A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about african food

Kilimanjaro - Ngorongoro

Let the adventure begin


View The Howards' 40th Anniversary Tour 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Much too excited to sleep, I wake early this morning. Far too early. It's going to be a long day having had a mere two hours sleep.

We take breakfast in the lodge before Tillya and Malisa arrive to whisk us away on the start of our adventure. The first stop is in Arusha, at a different supermarket to the one we usually use. To David's horror they don't stock Savanna Cider!

While Malisa goes off to get us some brand new tyres for the safari vehicle, we enjoy a leisurely coffee.

large_Mbusi_Coffees_1.jpg

large_New_Tyres.jpg
Nice wheels!

Having not slept well for the last three nights, I dose on and off as we make our way from Arusha towards Ngorongoro. This journey is becoming very familiar – it is now the fifth time we have driven this stretch over the years.

large_Kisongo_Market_1.jpg
Kisongo Market

large_Kisongo_Market_3.jpg
Kisongo Market

large_Kisongo_Market_4.jpg
Kisongo Market

Along the way we see three funeral cars for the children killed in the horrendous accident last week involving a school bus that plunged down a ravine killing 36 children. Later on in our journey we pass the exact spot it happened, but unlike some other safari vehicles, I request Malisa does not stop as I really don't feel the scene of such devastation should be treated as a tourist attraction.

large_Cattle_Crossing_1.jpg
Cattle Crossing

large_Stork__Yellow_Billed_1.jpg
Yellow Billed Storks nesting at Mto Wa Mbu

large_Stork__Yellow_Billed_2.jpg
Yellow Billed Storks nesting at Mto Wa Mbu

large_Stork__Yellow_Billed_3.jpg
Yellow Billed Storks nesting at Mto Wa Mbu

large_Butterflies_2.jpg
Butterflies at Mto Wa Mbu

large_Lunch_at_Kudu_Lodge.jpg

Although we usually have a picnic lunch box, today Tillya has arranged for us to take lunch in Karatu, at Kudu Lodge.

large_Kudu_Lodge_5.jpg
Dining room

large_Vegetable_Soup.jpg
Vegetable soup - lovely and peppery

large_Creamy_Coc..icken_Curry.jpg
Creamy coconut chicken curry - delicious!

large_Kudu_Lodge_41.jpg
You know it's a decent place when the public toilets have individual terry towels

large_Sunbird__Variable_7.jpg
The lodge has beautiful grounds with this stunning Variable Sunbird flitting around

large_Lodoare_Gate.jpg

After lunch we continue on our way, entering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area at Lodoare Gate and drive to my all time favourite view over the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater.

large_7B78A94D0202D00B7180675502C2FA1C.jpg
Entering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

large_7B705424DF2E03BC2C8C38848103D227.jpg
View over the crater from the rim

large_Ngorongoro..Viewpoint_2.jpg

large_5_Lions.jpg
Malisa assures us these are in fact lions. We take his word for it.

Malisa tries to speak with these Maasai women, but they either don't know, or refuse to understand, Swahili, only talking in their own Maa language.

large_Women_Carrying_Firewood_1.jpg

large_Women_Carrying_Firewood_2.jpg

large_Women_Carrying_Firewood_3.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Lodge.jpg

As we are arriving at our lodge during daylight hours for a change, we quickly shower and change, and head for the bar to wait for sunset and maybe even some stars later. I can really feel the altitude this time (we are at 2,326m/7,633 feet here), and with my lungs still being rather weak from the recent bout of pneumonia, I actually struggle to walk. I am therefore very grateful when the staff take pity on me and give us the room nearest the reception (which is still down two flights of stairs, but at least it is on the same level as the bar!).

large_Ngorongoro..na_Lodge_31.jpg
Our room

large_Ngorongoro..na_Lodge_33.jpg
Great view from the bed!

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Lodge_1.jpg
The outside terrace of the bar

Choosing an appropriately named Ruby Cabernet (it is our 40th wedding anniversary tour after all!), we settle down to watch the clouds roll in and the shadows getting longer across this mesmerising vista.

large_Ruby_Cabernet.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..m_the_Bar_1.jpg
Great view

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Lodge_2.jpg
Great wine

large_Ngorongoro..he_Crater_3.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..he_Crater_4.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..he_Crater_5.jpg

The sunset is a total non-event, but the moonrise more than makes up for it.

large_87FCC821EEB0C96C3B87516D1B893464.jpg

large_Moonrise_4.jpg

large_Moonrise_2.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..Moonlight_1.jpg

large_883852BC9E5D51895E71178DE8237EC3.jpg

For dinner I choose a local dish called Kuku Wa Kupaka (Traditional Swahili favourite chicken simmered in coconut curry sauce served with naan, boiled and Tamu Tamu Rice), while David has the poached red snapper in garlic sauce.

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Lodge_3.jpg

large_Kuku_Wa_Kupaka.jpg
Chicken Curry

large_Poached_Re..arlic_Sauce.jpg
Red Snapper

large_Cream_and_..olate_sauce.jpg
Cream and Yogurt Mousse Cake with Chocolate Sauce

At this altitude the air is really quite cold tonight and I am feeling very grateful for the hot water bottle I discover in my bed when we return from dinner.

large_Hot_Water_Bottle.jpg

This amazing adventure was made possible thanks to Calabash African Adventures.

large_7059AEEAE0A05737D28D9FF08D129CFE.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:21 Archived in Tanzania Tagged children adventure africa safari tanzania moonlight moonrise stars ngorongoro cider ngorongoro_crater night_sky african_safari african_food moon_rise calabash calabash_adventures ngrongoro_serena ngorongoro_conservation_area moonshine starry_night Comments (1)

Arusha

Culture, shopping, charity, and coffee


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_13_of_..Adventure_2.jpg

Cultural Heritage Centre

Each previous time we have come to Tanzania for a safari, we have passed this place along the side of the road just outside Arusha, and each time we have thought it looks expensive and touristy but interesting; with its futuristic architecture, metal animals sculptures in the grounds, and impressive entrance.

large_Cultural_H..ge_Centre_1.jpg

large_Cultural_H..ge_Centre_5.jpg

large_Cultural_H..ge_Centre_6.jpg

large_Cultural_H..ge_Centre_7.jpg

large_Cultural_H..ge_Centre_8.jpg

large_Cultural_H..e_Centre_12.jpg

large_Cultural_H..e_Centre_13.jpg

Today we are making a visit, and I am glad we do. Yes, they do have some expensive, but truly beautiful art, but they also have crafts at prices to suit us mere mortals.

large_Cultural_H..e_Centre_22.jpg

The Centre is a cross between a museum, an art gallery and a craft shop, and we are given a guided tour of the exhibits.

large_86CA28EFBD819FD18A06192F9D6B4F9F.jpg

large_Cultural_H..ge_Centre_2.jpg

large_Cultural_H..ge_Centre_3.jpg

Said to be the world’s largest ebony carving, this sculpture was carved from a single piece of ebony wood and took 14 years to complete. The carving depicts the (now banned) Maasai culture where a young warrior has to prove his manhood by killing a lion.

large_The_World_..y_Carving_1.jpg

Ujamaa

The Ujamaa (Family Tree) is carved from one piece of rose wood and took 38 years to complete. Ujamaa is a Swahili word meaning extended family and refers to a kind of communal living where people work together and are united regardless of tribe, ethnic background, religion, gender or language. Each figure represents a different trade or skill.

large_Family_Tree__Ujamaa__1.jpg

large_Family_Tree__Ujamaa__2.jpg

Tanzanite

This fabulously coloured gemstone was only discovered fairly recently (1967) and is unique to Tanzania. In the upmarket on-site jewellery store, we are given a thorough explanation of it grading, sizes, clarity etc, even though we make it perfectly clear we are not in a position to buy.

large_Tanzanite_5.jpg

large_Tanzanite_4.jpg

large_Tanzanite_1.jpg

large_Tanzanite_3.jpg

I have to admit that the rings made from this gemstone are absolutely gorgeous.

large_Tanzanite_6A.jpg

Shopping

Prices here at the Cultural Centre are supposed to be fixed, but with a little bargaining we get a discount on our purchases: a Maasai shuka (the blanket they use to wrap around them), a dung beetle and a lizard. As you do.

large_Cultural_H..ge_Centre_4.jpg

large_B64F934DF384E86E29F1B75394B73D9E.jpg

David is left carrying the heavy bags. And believe me, metal dung beetles weigh a ton!

large_Cultural_H..e_Centre_25.jpg

Mount Meru Markets

Apparently the market burnt down since we were here last, so they’ve had to rebuild all the small individual stalls selling paintings, carvings, crafts and clothes to tourists. We are the only visitors here, and as such are the attention of all the sales people. “You come and see my store” “No charge for looking” and so on. David and I have absolutely no intention of buying anything, but Chris gets a really good deal on a couple of leather passport covers.

large_Mount_Meru_Market_12-2.jpg

large_Mount_Meru_Market_12-3.jpg

Shanga Shangaa

large_Shanga_Shangaa.jpg

This successful socially conscious for-profit enterprise employs people with disabilities to create unique, high quality, handmade jewellery, glassware and home ware using recycled materials. These products are sold in Tanzania and all over the world, with profits bring reinvested back into development of new products and further employment of disabled people.

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-28.jpg

It all started back in 2006 with a local girl making beads for the Christmas market. The necklaces were so successful; they now have a serious and sustainable operation employing 36 deaf, mute and physically disabled people supplying retail outlets across Tanzania and beyond.

large_Kindness_is_a_Language.jpg

We are given a guided tour of the five different workshops, each team staffed by highly talented craftsmen and women.

The Weaving Team

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-3.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-2.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-4.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-7.jpg

The Sewing Department

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-11.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-12.jpg

Jewellery making

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-9.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-15.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-10.jpg

Glass blowing

It's all about recycling at Shanga Shangaa. Wine and beer bottles are collected from local tourist lodges and hotels in Arusha, as well as broken window glass; and this is then melted down to make new glass items, including the beads for the jewellery and mosaics.

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-17.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-19.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-22.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-21.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-24.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-25.jpg

.

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-26.jpg

Metal work

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-27.jpg

Plus, there is also this guy, who was paralysed aged 17 when he fell out of a tree; and did not have any opportunities in life until he was offered a position here, painting brightly coloured wall plaques with themes from Tanzania and the African bush.

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-13.jpg

large_Shanga_Shangaa_12-14.jpg

Jikoni African Restaurant

Shanga has moved its location since we were last here 18 months ago, and is now set within the grounds of the Arusha Coffee Lodge. Next door, still within the same complex, is Jikoni African Restaurant.

large_Jikoni_Afr..estaurant_1.jpg

Obviously aimed at the high-end tourist market, there is a large group of Americans there, plus us. A band plays African tunes while we wait for the lunch buffet to be ready.

large_Jikoni_Afr..estaurant_2.jpg

.

Although somewhat too touristy for my liking, it is a great opportunity to sample local food, the likes of which is not generally served at safari lodges; and each dish is explained in detail.

large_Jikoni_Afr..estaurant_6.jpg

Banana Soup with Beef

large_Jikoni_Afr..p_with_Beef.jpg

Makanda (Corn and Beans)

large_Jikoni_Afr.._and_Beans_.jpg

Pilau

large_Jikoni_Afr..ant_-_Pilau.jpg

Kachumbari (Tomato and Onion Salad)

large_Jikoni_Afr.._Kachumbari.jpg

Mchicha (Spinach and Peanut Curry)

large_Jikoni_Afr..a__Spinach_.jpg

Kuku Baka (Chicken 'painted' with spices)

large_Jikoni_Afr..ith_spices_.jpg

Salad

large_Jikoni_Afr..ant_-_Salad.jpg

Ugali

We are shown how to make the East African staple known as ugali - millet flour cooked with water to make a dumpling-type dough, which is traditionally eaten with your hands, scooping up the sauce.

large_Jikoni_Afr..ing_Ugali_1.jpg

large_Jikoni_Afr..ing_Ugali_2.jpg

Dessert

'Doughnut', rice flower cake and butternut squash in coconut milk with cardamom

large_Jikoni_Afr..h_Cardamom_.jpg

The food is tasty, the music enjoyable, the company fun and life is good.

large_Jikoni_Afr..estaurant_8.jpg

Coffee Tour

large_Coffee_Tour_2.jpg

Arusha Coffee Lodge offers tours of their plantations, which are strangely set in the lodge grounds amongst the guest cottages.

large_Coffee_Tour_10.jpg

Our guide, Nassoro, has a notable laugh, but is very knowledgeable, and good at imparting information about the coffee plantation, and the life story of that hot, steaming cuppa.

large_Coffee_Tour_-_Nassoro_1.jpg

large_Coffee_Tour_1.jpg

Established in 1899 by a German settler, it is the oldest plantation in Tanzania and they grow two main types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta.

large_Coffee_Tour_3.jpg

Beans take 25 days to ripen, before they are hand picked.

large_Coffee_Tour_9.jpg

large_Coffee_Tour_7.jpg

Dark beans means they have been left for too long.

large_Coffee_Tour_6.jpg

After the walkabout amongst the coffee bushes, we are shown what happens to the beans once they are harvested.

large_Coffee_Tour_12.jpg

Following the hulling and polishing you are left with green beans, which smell like grass. The amount of roasting time dictates the colour of the finished bean, and also the taste of course.

large_Coffee_Tour_14.jpg

large_Coffee_Tour_15.jpg

large_Coffee_Tour_16.jpg

large_Coffee_Tour_13.jpg

Nassoro grinds some beans and brews coffee for us to taste. The grinding process should not be done any longer than 15 minutes before the coffee is brewed, otherwise it will lose some of that lovely taste.

large_Coffee_Tour_17.jpg

large_Coffee_Tour_18.jpg

large_Coffee_Tour_19.jpg

Water should be added at exactly 97 °C, and the resulting foamy coffee should be left for seven minutes before straining.

large_Coffee_Tour_20.jpg

large_Coffee_Tasting.jpg

We are finally allowed to get our hands on the finished product!

large_Coffee_Tour_21.jpg

Farewell Tanzania!

With no time to relax, we have to leave Arusha, head to the hotel to pick up our luggage and make our way to Kilimanjaro airport to start the long and tedious journey home.

large_Don_t_cry_.._it_is_over.jpg

It goes without saying, and I am sure that those of you who have been following us on this trip from the start will agree, that we have had the most incredible holiday. We have seen more game on this trip than any other safari, it has been such fun to share it with our best friends, and Calabash Adventures have yet again done us proud! As for our dedicated, courteous, funny, kind, knowledgeable, caring guide Malisa – you are the best!

large_END_Photo.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 05:14 Archived in Tanzania Tagged art weaving gallery market shopping sculpture africa safari tanzania painting jewelry coffee carvings demonstration charity gems crafts jewellery mosaics arusha workshops haggling bargaining ugali tanzanite african_food coffee_tour dung_beetle calabash calabash_adventures which_safari_company best_safari_company best_safari_operator which_safari_operator wood-carving ebony ujamaa shuka precious_gems semi_precious_stones maasai_market masai_market shanga shanga_shangaa tinga_tinga_paintings tourist_buffet jikoni arusha_coffee_lodge tinga_tinga glass_blowing mount_meru_market cultural_heritage_centre art_and_crafts craft_centre art_gallery Comments (1)

Serengeti Part II

Finally! The BIG FIVE!


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Mawe_Mupe_Picnic_Site_1.jpg

As we arrive at our lunch stop, a memory of 29 elephants wander past in the distance. As they do.

large_Elephants_10-1.jpg

We are the only humans here and have a choice of tables – we pick a couple in the shade.

large_Mawe_Mupe_Picnic_Site_3.jpg

What a delightful picnic area – there are so many birds here I am too busy photographing to eat!

large_Weaver__Sp..ronted_10-1.jpg
Speckled Fronted Weaver

large_Weaver__Ru..ailed_10-14.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

large_Starling__Superb_10-14.jpg
Superb Starling

large_Silverbird_101-4.jpg
Silverbird

large_Sparrow__Grey_Headed_10-1.jpg
Grey Headed Sparrow

large_Weaver__Ru..ailed_10-12.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

large_Shrike__Magpie_10-2.jpg
Magpie Shrike

large_Starling__Superb_10-12.jpg
Superb Starling

White Headed Buffalo Weavers

A family of White Headed Buffalo Weavers amuses me for quite some time with their antics.

large_Weaver__Wh..uffalo_10-3.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-10.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-11.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-13.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-14.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-15.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-17.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-19.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-21.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-22.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-25.jpg

Giraffe

All the time we’ve been here the giraffe has been standing perfectly still, staring at something in the distance. However much we train our binoculars in that direction, we cannot fathom out what is grabbing his attention.

large_Giraffe_10-301.jpg

large_Twende.jpg

With full bellies we continue our afternoon game drive.

Leopard

We see a couple of cars in the distance, near a tree, and go off to investigate. It’s a leopard and she has something up in the branches with her that she is eating.

large_Leopards_in_a_Tree_10-2.jpg

large_Leopard_10-12.jpg

On closer inspection, we can see that she is trying to pull the fur off some skin, most likely from a baby wildebeest.

large_Leopard_10-13.jpg

On a branch the other side of the tree is her cub, a one-year old male, fast asleep.

large_Leopard_10-33.jpg

Mum is making sure nothing is wasted, pulling and tugging at the hide.

large_Leopard_10-18.jpg

large_Leopard_10-21.jpg

When nothing edible is left, she takes the skin off to a hiding place for safekeeping.

large_Leopard_10-26.jpg

large_Leopard_10-30.jpg

large_Leopard_10-32.jpg

Making her way down the tree, she calls out to her son, then jumps down to the ground.

large_Leopard_10-36.jpg

large_Leopard_10-37.jpg

large_Leopard_10-38.jpg

large_Leopard_10-40.jpg

The cub wakes up and follows his mum down into the long grass where they disappear from our view.

large_Leopard_10-41.jpg

large_Leopard_10-43.jpg

large_Leopard_10-47.jpg

large_Leopard_10-48.jpg

large_Leopard_10-49.jpg

How exciting! Being nocturnal hunters and solitary animals, leopards are the most difficult of the cats to see on safari.

large_The_Big_Five.jpg

This now completes the BIG FIVE on this safari - a term coined by big-game hunters, referring to the five most difficult – and dangerous - animals in Africa to hunt on foot: elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo.

As I have said a couple of times before, Lyn and Chris are having such incredible luck out here – we’d been on several safaris before we saw all the Big Five on the same trip!

Olive Baboons

large_Baboon__Olive_10-31.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_10-32.jpg

More Elephants

large_Elephants_10-201.jpg

And a couple of giraffes

large_Giraffe_10-402.jpg

Vultures

Spotting a tree full of vultures, my first thought is “what’s died?”

large_Vulture_Tree_10-101.jpg

large_Vulture_Tree_10-102.jpg

large_Vulture_Tree_10-103.jpg

They are also circling above in great numbers, but however much we look on the horizon, straining our eyes through the binoculars, we cannot see anything of significance.

large_Vultures_Circling_10-1.jpg

Hippo

During the day hippos generally wallow in shallow water such as rivers and lakes, coming out at night to graze. It is therefore quite unusual to see them on land in the day.

large_Hippo_10-1.jpg

This guy cannot stop yawning – he is obviously dazed and confused. Maybe he just flew in from Europe and is jet-lagged?

large_Hippo_10-2.jpg

large_Hippo_10-4.jpg

large_Hippo_10-8.jpg

large_Hippo_10-11.jpg

large_Hippo_10-18.jpg

large_Hippo_10-19.jpg

large_Retima_Hippo_Pool_1.jpg

Formed at the meeting of three rivers, Retima Pool attracts a great number of hippos, who are believed to crowd here in order to protect their calves against crocodiles.

large_Hippos_at_..o_Pool_10-1.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R..o_Pool_10-1.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R..o_Pool_10-3.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R..o_Pool_10-8.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-22.jpg

The noise of 200 hippos (the American guy next to me claims he counted them) belching, grunting, farting, pooping and splashing, is a sound I won’t forget in a hurry. I am just very grateful that videos don’t record aromas. Yet.

