We are greeted by a somewhat unusual and intriguing sunrise this morning, with crepuscular rays appearing to radiate from the glow of the sun on the horizon. Very dramatic.
Our 'breakfast' this morning (Malisa's expression for the first animal / bird we see of the day) is a pack of hyenas chasing a herd of impala.
We take off in hot pursuit.
The hyena is no match for the super-quick antelopes, and they all get to live another day.
The hyenas wander off in search of something else for breakfast.
The sun is just making an appearance over the horizon, colouring the sky with a promise of a beautiful day.
In the distance we see three lions, they are brothers, aged around ten years, which is considered old as far as lions go (they generally live for 12-15 years in the wild).
One by one they wake up, making the most of the early morning sunlight.
Shaking the sleep away
Strolling along the road, they walk straight past our car, one after the other.
He's looking up at David as he passes. "Is that a Sony camcorder you are using?"
Marking his territory
Looking bedraggled and grumpy, his fur still damp from the morning dew; the second lion doesn't look to amused to be confronted by the paparazzi just after waking up.
I'd say he's got more problems than a few eager photographers: just look at his left eye!
He too marks his territory in the same place as his brother.
The last one to walk past us looks a much healthier specimen.
They leave the road and soon disappear into the long grass.
We move on to “see what else nature has to offer us today”.
Red Necked Spurfowl
He is trying his very best to impress her, but she is having none of it!
He may be far, far away, but this is the fifth leopard we have seen in three days. Quite unbelievable.
I can't even make out what it is with the naked eye, but using my 600mm with a 1.4x extender on a crop factor camera (making it an effective focal lens of 1344mm) and cropping in Photoshop, I can definitely see it's a leopard!
The distance is making photography unsatisfactory as the atmospheric distortion creates soft images; so we don't hang around for very long.
Last night we were chatting with the Swedish couple during dinner, and they were not leaving the camp until eight this morning. It is now coming up for eight o'clock, and we've already seen a pack of hyenas chase a herd of impala, had three lions walk right by our car, and seen a leopard in the tree. I cannot understand people who come on safari and don't take advantage of the first couple of hours of daylight, which is when the animals are usually most active.
A lone Cape Buffalo
The buffalo comes complete with passengers: Red Billed Oxpeckers.
A band of curious little mongooses check out the parking area near a picnic site.
Inspecting the suspension of another safari vehicle
"I want THAT blade of grass!"
Nearby a Dwarf Mongoose is sunning himself on a rock.
White Rumped Helmetshrike
It's time for us to go and have our picnic box in a designated area, and for me to finish this blog entry. Stay tuned.
Thank you Calabash for another exciting morning on safari.
Even before we are dressed and getting ready to go out on today's safari, at the unearthly hour of 05:15, we can hear the roar of a lion. It sounds terribly close by.
Our 'breakfast this morning' (as in the first animal we see today) is a giraffe, just sauntering past the camp. The sun is still considering its next move while painting the sky with purples and pinks.
A few metres further along, we see a mother topi with her very young baby, the kid being maybe a day or so old.
Hyenas are Malisa's favourite animals. While at certain angles and in a certain light, they can look kinda cute (I suppose); at other times the hyena's sloping back gives it a rather menacing demeanour.
These, the smallest of Tanzania's antelopes, mate for life and are often found in family units of three such as this.
Avert your eyes as a couple of Thomson's Gazelles put on an energetic display of early morning sex for us.
When I say “energetic”, I mean that he is putting a lot of effort in, while she is so not interested (preferring to continue eating), resulting in a number of aborted attempts.
This must be particularly frustrating as Thomson's Gazelles only mate twice a year to coincide with babies being born at the end of the rainy season after a gestation period of 5-6 months.
Success at last! Although you may notice she is still eating.
This bundle of fluff is just about the cutest thing we'll see this morning.
Black Breasted Snake Eagle
Black Backed Jackal
We come across this jackal having his breakfast and stay with him for a while as he (unsuccessfully) tries to get the last leg of a hare down his throat.
A few hot air balloons glide effortlessly by.
While Pygmy Falcons score highly on the cuteness scale, the Marabou Stork has to have been hiding behind a bush when looks were given out. There is nothing remotely attractive about this scavenger bird.
They seem to be 'everywhere'.
The pond is also home to a rather large crocodile, sunning himself on the bank. Crocodiles are often found with their mouths wide open like this, hoping that any rotting food leftover in their teeth will attract insects and the insects in turn will draw birds to enter the cavity... and wham!
Also hippo wallowing in the mud. As they do.
Suddenly an almighty racket occurs as the Egyptian Geese on the shore start urgent and deafening honking.
We soon discover the reason for their panic: Mr Crocodile is on the move. How exciting, it is something we have very, very rarely seen, if at all.
