and it was wonderful. I am going to go short on words and long on pictures.

Our guides picked us up at 9 AM and went through a briefing. There are two other families touring with Thomson. Both are from Seattle but did not know one another. Tomorrow the kids are going to ride in one car while the adults go in the other two. For today, we all split up by family and rode in separate Land Rovers. The Rovers are equipped with pop-up tops so that you can stand in your seats and view the animals. We drove to Arusha National Park and viewed the wildlife, had lunch and took a hike to a waterfall. I've got to be brief because we have to get packed. Tomorrow we leave for our first night of tent camping. I am not sure when or if I will have any more internet access. I will keep the blog and upload it when I can.

At the start of the day when we still looked fresh:

Zebras, buffalo and a wart hog:
Baboon in the trees:
and on the road:
White and black colobus monkeys:
 
Can you see the baby monkey on its momma's back?
Jumping colobus!
Blue monkey:
Genene monkey:
Baboon and baby:
Baboons in the road everywhere!
The pop-up top:
 
Our lunch view:
Giraffes!
Mongoose:
 
 
Zebras:
 
There are over 100 varieties of acacia tree. This one is loaded with thorns.
 
How many caterpillars do you see?
 
 
Buffalo:
 
Warthogs:
Warthogs on the move;
 
The park ranger and his big gun:
Waterfall in Arusha National Park:
 
Family photo at the waterfall:
A one horned bushbuck that we saw on our way home:
 

It's almost 7:00 PM now. I hear the call to prayer and it is time for us to get some dinner, pack our bags and head out for the bush. We are going to Tarangire National Park and then into the Serengeti. As I said, I don't know when I will be able to write again. I will check in when I can.

Until later…..

 

African safari 2013: Part 2

July 2, 2013

Today was our first day to meet our Thomson safari guides and start looking at animals, and it was wonderful. I am going to go short on words and long on pictures.

Our guides picked us up at 9 AM and went through a briefing. There are two other families touring with Thomson. Both are from Seattle but did not know one another. Tomorrow the kids are going to ride in one car while the adults go in the other two. For today, we all split up by family and rode in separate Land Rovers. The Rovers are equipped with pop-up tops so that you can stand in your seats and view the animals. We drove to Arusha National Park and viewed the wildlife, had lunch and took a hike to a waterfall. I’ve got to be brief because we have to get packed. Tomorrow we leave for our first night of tent camping. I am not sure when or if I will have any more internet access. I will keep the blog and upload it when I can.

At the start of the day when we still looked fresh:

Zebras, buffalo and a wart hog:
Baboon in the trees:
and on the road:
White and black colobus monkeys:
 
Can you see the baby monkey on its momma’s back?
Jumping colobus!
Blue monkey:
Genene monkey:
Baboon and baby:
Baboons in the road everywhere!
The pop-up top: 
Our lunch view:
Giraffes!
Mongoose: 
 Zebras:
 There are over 100 varieties of acacia tree. This one is loaded with thorns: 
How many caterpillars do you see?
 
 
Buffalo: 
Warthogs:
Warthogs on the move:
 The park ranger and his big gun:
Waterfall in Arusha National Park:
 Family photo at the waterfall:
A one-horned bushbuck that we saw on our way home:
 

It’s almost 7:00 PM now. I hear the call to prayer and it is time for us to get some dinner, pack our bags and head out for the bush. We are going to Tarangire National Park and then into the Serengeti. As I said, I don’t know when I will be able to write again. I will check in when I can.

Until later…..