.

large_Hippo_at_R..o_Pool_10-9.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-10.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-13.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-14.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-16.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-19.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-20.jpg

Brown Snake Eagle

large_Eagle__Brown_Snake_10-1.jpg

large_Eagle__Brown_Snake_10-2.jpg

large_Eagle__Brown_Snake_10-3.jpg

‘White’ Giraffe

Having read about a white giraffe (appropriately named Omo) that had been spotted a few months ago in Tarangire National Park, I added that to my wish list this year. We didn’t see it, but I am quite excited to see a rather pale baby giraffe this afternoon.

large_Giraffe_with_Leucism_10-1.jpg

Not an albino, the giraffe is suffering from leucism, a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation resulting in pale or patchy colouration of the skin.

large_Giraffe_with_Leucism_10-2.jpg

large_Giraffe_with_Leucism_10-3.jpg

More Hippos

We see more hippos as we cross the river again making our way back to camp.

large_Hippos_10-211.jpg

large_Hippos_10-212.jpg

Kimasi Kopje

large_Kimasi_Kopje_10-1.jpg

The sun is getting low now, painting the sky with yellows, pinks and purples.

large_Kimasi_Kopje_Sunset_2.jpg

large_Kimasi_Kopje_Sunset_4.jpg

Our tented camp is built in amongst the rocks that constitute the Kimasi Kopje, and we can just about make out the tents in the failing light.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..Sunset_10-1.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..Sunset_10-2.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..Sunset_10-3.jpg

Mbuzi Mawe

Amazingly it is still not completely dark when we reach the camp – it’s the first day we have had some real chill time since we arrived in Tanzania: we actually have half an hour spare this evening!

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..Sunset_10-5.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..Sunset_10-6.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_at_Sunset_10-1.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_at_Sunset_10-2.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_at_Sunset_10-3.jpg

When we go to into the bathroom, we discover that while we were out, squatters have moved in, clinging to dear life on our shower curtain.

large_Lizard_on_..urtain_10-1.jpg

large_Dinner_8.jpg

Mbuzi Mawe is a super place, and the restaurant is intimate, friendly and relaxed, yet luxurious. The general manager walks around the tables this evening, making sure everyone is happy. Tonight they are celebrating a honeymoon couple, with more singing, clapping and cake!

Yet again the food comes out under shiny domes, but there is some confusion as to which plate is which. I guess it is not so easy to see when it is all under wrap like that.

.

That's magic!

large_Garlic_Sal..uction_10-1.jpg
Starter of garlic salami, Waldorf salad and balsamic reduction.

large_Rajma_Masa..Curry__10-1.jpg
Main course: Rajma Masala - a 'curry' of red beans in s spicy sauce - absolutely delicious!

We retire to bed and a restful sleep after another amazing day in the mighty Serengeti! Calabash Adventures - and Malisa of course - have done us proud yet again.

large_AE1EA017E6A1F6EB1B522C0DABE7975F.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 16:13 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds monkeys restaurant travel views hotel elephants adventure roads scenery holiday africa tanzania lodge lunch birding tourists giraffe hippo baboons roadtrip serengeti leopard heron memory gourmet glamping impala good_food spicy stunning bird_watching sundowners game_drive tented_camp road-trip african_food canon_eos_5d_iii calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators which_safari_company best_safari_company vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys mbuzi_mawe serena_hotels central_serengeti kopje retima_hippo_pool leucism Comments (1)

Ndutu - Mbuzi Mawe

The Legendary Serengeti


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_9_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

large_24624F4A9BB2921EFF59F07A38680D0E.jpg

I start the day with a spot of bird watching as the sun comes up.

White Rumped Helmetshrike

Dung beetle for breakfast anyone?

large_Helmetshri.._Rumped_9-3.jpg

Superb Starling

large_Starling__Superb_9-1.jpg

Beautiful Sunbird

large_Sunbird__Beautiful_9-3.jpg

large_Backlit_Grasses_9-2.jpg

large_Sunrise_over_Ndutu_9-3.jpg

large_Breakfast_8.jpg

Unusually, we take breakfast in the lodge this morning, before setting off for another day of game viewing.

When asked if he would like egg and bacon, David jokingly says – in a lowered voice as the waiter walks away – “mushrooms, baked beans…” Of course, that is exactly what he gets!

large_Breakfast_at_Ndutu_Lodge.jpg

Aardvark

On our last couple of safaris with Calabash, I bantered with our guide Dickson about wanting to see an aardvark, and that I will keep coming to Tanzania on safari until I do.

Today I finally get to see my aardvark, in the grounds of Ndutu Lodge. Shame it is made from metal – I guess I can’t quite tick it off my wish list yet.

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-8.jpg

Oxpeckers

These birds have a symbiotic relationship with the giraffes. The giraffe provides a happy home for ticks, which the oxpeckers eat, relieving the giraffe of the annoyance the insects can cause.

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_9-3.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_9-1.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_9-2.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_9-5.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_9-7.jpg

Giraffe

Today's host is an old male giraffe.

large_Giraffe_9-1.jpg

Black Faced Vervet Monkeys

As the leopard’s favourite food, the vervets go to great lengths to hide their whereabouts from their nocturnal predator, including smearing their poop on the branches at night, rather than letting it drop to the ground so that the leopard cannot easily detect where they are sleeping.

large_Black_Face..Monkeys_9-2.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkeys_9-4.jpg

He is showing off his bright blue testicles again.

large_Black_Face..Monkeys_9-6.jpg

Dik Dik

large_Dik_Dik_9-1.jpg

Secretary Bird

On the prowl across the grasslands, looking for snakes.

large_Secretary_Bird_9-1.jpg

Spotted Hyena

large_Hyena__Spotted_9-2.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_9-4.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_9-6.jpg

large_Lyn_with_her_lens_9-1.jpg

Lions

These guys have not moved from the spot where we left them resting last night, although the missing ninth lion has rejoined them.

large_Lions_9-2.jpg

large_Lions_9-7.jpg

large_Lyn_with_her_lens_9-2.jpg

A couple of them head our way, coming right up to the car, sniffing the tyres and eventually settling down in the shade of the vehicle. That’s pretty close!

large_Lions_9-10.jpg

large_Lions_9-11.jpg

large_Lion_Check..the_Car_9-1.jpg

large_Chris_with_the_Lions_1.jpg

large_Chris_with_the_Lions_2.jpg

large_Lions_9-15.jpg

large_Lions_9-16.jpg

large_Lion_Check..the_Car_9-2.jpg

I think that means we have a symbiotic relationship with the lions – we provide them with shade, they give us some great photo opportunities.

This guy does not look too sure about Chris. It makes me wonder how high they can jump.

large_Lions_and_Chris__3_.jpg

Woolly Necked Vultures

large_Vultures__.._Necked_9-1.jpg

Engine Failure

Ten minutes after leaving the lions, the engine coughs, splutters and then dies. After a few tries, Malisa gets it going again, but not for long. We joke that he’s filled it with ‘jumpy diesel’, but eventually he cannot get it going again just by turning the key, and has to get out and under. Oh dear.

large_Engine_Repair_9-1.jpg

An area filled with lions, cheetah, leopards and hyena is not the best place to lie down on the ground under a car, so I am relieved when Malisa gets the car going again reasonably quickly – a wire had broken from all the off-roading.

large_Engine_Repair_9-2.jpg

Having a trained car mechanic as a driver-guide certainly has its advantages. Well done that man! I am surprised that breakdowns don't happen more often - this is the first one we've encountered in the four safaris we've had with Calabash.

Short Grass Plains

Heading for the entrance gate to Serengeti, the track runs across what is known as the Short Grass Plains, for obvious reasons. One of the great things about a safari on the Northern Circuit in Tanzania is that even as you drive from one place to another, there is always an opportunity to do some game viewing, and this morning we see a few animals along the way.

large_Short_Gras..kground_9-1.jpg

Here we can see Naabi Hill in the distance, which is what we are aiming for - the official entrance to the Serengeti National Park.

large_Short_Gras..kground_9-3.jpg

Grant's Gazelle

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_9-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_9-2.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_9-3.jpg

Zebra

large_Zebra_9-1.jpg

large_Zebra_9-3.jpg

large_Zebra_9-4.jpg

large_Zebra_9-5.jpg

Ostriches

As we approach, panic mode sets in and these enormous flightless birds start running around like headless chickens. “Don’t panic, don’t panic!”

large_Ostriches_9-1.jpg

large_Ostriches_9-2.jpg

We leave the Ndutu area behind a join the main ‘road’ to the gate.

large_Ndutu_Safa..ge_Sign_9-1.jpg

Lions

Just before the entrance, we spot a lioness with two cubs resting in the shade of a kopje.

large_Lions_9-51.jpg

Giraffe Drinking

It is fairly unusual to see a giraffe drinking from the ground like this, as being in that position makes him very vulnerable to predators.

large_Giraffe_9-51.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-56.jpg

It is even more unusual to see a three-necked giraffe!

large_Giraffe_9-53.jpg

large_Naabi_Hill.jpg

Naabi Hill

Towering above the grassy plains of the Serengeti, Naabi Hill is the location of the main entrance gate to the park, and offers amazing views over the Endless Plains below.

large_Naabi_Hill_9-1.jpg

While Malisa goes off to get our tickets and sort out the registration, we take a short walk on the Kopje Trail that leads up the scenic observation point on top of the rocky outcrop behind the information centre.

large_Malisa_get..bi_Hill_9-1.jpg

large_Naabi_Hill_9-2.jpg

The kopje appears to ‘float in the sea of grass’ that is the Serengeti Plains.

large_Naabi_Hill_9-4.jpg

From the summit we can easily understand why the Maasai named this place Serengeti – 'a vast land that runs forever, where endless plains meet the sky' in the local language.

large_Naabi_Hill_9-6.jpg

It is said that the only way you will get a better view of Serengeti, is from a hot air balloon, and that is definitely not on the agenda for this trip, not at $539 per person!

large_Naabi_Hill_9-21.jpg

large_2C1A05C10D17ADA1909ABCCC08731D0E.jpg

Naabi Hill is a haven for lizards, who lounge on the sun-baked rocks along the path, totally unperturbed by passing tourists.

large_Agama__Fla..ed_Rock_9-1.jpg

large_Lizard_at_Naabi_Hill_9-2.jpg

large_Agama__Fla..ed_Rock_9-2.jpg

large_Lizard_at_Naabi_Hill_9-3.jpg

large_Agama__Fla..ed_Rock_9-4.jpg

large_Lizard_at_Naabi_Hill_9-1.jpg

large_Agama__Fla..ed_Rock_9-5.jpg

Exit is through the shop, as usual.

large_Naabi_Hill_9-8.jpg

While we wait for Malisa to finish up the paper work, we do a spot of bird watching.

large_Martin__Rock_9-1.jpg
Rock Martin

large_Starling__..venile__9-2.jpg
Juvenile Ashy Starling (I think)

large_866593D5CC8415F77A0ADBDE8077C890.jpg
Juvenile Hildebrand Starling

large_Starling__Hildebrand_9-1.jpg
Hildebrand Starling

large_Vulture__lappet_Faced_9-2.jpg
Lappet Faced Vulture

After a while I comment that the entrance formalities seem to be taking a particularly long time today, which considering how quiet it is, I find a bit strange. It turns out that while we have been waiting for Malisa outside the information centre, he has been at the car, wondering where we are. Doh!

large_86CF2FD5F3B9A1D312521A9CD079FF8B.jpg

large_Serengeti_..l_Park_Logo.jpg

Serengeti National park

This has to be the most renowned wildlife park in the entire world, and for good reason; with over 10,000 square miles of pristine wilderness, it’s like stepping in to a wildlife documentary. The variety and abundance of wildlife here is unmatched anywhere else in Africa. Serengeti is unparalleled in so many ways – not only does it have the world's largest herd of migrating ungulates, but also the largest concentration of predators in the world.

large_Serengeti_..al_Park_9-1.jpg

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-6.jpg

Most people think of the Serengeti as being a vast endless grassy plain, as well as totally underestimating its size. In reality the park is comprised of a wide range of ecosystems, with some parts featuring areas of acacia forest, others granite mountains and soda lakes, each with its own different character and range of wildlife.

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-4.jpg

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-51.jpg

Rather than taking the main road this morning, we head east towards Gol Kopjes, an area where we need a special permit to visit.

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-1.jpg

Giraffe

large_Giraffe_9-101.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-102.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-104.jpg

Warthogs

large_Warthogs_9-1.jpg

large_Warthogs_9-3.jpg

large_Warthogs_9-7.jpg

Aren’t they just the cutest when they run with their tails straight up? They do that so that the babies can see their mums in the long grass.

large_Warthogs_9-8.jpg

Mirage

A naturally occurring optical illusion, a mirage is caused by light bending rays, giving the impression of an oasis in the distance.

large_Mirage_9-1.jpg

Steppe Eagle

For one spine-tingling moment we believe he has picked up a snake; until we realise he is merely nest building.

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-1.jpg

It is still pretty cool to see him carry it away in his beak though.

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-2.jpg

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-3.jpg

Marabou Stork

This has to be one of the ugliest birds in existence, surely?

large_Stork__Marabou_9-2.jpg

large_2B57F051CD2FD7BE486FC4F2167623F6.jpg

Lions

In the distance we spot a couple of lions. We are becoming almost blasé to them now – there is not much point in hanging around when they are so far away. We have seen them nearer and better before…

large_Lions_9-150.jpg

Gol Kopjes

Kopje_Definition_1.jpg

Nicknamed the ‘world’s largest Japanese rock garden’, this is a picturesque area, with a series of granite outcrops (kopjes) dotted on the otherwise flat short grass plains.

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-2.jpg

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-3.jpg

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-5.jpg

large_Gol_Kopjes_9-8.jpg

This area is said to have the highest concentration of cheetah in Africa, but it is not a cheetah we spot sleeping on the rocks, but a lion.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-1A.jpg

When we go closer, we see it is in fact a collared lioness. The head of the pride, she is an exceptional hunter, which is why the authorities want to monitor her.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-2.jpg

As this girl is a well-known matriarch, it’s a pretty good bet that there are more lions in the near vicinity; and we don’t have long to wait before another lioness appears on the top of the rock behind.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-3.jpg

With a full belly she walks slowly and lazily, settling down in the shade of a tree.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-4.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-5.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-6.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-9.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-13.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-14.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-15.jpg

A heaving brown lump in the long grass indicates a male lion panting heavily. The lions have obviously recently eaten and are all full to bursting.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-16.jpg

This one seems to have the right idea.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-17.jpg

Golden Jackal

large_Jackal__Golden_9-1.jpg

large_Jackal__Golden_9-2.jpg

Committee Meeting

The collective noun for vultures is committee, and here we have Rueppell’s Griffon, Woolly Necked and White Backed Vultures, as well as a couple of Marabou Storks.

large_Vultures_9-1.jpg

Thomson’s Gazelle

It’s that time of year – two Tommy males spar for the attention of a female.

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_9-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_9-2.jpg

Topi

large_Topi_9-2.jpg

large_Topi_9-3.jpg

Tawny eagle

large_Eagle__Tawny_9-14.jpg

large_Eagle__Tawny_9-12.jpg

Coke's Hartebeest

large_Hartebeest__Coke_s_9-1.jpg

large_Hartebeest__Coke_s_9-2.jpg

Dung Beetle

This poor little beetle is trying to roll his ball of dung into a hole in the ground, but is finding the earth too hard. He eventually just rolls it into the grass cover.

large_Beetle__Dung_9-1.jpg

.

More Lions

Another kopje, another lion pride. Such is life in the Serengeti.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-18.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-19.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-20.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-21.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-22.jpg

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-23.jpg

The one ‘security guard’ left out on the sunny savannah looking after the remains of dinner (probably a baby wildebeest) gazes longingly at the other pride members resting in the shade.

large_Lions_at_Gol_Kopjes_9-27.jpg

Tortoise

One of the animals on my wish list this year is a tortoise, and this morning one strolls right by as we are watching the lions.

large_Tortoise_9-1.jpg

Steppe Eagle

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-4.jpg

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-5.jpg

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-6.jpg

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-8.jpg

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-9.jpg

Judging by the droppings, I'd say this is a favourite perch of his.

large_Eagle__Steppe_9-11.jpg

large_Picnic_4.jpg

After finding a large pride of lions at each of the last three kopjes, Lyn is not at all happy about getting out of the car when we stop at another rocky outcrop for our picnic lunch. “Is it safe” she asks Malisa, but eventually - after plenty of reassurance - she reluctantly alights the vehicle.

large_Picnic_Lun..Kopjes_9-1A.jpg

Malisa teases her about it, and even takes a photo of her still in the van to send to Tillya.

large_Picnic_Lun..Kopjes_9-2A.jpg

As we drive away from the picnic site, Lyn jokingly shouts out “Oh, look: simba!” pointing to a non-existent lion near the kopje we had just been sitting next to. Much to our amusement, Chris falls for it!

Grant’s Gazelle

A bachelor herd full of young wannabes.

large_Gazelle__G..or_Club_9-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__G..or_Club_9-2.jpg

Topi

large_Topi_9-1.jpg

After one quick look at us, he takes off. Literally.

large_DF9783D7E7A964413C9EF1EB1D9DFB7B.jpg

large_Topi_9-5.jpg

White Stork

Non-resident, they are European migrants – just like us then.

large_Stork__White_9-1.jpg

Wildebeest

We come across a small herd of migrating wildebeest.

large_Wildebeest_9-1.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-2.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-11.jpg

A few minutes later we see this lone youngster, probably left behind when the herd moved on. He seems to be rather dazed – no wonder they call a group of wildebeest a confusion.

large_Wildebeest_Baby_9-2.jpg

He looks suspiciously towards us, then misled by his very poor eyesight, runs off in the opposite direct to the group we saw earlier.

large_Wildebeest_Baby_9-5.jpg

Having eaten too much for lunch, I feel like the lazy lions we encountered this morning and all I want to do is go to sleep in the shade to digest the food. I have a little nap in the car and wake up when we stop.

Dead Wildebeest

Malisa surmises that this wildebeest mother fell during a stampede and got trampled on, and has now become food for the vultures and Marabou Stork. Each of the different vultures have beaks that are designed for different actions, so as not to cause competition at a kill. The only one who can open a carcass is the Woolly Neck; so that's who they are all waiting for.

large_Stork_and_..on_Kill_9-1.jpg

The saddest thing about this scene is the baby wildebeest just standing there, watching the scavengers eating her mum. That really breaks my heart.

large_Wildebeest_Baby_9-6.jpg

In the middle of the road there is another, much younger baby wildebeest. We are guessing that his mother has probably been taken by a predator; this guy is so weak he can hardly walk and way too young to make it on his own - he is literally just waiting to be someone’s dinner.

That’s the stark and sometimes cruel reality of the wilderness.

large_Wildebeest_Baby_9-7.jpg

Long Grass Plains

As we drive further into the Serengeti, we notice that the plains change from the short grass that is typical around Ndutu, through medium grass plains around Naabi Hill to the longer grasses in this area. The plains are framed by rocky hills and river courses, swelled by the recent rains.

So why is the length of the grass worthy of a mention?

It is not so much the grass – although length does matter dontcha know – it’s the fact that the change of grassland also brings a change in the balance of the species – for instance, we see many more hartebeest and topi here than anywhere else on this trip.

Another point - sometimes we can only just see the tops of the animals, one of the disadvantages of travelling in the Green Season.

large_Wildebeest_9-12.jpg

large_Muddy_Roads.jpg

Muddy Tracks

One of the other downsides to coming here at this time of year is that often the tracks become just pure mud after a heavy rainfall.

large_Muddy_Track_9-1.jpg

Some even turn into impromptu streams and become totally impassable.

large_Muddy_Track_9-2.jpg

Malisa engages the 4WD to make sure we can get through OK – we don’t really want to have to get out and push unless absolutely necessary.

large_Engaging_4..ddy_track_1.jpg

It’s easy peasy when you have the right tool for the job.

.

