TEN DAYS ROUND TRIP FROM ARUSHA TO THE SERENGETI
Mon 16 Apr 2012 - Fri 27 Apr 2012
I knew my flight to Africa included a connection in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but was surprised that it would be stopping at Khartoum, on the Nile in the Sudan...
where there is currently a war going on. No sign of any fighting of course and the stop was uneventful. Addis to Kilimanjaro was on a 78 seater plane. I knew there would be space to spread out when I overheard a reply 'there are only 6 people on board so you can sit anywhere you like sir'.
Three people got off in Kilimanjaro and three went on to Mombasa. More crew than passengers & pretty crew at that. The plane vibrated so much the cups slid off the table.
Did not see Mount Kilimanjaro since I passed it at night.
Drove to Arusha for the 2 day wait for the start of the safari. Mount Meru Hotel was 5 star,,,with a fine view of .. you guessed it, Mount Meru
and poverty right across the street. ...
Took a stroll into town along a back lane which was quite nice but Arusha itself is not a nice place to visit. The fly boys never left me alone. Did not even take my camera out.
START OF THE SAFARI & TARANGIRE PARK
For the safari I was expecting a 4x4 with 6 tourists and a guide and a convoy of cars so it was a bonus when I found there were only 3 other tourists in the car plus the guide, and only the one car.
The drive from Arusha to Tarangire park ( never heard of that? Me neither. ) was along tarmac with lots of cattle being herded alongside and some nice views of the Rift valley and mud huts.
Some poor villages and towns. But no wild animals. The guide spent the time explaining the 'rules'. Well 'rule' really. Whatever he said to do, do it - but said in nice way.
We made a pee stop at the entrance to the park
and immediately saw our first wild animals. A wart hog & some gazelle
The guide said the Gazelle were Impala. We would never stop making that mistake. Entering the park we were no longer on tarmac & the land got hilly and really beautiful. Wonderful views Giraffes, Ostrich and smaller birds.
Then a car parked by the side. We would learn that this usually meant someone had seen wildlife. In this case a cheetah - off in the distance. I couldn't see it but clicked away anyway at a brown shape. Lots of photos of a termite mound but just the smallest image of a cheetah sitting on top.
If you look close you might just make out the back & tail of the cheetah. No? Well you will just have to take my word for it.
& then these ELEPHANTS - crossing a dried up river. A-MAZING! or what?
& that ended the first hour in the park.
Ok - I can go home now.
Heres another day
After a night at a lodge - my first night under a mosquito net - very exotic.
it was off into Tarangire park again. Nice birds and...
lots more Elephants &...
the cutest little bambi-like creatures called Dik Diks, that look like they are crying.
The odd ostrich, set against wonderful African skies. It was the rainy season but no rain yet.
Then it was back to the lodge, with vevet monkeys on the roof, cleaning each other.
Animals everywhere you look & still 7 days of the safari to go
Heres a few more pics - Still in Tarangire park.
This is a Serval., a smallish cat. - Quite rare apparently. The guide got quite excited about it.
And a Blue-balled Vervet monkey - cannot imagine why it would be called that! Vervet?
Wonderful to see sights like this, with more than one species close together.
No idea how I spotted this in the bush......
Just saw a bit of movement & a touch of brown I guess and shouted for the guide to stop. We sat for a while and the guide suddenly left the road and headed towards where he thought she was, & she got up right in front of us.
That would have been my best photo ever if the car had not bucked and I got the rear view mirror. The Cheetah really was that close.
Absolutely hair raising to see. We were all in awe and since this was only day 2, we had no idea how best to react. I was clicking away like crazy and the guide was anxious since we were off road and not allowed to do that. If a ranger caught us.....who knows.
Switched parks & now at LAKE MANYARA
( never heard of it? me neither)
Lots & lots of Storks in the tree tops. Bringing babys....
Ooh - look at the tiny baby Baboons. While mom was distracting us at the front, dad was getting in the back. Got shooed off before he stole anything.
A cute little monkey? Maybe not..
but there are Hippos with birds on their backs....
& these quite stunning Crested Cranes. National bird of Uganda, but we are in Tanzania
More of the delightful Dik Diks. Such delicate little legs. Someone said 'just a mouthful for a lion'.
Even nIce looking bugs....
And father baboon
then on to the hotel and the infinity pool looking over Lake Manyara
this guy thinks I am late to dinner...
Then an after dinner drink ....Couldn't resist a Tusker beer...
..,,,at the bar overlooking the lake.
So, finally....to bed.....
The adventure continues
So, we leave Lake Manyara heading to the Serengeti plains. What I had not realised was that we would have to climb the slopes of the Ngorongoro crater, drive the rim and down the other side.
But first we pass a lady on her way to work...Carrying the weight of the world on her head. It's a constant fascination to me to see these ladies carrying things on their heads.
before heading to market... Not your local Superstore..
