Sunday, January 10, 2010
We spent 9 days on safari, visiting Lake Manyara, the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire National Park. We saw the big 5- elephants, rhinoceros, lions, leopards, and buffalo- amongst a lot of birds and many other animals. We had an excellent driver, Gaspar, who was very patient for Gordon's photography and knowledgeable of the animals and their whereabouts. We visited a Masai Village in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and a market town near the Tarangire National Park. I even bought a pair of the shoes they wear, made of motorcycle tires- they are not very comfortable- but some of them run marathons with these shoes. These birds, called Laurels, are brightly multicolored and were everywhere. This is the bee eater bird, a little larger than a hummingbird, but almost as fast. Masai Market A herd of elephants under a Baobab tree, which doesn't give much perspective to their actual incredibly enormous size. Masai boys This is the golden chested starling, one of the many busy birds of the forests. Horn billed birds This lion, perched atop a termite hill in the pouring rain, was constantly shifting to find a more comfortable position. The Masai women have a well developed talent of bead making; baskets, necklaces, bracelets. Masai child's trikeWhile at the Lobo campsite in the northern Serengeti, a pack of lions passed by our tent and at one point in the night a herd of buffalo visited us as well. We only saw 4 other safari cars in the 24 hours we were here, which is saying a lot since the central Serengeti is teaming with vehicles and it is impossible to see an animal and be left alone with it. This was the only male lion of which we were able to capture a decent picture. The males are usually hiding in the day time and very lazy. About 3 years ago there was a disease which wiped out all of the lions in the Ngorongoro Crater, we were fortunate to see one, and a younger of that. Just in front of him was a ditch with 3 lionesses seeking shade. This was the first herd of elephants we saw, after searching for them all morning. After leaving the best hippo pool we saw, just driving down the road, emerges these ginormous beauties to have a drink from the puddle in the road. We gently pulled over and they passed within just a few feet of our car. I was a little scared, they were so big! Elephants are very gentle in their movements and I love the way they swayed when they walk. While driving we passed a safari car with passengers who reported seeing absolutely no animals, except for some birds. We decided to continue down the road and then since we were discovering nothing interesting as well, we turned around and decided to just take our time and enjoy the birds and scenery. We stopped to photograph a bird on our left side and while Gordon was shooting, I decided to observe a bird on the right, which was just hovering over a tree. I was think it was strange that the bird (which had a very long tail) was not landing in the tree. I pointed out the peculiarly long tailed bird, so Gordon maneuvered his long and heavy lens over in the direction to look at the bird, and stated "There is a leopard in that tree!" And sure enough, our car moved about a meter more forward and we had a perfect view of this camouflaged lounging leopard. This was the best hippo pool ever, there must have been at least a hundred within this small bend in the river. Hippos made a sound that is somewhat like a mixture of a pig and a cow, difficult to explain, very distinct and loud. They have large teeth and are constantly yawning. Their mouths have a shape that makes them look like they are smiling, from ear to ear.