Cape Buffalo

A breeding herd – or obstinacy – of buffalo.

large_Buffalo__Cape_9-1.jpg

Bateleur Eagle

large_E590D0EBE1E2239E41D6F83BA405A249.jpg

White Bellied Bustard

large_Bustard__W..Bellied_9-1.jpg

Warthog

large_Warthog_9-11.jpg

Maasai Kopjes

Kopjes – an Afrikaans term referring to isolated rock hills that rise abruptly from the surrounding flat savannah – are remarkable in that they have their own little ecosystems with a range of vegetation and wildlife.

large_Maasai_Kopjes_9___1_.jpg

large_Maasai_Kopjes_9___2_.jpg

large_Maasai_Kopjes_9.jpg

Lions

Maasai Kopjes are home to a large pride of lions, who are the subject of numerous studies by the Serengeti Lion Project. We study them sleeping for a while this afternoon.

large_Lions_at_M.._Kopjes_9-1.jpg

Dik Dik

large_ED569FCAAC855A85B85A2EBB8741002D.jpg

White Headed Vulture

Malisa excitedly informs us this is a very rare sighting – it is certainly a new bird to us.

large_Eagle__White_Headed_9-1.jpg

large_Eagle__White_Headed_9-4.jpg

Hippo

One lump or two?

large_Hippo_9-1.jpg

large_Hippo_9-2.jpg

Greater Blue Eared Starling

large_Starling__..e_Eared_9-3.jpg

Pin Tailed Swallow

large_Swallow__Pin_Tailed_9-1.jpg

Defassa Waterbuck

large_Waterbuck__Defassa_9-1.jpg

large_Waterbuck__Defassa_9-2.jpg

large_Waterbuck__Defassa_9-3.jpg

large_Waterbuck__Defassa_9-8.jpg

Zebra

large_Zebra_9-21.jpg

large_Zebra_9-31.jpg

large_Zebra_9-32.jpg

large_Zebra_9-33.jpg

large_Zebra_9-36.jpg

large_Zebra_9-41.jpg

large_Zebra_9-44.jpg

It seems that stripes are in this year.

large_Zebra_9-45.jpg

large_Zebra_9-47.jpg

Wildebeest Migration

The rains being a month late arriving this year has confused the wildebeest, and instead of being up in the Western Corridor now, they are found in great numbers here in Central Serengeti.

large_Wildebeest_9-302.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-305.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-308.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-311.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-312.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-314.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-316.jpg

Lappet Faced Vulture

large_Vulture__l.._Faced_9-61.jpg

Coqui Francolin

large_Francolin__Coqui_9-21.jpg

He makes the most peculiar sound – as if he is laughing.

large_Francolin__Coqui_9-22.jpg

White Rumped Helmetshrike

large_Helmetshri..Rumped_9-31.jpg

Stormy Clouds

Some formidable dark clouds are building up and the light is extraordinarily intense with the low evening sun creating remarkably saturated colours! I think we might be in for some rain before long…

large_Zebra_and_..beest_9-101.jpg

large_Wildebeest_9-101.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..beest_9-102.jpg

large_148FDD7BE3EFE5F69412AF591183E54B.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-76.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-78.jpg

large_Giraffe_9-81.jpg

Klipspringer

large_Klipspringer_9-1.jpg

large_Rain_12.jpg

And here comes the rain – bringing with it some even more bizzare conditions: the sunset reflecting in the water drops with a rainbow behind.

large_Rainbow_3.jpg

We move on a bit further and are able to see the whole rainbow, with the dramatic light constantly changing.

large_F7FD67C7E64E1690F839F35CB93F2F4D.jpg

Mbuzi Mawe

By the time we reach our camp, it is dark and the rain has really set in – what was a gently drizzle, is now a heavy downpour. It’s the first ‘proper’ rain we’ve had on this trip, so we shouldn’t complain.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-6.jpg

large_Porters_6.jpg

A small army of porters with umbrellas meet us in the car park and take us to the reception. It seems a long walk.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-5.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_9-5.jpg

large_Checking_in_1.jpg

After the usual formalities, we are shown to our tent – which ironically is half way down to the car park again. Apologies for rubbish photos taken hand held in almost pitch black.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-2.jpg

The tents are very spacious, with two huge four-poster beds, a seating area and a writing desk. Attached to the back is a modern bathroom with double basins, shower, toilet and changing area. This is my sort of camping.

large_2C1F71ED01AEB9815BC6510D79B500E7.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_9-3.jpg

This place is as much of a surprise to me as it is to Lyn and Chris. When he knew the wildebeest migration was changing route, Tillya changed our accommodation to a more convenient position – that is one of the numerous reasons we keep coming back to using Calabash Adventures – their customer care!

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_9-2.jpg

I love it!

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_9-1.jpg

Just after we get to the room, housekeeping arrives to carry out the ‘turn-back service’. A young girl is being trained and they seem to take forever - I know they prefer to come and do it while we are in the room so that we’ll tip them; but its a bit of an inconvenience as we have just a short time between arriving back from safari and going for dinner.

large_Pre-Dinner_Drinks_10.jpg

So we have a drink instead of a shower. Shucks. Life is hard.

large_Night_Shots_4.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-1.jpg

The tents are all facing outwards on the edge of the camp, overlooking the kopje (or you would be looking at it if it wasn’t pitch black). Buffalo graze in the long grass the other side of the path.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-3.jpg

A gentle man with a big spear, little English and a contagious laugh escorts us from the tent to the restaurant.

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_10-4.jpg

Rock Hyrax

On the way he shines his torch at the rocky outcrops, illuminating a huddle of rock hyrax.

large_Rock_Hyrax..zi_Mawe_9-1.jpg

large_Rock_Hyrax..zi_Mawe_9-2.jpg

large_Dinner_10.jpg

The dinner is impressive, arriving served under large silver domes, all four of which are removed at exactly the same time to reveal the piping hot food underneath.

large_Dinner_at_Mbuzi_Mawe_9-1.jpg

large_Dinner_Dome_9-1.jpg

Both David and I have Kuku Wa Kupaka – a local dish of chicken cooked in a coconut cream with ‘coastal spices’.

large_Kuku_Wa_Ku..ocont_cream.jpg

Lyn and I share a bottle of white wine, David and Chris have red.

large_Footprint_Chardonnay.jpg

The dessert gateau is a disappointment apparently, as is my self-serve cheese and biscuits: there is next to nothing left.

large_Paty_Time.jpg

The servers and kitchen staff serenade an Australian couple celebrating their silver wedding anniversary, just as the staff did for us in Maramboi.

.

We retire to our rooms after another spectacular day on safari with Calabash Adventures. Thanks again guys!

large_2311A068E1FBC175BFD0469AF7F04935.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 03:51 Archived in Tanzania Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises animals birds sky night monkeys rain hills sunset road_trip restaurant travel vacation hotel adventure roads scenery sunrise clouds holiday fun party africa mud safari rainbow tanzania lodge zebra eagle wine beetle lizard birding chicken tourists picnic photography alcohol lions giraffe hippo roadtrip serengeti hyena vulture night_time glamping waterbuck starling wildebeest stunning bird_watching game_drive tented_camp road-trip ndutu african_food dung_beetle safari_vehicle night_photography canon_eos_5d_iii testicles calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators which_safari_company best_safari_company vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys blue_balls ngorongoro_conservation_area tower_of_giraffe hartebeest nadutu_safari_lodge gol_kopjes maasai_kopjes mbuzi_mawe serena_hotels long_grass_plains short_grass_plains naabi_hill central_serengeti mussy_tracks kopje stormy_clouds Comments (0)

Ngorongoro - Oldupai - Ndutu

Education, education, education!


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_7_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

Seeing the clear skies from our balcony this morning, I really wish I’d got up in the night to take some pictures of the stars. I shall just have to photograph the sunrise instead.

large_Sunrise_ov..ro_Crater_1.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..ro_Crater_3.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..ro_Crater_6.jpg

Our room has an amazing view over the Ngorongoro Crater from its balcony. The hotel is rustic to the extreme, having been built from rough local stone with the rooms all set on the ridge, facing the crater.

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_31.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_32.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_33.jpg

There’s an even more spectacular view from the bar!

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_38.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_39.jpg

Walking Safari

large_Walking_Safari.jpg

This morning we leave Malisa and the car behind and set out to explore the area on foot with a ranger called Yohana, in order to get a deeper understanding of the bush and up close and personal with nature.

large_Walking_Safari_-_Yohana_1.jpg

The first wildlife we see is a Cape Robin-Chat, right outside the front door of the lodge.

large_Chat__Cape_Robin_7-1.jpg

We amble at a slow pace, along the Ngorongoro Crater Rim and upwards into the hillside as Yohana teaches us the language of the bush.

large_Walking_Safari_-_Yohana_2.jpg

large_Walking_Safari_1.jpg
These signs always amuse me – do the wild animals read them and refuse to venture past that point (in the other direction) too?

This is not so much a safari in that we are not really seeking out wild animals; we are here to learn what native peoples have known for millennia – how wild plants are used as medicine and food. I am hoping to find something for the back ache I have been suffering with since we left home.

Sodom’s Apple
Although this fruit belongs to the tomato family, you won’t find it in any salads. Known as Sodom’s Apple as it is said to be the first plant to grow again after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the small, yellow fruit is used as a medicine for stomach ache, diarrhoea and to treat external wounds.

large_Walking_Sa..dom_Apple_1.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..dom_Apple_2.jpg
Plant with unripe fruit

large_Walking_Sa..dom_Apple_3.jpg
The flower of the Sodom Apple

Wild Marijuana
This plant, which is in the same family as the common marijuana plant, is used to produce pesticide, as insects do not like the smell of it. Neither does Lyn by the looks of it.

large_Walking_Sa..Marijuana_1.jpg

Leaves are soaked in water, which is then used to spray the fields to keep insects from eating the crop.

large_Walking_Sa..Marijuana_2.jpg

Enkang oo-nkiri Maasai Ceremony
We encounter a Maasai who is in the bush for the Engkang oo-nkiri, or meat-eating ceremony – one the many stages of initiation into warriorhood for the young men of the tribe. A dozen or so men take a bull into the bush and slaughter it, staying there to eat the meat for two weeks. This is said to help them remain strong.

large_Maasai_Man_7-2.jpg

Devil’s Snare
The fact that this invasive species is poisonous has not stopped the Mexicans from making drugs from it apparently.

large_Walking_Sa..l_s_Snare_1.jpg

Stingy Nettle
Like we do in the West, the locals make soup “and wot not” (Yohana’s favourite expression) from this.

large_Walking_Sa..gy_Nettle_1.jpg

Being full of sugar sap, nectar eating birds love this plant, whose name I don't catch.

large_Walking_Safari_3.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..l_Sunbird_1.jpg
Beautiful Sunbird

Natural Insect Repellent

large_Walking_Sa..Repellant_2.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..Repellant_1.jpg

Wild Tobacco
Yohana warns us that it is “not very good”.

large_Walking_Sa..d_Tobacco_1.jpg

Old Man’s Beard
The presence of this lichen on trees is an indication of the air quality – it will only grow where the air is pure and clean!

large_Walking_Sa.._s_Beard__1.jpg

large_Buzzard__Augur_7-1.jpg
Augur Buzzard

Altitude
We have been climbing gently but steadily upwards from the lodge, and here at 2400 metres above sea level I can certainly feel the altitude.

large_Walking_Safari_4.jpg

“I can see your house from here!” - Ngorongoro Serena Lodge

large_B4581082A17689508D5FF567B7DB6884.jpg

Elephants
Yohana tells us elephants came by here in the night, eating the tops of the plants.

large_Walking_Sa..hant_damage.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..hant_Dung_1.jpg
Elephant Dung

Here we learn to read the jungle as a ‘daily newspaper’, by identifying trails, inspecting bushes and trees, studying spoor marks and animal tracks to deduce what animals have passed by recently, which way they were going, how long ago, how fast they were going, what they have eaten and so on. In fact there seems to be a story to be told in virtually every track and dropping that we come across. A bit like opening up Facebook first thing in the morning.

There’s a great view over the crater from up here.

large_Walking_Sa..he_Crater_1.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..he_Crater_2.jpg

Eucalyptus

large_Walking_Sa..ucalyptus_3.jpg

It’s well know for being beneficial for clearing a blocked nose.

large_Walking_Sa..ucalyptus_1.jpg

Chris puts it to the test.

large_Walking_Sa..ucalyptus_2.jpg

large_Shrike__Co..venile_7-_1.jpg
Juvenile Common Fiscal Shrike

This is where we part company with the guys – Lyn and I head for the road where Malisa is waiting with the car; David and Chris continue their walk with a hike to the top of the hill.

large_Walking_Safari_6.jpg

large_Walking_Safari_-_22.jpg

While we wait for the boys to do their daily workout, we chat to a group of school children on the road. One by one, as they pass, they shout out “Shikamo” – the greeting reserved for respected elders. That’ll be me then, I guess. In reply, I shout back: “Marahaba” (the traditional reply), much to their surprise and delight.
The kids explain to Malisa that their bus has broken down, so they have to walk the 40 minutes to their school.

large_School_Chr..on_the_Road.jpg

The guys come back bearing gifts.

large_Walking_Sa..s_-_David_1.jpg

Mushroom – you can't get much fresher than this. And very good it is too.

large_Walking_Sa.._Mushroom_1.jpg

large_Walking_Sa..Mushrooms_2.jpg

Khat – the drug of choice from Somalia to Yemen and beyond (and is also available – although illegal – in our home town of Bristol). It does nothing for me – it’s a bit like chewing grass.

large_Walking_Safari_-_Qat_1.jpg

Quinine – this one might be useful for treating malaria.

large_Walking_Sa..-_Quinine_1.jpg

It’s time to move on to the next item on today’s itinerary – but first we have to get there, and we never know what we might see on the way.

large_Mount_Lemakarot_7-1.jpg
Malanja Depression with Mount Lemakarot in the distance

Emuratare - Circumcision ceremony

A couple of young Maasai lads have their faces painted to indicate that they have just undergone the circumcision ceremony. This is the most vital initiation of all rites of passages in the Maasai society and is performed shortly after puberty.

large_Maasai_Boy..mcision_7-1.jpg

large_Maasai_Boy..mcision_7-2.jpg

Cow Bells

We stop to listen to the sound of the cowbells as Malisa explains that this is how the area got its name. Ngoro ngoro ngoro ngoro. A lot of goodwill and some poetic licence is required methinks.

.

Kaki Weed

Today is an educational sort of day for sure, as Malisa hands us this plant which some people do smoke.

large_Kaki_Weed.jpg

Cooke's Hartebeest

large_Hartebeest_7-2.jpg

Maasai Warriors

Ahead a number of Maasai Warriors are walking along the road, and we are warned by Malisa not to take photos. The scene is surreal, like we are driving through a film set.

A Tower of Giraffes

large_Giraffes_1.jpg

At Endoldol we spot a few giraffe on the ridge, in the distance.

large_Giraffes_at_Endoldol_7-1.jpg

Then a few more.

large_Giraffes_at_Endoldol_7-2.jpg

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-5.jpg

Soon we have a whole forest of giraffe.

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-9.jpg

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-23.jpg

We count 53 animals – which beats Malisa’s previous record of 48 - but it's impossible to put an accurate number down as more and more keep coming from the back.

large_Giraffe_at.._Panorama_1.jpg

I have never seen anything like this incredible spectacle.

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-19.jpg

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-24.jpg

When a Maasai warrior appears in the distance, the whole scenario goes from being fantastical to becoming completely absurd as 50+ giraffe start running.

large_Giraffe_at_Endoldol_7-14.jpg

Giraffe are awkward runners, and with their long necks arching and bending as they go, they look like a wave. Totally, utterly unbelievable!

.

There is just one word that will do: WOW!

Elerai Maasai Boma

large_Maasai_Village_2.jpg

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_42.jpg

We are introduced to David, the son of the chief, who explains – in very good English – about the village and the dances we are about to see. The name Elerai refers to the yellow barked acacia trees that grow around here.

large_David__the_Chief_s_Son_1.jpg

First of all, the men and women perform a ‘welcome dance’ for us.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Boma_3.jpg

The dance is accompanied by a single musical wind instrument (traditionally a kudu horn), an olaranyani (song leader) singing the melody and a chorus chanting harmonies, combined into a sort of screeching syncopation.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Boma_6.jpg

This is followed by a display of the Maasai men's famous ‘jumping’ dance, known as adumu. This dance is traditionally performed during the eunoto, the coming of age ceremony of a Maasai warrior.

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_3.jpg

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_4.jpg

large_Elerai_Boma_-_Jumping_1.jpg

.

Chris decides he would like to join in

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_5.jpg

So he studies the style and technique carefully.

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_6.jpg

His approach is a little strained initially.

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_7.jpg

But he soon gets the hang of it.

large_Elerai_Maa..-_Jumping_8.jpg

Elerai is what is known as a ‘cultural boma’. The Tanzanian government restricts visits to Maasai homesteads to just a small selection of villages in a bid to limit the damaging effect it has on their culture.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_39.jpg

The beauty of visiting one of the official villages is that not only are we shown around the village, we can also freely take photos of the people who have ‘dressed up’ for the occasion. Taking photos of the Maasai walking along the road is considered very bad and is strongly discouraged, as mentioned in the RULES AND REGULATIONS at the entry gate.

large_Rules_and_Regulations.jpg

Here at Elerai, however, I can snap away to my heart’s content. And I do.

large_Maasai_Woman_1.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_2.jpg

large_Elerai_Boma_57.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_3.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_5.jpg

large_Maasai_Man_2.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_6.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_7.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_1.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_8.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_10.jpg

large_Maasai_Man_1.jpg

large_Maasai_Woman_11.jpg

The women have been hanging around while the men have been jumping, but now it is their turn to dance.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Boma_9.jpg

Over the years we have visited a few Maasai villages, as well as other East African ethnic groups, and never before have we been treated to a display of women jumping.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_35.jpg

They may not jump quite as high as the men, but they make a brave attempt.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_34.jpg

While David (the chief’s son, not my husband) takes Lyn and Chris around the village, Kaki, his brother, leads us into one of the other huts.

large_Kaki_showi..e_village_1.jpg

To us, the village doesn’t look all that big, but this collection of straw-and-mud huts is home to around 120 people.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_36.jpg

The work of constructing the huts falls on the women, who build a frame from wooden sticks, make the walls and roof from acacia grass, they then cover the whole lot with cow dung. During the rainy season the houses have to be re-covered with new dung every night.

large_Elerai_Boma_59.jpg

Standing around or walking very slowly, as we have been doing while watching the dancing, has a terrible effect on my troubled back, it is now hurting so much I am struggling to walk. I therefore decline the invitation to see what the hut looks like on the inside, instead I send David in with strict instructions to take photos using his video camera.

large_Kaki_showi..e_village_3.jpg

large_Inside_the_Maasai_Hut_1.jpg

large_Inside_the_Maasai_Hut_2.jpg

large_Inside_the_Maasai_Hut_3.jpg

The heigh of luxury it ain't, but I guess they don't spend much time inside.

Eventually curiosity gets the better of me, and I carefully put my head around the corner to take a peek.

large_Inside_the_Hut_1.jpg

Although the older children go to school in a nearby small town, the younger ones attend the on-site kindergarten.

large_Kindergarten_1.jpg

large_Elerai_Maa..dergarden_1.jpg

large_Elerai_Maa..dergarden_2.jpg

The children beautifully recite the alphabet and numbers in English for us.

large_Elerai_Maa..dergarden_3.jpg

.

The occasional grubby exterior fails to hide the beauty and innocence of these charming kids.

large_Maasai_Children_6.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_14.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_16.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_7.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_8.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_9.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_11.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_12.jpg

large_Maasai_Children_13.jpg

The Maasai – as well as most other ethnic tribes in this region – build their homes in a circular pattern, with a ‘fence’ made from thorny acacia bushes to keep any wild animals out.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_41.jpg

At night, the domestic animals are herded into a coral for safety.

large_Elerai_Maasai_Village_37.jpg

Exit through the shop.
A Maasai ‘market’ has been set up in the centre of the village where we are ‘encouraged’ to buy something from the stall belonging to the householder whose home we just visited.

large_Maasai_Market_1.jpg

This stuff always looks so good - and tempting - when you see it like this in its appropriate surroundings, but usually becomes horribly out of place if you take it back home.

large_Maasai_Market_3.jpg

We choose a ‘talking stick’ and a small calabash to go on our wall next to the necklace we bought in Kenya last year.

large_Maasai_Talking_Stick.jpg

The talking stick is a communication tool used by the Maasai elders during their community gatherings as a symbol of authority and a right to speak. Everyone present must listen respectfully to the person holding the stick, and only that person is allowed to speak. When he has finished talking, the stick is passed on to someone else, ensuring everyone present has a chance to be heard.