He soon settles down and the geese seem to be almost mocking him by getting dangerously close.
Meanwhile, the hot air balloon has finished its morning flight and landed safely. As safely as you can while surrounded by wild animals.
Lilac Breasted Roller
No blog entry from Tanzania is complete with at least one roller picture.
The original vegetarian sausages anyone? These elongated fruits are much loved by a variety of animals, and, although poisonous in their raw state, humans have been known to use them for medicinal purposes to treat fungal infections, eczema, psoriasis, boils, diabetes, pneumonia. More importantly, the fruit can also be used to ferment beer!
Lazing in the shade, the four lions are nonetheless very aware of the Thomson's Gazelle not terribly far away behind them. The Tommy, however, is totally oblivious to the danger lurking underneath the tree.
With a jolt, he realises that he could so easily become breakfast and runs for his life. Good move Tommy, good move.
Yellow Throated Sandgrouse
Often found in large flocks, these noisy birds seem to just keep coming and coming until there are sandgrouse everywhere.
White Rumped Helmetshrike
This is by far the largest herd of elephants I have ever seen. Just as we think we have counted them all, more appear. And then some. There are at least 75 of them, with elephants as far as the eye can see in two directions. Wow, wow and wow.
Nestled in the shade of a tree, three lionesses with two cubs seem to have drawn quite a crowd with more coming all the time.
Having had the luxury so far of generally being on our own at sightings (or at most, a couple of other vehicles), seeing so many trucks in one place comes as a bit of a shock. It doesn't take long, however, before photographing the lions seems to take second place for these people as their attention is drawn away from the cats to our vehicle. Big Bertha is now the main attraction and 'everyone' wants to take her photo. For those who have not been following this blog, Big Bertha is my newly acquired, and impressively massive, 600mm lens.
On a small mound just behind the lions, is a band mongooses, with their sentries keeping a close eye on the big cats and other dangers.
Leaving the lions behind, we make our way to one of our favourite picnic sites for breakfast.
Fully fed and watered after a delicious picnic breakfast, we are soon on our way to “see what nature brings us this afternoon”.
Despite the rainy season being upon us, there doesn't seem to be much water in the Tarangire River at the moment.
A family of Lesser Striped Swallows dig in the dried riverbed for worms.
The normally shy impala stay by the side of the road looking at us as if transfixed. It makes a great change from them running away as soon as the car pulls up alongside them.
Like the elephants, they are so close I can almost touch them.
They are such elegant creatures.
Impala are affectionately known as “McDonalds”. Not because they make great burgers, but because of their rump markings resemble the “M” on the famous fast food chain's logo.
Another large herd – or memory – of elephants appears as if out of nowhere.
There are 16 family members in total, including a tiny infant, no more than 10 days old at the most. You can just about see him here (below), immediately behind the leading matriarch, being protected by his older sister with her trunk slung affectionately over his back.
The rest of the family follow behind.
It is fascinating to watch: when the matriarch at the front stops, everyone else stops, even those at the back. When she moves, the rest move.
We get really excited when we realise they are all going to cross the road. We might even get to see that baby properly.
Sixteen large animals crossing the road and the only sound we can hear is that of the grass rustling as they walk through. Elephants move in almost total silence, thanks to their spongy hooves that make for a soft step.
The elephants just keep coming and coming. One after another, all in a straight line. Just like Jungle Book.
One of them deviates from the line and walks right by our car.
This little guy seems to have lost his tail, poor thing.
The elephants continue on their journey through the park, and so do we.
At around eight feet tall, these large flowering plants make me think of a horror film for some reason, where ordinary small plants grow to enormous proportions and take over the world. Yes, I know, I have an over-active imagination.
At the other end of the scale, the Namaqua Dove is surprisingly small.
The elephants of Tarangire are known for their aggression and dislike of people, and one of these makes it quite clear what he thinks of humans as he feels the car is too close to his domain.
The male is energetically performing a courtship ritual by jumping from branch to branch like a lunatic. The female looks totally unimpressed.
It doesn't take us many minutes after getting out of the car before we decide that this is most definitely not the place to have lunch. The area is absolutely full of pesky tse tse flies.
The black and blue flag you can see on the picture, is supposed to help keep the population of these horrible little insects down, as the tse tse are particularly attracted to those two colours. The flags are impregnated with a substance which make them infertile, thus the number of flies should become reduced. Sorry guys, it doesn't seem to be working.
We quickly get back in the car again and head back to Matete where we had breakfast this morning, game viewing on the way.
Popularly referred to as 'feathered locusts', the Red Billed Quelea is Africa's most hated bird. For generations this small but voracious bird has gathered in huge numbers to decimate subsistence farmers' fields across the continent.