Our first glimpse of the famous Ngorongoro crater. As we will hear numerous times, it is mis-named because it is a caldera, a collapsed volcano, over 100 K round. Hard to believe that one person once owned it. A German. The Brits kicked him out. Too bad for him. Imagine owning that.
We will be staying at a hotel on the rim but not til 4 days time.
Meanwhile we head in the opposite direction, around the craters ( make that caldera ) rim and meet the locals......
We come over the crest & get look at the outside of the crater.....
for a glimpse of a Masai village.....
And our first Zebras - the first of thousands & thousands. At this point we are not in the park. It's called a conservancy area so people ( count that Masai ) can live here. The Masai got kicked out of the parks - Brits again. Seems they (we, or me) can kick people but cannot kick a ball.
A cast, or a committee, or a meal of Vultures - take your pick - could even be a wake of Vultures. Whatever - there's something dead out there, but hey, that's life.
Some rain coming & we meet Wildebeest. Is that the first time? Also called Gnus. & that's the end of the Gnus & now for the weather forecast....Rain, with a touch of Gnu.
Still on the way to the SERENGETI
passing lots of Zebra & Gnu... The horizon was full of them as it was the tail end of the migration.
and Gazelle ..... this time they are Gazelle, not impala. Don't know if they are Grant's or Thompson's though.
Which of course become lunch for laughing boy.....
who might also like a taste of an ..
Inside the Serengeti now & getting up close to some big game....
And the aptly named Superb Starling....
We have now crossed the plain where the animals had mostly disappeared until we approached the light forest close to the hotel where the woods were alive with .....
but not so many of these....
although there were lots of these - Water Buck I think. What lovely ears you have.
And more of these.....
Before finally getting to the hotel & slumming it again but, hey - flush toilets, as always.
Must have covered over 200 KM during the day & very tiring but exhilarating too. Great to see that there really is wildlife out there that really is wild & not in a zoo.
During the night I was woken up by the most amazing noise. The hair stood right up all over me. Something was crying very loud outside & then I heard the unmistakeable cackle of laughing Hyenas. The boys in the hotel said a lion got a Cape Buffalo or Giraffe or wart hog. You name it & they came up with it. & then the Hyenas were taking their portion. It was way too dark to get a photo & I had no success recording the laughing - & there was absolutely no way I was opening the windows to get a better view.
Heading out for an evening drive into the Serengeti.
No rest for the wicked.
This little fella was on the outside window ledge of my room....
And this one this one in the grounds......
The view from the hotel overlooking the Serengeti. I never get tired of that name. Been hearing & reading about it my entire life.
We had barely set off from the hotel when we saw these large Antelope , the name of which escapes me for the present.
Ann mentioned - how come they are looking away from us. This was was unusual. Usually animals check us out, see we are not food or a danger, before going back to whatever they were doing.
Then she said that she could see something way off in the distance.
Kervishe - the guide said he could see a Lioness & a warthog off to it's left.....
& so could the Antelope - i'll get it's name in a second.
Then there was a baby Warthog the Lioness briefly chased and killed before Hyenas came in .....
and drove the cat off her meal.....
before the scene became placid again.
PHEWWW!!!!! That was something else & just amazing to witness, unless you were the Warthog of course. Not something you see in a zoo. Pictures got a little crazy there. Maximum zoom.
So - On with the drive and I think our first sight of a Cape Buffalo, that we kept calling Water Buffalo, which are in India not Africa.
There is a safari "thing", called the sighting of the Big Five - & this makes 3 of them. Lion, Elephant and Buffalo. 2 more to go...which are????
And we saw yet more Giraffe ( my favourite ), Dik Dik, birds, Gazelle, Water Buck & etc til bed time behind the mosquito netting....
And the antelope were Hartebeest, but then you knew that already - right?
Another day starts in the Serengeti
with the neighbours in the hotel getting an early start...
As the intrepid explorers follow the spoor to.....
Breakfast.... at least 6 people were needed to set up this meal in the bush. Note the his & hers toilets, are not flush though.
just for 4 tourists & the guide. This is the only time the guide took a meal with us outside the car. We got a little of his life. This is only part time during the holidays away form university where he is getting his Phd. Hope he gets to use it more than just carting tourists about.
Then it's off again through the plain with lots of birds and animals we have seen before. Getting a little blase about Zebra and Impala by now. The lions were good fun but mostly hidden in the long grass. Saw our only crocodiles of the trip but wouldn't know it if I hadn't been told
Have a little interlude stuck in a rut for an hour or so. Kervishe gets on the radio to call for help but before it arrives he digs us out. The ladies kept offering their advice, & I'm sure it helped...
But - whats this in a tree....