Not sure how it would work in the Howard Household…

We are only partially successful in getting a mutually satisfactory price, and walk away with a feeling of having been ripped off.

large_Maasai_Market_4.jpg

large_Twende_1.jpg

Moving on to our next educational stop, with a few interesting (or not) sights along the way.

Camels

Tanzania has become a lot more commercialised in just the 20 months since we were here last – these camels are brought to the road side by the Maasai who charge tourists to have their photo taken with them.

large_Camels_7-1.jpg

Dust

This may be the green season, but the only rain we have seen so far is a mere five minutes just as we left Kilimanjaro Airport. Any vehicles, especially large trucks, throw up great amounts of dust from the tracks.

large_Dust_7-1.jpg

large_0FA25651EC7AE943CCFCCBB456FD1E98.jpg

As we slow down for the junction, a group of teenagers shout and wave their arms. One young lad lifts his gown to reveal nothing underneath except a hard-on. I am left in a state of incredulity: “Did I really just see that?” You’ll be pleased to know that there is no photographic evidence.

Eland

large_Eland_7-1.jpg

Dark Chanting Goshawk

large_Hawk__Dark..Goshawk_7-1.jpg

Thomson's gazelle

large_Thomson_s_Gazelle_7-1.jpg

large_Thomson_s_Gazelle_7-2.jpg

Rough track

The vibration caused by the incredibly rough rutted track results in Lyn’s lens filter becoming unscrewed and me shouting: “Can you keep the noise down please!”

large_Dirt_Track_to_Oldupai_7-1.jpg

Beetle

A stowaway flies in through the window, hoping to catch a ride. One of my ambitions for this trip is to see a dung beetle, but this one is sadly dung-less. I know, I know, there is no pleasing some people.

large_Beetle__Dungless_7-2.jpg

Oldupai Gorge – Where human life began

large_Oldupai_1.jpg

The thirty-mile long and 300 feet deep ravine is part of the Great Rift Valley that stretches through East Africa. The original paleoanthropologists who excavated this area over 50 years ago, wrongly named it Olduvai after mishearing the Maa word for the wild sisal plant which grows in the vicinity. The Tanzanian government renamed it (correctly) Oldupai Gorge in 2005.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_Reception.jpg

It is thought that millions of years ago, the site was that of a large lake, the shores of which were covered with successive deposits of volcanic ash. Around 500,000 years ago seismic activity diverted a nearby stream which began to cut down into the sediments, revealing seven main layers in the walls of the gorge. Just one small pinnacle remains standing.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_1.jpg

This is another place I hardly recognise from last time we came – which admittedly was nine years ago in 2007 – there is so much building work and a completely new Orientation Centre.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_2.jpg

Scenic as the gorge may be, it is by no means on the same scale as the Grand Canyon, or even Cheddar Gorge; but then again it is not the gorge itself that is the star attraction here; it is all about the secrets this deep-sided the ravine concealed.

Cradle of Mankind Museum

large_Cradle_of_Mankind.jpg

Oldupai Gorge is considered to be one of the most important pre-historic sites in the world. In the 1930s Mary and Louis Leakey discovered fossils of early humanoid dating back some 5 million years (give or take a few hundred thousand years); which has been hugely instrumental in furthering our understanding of early human evolution.

large_Oldupai_Mu..is_Leakey_1.jpg

large_Oldupai_Mu..is_Leakey_2.jpg

Realistic replicas of some of their most important discoveries are on display in the modest museum, including the ‘Laetoli Footprints’ – perfectly preserved marks in the rock showing two upright bipedal hominids, out for a stroll more than 3.5 million years ago. If that doesn’t make you feel humble and small, nothing will.

large_Oldupai_Mu..ootprints_3.jpg

large_Oldupai_Mu..ootprints_2.jpg

large_Oldupai_Mu..ootprints_1.jpg

Other exhibits include fossils, tools, artefacts and display boards with old photos from the Leakey’s time.

large_Oldupai_Mu..f_Mankind_7.jpg

large_Oldupai_Mu.._Mankind_10.jpg

large_Oldupai_Mu..ootprints_5.jpg

Part of the exhibition is dedicated to Dr Yoshiharo Sekino, who set out on a remarkable journey following the routes of ancient civilisations.

large_Dr_Yoshiha..s_Journey_1.jpg

large_Dr_Yoshiha..o_s_Bicycle.jpg
Dr Sekino's bike

large_Dr_Yoshiha..s_Journey_3.jpg
His route on the map within the exhibition

We have our picnic lunch overlooking the gorge, next to the group of American college students we saw on the flight from Nairobi as well in Tarangire National Park. They are incredibly noisy, but I am more concerned about the fact that this girl thinks it is perfectly acceptable to eat her lunch in public with her great big walking boot on the table!

large_Picnic_Lun..n_the_table.jpg

History comes to life with a short presentation on how the various layers of rock strata have formed over the past 5 million or so years.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_3.jpg

We can clearly see three of the five layers here:

1. Basalt from 2 million years ago
2. Volcanic ash from 1.75 million years ago
3. Iron oxide from 1.2 million years ago.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_4.jpg

The top two layers (ash and mud – 800,000 and 150,000 years ago respectively) have eroded over the years.

Different types of humanoids inhabited the different time epochs. With my tongue firmly in my cheek, I have my own slant on evolution…

large_Evolution.jpg

We are also given the low-down on the sisal plant – which the gorge is named after – and its many uses: rope and mats, painkillers from the roots and animals will chew on it for water.

large_1ABB4616D0708A05052F17C562FB8B0B.jpg

After our educational break, we head down into the gorge itself, on some pretty basic tracks.

large_Oldupai_Gorge_5.jpg

large_Naibor_Soit_1.jpg

What I want to know is how we can be sure we are not actually driving on top of some hitherto undiscovered important archaeological remains.

large_Naibor_Soit_3.jpg

The Mysterious Shifting Sands

Having come across articles about this phenomenon while researching our trip, I asked Malisa if we could make a detour to try and find these elusive dunes.

large_Shifting_Sands_1.jpg

These fascinating crescent-shaped mounds are a remarkable occurrence known as barkan. Dunes are formed when ground dust blown by unidirectional wind collects around a stone and continues to accumulate until a small dune is formed. As more sand is added, the process continues and the dune moves, in this case around ten metres a year.

large_Shifting_Sands_5.jpg

Shifting sands is not a new experience for us; but this one is different in that it is not only made up of very fine black sand, but it is also highly magnetised due to its high iron content.

large_Shifting_Sands_9.jpg

Despite its very fine texture, when you throw a handful of the stuff in the air, it doesn’t blow away on the wind, it falls almost straight down. The whole thing is eerie and ethereal, like an alien world.

large_Shifting_Sands_6.jpg

.

The volcanic sand that makes up the 9-metre high and 100-metre long dune originates from the Maasai’s most holy of places, Ol Doinyo Lengai - meaning ‘Mountain of God’ - which erupts with frequent intervals sending plumes of steam and ash over the surrounding countryside.

large_Shifting_Sands_11.jpg
Erm... why Chris?

The sands have moved around 500 metres since people started to take notice of it – there are markers on the road to indicate its route – the first recorded resting place was over by those trees in the background some time in the 1950s.

large_Shifting_S.._moved_from.jpg

Lemuta

Instead of taking the direct route west from Oldupai to Ndutu, Malisa heads off towards Lemuta, “to see what we can find”.

large_Oldupai_-_..-_Ndutu_Map.jpg

Giraffes

The first thing we see is four giraffes lying down – a most unusual sight. In this position giraffes are very vulnerable to predators because of the time and effort it takes them to get up.

large_Giraffe_7-101.jpg

Beetle

Another dungless beetle flies in through the window and lands on Chris. “Throw him out” I shout, and with that Chris gets out of the car! Doh!

large_Beetle__Dungless_7-3.jpg

We make sure he is not on his back on the ground (the beetle, not Chris), before we drive off.

Thomson's Gazelles

A large herd of gazelles start running as we approach. One little baby gets separated from the rest and instead of running across; he sprints along the track as fast as his little legs will carry him.

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_7-21.jpg

Malisa slows down so as not to cause him any more stress, and soon mum comes in from the left to collect him. Phew. Another disaster averted.

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_7-22.jpg

A few gazelles refuse to run – instead they stand and stare eerily at us as we pass. David waves out of the window, but they don’t wave back. Ignorant so-and-sos.

(Ex) Wildebeest

It was the end of the road for this wildebeest as he died of natural causes.

large_One_that_didn_t_make_it_1.jpg

Vultures

Something obviously didn’t make it here either – Malisa explains that it is an old cheetah kill which the vultures are now finishing off.

large_Vultures_7-1.jpg

large_Lyn__the_Photographer.jpg

large_Lyn__the_Photographer_7-1.jpg

Endless Plains

Seeing the Short Grass Plains at Lemuta, I can understand how Serengeti got its name – it means “Endless Plains” in the local Maa language. As far as the eye can see in every direction there is nothing but grass, dotted with a few animals. It is quite overwhelming, and none of my photographs do it justice.

large_Lemuta_Sho.._Plains_7-1.jpg

The panorama below – joined together from nine different images, shows a 180° view, to give you some idea.

large_Lemuta_Sho..ns_Panorama.jpg

Secretary Bird

This large bird - standing at 125 cm - gets its name from the crest of long quill-like feathers which gives it the appearance of an old-style secretary with quill pens tucked behind their ear. Although it has the ability to fly (I have never seen one in flight), the secretary birds is largely terrestrial, hunting its prey on foot

large_Secretary_Bird_7-1.jpg

Lappet Faced Vulture

A lappet Faced Vulture surveys the plains, looking for food.

large_Vulture__Lapped_Faced_7-1.jpg

Vultures and Jackal

Another old cheetah kill attracts a number of vultures (White Backed, Woolly Necked, and Rueppell’s Griffon) as well as a Golden Jackal.

large_Vultures_a.._Jackal_7-1.jpg

Squabbles are almost constant, with everyone looking for an opportunity to grab a piece of meat for themselves.

large_Vultures__.._Jackal_7-1.jpg

The jackal is definitely at the top of the pecking order, while the vultures fight amongst themselves.

large_Vultures__.._Jackal_7-3.jpg

large_Vultures__.._Jackal_7-8.jpg

large_Vultures__.._Jackal_7-5.jpg

large_Vultures__.._Jackal_7-6.jpg

A couple of Lappet Faced Vultures arrive to join in the party

large_Vultures__..Griffon_7-1.jpg

large_Vulture__White_Headed_7-1.jpg

More fighting, and even the jackal joins in with a growl.

large_Vultures__..Jackal_7-10.jpg

large_Vultures__..Jackal_7-12.jpg

It looks like the jackal has his fill as he licks his chops and walks off.

large_Vultures__..Jackal_7-14.jpg

Then, and only then, do the vultures get a look-in.

large_271C95BAB6512DE3069F2E0B1B2B0644.jpg

They tuck into what's left of the once cute little Thomson's Gazelle.

large_Vultures__..Griffon_7-3.jpg

Having access to the meat doesn't stop them feuding, however.

large_Vultures__..Griffon_7-4.jpg

We continue across the short grass plains, looking for cheetah at every kopje. No luck. Not one.

Hyenas

We do, however, spot a cackle of female hyenas. They lie down in puddles and streams to cool down while digesting their food. Unhappy at being woken up from her afternoon nap, this one takes flight when she sees us.

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-2.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-4.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-6.jpg

Female hyenas have a false penis (which you can just about make out in the photo below) and are the pack leaders.

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-14.jpg

For a while they circle a Tommy family (Thomson’s Gazelle), but eventually decide it’s too much like hard work and call it a day.

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-19.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-16.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-10.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_7-11.jpg

Yellow Throated Sandgrouse

large_Sandgrouse..hroated_7-3.jpg

large_Sandgrouse..hroated_7-4.jpg

Kori Bustard

Another tall bird at almost one metre in height.

large_Bustard__Kori_7-1.jpg

Capped Wheatear

large_Wheatear__Capped_7-2.jpg

Crowned Plover

large_Plover__Crowned_7-11.jpg

Golden Jackal

large_Jackal__Golden_7-31.jpg

Eland

As a result of hunting (eland meat is highly prized), these animals have become very skittish, so it is good to get some photos that are not ‘bum shots’ for a change.

large_Eland_7-22.jpg

large_Eland_7-24.jpg

Dung Beetle

large_Dung_Beetle.jpg

Each time I go on a safari, I have a wish list of animals I would like to see. This year the dung beetle is one of my top requests for Malisa to try and locate. As always, he comes up trumps, and much excitement ensues when he stops the car to introduce us our new little friend.

large_Beetle__Dung_7-29.jpg

Aren’t dung beetles just the coolest, most fascinating little animals? OK, maybe you think I am very sad for getting excited about a small shit-eating insect, but just hear me out first before you poo-poo my statement.

large_Beetle__Dung_1.jpg

These tiny bugs (about twice the size of my thumbnail) prefer excrement from herbivores rather than carnivores, as the former is largely undigested vegetable matter. OK, so now we have a vegetarian poo-eating insect. Although, the veggie poo is not so easy for them to locate as it gives off less of an odour than the meat waste. So, it has now become a vegetarian poo-eating insect with a sensitive nose.

large_Beetle__Dung_2.jpg

Most dung beetles are fussy eaters, so they won’t just eat any old shit; it has to be waste from a particular animal. They also like their poo to be fresh – don’t we all – the fresher the better. I think I am beginning to understand this; these are finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian poo-eaters. A new patty can be descended on by up to 4000 dung beetles within 15 minutes of being dropped, and as many as 15,000 have been observed on one pile of dung at the same time. A real sociable, finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian, poo-eater it seems.

large_Beetle__Dung_3.jpg

All I wanted was one single beetle carefully rolling away his prized poo!

large_Beetle__Dung_7-30.jpg

You could say he is on a roll... actually, they move surprisingly fast!

large_Beetle__Dung_7-27.jpg

Dung beetles can eat their own weight in less than 24 hours, and are probably the most industrious resident on the savannah, clearing up the mess left behind by other animals. The original recyclers! We can now add another string to his bow, making him a sociable, finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian, poo-eating eco-warrior.

large_Beetle__Dung_7-32.jpg

So how does a dung beetle know which way he should be rolling his poo? He navigates using the Milky Way of course. Now this is starting to get serious: he is a sociable, finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian, poo-eating environmentally friendly astronomer.

large_Milky_Way.jpg
This image is all mine, although the pictures of the sky and the beetle were not taken at the same time.

Although not all dung beetles roll their dung away, those that do, do so to feed their young. There is nothing like passing poo to your babies eh? Those beetles that don’t move the poo, make their home in the pile of dung. You could say they are happy as a pig in shit – or it that beetle?

large_Beetle__Dung_7-34.jpg

As well as food and housing, that pile of manure is also great for cooling off your feet (or rather for the beetle’s feet) – a bit like us trying to get off the hot sand on a sunny beach. Dung is considerably cooler than the parched African soil, mainly due to its moisture contents. So, how is that little insect doing now? He can now be described as a sociable, finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian poo-eating, hot footing environmentally friendly astronomer.

large_Beetle__Dung_4.jpg

The last point I want to make is about their strength (I’m am not going to mention about his horn) – imagine yourself pushing a giant ball (just try not to think about what it is made from) which is over a thousand times your body weight, which is equal to an average gym-goer pushing 80 tons!
Now our little friend has become a sociable, finicky sensitive-nosed vegetarian poo-eating, hot footing, athletic, environmentally friendly astronomer. He sure is my hero!

And you thought he was just another beetle!

large_Beetle__Dung_7-25.jpg

You think I am talking a lot of crap? Check it out for yourself.

Dung Beetles guided by Milky Way

Wikipedia

.

Safari Vehicle

large_Safari_Vehicle_1.jpg

This is what our ‘home’ for the eleven days in Tanzania looks like. Based on a Toyota Landcruiser, it has been especially converted for safari use, with plenty of room in the back (six seats plus luggage compartment), an elevating roof means we can stand up for a better view to take photos, and it is easy to move around on a flat floor. There are charging points for camera batteries, and a beanbag for photography, plus we can attach a clamp with a tripod head to the rails too. All mods cons (including a fridge full of cold drinks), and comfortable seats - it has everything we need for long days on the African savannah.

large_Calabash_S..Vehicle_7-1.jpg

Pregnant Hyena

This pregnant hyena is very close to giving birth, and all she wants to do is sleep. Instead she has to pose for these horrid tourists. It’s a hard life isn’t it?

large_Hyena__Pre.._Female_7-1.jpg

large_Hyena__Pre.._Female_7-2.jpg

large_Hyena__Pre.._Female_7-3.jpg

large_Hyena__Pre.._Female_7-5.jpg

large_Hyena__Pre.._Female_7-6.jpg

A congress of Jackals

Five or six Golden Jackals turn up.

large_Jackal__Golden_7-43.jpg

large_Jackal__Golden_7-44.jpg

A couple of Ostriches

large_Ostriches_7-11.jpg

large_Ostrich__Female_7-11.jpg
Female

large_Ostrich__Male_7-11.jpg
Male

And some Zebra

large_Zebra_7-11.jpg

large_Zebra_7-13.jpg

Spotting another vehicle makes us realise that the last time we saw one was actually four hours ago. I like this low season safari lark.

Wildebeest Migration

Because the rains arrived later than normal this year, the wildebeest seem confused and appear to have split up. You can see from the map below where they normally are during May, and where we spot large herds of them today.

large_Migration_Map_1.jpg

large_Wildebeest_Migration_7-2.jpg

Grant’s Gazelle

The wildebeest are accompanied by Grant’s Gazelle.

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_7-11.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_7-14.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_7-16.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_7-18.jpg

And a Tawny Eagle

large_Eagle__Tawny_7-2.jpg

Lion Pride

large_Lion_Pride.jpg

Not far from our lodge, and with the light fading fast, we come across a pride of nine lions spread out over a swampy area between Lakes Ndutu and Masek.

large_Lions_7-11.jpg

The females and young males lie in the late sun, stroll around or play fight.

large_Lions_7-2.jpg

large_Lions_7-6.jpg

large_Lions_7-7.jpg

large_Lions_7-14.jpg

large_Lions_7-25.jpg

large_Lions_7-27.jpg

large_Lions_7-28.jpg

By reason of a strict pecking order, these guys are waiting their turn to have dinner – once the two alpha males have had their fill.

large_Warning.jpg

large_This_Entry..ns_Scenes_3.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-1.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-4.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-6.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-7.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-9.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-13.jpg

And for those of you who are wondering exactly how close we are to the lions – THIS is how close!

large_Lion_Kill_7-22.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-21.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-30.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-31.jpg

When one of the boys has had enough and gets up and walks away, the others look at the kill expectantly.

large_Lion_Kill_7-45.jpg

large_Lions_7-29.jpg

But it seems his brother is still not finished.

large_Lion_Kill_7-47.jpg

Has he had enough?

large_Lion_Kill_7-48.jpg

Has he?

large_Lion_Kill_7-49.jpg

It seems that way…

large_Lion_Kill_7-50.jpg

Has he heck!

large_Lion_Kill_7-51.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-53.jpg

The youngsters resign themselves to having to wait a little longer for supper.

large_Lions_7-32.jpg

large_Lions_7-31.jpg

One of the braver ones decides he is going to risk it.

large_Lion_Kill_7-55.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-56.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-57.jpg

Finally!

large_Lion_Kill_7-59.jpg

Seeing the look on this guy’s face as he struggles to bit off a slice of the fresh rib, I am instantly grateful for steak knives.

large_Lions_7-36.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-62.jpg

And after all that, all he ends up with is a mouthful of bones. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

large_Lion_Kill_7-63.jpg

Maybe, just maybe… he is trying to bite off more than he can chew…?

large_Lion_Kill_7-64.jpg

large_Lion_Kill_7-65.jpg

He looks forlorn: “There’s got to be an easier way than this.”

large_Lion_Kill_7-66.jpg

“I’ll try a different approach”

large_Lion_Kill_7-67.jpg

“Or maybe I’ll just lick the plate”

large_Lion_Kill_7-70.jpg

Malisa points out that meanwhile, behind us, a glorious sunset is painting the sky orange over the lake, signalling the end of another extraordinary day and time for us to say goodbye to our lions and head to camp.

large_Sunset_ove..e_Ndutu_7-1.jpg

Ndutu Lodge

large_83ADC988DBF1FAA860915D23ADBCAD1F.jpg

As with our previous visit, it is dark by the time we arrive at Ndutu Lodge. Despite several other safari vehicles arriving at the same time, the check in is impressively swift and efficient. After a quick shower and change, we meet up dinner.