They look such cute little things, but with some colonies numbering into the millions, the quelea is the most abundant bird in the world, and sadly also the most destructive.
With an estimated adult breeding population of at least 1.5 billion, it is believed that the agricultural losses attributable to the quelea is in excess of US$50 million annually which would be totally devestating to those already barely getting by.
From our point of view, however, it is amazing to see and hear them take off en masse – the whoosh sound they make as they all fly from tree to tree is quite something.
Looking on the bright side, I suppose while they are here in the national park eating wild grasses, they are not causing destruction to farmers.
Some months ago I answered a question on Trip Advisor from someone who wanted suggestions for a safari company in Tanzania. Having recommended Calabash, the original poster and I continued to talk from time to time, right up until we left for Africa, and soon realising we'd be in Tanzania at the same time. We knew the only opportunity we had to be able to actually meet in person, would be today in Tarangire. I spot their car from quite a distance, thanks to the Calabash logo on the side.
It is great to finally be able to put a face to the name, and Agata is every bit as lovely in real life as she is on line. Her partner Dom is a really sweet guy too; and of course it is nice for Malisa that gets to chat with John, their guide, and catch up on news.
Today seems to be full of animals and bird that come really close to the car. Unlike most impala, who run away as soon as the vehicle pulls up next to them, these stay right by the side of the road as we stop to admire their graceful appearance.
We have a youngster with an itch that appears hard to scratch.
“I just can't quite reach...”
A family of mongooses who are milling around in a clearing stop and briefly look at us before carrying on with their lives.
Today really is a day full of close encounters! Crossing the road right in front of us makes this my closest sighting ever of these small furry mammals.
Eggs are one of their favourite foods, and this guy has got a large one. (Excuse the very bad photo, it's the only one I managed to get)
Another one of Tarangire's claims to fame is the number, size and age of its baobab trees. Popular with elephants for the ability to store water in their trunks, baobabs are often left with battle scars from the encounters.
Malisa explains that providing this tree does not receive any further assaults from elephants, it should be able to re-grow and continue to live. Any more battering will surely be the end of it though as it will collapse and die.
As we are talking about baobabs, a lion appears 'out of nowhere', leisurely walking along the road in front of us, before taking a rest.
After a short break, he continues on his way, slipping into the long grass beside the road. It is all over in a few minutes, and we are the only people who saw him. Right time, right place I guess.
Lions are said to be hard to spot in Tarangire, but we have had some luck over the years with a sighting on all but one of our visits (and on the one visit we did miss, we saw a lioness and two cubs outside the park boundaries)
Unlike earlier when we stopped here for breakfast, now the picnic site is full of tourists enjoying a break and having lunch.
The presence of lots of people also attracts these scavengers to the picnic site.
They may look cute, but they are scheming little thieves, who hang around the picnic tables, waiting for an opportunity to nab any unprotected food.
If the opportunities are slow at materialising, these intelligent creatures create their own opportunities. The have learned that if they make a lot of loud noise, imitating their warning calls, down at the railings overlooking the valley, curios tourists will flock to see what is making the monkeys so agitated. This then gives their mates a chance to snatch any food left behind on the picnic tables. We see several people falling for this trick today.
It's not just the picnic tables that get the once over from these cheeky guys, here you can see one of them checking out our car for the slightest chance of some food. Fortunately we made doubly sure we closed and locked all windows, doors and roof.
Fed up with the opportunist thieves, a group of French tourists shout “allez, allez” at the monkeys. The would-be robbers take absolutely no notice of course, continuing to approach the table from every angle. Laughter ensues when an Englishman on the next table informs them that the monkeys "only speak English you know”.
One of the most remarkable things about the Black Faced Vervet Monkey, is its bright blue testicles. When I say “bright blue”, I mean iridescent, almost glow-in-the-dark blue.
Even a Superb Starling tries to muscle in on the action, looking for crumbs dropped by tourists.
We have to leave the picnic area, and in fact Tarangire National park, to make our way back to Arusha and later our flight home. We will of course “see what nature has to offer us” on the way to the park gate.
This enormous bird (it stands at 130cm / 4'3”) is the largest of all the hornbill species, and as the name suggests is usually found on the ground.
This female is doing what girls all over the world do every day: preening herself.
It looks like this year's elephant fashion includes pierced ears.
Another mongoose family. These, however, take fright as soon as they see us.
Stopping occasionally to check if we are still following them.
And so this ends our 2017 safari in Tanzania. Despite being awfully poorly, I have enjoyed myself very much, thanks to being so extremely well looked after by David, Malisa and all the lodge staff along the way. Not to mention Tillya of Calabash Adventures of course, who made sure I was still OK and coping every day.