Could it be?...Yes it's number 4 of the BIG five. But only a glimpse. On another day we sat for 3 hours in a spot where there was supposed to be a Leopard but it did not show it's spots. At least this one did a little.
We saw some of these a long while ago...
And I finally got a shot of the blue tongue on a Giraffe.
This little fella was a highlight of my trip. I have a cute little video of him rolling the ball of Elephant dung up the hill. Getting on top - looking around - & setting off again. Apparently they have a destination in mind.
Then after another wonderful day out, it was time for a quick clean up back at the hotel before bed. Far better than watching the olympics.
The long things hanging from the tree with the Leopard I suspect were seeds.
Still in the Serengeti
.... Another day, another Impala..Ho hum..
These are new.. bat-eared foxes...
The odd lion
& a Hyena with a baby between her paws. Once she decided it did not like us, she moved off to try to draw us a away for the baby. Even Hyenas can be nice.
& these mongooses / mongeese / mon-whatever are really cute.. Making a home in a termite mound
These 2 were on a recent kill..
There were lots of lions out today. & baby's to boot. Pity the grass was so long.
Can't get enough of the tiny Dik Diks.. Looks like she's crying.
& a good shot of a Warthog. Careful with those tusks now.
Vervet monkeys trying to get in &..
succeeding. Jumped on a table, took the top off a server & stole a cookie..
Still a couple of days to go...
Heading out of the Serengeti
, we pass a few more Lions..Ho hum...
& a really nice little fella that may be a fox or a coyote. Not too sure. They should come with labels it's hard to keep up..The Ladies were writing them all down. Smart!!
Getting back to the migration again & in among the Wildebeest..
And this is overlooking the Olduvai Gorge. The Cradle of Mankind. Course there were women thousands of years ago too & they needed their flush toilets.
This was on the agenda and everyone else was extremely exited about seeing it, but not me. We did not get to go down to the gorge where the earliest Humanoids have been found, which I would have enjoyed - maybe. Just stayed on the rim where there is small museum. I had read up about the area before leaving home and had no need to go in the museum. Museums I can see anywhere, & this one does not even hold the real stuff found nearby.
A view of the monolith in the gorge....
There were lot of nice birds in the area though, including these .. which make these intricate & quite wonderful looking nests. Weaver Birds - aptly named.
This one just starting..
& this nearing completion..
Then it was time to meet the neighbours at a Masai village..
One of these guys asked me where I was from.
"Ontario" says I.
"Canada, eh" says he. "Toronto?"
"No - Ottawa'
"The capital of Canada" says he.
All this in pretty good English.
I have the same conversation with a lot of Americans on board cruise ships, except nobody knows Ottawa is the capital of Canada.
Must be Scottish Masai but I don't recognise the tartan..Perhaps they ate a few Scots way back when.
Anyone know what happened to Dr. Livingstone?
They look pretty happy about it.
Looks like she's measuring me for the pot.
& these get the joke..
Sign these guys up for the Basketball team
We get to visit inside their little huts. Made of sticks and cow dung.
Pitch black inside but the flash shows what they look like.
& we get to go to school..
Before heading out of the Serengeti plain and look back down from the outside of the Ngorongoro Crater.
Next up we get to go inside the Crater. Can't wait.
The early morning view from the hotel on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater
before heading down into the crater...
on a misty morning....
a distant herd of Elephants...
& a Zebra crossing
& a Cheetah crossing..
Here's a little movie of the cheetah being 'Herded' by the Gnus. She walks across the face of a few and they get as close as possible before the cheetah turns and rushes them. The Gnus flow away as if a pebble were thrown into a pond & immediately come back & do it again. Fascinating to watch & we spent a good long time with her. My video taking & editing skills need some honing but you get the idea.
You can see these people were enjoying it too.
What big eyes you have...
Fabulous looking creatures..
These must have eaten already
until, right down at the lake there are thousands of Flamingos and ....
Right on the outer limits of my zoom. We had sat there for a good while with the guide insisting it was a Rhino. & then it got up & you might just make out bird on it's back. That makes the famous Five..
Getting up close you don't need a big lens..
That's it for the safari. A last look at the Crater from the hotel...
& few street scenes on the way back to Arusha
The white face painting on this young Masai indicates he is is the rite of passage into manhood. As part of the rite, the boys go through an anesthetic free circumcision - & so do the girls.
But - it's back to civilization...
With a final goodbye to the ladies and thanks for their company. One Californian, one from Main & a very spritely 80 something lady from Quebec. A magnificent trip.
So - that's it for that. Hope it wasn't too boring. It certainly was not for me.
It's now the 27th april having left home on the 14th. The actual safari was 10 days but feels like much more. Well worth the outlay which while expensive was not outrageous & the single supplement was only around 90 dollars.
The cruise comes next but not before a quick flit to......