Good food, Savanna Cider, Genets in the Rafters, coffee in the lounge and Dik Diks on the lawn – a perfect end to a perfect day!

large_Chicken_and_Rice_7-1.jpg
Chicken and rice

Small Spotted Genet

large_Genet__Small_Spotted_7-1.jpg

Cat-like in appearance, the genets are wild but encouraged to hang around the rafters of the lodge by staff who occasionally slip them tidbits of food in exchange for keeping the rodent population down. They are also obviously very popular with the guests.

large_Genet__Small_Spotted_7-8.jpg

Apparently the roof of the dining room / bar area was originally supported by huge wooden beams which the genets used a climbing frame. When the rafters were removed during the refurbishment, one of the beams was retained purely for the pleasure of the genets

large_Ndutu_Lodg.._Lounge_7-1.jpg

Dik Diks

Normally extremely shy, these tiny antelopes have become accustomed to people and feed happily in the grounds of the lodge.

large_Dik_Dik_7-5.jpg

large_Dik_Dik_7-7.jpg

large_Dik_Dik_7-8.jpg

Yet again Calabash Adventures and their wonderful guide Malisa have given us a day in the bush to remember.

large_85AE5A1FB59EE3E1FE8B9825BD936DA4.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 03:04 Archived in Tanzania Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises animals birds sunset road_trip view travel vacation views shopping village adventure roads kids scenery museum sunrise africa safari tanzania lodge zebra lunch beetle unesco birding chicken souvenirs lions maasai giraffe roadtrip lion_cubs ngorongoro dust hyena kill tribes anthropology wildebeest olduvai jackal ngorongoro_crater rip_off bird_watching game_drive road-trip eland african_food dung_beetle safari_vehicle great_rift_valley night_photography canon_eos_5d_iii school_kids qat calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators which_safari_company best_safari_company nature_trail maasai_cattle ngrongoro_serena ngorongoro_conservation_area tower_of_giraffe maasai_boma kindegarten shifting_sands oldupai lamuta lion_kill Comments (0)

Maramboi - Ngorongoro

How can we possibly top that?


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_6_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

large_B8F1E3A8E6D039BF4099DA322DF4CC84.jpg

large_Breakfast_at_Maramboi_1.jpg

Breakfast at Maramboi is interrupted this morning by a family of warthogs coming through...

large_Warthogs_at_Maramboi_21.jpg

large_Warthogs_at_Maramboi_23.jpg

... a couple of birds visiting the dining area...

large_Starling__Superb_6-3.jpg

large_Bulbul__Common_6-3.jpg

...and the sunrise.

large_Sunrise_over_Maramboi_5.jpg

large_Sunrise_over_Maramboi_7.jpg

This morning we get to pick the contents of our own lunch boxes – another thing we like about Maramboi.

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_1.jpg

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_2.jpg

There is quite a selection to choose from – something for everyone.

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_3.jpg

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_4.jpg

Including for Chris, who struggles with the weight of his over-full box!

large_Maramboi_-..hris__Box_1.jpg

Why have a healthy lunch when you can have cake?

large_Maramboi_-..hris__Box_2.jpg

We are off to pastures new this morning – another park, another lodge, another eventful day filled with exciting animal encounters.

large_Maramboi_-..p_the_car_1.jpg

In order to try and contain the elephants within Tarangire National Park, bee hives have been hung from the trees along the park boundaries – it has been found that those big, brave, huge animals are afraid of a tiny little bee! And I thought it was just mice that freaked elephants out, and then only in cartoons. Apparently not.

large_Bee_Hive_3.jpg

large_Bee_Hive_1.jpg
The old traditional style

large_Bee_Hive_4.jpg
And the more modern type

Minjungu

At Minjungu Village, Maasai women are busy setting up the weekly market.

large_Minjungu_W..ai_Market_1.jpg

large_Minjungu_W..ai_Market_2.jpg

Today we are heading for Ngorongoro.

large_Ngorongoro..Area_sign_1.jpg.

We may not be in one of the national parks right now, but that doesn’t stop us seeing a plethora of wild animals along the way.

large_Ostrich__Z..he_road_6-3.jpg
Ostrich, Zebra and Wildebeest

large_Thomson_s_Gazelles_6-1.jpg
Thomson's Gazelles

Chris spots some animals in the distance and excitedly exclaims: “zebra!” They turn out to be donkeys, but shall be forever known as ‘Chris’ Zebra’.

large_Donkey_6-4.jpg

large_Chris__Zebra_1.jpg
Maybe Chris has discovered a new species? A zonkey known as Debra?

Donkeys have extremely strong bones and in an impact with a car they can easily get up and walk away even if the car is a total wreck.

large_Donkey_6-3.jpg

large_Donkeys__Albino__6-1.jpg
Albino donkey?

large_Donkey_6-5.jpg
Nice ass!

Maasai Manyatta (village)

In the far distance we can see a huge Maasai Manyatta (terrible photo, sorry), belonging to the local village chief and his 27 wives! With over 100 children between them, he has even built his own school; which, with the help of the government, has since expanded to allow other local children to attend. One of the richest men in the area, he built his empire to become the biggest supplier of milk in the region . (And he's been milking it ever since)

So it is true what they say about the milkman then!

large_Maasai_Manyatta_6-1.jpg

I can’t remember seeing so many tuk tuks on our previous visits. These three wheeled auto rickshaw taxis are known as bajaji here in Tanzania. They are cheap and readily available, but probably not a good idea for a safari.

large_Bajaji__tuk_tuk__Taxis_2.jpg

large_Bajaji__tuk_tuk__Taxis_1.jpg

large_Bajaji__tuk_tuk__Taxis_5.jpg

Mto Wa Mbu

The small town of Mto Wa Mbu is just beginning to come to life as we pass through this morning on our way to the highlands.

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_4.jpg

The town owes its fast increasing population to Medicine Men in Loliondo near Lake Natron, some 250 kilometres away. Offering to cure all incurable diseases, the witch doctors are extremely popular with believers who overnight here in Mto Wa Mbu before being taken to meet the doctors. The medicine dispensed is very reasonably priced at 500 shillings (ca. 22cents in US$) – the transport required to take you there, however, will set you back US$100. Sounds like a dreadful, but apparently successful, scam to me!

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_5.jpg

Hanging out of the window with my camera in hand, I practise my usual drive-by-shooting.

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_9.jpg

Meaning Mosquito River, Mto Wa Mbu is one of the few places around where you can find all Tanzania’s 120 ethnic tribes represented; mainly because of the lure of the tourist dollar and also the aforementioned racket involving greedy quacks.

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_10.jpg

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_11.jpg

Mto Wa Mbu is where you find the entrance to Lake Manyara National Park, so there are plenty of tourist stalls around. Also, all road traffic to Ngorongoro and Serengeti come through here.

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_9.jpg

Malisa stops the car and buys some little red bananas for us to try. They are sweeter than the normal yellow type, and Malisa explains how they will only grow successfully in volcanic soil – plant them anywhere else and the fruit turns green rather than red.

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_12.jpg

large_Red_Bananas.jpg

This area is a major breeding site for storks (Marabou, Yellow Billed and African Open Billed) as well as Pelicans.

large_Storks__Ye..Marabou_6-1.jpg
Yellow Billed and Maribou Storks

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-5.jpg
Yellow Billed Storks

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-4.jpg

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-3.jpg

large_Pelican__P.._Billed_6-1.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork and Pink Backed Pelican

large_Pelican__Pink_Backed_6-2.jpg
Pink Backed Pelican

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-2.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork

It also seems to be a favourite place for Olive Baboons to hang out – maybe they are after berries dropped by the birds, or it could be that tourists stopping to photograph the birds feed the baboons too…

large_Baboons_6-2.jpg

large_Baboons_6-4.jpg

As we start to climb onto the Ngorongoro Highlands, we can feel the temperature dropping. We are doing some serious climbing today – thankfully by car – from an altitude of 4,150 feet above sea level at Maramboi, to around 7,200 on the crater rim. That’s a difference of a whopping 3,000 feet!

Putting it into perspective, the peak of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in UK, sits at 4,416 feet.

large_Climbing_u..o_Highlands.jpg

We stop part way up to look at the view over Lake Manyara, from the shores of which we watched the sun rise this morning.

large_Looking_ou..e_Manyara_1.jpg

large_Looking_ou..e_Manyara_2.jpg

large_Looking_ou..e_Manyara_3.jpg

As with all places where tourists routinely stop, a number of salesmen hang around. We negotiate a good deal on some fun little necklaces with carved animals, and we all wear one, including David and Chris.

large_Necklaces.jpg

large_Necklaces_with_Animals_2.jpg

large_Necklaces_with_Animals_3.jpg

large_Necklaces_with_Animals_1.jpg

While sandals made from old tyres are quite a common sight all over sub-Saharan Africa, Malisa has a very much more upmarket version!

large_Malisa_a_Sandals_5-1.jpg

Especially commissioned and made from brand new motorcycle tyres, they are totally unique and even have a cool antenna at the front! I love them, I can’t imagine, however, going in to a Clark’s shop in Bristol and asking for a “size 180/55ZR-17 with a six inch pole and four beds please”.

large_Malisa_a_Sandals_5-2.jpg

large_Malisa_a_Sandals_5-3.jpg
That's the best grip I have ever seen on any sandal!

As we climb higher, large fields of sunflowers brighten up the scenery.

large_Sunflowers_6-11.jpg

large_Sunflowers_6-12_Nik.jpg

So far on this trip we have been extremely lucky with the weather – especially as we are here in the Green Season – but those clouds looming over the hills do not look very promising.

large_Souvenir_Shop.jpg

Karatu

There’s a different look and feel to this town up here in the highlands than the atmosphere of Mto Wa Mbu in the lowlands.

large_Karatu_1.jpg

large_Karatu_2.jpg

large_Karatu_3.jpg

large_Karatu_4.jpg

large_Karatu_5.jpg

large_Karatu_6.jpg

large_Karatu_7.jpg

And they have motorcycle taxis – known as pikipiki – instead of tuk tuks.

large_Karatu_-_P..ycle_Taxi_1.jpg

large_Karatu_-_P..ycle_Taxi_2.jpg

Loduare Gate

As the portal to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as well as the Serengeti further along, each year more than 1.5 million people pass through this gate!

large_Lodoare_Gate_1.jpg

It is not just safari tourists who enter – goods and passengers come this way too as this is the main B144 highway travelling north-west from Arusha.

large_Lodoare_Gate_2.jpg

While Malisa completes the registration and pays the fee, we have time to inspect the small information centre with a cool 3D map depicting the dramatic ecology, ethnography and topography of the region.

large_Lodoare_Ga..on_Centre_2.jpg

large_Lodoare_Gate_-_3D_Map_1.jpg

large_Lodoare_Ga..on_Centre_1.jpg

large_Lodoare_Ga..on_Centre_3.jpg

There is also an even smaller shop.

large_Lodoare_Gate_-_Shop.jpg

At least the toilets here have improved drastically since our first visit in 2007, although that wouldn’t take much!

large_Lodoare_Gate_-_Toilets.jpg

Malisa has our permit and we are ready to move on to the next part of our adventure.

large_Lodoare_Gate_8.jpg

large_Lodoare_Gate_6.jpg

large_Lodoare_Gate_5.jpg

Immediately after passing through the gate, the road goes from being a super highway (OK, that may be a slight exaggeration... but at least it is sealed and relatively smooth) to a simple dirt track. This is one of the things I like about Tanzania compared with places such as South Africa – you do feel that you are visiting a real African wilderness rather than a commercial safari park.

large_Ngorongoro..o_the_Rim_4.jpglarge_Ngorongoro..o_the_Rim_6.jpg

Over a distance of around six kilometres, we negotiate a number of switchbacks as we climb ever upwards. Here the vegetation is more like a tropical rainforest, and I am very surprised – disappointed even – that the usual heavy mist is absent from the densely forested slope of the outer crater wall today.

large_Ngorongoro..o_the_Rim_8.jpg
In the photo above, you can see the road we just came up at the back on the left

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_10.jpg

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_12.jpg

We even get some quick glimpses of the ‘lowlands’ below us.

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_15.jpg

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_16.jpg

Just as the road levels out, the mist finally appears.

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_17.jpg

Then the dense vegetation surrounding the road abruptly opens up into a clearing and we are greeted by the most breathtaking panoramic view from the crater rim, a vista beyond all imagination.

large_Ngorongoro..m_the_Rim_4.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..m_the_Rim_6.jpg

Chris’ reaction as he looks out from the viewpoint brings me to tears.

.

Throughout our trip so far, we have all being uttering exclamations of delight with “wow” being one of our favourite expressions.
Chris on the other hand, has been more level headed. “I am not a ‘wow’ kind of person” he has been saying, “I was prepared to be amazed, and I have been”. For him, therefore, to be calling out “wow” at this point is really stupendous.

large_DDEDC653ADA48DA1895E79F90170B558.jpg

I know how he feels, however. That first glimpse of the crater floor spread out below never fails to excite me as I gaze in awe at the small dark specks, trying to make out individual animals below through binoculars.

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_14.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_17.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_15.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_12.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_20.jpg

This is our first visit in the Green Season, and I am almost overwhelmed by how verdant the crater floor looks. It looks totally different to the dry season, like a completely different park! I love it!

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_24.jpg

large_Ngorongoro.._Comparison.jpg

As we continue on our way around the rim in a clockwise direction, the mist descends on us.

large_Mist_1.jpg

The Tomb of Michael Grzimek

HE GAVE ALL HE POSSESSED
INCLUDING HIS LIFE
FOR THE WILD ANIMALS OF AFRICA

The German film maker and passionate conservationist Michael Grzimek is best known for the film 'Serengeti Shall not Die', and his tireless work (and infinite generosity) on the survey of the annual migration in East Africa which resulted in the mapping and extending of the Serengeti National Park.

After his plane crashed following a collision with a vulture in 1957, he was buried here at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. Later this memorial was erected in his honour.

large_Michael_Grzimek_s_Grave_.jpg

I am totally blown away by the colours of the Ngorongoro Highlands in the Green Season. I didn’t notice the difference to the same extent down in Tarangire and surroundings, but up here the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking, with entire hillsides of the Malanja Depression covered in yellow flowers.

large_Malanja_De..n_5_Smaller.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_10.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_13.jpg

large_Malanja_De..ildebeest_1.jpg
Zebra and Wildebeest

In fact the surroundings look so different this time of year I am beginning to think that I have never been here before. David agrees. Malisa assures us that we must have come this way last time (and the time before), as there is a one-way system in and out the crater, and the only descent route is further down this road. That makes sense, so I guess the greenery makes all the difference.

large_Ngorongoro..th_arrows_1.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_6.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_15.jpg
Maasai herders taking their livestock to softer grass

large_Malanja_De..ai_cattle_1.jpg

large_Malanja_De..ai_Cattle_7.jpg

Red Duiker

Despite its best efforts to hide in the tall grass, Malisa spots a Red Duiker – a small, shy antelope. Malisa never ceases to amaze me how he can pick these smallest of animals out while still concentrating on driving. And an excellent driver he is too!

large_Duiker__Red_6-1.jpg

Patience rewards us with a better view as the antelope forgets we are there and starts to move around, feeding.

large_Duiker__Red_6-4.jpg

large_Duiker__Red_6-7.jpg

I am particularly excited about being able to photograph this guy, as I have only even seen one very briefly once before, and that one was far too quick for me to be able to capture him on film.

large_Duiker__Red_6-9.jpg

He eventually decides he’s had enough and makes a run for it.

Unlike Tarangire – and the more famous Serengeti – Ngorongoro is a conservation area rather than a national park. What this means in reality (amongst other things) is that the Maasai are permitted to live and herd their cattle within the area.

large_Maasai_Manyatta_6-2.jpg
Seneto Boma, a temporary Maasai settlement

large_Malanja_De..i_Cattle_11.jpg
Maasai cattle co-exist happily with wild zebra

The further we drive along the road which skims the rim of the crater, the more convinced David and I are that we have not come this way before. And the more insistent Malisa is that we MUST have done, as there is no other route. Because my memory is usually extremely good (as the tree in Tarangire proved), it bothers me. Greatly.

large_Malanja_Depression_7.jpg

It plays on my mind and I keep trying to recall our journey from 20 months ago. I fail miserably, vowing to check blog from that trip when we get to the hotel – and Internet access – tonight to see if that helps to throw any light on this.

large_Malanja_Depression_9.jpg

When we reach Seneto Entrance, I have to concede that I have a vague recollection of having been here before, but it seems a lot longer ago than two years. I am beginning to get seriously worried about my mental recall here.

large_Seneto_Descent_Road_2.jpg

The entrance area is full of flowers and plants.

large_Flowers_at..cent_Road_3.jpg

large_Candelabra..cent_Road_1.jpg

large_Flowers_at..cent_Road_2.jpg

And birds.

large_Wagtail__African_Pied_6-1.jpg
African Pied Wagtail

large_Chat__Nort..nteater_6-1.jpg
Northern Anteater Chat

The Maasai are allowed to herd their cattle inside the crater, but they have to be out by nightfall. They don’t use the same access roads as tourists – here you can see their path leading in and out.

large_F33CFE8AB7894849730F11CBB29A5CDB.jpg

And this is our road.

large_Seneto_Descent_Road_3.jpg

Seneto Descent Road offers a different view over the crater – I love the way whole areas are shrouded in purple flowers!

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_1.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_2.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ent_Road_21.jpg

The scene is quite surreal, like an impressionist painting.

large_Ngorongoro..ent_Road_22.jpg

By the time we get to the bottom of the road, I am still feeling perplexed as I look – unsuccessfully – for any familiar signs within the surroundings. Nothing. Total blank.

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_3.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_5.jpg

Never mind, I will just enjoy the crater floor and check on my photos / blog tonight.

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_1.jpg

Descending the 2000 feet high walls of this natural amphitheatre is like entering another world. We drove through a rainforest earlier, now we appear to be in the desert. It may only be just over ten miles across, but the flat-bottomed floor of the sunken caldera contains a wide range of eco-systems featuring the whole world of East African safari in miniature.

large_Buzzard__Augur_6-1.jpg
Augur Buzzard

Warthogs

large_Warthogs_6-1.jpg

large_Warthogs_6-3.jpg

Wildebeest

large_Wildebeest_6-1.jpg

large_Wildebeest_6-2.jpg

large_Wildebeest_6-4.jpg

large_Lark__Flappet_6-1.jpg
Rufous Lark

I really can’t remember seeing Maasai cattle mingle with wild animals on our previous visits to the crater. I drive everyone else mad with my constant doubts: “are you sure there is no other way down?”

large_Zebra_and_.._Cattle_6-3.jpg
Zebra with Maasai cattle in the background

Zebra

large_Zebra_6-5.jpg

large_Zebra_6-4.jpg

large_Zebra_6-10.jpg

large_Zebra_6-12.jpg

“Is he dead?” We worry about a lifeless zebra on the grounds with two of his mates looking on.

large_Zebra_6-13.jpg

You'll be pleased to know he is only taking it easy in the heat of the day.

large_Zebra_6-14.jpg
Baby zebra are a delightful chocolate brown when they are young, gradually turning to black as they grow up.

Thomson’s Gazelle

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_6-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_6-2.jpg

Thomson's Gazelle is the second fastest land animal in Tanzania after the cheetah; which is why you only tend to find them on the menu for the cheetahs: they are too fast for any of the other predators.

Grey Crowned Crane

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_6-2.jpg

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_6-9.jpg

Grant’s Gazelle

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_6-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_6-2.jpg

These are the first ungulates we’ve seen in any numbers, as they are not present in Tarangire at this time of year. During the dry season large herds of zebra, wildebeest and gazelles can been seen in all three parks, so this is a new experience for us.

large_Lark__Fisc..Sparrow_6-1.jpg
Fischer's Sparrow Lark

large_Zebra_6-17.jpg

There’s nothing like a dust bath on a dry and dusty day…

.

large_Wildebeest..tarling_6-2.jpg
Wildebeest with Wattled Starling on its back

large_Ostrich_6-1.jpg
Female ostriches

Ngorongoro Serena
From the crater floor we can see the hotel we are staying in tonight, the Ngorongoro Serena, perched high on the rim overlooking the caldera.

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_3.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_2.jpg

A couple of spotted hyenas (with dirty bottoms) stroll by and appear to upset a lone elephant who disappears back into the woods with a loud trump.

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-1.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-4.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-8.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-9.jpg

large_Elephant_6-2.jpg

Ngorongoro has much to boast about: it is a UNESCO Heritage Site; the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera, it has the densest population of large carnivores and herbivores anywhere in the world (as in density, not lack of intelligence!), and it is arguably the most impressive geological feature in Africa – no wonder it is commonly referred to as the 8th wonder of the world. The crater delivers some of the best game viewing Africa has to offer, the Africa of wildlife documentaries.

An African White Backed Vulture flies overhead – I love watching the daily life in the Ngorongoro Crater.

large_Vulture__A.._Backed_6-1.jpg

When Malisa claims that the hyena is his favourite animal, I am not sure whether he is joking or not as I personally find the hyena quite sinister looking without any real redeeming features.

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-10.jpg

A very unhappy wildebeest alerts us to the presence of a male lion, mostly hidden in the grass.

large_Wildebeest_6-7.jpg

large_Lion_6-1.jpg

Not that the lion appears to take any interest in the wildebeest, but I guess if you are considered a menu item you can’t be too careful.

large_Lion_and_Wildebeest_6-2.jpg

large_Lion_6-2.jpg

Lerai Forest
Its name being Maasai for the tall, yellow barked acacia trees that grow here, Lerai was once a thick forest, but over the years elephant destruction has reduced this area to a mere woodland glade.

And, as if on cue, here are the elephants.

large_Elephants_6-31.jpg

large_Elephants_6-20.jpg

large_Elephants_6-11.jpg

The big male is in musth and ready to mate. Apparently they pee down their own leg at this time – I will be eternally grateful humans don’t do the same!

large_Elephants_6-12.jpg

This guy lost one of his tusks when trying to bring down a tree. I would say “serves him right”, but I guess it is what elephants do. When asked if park rangers ever replace the trees decimated by elephants, Malisa replies: “No. They just let nature take its course”

large_Elephants_6-19.jpg

In order to exit Lerai Forest, we have to ford the Lairatati River. It looks like they’ve had some serious rain here!

large_Fording_th..ati_River_1.jpg

large_Fording_th..ati_River_2.jpg

large_Woodpecker__Nubian_6-1.jpg
Nubian Woodpecker

Driving through the forest triggers a thought process in my brain, and I suddenly remember that last time we came, we descended into the crater through a host of flat-topped acacia trees. I mention this to Malisa, and he somewhat sheepishly admits: "yes, there is another road into the crater, right over the other side, and there were a few months in 2014 when Seneto descent Road was closed for resurfacing"

large_Ngorongoro..th_arrows_2.jpg

Eureka! I am not cracking up! We really didn't come down the same way last time. I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

It also follows that we used that other road the previous time too, as we were staying in the lodge you can see just to the right of the red arrow.

The mystery is solved and I can sleep soundly tonight!

large_Picnic_6.jpg

large_Lerai_Picnic_Site_1.jpg

large_Picnic_Lun..cnic_Site_2.jpg

large_Picnic_Lun..cnic_Site_1.jpg

We have company for our picnic.

large_Starling__Hildebrand_6-2.jpg
Hildebrand Starling

large_Weaver__Rufous_Tailed_6-1.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

Ngorongoro Crater has to be one of the most iconic safari locations in Africa, and this incredible caldera is a haven for around 20,000 of Africa’s most cherished animals, virtually the whole range of East African wildlife including all three big cats but no giraffe (the trails along the crater walls are too steep for them to negotiate). We continue our journey in a quest to watch the dramatic unfolding of wilderness action. Malisa is on a mission to find a Rasta Lion.

Black Faced Vervet Monkeys

large_Black_Face..Monkey_6-32.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkey_6-33.jpg

A barrel of monkeys (I have been checking out the various collective names of animals) hang around in the trees. This particular youngster is enjoying an afternoon nap.

large_Black_Face..Monkey_6-34.jpg

Blacksmith Plover

large_Plover__Blacksmith_6-32.jpg

I’ve never seen one sit like this before.

large_Plover__Blacksmith_6-31.jpg

large_Lark__Rufous_6-21.jpg
Rufous Lark

Wattled Starling

A deafening cacophony emanating from a tree draws our attention to a great number of wattled starlings.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-22.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-23.jpg

Dozens of tiny hungry mouths beg to be fed. Every time one of the parent birds arrives in the tree, all the babies clamour for attention, not just the offspring of that particular adult. What a racket! No wonder the collective word for a group of starlings is chattering!

large_Starling__Wattled_6-26.jpg

And when mum – and the food – flies past to feed their offspring, the other babies sulk.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-27.jpg

Until the next mother arrives with food for another baby in a different nest.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-28.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-32.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-30.jpg

It’s all too much for one little baby, who promptly falls asleep.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-35.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-36.jpg

He wakes up just as mum arrives…. to feed his brother!

large_Starling__Wattled_6-39.jpg

Once again he is left hungry as mum goes off in search of more grubs.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-40.jpg

This one’s not for him either.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-41.jpg

Much as we’d like to stay on to make sure ‘our’ little baby gets fed, we have places to go and animals to see.

Sacred Ibis at Gorigor Swamp

large_Ibis__Sacred_6-1.jpg

large_Ibis__Sacred_6-3.jpg

While we’re busy looking at the ibises, Malisa spots a mother and baby rhino way out there on the horizon. The rest of us struggle to locate them, even with binoculars. Eventually, after a lot of directions, we do pick them out through the heat and dust haze that always hangs heavily in Ngorongoro Crater.

large_Rhino_6-1.jpg

More wildebeest.

large_Wildebeest_6-51.jpg

large_Wildebeest_6-53.jpg

Including this suckling baby.

large_Wildebeest_6-52.jpg

Zebra - or horse in pyjamas as Lyn calls them. Or maybe we should call them 'Chris' Donkeys'?

large_Zebra_6-52.jpg

Always on the lookout for predators, the zebra can smell danger.

large_4D8ED378F3C7D1945133AF40F8372B16.jpg

The threat appears in the form of a spotted hyena.

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-31.jpg

Two more rhinos – another mother and baby – can be seen on the horizon. This time they are considerably nearer and we can make them out to be a little more than just two blurry blobs.

large_Rhino_6-2.jpg

Seeing a couple of lions walking on the road in the distance, we rush off to join up with them.

large_Lion_6-11.jpg

large_Lion_6-12.jpg

This one appears to have a broken tail. I wonder how that happened? I'd like to imagine some heroic escape from the clutches of a predator - but as lions have no predators in the crater, perhaps an elephant stood on it?

large_Lion_6-13.jpg

These are two youngish brothers, and not the Rasta Lion Malisa was hoping to see.

Malisa gets word from a passing vehicle - one of the very few we have seen - that there is a lioness nursing her two babies further ahead, so we speed off to see for ourselves.

As we approach, they get up and start walking towards the road.

large_Lions_6-31.jpg

They come right up to the side of the road, just a few feet away from us, and settle down in the part shade of a small bridge. To our absolute delight, the babies start to suckle!

large_Lion_6-14.jpg

large_Lion_6-25.jpg

large_Lion_6-19.jpg

large_Lion_6-26.jpg

.

If ever there was such a thing as cuteness overload, this surely is it!

large_Lion_6-15.jpg

large_Lion_6-16.jpg

large_Lion_6-21.jpg

large_Lion_6-28.jpg

Having had their quota of mother’s milk, the babies are full of life and mischief. If I thought the feeding cubs were adorable, when they start to play, it is almost too much to bear and I feel sure my heart is going to burst!

large_Lion_6-56.jpg

large_Lion_6-57.jpg

large_Lion_6-59.jpg

large_Lion_6-60.jpg

large_Lion_6-61.jpg

large_Lion_6-63.jpg

large_Lion_6-64.jpg

large_Lion_6-67.jpg

large_Lion_6-68.jpg

large_Lion_6-51.jpg

large_Lion_6-70.jpg

large_Lion_6-74.jpg

.

.

.

.

Mum, however, is exhausted and all she wants to do is sleep.

large_Lion_6-36.jpg

large_Lion_6-86.jpg

After spending a few tender moments with her little ones, mum is not amused when the cubs start jumping on her and pulling her tail.

large_Lion_6-33.jpg

large_Lion_6-34.jpg

large_Lion_6-72.jpg

large_Lion_6-78.jpg

large_Lion_6-37.jpg

Eventually she loses her temper and lets out a frustrated snarl at her cubs: “will you guys leave me alone. Please!”

large_Lion_6-87.jpg

.

As so many other mothers all over the world have done before her, she gets up and walks away is sheer exasperation to try and find a place where she can have a few minutes of peace and quiet.

large_Lion_6-90.jpg

large_Lion_6-82.jpg

large_Lion_6-84.jpg
Time to smell the flowers

Much to the cub’s displeasure: “Where are you going mum?” “Mum??”

large_Lion_6-83.jpg

She crosses the road to lie down in the shade, leaving her offspring behind, hoping that a bit of rough-and-tumble will have them worn out by bedtime.

large_Lion_6-92.jpg

large_Lion_6-93.jpg

large_Lion_6-91.jpg

large_Lion_6-100.jpg

large_Lion_6-105.jpg

One of the cubs appears to have lost interested in playing.

large_Lion_6-106.jpg

large_Lion_6-98.jpg

large_Lion_6-107.jpg

large_Lion_6-108.jpg

At a mere three weeks old, these cubs are incredibly inquisitive and heart-stirringly adorable.

large_Lion_6-103.jpg

large_Lion_6-104.jpg

When I look into those deep eyes, I feel like I am very much part of a wildlife documentary, not just merely on holiday! I have to pinch myself that this really is happening. I feel exceptionally privileged to be here, witnessing this.

large_Lion_6-101.jpg

We spend fifty minutes with the lioness and her delightful cubs, during which time we see one other vehicle. They stop for just a few minutes, take some photos and move on. I don’t understand that mentality at all – observing the interactions between the family members is what differentiates this wilderness experience from a zoo, surely?

This year's experience is also in stark contrast to our last lion cub encounter in the Ngorongoro Crater, in September 2014 during the dry season, when we struggled to get anywhere near the cats!

large_Ngorongoro_2014.jpg
Ngorongoro 2014

As we bid our cats goodbye and head towards the exit, I rib Malisa: "These cubs are very cute and all that, but you promised me a Rasta Lion! Where is he? It’s just as well Malisa understands my twisted sense of humour.

We see our two young brothers again (the one with the broken tail), walking across the marsh, but no Rasta Lion. I think Malisa is making this up.

large_Lion_6-48.jpg

Further along, a couple more lions rest in the grass right by the side of the road (that’s the shadow of our car you can see in the photos). Did Lyn say before we left home that she was worried about not seeing any lions on the safari? How many is that so far? Twelve? And it’s only Day Two of the actual safari.

large_Lions_6-203.jpg

large_Lions_6-204.jpg

large_Jackal__Golden_6-1.jpg
Golden Jackal

Finally, there he is – Malisa’s Rasta Lion, an eight years old king and a very powerful one.

large_Lion__Rasta_6-2.jpg

Really? He looks more like a big pussycat to me.

large_Lion__Rasta_6-4.jpg

Now, there’s a reason why I spent this afternoon teasing Malisa about his ‘Rasta Lion’ – we brought over a T shirt as a gift for him from Bristol Zoo, which coincidentally features… yes, you guessed it: a Rasta Lion! Although we had planned it as a parting gift, now seems to be the right moment.

large_Malisa__the_Rasta_Lion_1.jpg

We make it to the exit with seven minutes to spare until closing time – being late carries a $200 fine!

large_Ngorongoro..Exit_Road_1.jpg

As he does every evening, Malisa asks us about today’s highlight. As if there is any doubt!?! Malisa, of course, claims seeing the hyena was his favourite moment. Really?

Ngorongoro Serena Hotel

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Hotel.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_1.jpg

As usual, we arrive at our accommodation for the night after dark. So do a lot of other people, so check in is not as quick and smooth as we are used to.

large_8857486BB838418A52CCA311CB0285B8.jpg

Our room seems to be down an awful lot of steps, and after a very quick shower, it’s time to climb back up them for a drink in the bar while we watch the Maasai dancing.

large_885C1CEBA38F71A0CAAC6A3C619EDA94.jpg

For such a big hotel (also part of a bigger chain), I find this evening’s set-up quite amateurish – there is no stage as such, just a small area of the bar, which has been cleared of furniture. A good view of the dancers is limited to those people in the front row only. The outfits are colourful, and the dancers fairly enthusiastic, but I find the whole scenario too commercialised and touristy for my liking. The main dance moves are rocking of the necklaces for the women and traditional jumping for the men. At least half of the performance is dedicated to ‘audience participation’. No thanks.

large_Maasai_Dancing_6.jpg

large_Maasai_Dancing_9.jpg

large_Maasai_Dancing_3.jpg

.

large_8A1E7A9DF285A0C4FC7F94E3C982F746.jpg

The hotel redeems itself over dinner. The restaurant is super, the staff friendly, the menu table d'hôte and the food tasty.

large_Ngorongoro..estaurant_2.jpg

large_Nguru_wa_Kupaka.jpg
Nguru Wa Kupaka - king fish in exotic Swahili sauce

What a day! What can I say, apart from “How can we possibly top that?”

Thanks, yet again to Calabash Adventures – not forgetting our wonderful guide Malisa - for what is turning out to be a holiday of a lifetime!

large_8A50EC48F050D8987AAF11796EE7AEB0.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 12:26 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds monkeys food road_trip travel vacation elephants adventure roads sunrise cute holiday africa safari tanzania zebra birding tourists photography souvenirs lions maasai donkey baboons flip_flops babies roadtrip lion_cubs ngorongoro woodpecker memory cattle glamping caldera boma wildebeest ngorongoro_crater bird_watching suckling karatu game_drive road-trip african_food adorable safari_vehicle manyatta calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators best_safari_company out_of_africa maramboi olive_baboons vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys cuteness_overload maasai_cattle seneto seneto_descent_road malanja mto_wa_mbu Comments (1)

Tarangire National Park

Elephants, elephants and more elephants. Oh, and did I mention cute baby elephants?


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_5_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

I am awake before the alarm goes off this morning, being abruptly dragged out of my slumber by the not-so-distant roar of a lion.

large_Early_Morning_Start_7.jpg

It’s another early start today, leaving the lodge at 05:45 to get to Tarangire National park entrance for opening time at 06:15. Bleary eyed, we set off in the pitch black with humble expectations.

We don’t have to wait long for our first sighting. Just a couple of hundred yards from the lodge, we spot something in the car headlights.

large_Lions_5-1.jpg

Two lionesses with two cubs!

large_Lions_5-6.jpg

It is so dark out there we can only make them out with a torch or the car headlights, so I am surprised that the camera has picked anything up at all. (For those of you with an interest in the technical aspects, these photos were taken with a Canon EOS 6D with a 24-105mm f/4 at ISO 25,600 at 1/50 sec. Some of them have been cropped in the post processing stage, but no editing beyond the RAW conversion.)

large_Lions_5-8.jpg

Now it makes perfect sense why we are not permitted to walk around the lodge grounds after dark without an escort!

large_Lions_5-10.jpg

Mum is on the look-out for food, while the cubs just want to play.

large_Lions_5-11.jpg

Before we left England, Lyn was concerned “what if we don’t see any lions?”, and here we are, before 06:00 on our first day of safari, before we have even left the grounds of the lodge, let alone reached the national park; and we have four lions within feet of the car! Talk about beginners’ luck!

large_Lions_5-12.jpg

large_Lions_5-14.jpg

By 06:15 we are still here, and the sun starts to rise. We never did make it to the gate for opening time.

large_Sunrise_5-2.jpg

While it is still quite dark, at least it does mean we can actually see the lions now without resorting to shining a bright light on them.

large_Lions_5-22.jpg

It also means that I can bring the ISO down to a more manageable 6400-8000.

large_Lions_5-28.jpg

We stay with the lions until they move out of sight in their quest for breakfast.

large_Lions_5-30.jpg

This bachelor impala has been kicked out of his herd and will stay on his own for a while before creating his own harem and herd. He seems to have a growth on the side of his neck.

large_Impala_5-1.jpg

large_Impala_5-2.jpg
Impala bachelor herd

Progress is slow for us this morning as we encounter animals after animals within the lodge grounds.

large_Giraffe_5-1.jpg
Giraffe family consisting of eight members, young and old.

Including some very cute babies, thought to be around three months old.

large_Giraffe_5-3.jpg

large_Giraffe_5-7.jpg

large_Giraffe_5-8.jpglarge_Giraffe_5-12.jpg

As far as male giraffes go, females believe that the darker markings the better, as these are thought to be the stronger animals. Definitely a case of wanting their mates to be tall, dark and handsome!

Having read that the giraffes in Tarangire are darker than usual with deeper marking, I am keen to inspect the difference for myself. As the national animal of Tanzania, the killing of giraffes is illegal. Unfortunately, bush meat poaching is still big business in the rural areas, and illegal market hunting for meat is well known to be rampant around Tarangire.

large_Giraffe_5-5.jpg

We reluctantly tear ourselves away from the giraffes and move on to the next animal sighting – Olive Baboons.

large_Baboons_5-14.jpg

large_Baboons_5-15.jpg

There is a lot of squealing going on as a mother punishes her babies and they run to hide under our car.

large_Baboons_5-18.jpg

There is playing, mating, grooming and fighting going on, with the old males just sitting around doing nothing – much like our local pub on a Friday night.

large_Baboons_5-20.jpg

large_Baboons_5-25.jpg

large_Baboons_5-21.jpg

large_Baboons_5-22.jpg

There’s another animal that seems to have a growth on its side.

large_Baboons_5-23.jpg

Two males chase one ready-to-mate female. After a loud fight, the winner takes it all.

large_Baboons_5-24.jpg

A warthog looks on with amusement.

large_Warthog_5-1.jpg

large_Lilac_Breasted_Roller_5-1.jpg
Lilac Breasted Roller – apparently they got their name from the way they roll when they mate. I had no idea…

large_Cordon_Ble..Cheeked_5-1.jpg
Blue Cheeked Cordon Bleu

large_Canary__Ye..Crowned_5-1.jpg
Yellow Crowned Canary

Marula

This is the marula tree – the fruit that makes the delicious liqueur Amarula. Apparently the elephants have been known to eat the fruit and then get drunk – the thought of meeting a drunk elephant in a dark alley is a frightening one…

large_Marula_Fruit_3.jpg

Baobab Tree

It is unusual to see a young baobab tree such as this one – believed to be about sixty years old – as the elephants destroy them. A Baby Baobab tree looks very different from its adult form and this is why some Bushmen believe that it doesn't grow in the same way as other trees. They think it suddenly crashes to the ground with a thump, fully grown, and then one day simply disappears.

large_Young_Baobab_Tree_5-1.jpg

We have finally left the grounds of the lodge and are now heading towards Tarangire National Park – just about two hours later than planned.

large_Tarangire_National_Park_1.jpg

We are still not actually inside the park yet, and we make a few more stops before we are. That’s the beauty of a safari – you never know what nature is going to offer you.

large_Bishop__Red_1.jpg
Red Bishop

large_Rufous_Tailed_Weaver_5-1.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

large_Lovebirds__Fischer_s_5-1.jpg
Fischer's Lovebird

large_Starling__Asha_5-3.jpg
Ashy Starling

Tarangire National Park

large_Tarangire_..l_Park_Logo.jpg

large_Tarangire_..nal_Park_11.jpg

Our arrival at the Tarangire National Park Entrance Gate could not be any more different to the last time we were here – this time we are the only car waiting; last time the car park was full!

large_Tarangire_2014___1.jpg
September 2014

large_Tarangire_..nce_Gate_11.jpg
May 2016

Last time it took 3/4 hour for Dickson, our guide, to get our permits. This time Malisa has the necessary paperwork in no time at all!

large_Tarangire_2014___2.jpg
The queues for the permits in 2014

large_Tarangire_.._the_desk_1.jpg
The queue in 2016

large_Tarangire_..-_Malisa_11.jpg
Permit in hand – we’re ready to roll!

Tse Tse Flies

large_Tse_Tse_Flies.jpg

One of the main problems with travelling to Tanzania in the Green Season is the prevalence of tse tse flies. These pesky insects are very attracted to the colours black and navy, so large flags have been hung from trees throughout the parks to encourage the insects to land on them. The material has been impregnated with poison, so that any unsuspecting flies which come into contact with them become sterile.

large_Tse_Tse_Flag_1.jpg

There have apparently been a few cases reported recently about tourists having contracted sleeping sickness after being bitten by the tse tse fly in Tarangire, although Malisa and the other guides get bitten all the time and they haven't contracted the illness. It's probably a case of the media making a mountain out of a mole hill. It is certainly one animal that I really would rather NOT see while we are here, but unfortunately they are present in all the parks we are visiting, and are said to be particularly bothersome in Tarangire during the wet season.

These pesky flies have a painful bite, and when I was bitten on our last visit to Tanzania, the bite became quite red and swollen, but the fly thankfully did not carry the sleeping sickness disease. This time.

large_Hornbill__..ecken_s_5-7.jpg
Von der Decken's Hornbill

large_Francolin__Red_Necked_5-1.jpg
Red Necked Francolin

large_Shrike__Wh.._Fiscal_5-2.jpg
White Crowned Fiscal Shrike

large_Waterbuck__Common_5-1.jpg
Common Waterbuck. They excrete a bad taste which predators find unpleasant, so are not generally found on the menu of the local lions and leopards.

large_Spurfowl__.._Necked_5-1.jpg
Yellow Necked Spurfowl

Dwarf Mongoose

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_5-4.jpg

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_5-8.jpg

Black Faced Sandgrouse

large_Sandgrouse.._faced_5-10.jpg

large_Sandgrouse..k_faced_5-7.jpg

large_Coucal__Senegal_5-1.jpg
Senegal Coucal

large_Lapwing__Crowned_5-1.jpg
Crowned Lapwing

A large troupe of banded mongooses stare at us in disbelief before scampering; stopping occasionally to check if we are following them.

large_Mongoose__Banded_5-1.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_5-2.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_5-3.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_5-4.jpg

large_Starling__Superb_5-3.jpg
Superb Starling. Chris soon gets the hang of differentiating between Superb and Hildebrand Starling – it’s all in the white band on its chest and the colour of the eyes!

large_Shrike__Magpie_5-4.jpg
Magpie Shrike

large_Lapwing__Crowned_5-1.jpg
Crowned Lapwing

large_Giraffe_5-22.jpg
Giraffe with passengers

large_Oxpecker__.._Billed_5-3.jpg
Yellow Billed Oxpecker

African Green Pigeon

large_Parrots__A..n_Green_5-4.jpg

large_Parrots__A..n_Green_5-7.jpg

The long grass almost completely hides a pair of Southern Ground Hornbill, and they are pretty large birds!

large_Hornbill__.._Ground_5-2.jpg

Elephants

large_08D47DD4EF0CC87ECE15DF44DB3BF9A2.jpg

Tarangire National park is best known for its concentration of elephants – the densest anywhere in Africa – so I am therefore rather surprised that we don’t see any for quite a while after entering the park. In fact, some two hours pass before we come across the first herd – or memory as they are called – of eleven elephants, which includes this cute one-week old baby.

large_Elephants_5-1.jpg

large_Elephants_5-2.jpg

We have a delightful close encounter for Lyn and Chris’ first wild elephants, as the family group saunters past our car.

large_Elephants_5-19.jpg

large_Elephants_5-4.jpg

large_Elephants_5-7.jpg

large_Elephants_5-12.jpg

large_Elephants_5-15.jpg

large_Elephants_5-17.jpg

large_Elephants_5-18.jpg

large_Guineafowl__Helmeted_5-11.jpg
Helmeted Guineafowl

Mr and Mrs Ostrich

large_Ostrich_5-5.jpg

large_Ostrich_5-1.jpg

large_Ostrich_5-3.jpg

large_Cisticola__Rattling_5-1.jpg
Rattling Cisticola

large_Bee_Eaters__Little_5-2.jpg

Little Bee Eaters - one of my favourite birds!

large_Bee_Eaters__Little_5-3.jpg

large_Courser__Two_Banded_5-2.jpg
Two Banded Courser

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_5-9.jpg
Dwarf Mongoose

Malisa spots some fresh lion footprints on the main track. They are heading towards the same picnic site as we are.

large_Lion_Footprints_5-1.jpg

Matete Picnic Site

With great views over the valley below, Tarangire River, elephants and with a tree hyrax in the railings, Matete Picnic Site is not a bad place to stop for breakfast.

large_Matete_Picnic_Site_5-1.jpg

large_Matete_Pic..e_River_5-1.jpg

large_Matete_Pic..and_Lyn_5-1.jpg

large_Breakfast_7.jpg

large_Matete_Pic..eakfast_5-1.jpg

large_E92D2068AC43C6FEB0441E4318FFE5E9.jpg
Elephants in Tarangire River

large_Hyrax__Tree_5-3.jpg
Tree Hyrax

The facilities here have improved immensely since our last visit, with clean and modern attended toilets. A few other vans stop here too while we have our breakfast, including a group of American college student we saw on the flight from Nairobi. I am quite chuffed when – after a quick exchange of pleasantries with their driver in this native tongue – he asks: “where did you learn Swahili?”

large_Lilac_Breasted_Roller_5-3.jpg
Lilac Breasted Roller

large_Falcon__Pygmy_5-2.jpg
Pygmy Falcon - the fastest bird in the park!

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_5-1.jpg
Grant's Gazelle

Sausage Tree

– Kigela Africana
Named after its large sausage-shaped fruit (that is in fact a wood berry, not a fruit), which can grow up to a metre long! It's a useful tree in that monkeys eat the seeds and elephants chew on it for water. Humans make brushes from the dried fruit and even brew beer from it. Sausage Tree Beer – it has a certain ring to it, don't you think? It's all the rage these days to drink randomly-named designer beers from micro-breweries. Like so many African plants, it is thought to have a range of medicinal benefits, including curing syphilis. I shall have to remember that. The fresh fruit, however, is poisonous. The other danger from the tree is fallen fruit – being so big, they can cause some serious damage to anyone (or anything) underneath at the time!

large_Sausage_Tree_5-2.jpg

large_Sausage_Tree_5-1.jpg

More Elephants

large_Elephants_5-23.jpg

This 40-year old male is in musth – as can be seen by the 'tear' secreted from his temporal gland. Musth is an annual cycle when the male is primed to mate, and is indicated by a heightened sense of aggression. Elephants in musth are known to attack and fight other males, and even destroy inanimate objects that get in their way. Such as safari vehicles.

large_Elephants_5-20.jpg

large_Elephants_5-22.jpg

In order to get some relief from the heat, elephants wave their ears about; they are able to cool down an impressive 12 litres of blood at a time this way.

large_Elephants_5-24.jpg

The grass here is so long at this time of year that the baby elephants are almost hidden in the meadow. The play around like babies of every species do, wrapping their trunks around each other, and mock sparring.

large_Elephants_5-27.jpg

large_Elephants_5-29.jpg

Infrasound
Elephants use this low frequency sound to communicate over great distances – vibrations are passed through the ground by their lowered trunks and can be picked up from up to 5 kilometres away by another elephant through the feet. Absolutely amazing stuff!

large_Elephants_.._Collection.jpg

The elephants are unbelievably close now, as they go about their daily business, wandering right by our vehicle; occasionally looking up to gawk at the humans in a tin can.

large_Elephants_5-33.jpg

large_Elephants_.._Chris__5-1.jpg

large_Elephants_5-36.jpg

In the photo below you can see just how close these elephants are to the car – that is the ledge of the car you can see in the bottom left! They are literally just feet away!

large_Elephants_5-38.jpg

The adults are extremely protective of their youngest, most vulnerable family members, doing their best to hide them from prying eyes by placing them in the middle of the herd; but occasionally we get a brief glimpse of one of the babies through the foliage from between mum's legs.

large_Elephants_5-39.jpg

large_Elephants_5-41.jpg

large_Elephants_5-44.jpg

large_Elephants_5-43.jpg

large_Elephants_5-45.jpg

large_Elephants_5-46.jpg

large_Elephants_5-47.jpg
Isn't he just simply adorable? I love the way he looks so young and innocent while his skin looks so wrinkly and weathered!

This is, without question, one of those unforgettable, magical moments.

Elephants eat around 300kg of vegetation a day; but only 60% of that is digested – the rest goes straight through. They spend a large part of the day eating, some 80% apparently! I know some people like that too.

It also means their droppings are still full of nutrients. The elephant's that is, not my acquaintances'.

large_Elephants_5-51.jpg

large_Elephants_5-52.jpg

We reluctantly bid the elephants goodbye and carry on to see what else nature has to offer us today.

large_Hammerkop_5-4.jpg
Hammerkop

Much excitement ensues when we spot a Savannah Monitor on the banks of the river. A very rare beast indeed, this is a first for us. Good job Malisa!

large_Monitor__Savannah_5-1.jpg

There is in fact not just one monitor, there are three of them!

large_Monitor__Savannah_5-3.jpg

large_Monitor__Savannah_5-4.jpg

A Southern Ground Hornbill preens itself in a tree. As the name suggests, this is an unusual bird to find on a tree branch.

large_Hornbill__..Ground_5-21.jpg

large_Straw_in_the_sun_5-1.jpg
So much greenery this time of year!

large_Lovebirds__Fischer_s_51.jpg
Fischer's Lovebirds

Black Faced Vervet Monkeys

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-2.jpg

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-3.jpg

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-5.jpg

It's at this point that I have to admit that it took me 29 years of safaris in Africa (last year to be precise) before I actually noticed that vervet monkeys have blue testicles. And I don't mean just slightly bluey-grey; these balls are as bright as they can be!

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-7.jpg

Baobab Trees – the Tree of Life

Regarded as the largest succulent plant in the world, the iconic baobab tree grows across 32 countries in Africa where it is often known as the ‘Tree of Life’. Found at the heart of local folklore, the baobab tree is steeped in a wealth of mystique, legend and superstition.

To me, this curious-looking ‘upside-down’ tree is synonymous with the African bush – its uniqueness in terms of geographical distribution, shape and size makes it one of the most impressive symbols of the African Savannah.

large_Baobab_Tree_5-51.jpg

The story of how the baobab got his looks

An old bushman tale explains that the baobab was one of the first trees that were created. It was short and stocky, and when the slim, graceful palm tree appeared, the baobab was jealous of its elegance and insisted that he should be created taller like the palm. Then the glorious flowering flame tree came along and again the baobab was dissatisfied, crying out that he wanted a mass of beautiful red flowers! The magnificent fig tree also aroused great envy, as the baobab was desperate to have sweet, tasty fruits growing from his branches. Eventually God got so fed up with the baobab’s selfish, demanding ways, and in one swift motion uprooted him and stuck him back down again upside down, hoping to shut him up once and for all.

And that, my friends, is how the baobab got his peculiar upside-down appearance.

large_Baobab_Trees_5-2.jpg

Water storage
Of course, there is a very good reason for the thick trunk and spindly branches: The tree has adapted to life in seasonally arid areas. In the wet months water is stored in its thick, spongy, fire-resistant trunk in readiness for the nine dry months ahead. A large baobab can store up to 120,000 litres of water in its trunk and can withstand long periods of drought; in fact it has been known to survive for ten years with no rain. Many animals take advantage of this - they survive drought by accessing the water within the tree, including elephants who cause a lot of damage to these ancient trees in Tarangire. Baboons and warthogs also enjoy feasting on the seed pods.

large_Baobab_Trees_5-6.jpg

Home, sweet home
A lot of birds make baobab trees their home, such as barn owls, spinetails, hornbills and weavers, making nests in the branches or clefts. The creased trunks and hollowed interiors also provide homes to countless reptiles, insects and bats, and in some cases even large cats have been known to take refuge inside the trees.

Humans too utilise the enormous trunks (the largest circumference on record is 47m) and baobab trees have been used as jail, water tank, post office, shop, toilet ( apparently complete with a flushing system), bus stop and pubs, amongst other things.

The baobab is a prehistoric species, predating both mankind and the splitting of the continents over 200 million years ago. In Tarangire there are some pretty ancient trees, with most of the larger specimens exceeding one thousand years old. The baobabs can have a lifespan of up to 5000 years.

large_Baobab_Tree_5-53.jpg
This tree is believed to be some 1,800 years old and the huge vault was created when an elephant broke down a branch.

Leaves
Having only ever seen the trees naked (“oh err missus!”) - as the branches are leaf-less most of the year - I am very excited to find leaves on them today!

large_Baobab_Trees_5-10.jpg

Flowers
Once it reaches the age of 20 or so, the baobab produces large, sweetly scented flowers on long drooping stalks. Having never seen them flower, I was hoping that the rainy season might bring them out, but no such luck. The flowers bloom at night only and bushmen believe that the flowers are home to spirits and that anyone picking the flowers will be torn apart by lions. The flowers only last 24 hours after which they turn brown and give off an unpleasant aroma. Pollination by fruit bats also takes place at night.

large_Baobab_Trees_5-8.jpg

Fruit
Six months after flowing, large, egg-shaped fruits – known as monkey-breads – are produced. These have a hard outer shell and a white powdery interior, which was previously used to produce cream of tartar. Rich in ascorbic acid, drinks made from baobab fruits are used to treat fever. It doesn’t really taste of much – we tried it last time we were in Tanzania.

large_Baobab_Fruit_5-1.jpg

large_Baobab_4.jpg

The baobab fruit is said to have an amazing amount of health benefits, however, and is reputed to be one of the most nutrient-dense fruits in the world.

large_Baobab_Fruit_benefits.jpg

A good all-round plant
Almost every part of the baobab tree is utilised; in addition to nutritious drinks, porridge is also made from the pulp, seeds are used as thickener for soups, the pollen can be used as glue, and the leaves are eaten as a vegetable. Fibres from the bark are used for string and ropes, and the roots produce dye.

large_Baobab_Tree_5-52.jpg

Medicinal uses
Traditionally the baobab is thought to have a wide range of medicinal benefits, and various parts of the tree are used to treat a number of ailments: kidney and bladder disease, asthma, insect bites. Maybe that is something worth trying for tse tse bites?

large_Baobab_Trees_5-3.jpg

Superstition and folklore
As well as the story of the origin of the ‘upside down tree’ above and the one about evil spirits in the flowers punishing anyone who picks them by being ripped apart by a lion, there are a number of traditional beliefs surrounding the baobabs. I love legends, so here are a few others I have heard over the years or found during my research:

In some part of Africa the tree is worshipped as a symbol of fertility, and shrines are built at the base of the tree, such as this one we saw in Taberma in Togo in 2006. There is some scientific truth behind this superstition, however, as eating plenty of baobab leaves has been proven to increase a woman’s fertility rate.

large_Baobab_Taberma.jpg

In Zambia, one particularly large baobab tree is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a python, who inhabited the tree long before the arrival of the white man. Locals worshipped the python, who in turn answered their prayers for good luck on their hunting expeditions, rain for their crops, or a good harvest. When the white hunters arrived and shot the python, the consequences were disastrous. It is said that you can still hear a loud hissing noise from the tree on a still night.

Drinking the water in which baobab pips have been soaked is believed to protect you from crocodiles, whereas sucking or eating the seeds will attract crocs.

Bathing a baby boy in a bark infusion will make him strong, but if you leave him in the water for too long, he will become obese; and should the water touch his head, it could cause this to swell.

Again in Zambia, there is a tree known as ‘Kondanamwali’ – the tree that eats maidens. Legend tells that the tree fell in love with four beautiful young girls, but when they grew up and got married, the tree opened up its huge trunk during a raging thunderstorm and swallowed up the girls in a fit of jealousy. To this day you can hear the pitiful cries of the imprisoned maidens on a stormy night.

large_Baobab_Trees_5-9.jpg

The Big Screen
Does the tree look familiar to you? There could be a reason for that. Baobabs played an important role in Disney’s Lion King – Rafiki (the baboon) lived in one. It has also featured in Avatar (The Tree of Souls), Madagascar and The Little Prince.

large_Rafiki.jpg

Termite mounds

The park is also famous for the termite mounds that dot the landscape. Those that have been abandoned are often seen to be home to dwarf mongoose or snakes as we saw earlier.

large_Termite_Mound_5-1.jpg

Tarangire Tango
We slide and slither along the sandy tracks, from one side to the other, doing the Tarangire Tango, as we make our way along the unmade roads that criss-cross the park.

large_Tarangire_Roads_5-1.jpg

large_Hornbill__Red_Billed_5-1.jpg
Red Billed Hornbill (male)

large_Hornbill__..female__5-1.jpg
Red Billed Hornbill (female)

large_Waterbuck__Common_5-22.jpg
Common Waterbuck

large_Weaver__Wh..uffalo_5-11.jpg
White Headed Buffalo Weaver

We come across another cartload of vervet monkeys, including some young babies.

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-8.jpg

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-9.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkey_5-12.jpg

This little kid looks so blissful during the mother-child bonding session (AKA picking-nits-out-of-the-little-bugger’s-fur)

large_Black_Face..Monkey_5-14.jpg

large_Roller__Li..easted_5-11.jpg
Lilac Breasted Roller - another of my favourite birds

large_Starling__Ashy_5-11.jpg
Ashy Starling

large_Hornbill__Red_Billed_5-2.jpg
Red Billed Hornbill

Another large memory of elephants grazing merrily under the trees in the far distance.

large_Elephants_5-101.jpg

large_Plover__Three_Banded_5-1.jpg
Three Banded Plover

large_Hammerkop_5-5.jpg
Another Hammerkop – one of Malisa’s favourite birds

Lunch

large_3DEE753A91C1ED349427DDB01A2792D1.jpg

Tillya has another surprise for us today – in honour of our wedding anniversary yesterday, he has arranged for us to take lunch at the Tarangire River Lodge, which is inside the actual park; rather than having the usual lunch box.

After all our animals and bird sightings this morning, we are running a little late, so the lodge calls us up on the radio "Calabash, Calabash, are you there?", to make sure we are still coming. I guess it is getting towards the end of the lunchtime session and they want to finish serving soon.

When we enter the lodge, we are welcomed with the greeting: “At last you arrive”. It’s nice to feel welcome… All joking apart, everywhere we go on this trip, we are made to feel like we are extremely welcome and much anticipated VIPs.

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_7.jpg

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_5.jpg

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_11.jpg

A large-ish lodge, it has great views over the plains and river below from its expansive terrace.

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_12.jpg

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_2.jpg

large_Tarangire_..e_-_smaller.jpg

Although the usual lunch boxes provided by the lodges are more than adequate, it is very nice to be able to choose hot food from a buffet and eat with proper knives and forks. And very tasty the food is too.

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_1.jpg

large_Tarangire_..ns__chapati.jpg
Chicken enchilada, beef meatballs, spicy beans, pilau and chapati

large_Tarangire_.._with_mango.jpg
Pancakes with mango

We make friends with some of the local inhabitants.

large_Bat_5-1.jpg
Bat

large_Stick_Insect_1.jpg
Stick Insect

Soon we are on our way again, checking out some more of the critters in the park.

large_Tarangire_..ree_1_Orton.jpg

We seem to go ages, however, without seeing anything this afternoon. It is hot, the sun is beaming down on me, I had quite a big lunch..... I find myself starting to nod off. Game viewing is nearly always best first thing in the morning and last thing at night. In the middle of the day, the birds and animals don't tend to do much. Probably because they feel just like I do now...

large_Flowers_Orton.jpg

We eventually come across a couple more elephants – perhaps not surprising, as that is what Tarangire is most famous for. Some 3000+ of them live in the park year round.

large_Elephants_5-102.jpg

It was just what I needed to drag myself out of the land of slumber.

large_Plover__Crowned_5-11.jpg
Crowned Plover

large_Kingfisher..Headed_5-11.jpg
Grey Headed Kingfisher

large_Hoopoe__Green_Wood_5-5.jpg
Green Wood Hoopoe

We come to a stop as the road is ‘blocked’ by some impala.

large_Impala_5-54.jpg

And an African Ground Squirrel.

large_Squirrel_5-1.jpg

For a while there is a most peculiar staring match between them.

large_Impala_5-60.jpg

After a while both parties get bored and wander off in their different directions.

large_Impala_5-51.jpg

I know impala are two-a-penny in the Tanzanian parks, but I still very much enjoy seeing them, and still find them rather cute – especially the youngsters.

large_Impala_5-55.jpg

large_Francolin_..easted_5-11.jpg
Grey Breasted Francolin

We are being bitten to smithereens this afternoon by those pesky tse tse flies. Their appearance – and bite – is somewhat similar to the horse fly, equally painful when they get you. They are quite slow in their reactions, however, so we manage to swat quite a few before they know what’s hit them! Reducing the population doesn’t seem to have any effect though; I get around 15 bites in a short time. There has to be something that repels them?

large_82BB4AF194B8E71210C3ED1596C260BA.jpg
This is thankfully not life sized!

large_Kestrel__Grey_5-2.jpg
Grey Kestrel

large_Go_Away_Bi..e_Faced_5-1.jpg
Bare Faced Go Away Bird

large_Shrike__Wh..Helmet_5-11.jpg
White Rumped Helmet Shrike

large_Dik_Dik_5-2.jpg

Dik Dik – this normally shy and very skittish antelope stands completely still right by our vehicle. This is almost unheard of and we discuss possible reasons for its lack of fear These tiny animals mate for life, but there is no sign of his wife anywhere, so maybe a leopard has taken her and he has lost the will to live?

large_Dik_Dik_5-3.jpg

Whatever the reason, he does not seem to care at all about our presence and goes about his daily activities regardless, even when we start the engine and drive off. Most bizarre.

large_Dik_Dik_5-6.jpg
Lost the will to live?

large_Spurfowl__.._Chicks_5-1.jpg

These little Red Necked Spurfowl chicks cause us a bit of concern as one of them appears spread-eagled and totally motionless on the track, while the others tip toe around.

large_Spurfowl__.._Chicks_5-2.jpg

Chris is ready to get out and give the little fellah a helping hand, but thankfully no intervention is necessary – he is obviously just warming himself up in the sun and as soon as we start the engine he plods along with his brothers. We all breathe a sigh of relief.

large_Spurfowl__.._Chicks_5-3.jpg

large_Cobra__Egyptian_5-1.jpg
Egyptian Cobra - another item I can cross off my wish list this afternoon! In all the years I have been coming to Kenya and Tanzania on safari – this is the first time I have seen one.

large_Barbet__Re.._Yellow_5-4.jpg

Further along the track we see a few of these Red and Yellow Barbets – one of which is not only considerably larger than the others; it also has no tail! Chris theorises that with no tail he is unable to exercise (fly), hence he has put on weight. Hmmm

large_Barbet__Re.._Yellow_5-2.jpg

Looking at the pictures on my computer screen back home, I think that the smaller one is possibly a Crested Barbet rather than a Red and Yellow, or maybe a juvenile; which would account for the size difference.

large_Barbet__Re..Crested_5-4.jpg

Oh, and our tail-less wonder does fly, so no need to get a personal trainer involved.

large_Giraffe_5-102.jpg
Giraffe. There is something so prehistoric about this animal; so graceful yet so awkward looking. I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing them in the wild. It was the very first wild animal I saw on our very fist safari in Kenya in 1986, and I was captivated. I still am.

large_Impala_5-63.jpg
Impala

large_Giraffe_and_Impala_5-21.jpg

large_Lion_Paw_Prints_5-21.jpg
Fresh lion paw prints, but no lions.

large_Kingfisher..Headed_5-12.jpg
Grey Headed Kingfisher

A lone elephant kicks up dust as he walks along the track in front of us. We follow him for a while despite that we are now in a little bit of a rush – we have to be out of the park by 18:30.

large_Elephants_5-104_Nik.jpg

Elephants are fickle creatures, and right now this particular one has changed his mind. He turns round to walk in the opposite direction.
Malisa starts to back off, as Tarangire’s elephants are not known for their friendliness. Best to play safe, so we keep our distance.

large_Elephants_5-105.jpg

He really is not happy now, so Malisa speeds up (going backwards) and eventually reverses into the bushes, leaving the track free for the elephant to pass. Does the animal not know we are on a tight schedule?

large_Elephant_5-111.jpg

Did I mention that our elephant friend is fickle? Instead of making his way down the track past out vehicle, he eventually – after a few tense moments – wanders off into the bush again.

large_Elephant_5-112.jpg

large_Elephant_5-113.jpg

Phew. We can continue on our way towards the gate as the sun gets lower on the horizon.

large_Egrets_Flying_5-2.jpg
Egrets flying home to roost for the night

A flock of Red and Yellow Billed Oxpeckers congregate on a giraffe. They have a symbiotic relationship – the giraffe provide the oxpeckers with a dining table while the birds remove insects from the larger animal.

large_53E87205B64A326CF68225D3BD816F0E.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_..Billed_5-11.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_5-1.jpg

As with our last two previous visits to Tarangire, we have been 'side tracked' by the animals and are in a mad rush to get out of the gate. And this time too, I stand in the vehicle, trying to hold on for dear life with one hand and photograph the sunset with the other.

large_7729538DC4493E4A66517002FCC8606D.jpg

large_Tarangire_Sunset_2016___4.jpg

large_Tarangire_Sunset_2016___5.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___15.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___25.jpg

While the sunset is not overly spectacular as sunsets go, it is still worth the effort.

large_Tarangire_Sunset_2016___6.jpg

large_Tarangire_Sunset_2016___7.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___23.jpg

Tarangire has to be one of my all time favourite places to photograph the sunset – those awesome baobab trees make for striking foregrounds.

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___10.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___17.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___24.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___26.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___28.jpg

A large herd (obstinacy) of buffalo hinders our progress towards the gate.

large_Tarangire_..lo_2016___1.jpg

large_Tarangire_..lo_2016___2.jpg

I do find their stare rather unnerving.

large_Buffalo_5-3.jpg

large_Buffalo_5-2.jpg

One of the photos I took while travelling at speed to reach the gate before the official closing time in 2014 has somehow become my most popular image on Flickr, with 36,000 views and over 500 ‘favourites’. This picture is in the back of my mind as I am hanging on to the rattling car for dear life and shooting wildly towards the sunset this evening.

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___27.jpg

And there it is! My tree! The others don’t believe me when I tell them I recognise the tree from 20 months ago (Chris suggests that maybe I need to get out more), but here is the proof!

large_Tarangire_..14_and_2016.jpg

Same tree, different sunset!

We make it to the gate at 18:35, and Malisa does not get fined when he checks out. Phew.

The lodge is busy tonight with lots of people coming down from Arusha for the weekend. We take a quick shower and sort out our luggage as we are moving on to another park and another lodge tomorrow; then go for dinner.

I love the the Maramboi Tented Camp, their grounds are like a safari park in its own right – as soon as we enter through the gate this evening, we pick out a giraffe in the headlights of the car!

large_Giraffe_5-71.jpg

Lit almost entirely by candlelight, the open air dining area is very dark at night. Even at ISO 25,600, my camera struggles to pick up much of the surroundings here.

large_Maramboi_Dinner_1.jpg

Another thing I like very much about Maramboi is that, unlike most other lodges, the guides eat with the guests. During dinner Malisa asks us, one by one, what our highlight of the day has been. It is hard to choose – the lions in the lodge grounds before sunrise, or the elephants that came so close to our car? Maybe the little one peeking out from behind mum’s legs? Even the savanna monitor gets an honorary mention. It was all go good – how can we possibly top that?

large_Maramboi_Dinner_2.jpg

I huge thank you must go to Tillya and his team at Calabash Adventures for yet again organising a superb safari for us.

large_7BE2A447D6E852A66EB79A43C0F815C4.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 07:35 Archived in Tanzania Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises trees animals birds monkeys sunset road_trip restaurant travel vacation views elephants adventure roads scenery folklore holiday fun africa tanzania birding photography lions giraffe baboons roadtrip monitor night_time waterbuck cobra stunning bird_watching game_drive tented_camp road-trip african_food safari_vehicle night_photography canon_eos_5d_iii testicles calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators which_safari_company best_safari_company maramboi hammerkop savannah_monitor sname egyptian_cobra olive_baboons vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys blue_balls tarangire_river_lodge Comments (0)

Birmingham - Dubai - Nairobi

We've finally arrived in Africa!


View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_2_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

As we approach Dubai Airport after seven hours or so in the air, the sun rises and we get a brief glimpse of this modern metropolis from the air.

large_Sunrise_over_Dubai.jpg

large_DA317B0DC4B9839CF5F5F6D1A3CDF452.jpg

large_Dubai_from_the_Air_1.jpg

large_Dubai_from_the_Air_2.jpg

large_Dubai_from_the_Air_3.jpg

large_Dubai_from_the_Air_4.jpg

large_Dubai_from_the_Air_5.jpg

large_Dubai_from_the_Air_6.jpg

On exit from the plane, a series of transfer buses are waiting to take us to the terminal – it’s all very well organised, with a different bus depending on your onward flight destination or whether you are stopping in Dubai. We board a bus for Nairobi. Not literally of course.

large_Dubai_Airp..ransfer_Bus.jpg

large_Dubai_Airport_1.jpg

We have a three-hour layover here in Dubai, so we spend a lot of time sitting about in the airport lounge.

large_Dubai_Airport_Lounge.jpg

large_Dubai_Airport_Lounge_2.jpg

Eventually we are called for the flight and moved to another lounge at the departure gate, where we learn that the flight is delayed for over an hour – more sitting around, waiting.

large_DA95D51BABED33325B13C56CE9EC5E43.jpg

large_Dubai_Airport_2.jpg

large_Dubai_Airport_3.jpg

large_Dubai_to_Nairobi.jpg

The next flight is also very comfortable, with space to spread out. I spend most of the time sleeping, only waking for food and again just before landing at Nairobi.

large_Arrival_in_Nairobi.jpg

large_Passport_Control.jpg

At the immigration control in Nairobi, David is berated for having a Transfer Visa and is told that he should have a ‘proper’ visa if he is to leave the airport and stay overnight. This, of course, is quite contrary to the information on the Kenya Immigration Website, and the three of us go through the passport check without a single comment. David must have got the grumpy one this afternoon. Thankfully he is let through and we have finally arrived in Africa!

large_Welcome_to_Africa_2.jpg

The luggage is very slow to turn up, and as more and more bags arrive but ours are nowhere to be seen, we start to get a little twitchy. Eventually the last one appears on the luggage carousel and we breathe a sigh of relief. I suppose someone’s bag has to be the last one.

large_Waiting_fo..obi_Airport.jpg

At customs I am questioned at length about commercial filming due to all my camera equipment, but we finally make it through to the outside world, where William is waiting to take us to our hotel on the outskirts of Nairobi.

large_William_the_Driver.jpg

large_Nairobi_1.jpg

As usual, the Nairobi traffic is appalling despite the fact that we are not even entering the centre of town, and we sit in one huge jam as the road improvement works causes major diversions and delays as we make our way to the suburb of Karen. Eight months ago when we came this way on the way back from Lake Turkana, the road was pot-holed, rutted and chock-a-block with traffic. It is comforting in a way to see that some things never change.

large_Airport_to_Hotel__Nairobi.jpg

large_Bad_Nairobi_Traffic_1.jpg

large_Bad_Nairobi_Traffic_2.jpg

large_Bad_Nairobi_Traffic_4.jpg

large_Bad_Nairobi_Traffic_5.jpg

As we pull up at the hotel, we are delighted to see our friend Abdi, who has travelled down from North Horr to meet up with us.

large_EB452B32FB606D643FFE3FDCFBA60921.jpg

Karen Blixen Coffee Gardens, Restaurant and Cottages

large_Karen_Blix.._Cottages_1.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..Cottages_16.jpg

Tillya (of Calabash Adventures) came out to Nairobi last month to personally check out our rooms here at Karen Blixen Cottages, and as we are shown to our room, we concur that he has made a good choice.

large_Karen_Blix.._Cottages_2.jpg

Each room is set in an individual period-style cottage designed after the historic Swedo House in the so-called first generation style , and comes complete with a four-poster bed, a seating area with a fireplace, high-beam ceiling, a dressing room and a large bathroom with separate shower, toilet and bathtub. There is also a nice verandah (with a very friendly resident cat) for relaxing with a pre-dinner drink. The room evokes a taste of the past with yesteryear historic ambience from Kenya's early pioneering days.

large_Our_Room_3.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..Cottages_35.jpg

large_Karen_Blix.._Cottages_4.jpg

large_Karen_Blix.._Cottages_5.jpg

large_Karen_Blix.._Cottages_6.jpg

History

Much history is attached to this place - Karen Blixen Coffee Gardens, Restaurant and Cottages (that is the longest hotel name we have come across since the 'Best Western Premier Amaranth Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel' in Thailand) is set in one of the largest and oldest formal gardens in Kenya, in what was once the estate of Karen Blixen (the author of the best selling book 'Out of Africa' which was later made in to an award-winning film).

large_Karen_Blix.._Cottages_8.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..Cottages_10.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..Cottages_13.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..Cottages_15.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..Cottages_33.jpg

Meandering paths lead through the gardens, connecting the cottages with the main buildings, gym and swimming pool. It is hard to imagine how the original house was surrounded by indigenous forest, bush and grasslands at the time of its construction in 1906 – the 5½ acres of formal hotel gardens are now full of ornamental trees such as candelabra cactus, jacaranda (my favourite tree when in bloom) and bottle brush, as well as numerous (over 200 species I am told) exotic flowers.

large_Karen_Blix..e_Gardens_2.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..e_Gardens_3.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..e_Gardens_5.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..e_Gardens_6.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..e_Gardens_8.jpg

large_Karen_Blix.._Gardens_13.jpg

large_Karen_Blix.._Gardens_10.jpg

large_Karen_Blix.._Gardens_14.jpg

large_Karen_Blix.._Gardens_17.jpg

large_Karen_Blix.._Gardens_22.jpg

I am a little disappointed however, with the lack of bird life – I expected the flowers to attract a number of birds, but all I see is this ‘measly’ little sunbird.

large_Superb_Sunbird__female__1.jpg

Swedo House

This building within the grounds was once the hunting lodge, and the farm manager's residence for Karen Blixen's coffee farm. Later Thomas Dinesen (Karen Blixen's brother) lived in this house, and Karen herself also spent a great deal of time here. It has since been refurbished to its original style.

The architectural style of Swedo House is typical of the pioneering days of Kenya, being built on stilts with the original walls of corrugated iron lined with wood inside; and sporting raised verandas with arched roof supports. The corrugated iron walls were later replaced by cement plastered over chicken wire. These days the house contains the lounge and gift shop.

large_Karen_Blix..edo_House_6.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..edo_House_2.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..edo_House_5.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..edo_House_1.jpg

large_Cocktail_Hour_5.jpg

Meaning ‘medicine’ or ‘magic potion’ in Swahili, Dawa is the signature cocktail at Tamarind (the chain which owns the hotel restaurant). Based on the famous Brazilian Caipirinha, the cocktail it is made from vodka, sugar, quartered lime, ice and honey, and is apparently one of the most widely consumed cocktails in Kenya. As I really don’t like honey, I didn’t think I’d like it. I was wrong. The honey is served on the little wooden stick in the glass, and just tastes sweet rather than a strong honey taste.

large_Dawa_Cocktail.jpg

large_Dawa_Cocktail_2.jpg

The curiously named Elephant Mudbath cocktail is a must as we are going to be visiting the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in the morning. The cocktail comprises of coffee liqueur, Amarula, Vodka and ice. A little drop of heaven in a glass!

large_Elephant_Mudbath.jpg

To go with the cocktails, an amuse bouche of chilli chicken and crab cocktail arrives.

large_Amuse_Bouc..ab_cocktail.jpg
The chicken is surprisingly bland, whereas the crab cocktail is nicely spiced and absolutely delicious.

large_Dinner_4.jpg

At dinner I practise the little bit of Swahili I have tried to learn in the last few weeks, much to the amusement and delight of the staff.
“Nataka chakula cha kiafrika” (I would like African food) I ask, and John, the waiter, suggests the Chicken Ndogo Ndogo, a whole spring chicken grilled with ginger, soy sauce, garlic and lime juice.

large_Grilled_Sp..Ndogo_Ndogo.jpg
Ndogo ndogo apparently means “young lady” or "nice thighs" in Swahili, and a few slightly risqué comments are banded about.

I ask for the chicken to be served kali (spicy), but instead they include a selection of pili pili (chillies), hot sauce and freshly chopped coriander. The chillies certainly pack a powerful punch!

large_Hot_Sauce_..__Coriander.jpg

To go with my chicken I order ugali – the staple food throughout East Africa – a stiff polenta-like dough made from millet flour and water.

large_EAC02D4E0CC5F72461FF2D3CD460534F.jpg

Chris settles for the Fish with Mushrooms, a fillet of fish topped with mirin-flamed mushrooms and served with fried rice and creamy champagne sauce. From the contented murmurs and delighted exclamations, I am deducting that he is enjoying it.

large_Fish_fille..h_mushrooms.jpg

My request “tafadhali nakata nne bia Tusker baridi” gets us exactly what we want – four cold Tusker beers! This Swahili-speaking lark sure is fun!

large_Tusker_Beer.jpg

At the beginning of the meal John (the waiter) asks Chris to write down all our names on a sheet of paper, and from then on he calls us by name as he dishes up our food. Very personal service indeed. I am even more impressed when the dessert is delivered. Only David orders a pudding – crepe suzette – but the rest of us get complimentary petit fours, beautifully served on personalised plated with a Swahili saying and our names written out in chocolate! This certainly is a first for me!

large_Crepe_Suzette.jpg

large_Petit_Fours_-_Chris.jpg

large_Petit_Fours_-_Grete.jpg

large_Petit_Fours_-_Lyn.jpg

As we leave the restaurant, the serenade of the frogs in the grounds is almost deafening as you can hear from this little video. There is no picture as such as it is pitch black by now, but it is worth a listen for the sound alone.

.

Having travelled for 24 hours through the night to get here, jetlag descends on us after dinner and we retire to bed for an early night.

Thank you Calabash Adventures for a great start to our trip!

large_EB5BF3230FAECAEF4D1834A6687054CA.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 00:00 Archived in Kenya Tagged food fish restaurant travel vacation flight holiday fun africa safari packing chicken dubai karen kenya cocktails emirates birmingham gourmet nairobi good_food tamarind african_food calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators karen_blixen_coffee_gardens_and karen_blixen dawa_cocktail dawa Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 8 of 8) Page [1]