Being able to carry on as 'normal' as possible on the trip has been mostly down to adrenalin and as soon as we leave the last park and start the long journey home, I relax and it hits me big time. Everything from then on is a blur: the visit to Tillya's beautiful new office; trying to find a toilet in a leisure centre when I suddenly have a bout of diarrhoea; the emotional moment we have to say goodbye to Malisa; the check in to Kia Lodge in Arusha for a shower, change and dinner; the moving to a different room because the A/C is not working and there is no drinking water in the room; the transfer bus to Kilimanjaro Airport; the panic upon being asked for my UK visa at the check-in desk and having to explain that as an EEA national I don't need one despite the Brexit; the flights from Kilimanjaro – Istanbul – Birmingham; being transported from the plane in a wheelchair; and the drive home where I can finally collapse in bed.
Writing this blog and editing the photos back home has been great for me, as there is so much of the trip that I don't remember. So many of the notes I made at the time (thank goodness I did) where I have had to ask David: “what did I mean by this?”. This time, instead of re-living the trip as I usually do when I publish my blog after our return home; I have really just 'lived it' as I missed so much the first time round.
Here's to the next safari (this time hopefully in perfect health!) with Calabash Adventures, the best safari operators by far!
After leaving the ‘Lion Tree’, we try to find somewhere to stop for our picnic lunch. Malisa’s initial plan is to park down by Lake Magadi, but there is no shade whatsoever and the sun is relentless.
On the shores of the lake, a number of terns are congregating: Whiskered, White Winged Black and Black. As we get closer, they all take off en masse.
Rueppell's Long Tailed Starling
Grey Backed Shrike
We finally find a tree to take our picnic under, listening to the grunting of hippo as we eat. When Lyn comments to Malisa that the sounds appear awfully near, his reply doesn’t exactly re-assure her: “This is leopard country…” Seeing the paw prints in the sand, Lyn makes a hasty retreat to the car.
This is an enormous family!
A buffalo tries – unsuccessfully – to hide in the long grass.
A male ostrich shows off his typical breeding plumage: bright pink legs and neck.
On top of one of the kopjes is a strategically placed, strange-shaped rock. This large rock with holes emits quite a gong when hit with a stone. In the old days – before the Maasai were relocated to make this an animal-only national park - it was used as a form of communication, to call together clan members to meetings. These days I guess they use mobile phones.
The kopjes here at Moru also hide a number of rock paintings believed to be several hundred years old. The colours used are similar to those on the Maasai shields, so it is thought that they were painted by a band of young Maasai warriors who wandered this area for several years before settling down to their pastoral life.
The colours used were created from plant matter: the black from volcanic ash, the white and yellow from different clay, and the red from the juice of the wild nightshade.
I am intrigued by the bicycle.
The area around the kopjes is supposed to be home to Serengeti’s last remaining black rhino and is a favourite hangout of leopards apparently. But all we see are a few rock hyraxes.
My tummy really is in a bad way now, causing me quite some concern; and I beg Malisa to find me a proper toilet. “We are very near” he tells me.
Dark Chanting Goshawk
Serengeti Rhino Project Visitors Centre
Half an hour later, we reach the Rhino Information Centre, where the toilets are indeed very good.
Mostly as a result of poaching, the black rhino population has declined to a critically endangered point, with an all time low of 2,300 individuals in the wild. Fewer than 700 eastern black rhinos survive in the wild, with Serengeti being home to around 30 of them.
Named after the German conservationist Michael Grzimek who devoted his life to the Serengeti, the Visitors Centre has displays about the rhino and how the conservation strategies are being employed to ensure the continued survival of the rhino.
The exact location of the park’s rhino population is a well kept secret, with a small army of rangers and wardens looking after the animals 24/7.
One of the reasons the crocodile is often found with his mouth wide open, is to attract insects, who are drawn to bits of meat left in the croc’s teeth. The insects again attract birds, and as soon as an unsuspecting bird enters the mouth – slam! The bird is no more.
For some reason that reminds me of this Youtube clip.
These enormous nests take the birds up to three months to build, and are the height of sophistication, with three rooms inside. The nests can weigh up to 90kg, measure 1.5 metres across, and are strong enough to support the weight of a man! These birds are compulsive nest builders, constructing three to five nests per year whether they are breeding or not. When the hamerkop abandons a nest, Egyptian Geese move in.
Many local people believe the hamerkop to be a ‘witch bird’ because they collect all sorts of stuff for their nest building, including human hair!
In Africa, rain is a blessing, for humans, animals and the environment.
♪♫♪ I bless the rains down in Africa… ♪♫♪
"Africa" by Toto
I hear the drums echoing tonight But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation She's coming in twelve-thirty flight Her moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation I stopped an old man along the way Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies He turned to me as if to say: "Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"
It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do I bless the rains down in Africa Gonna take some time to do the things we never had
The wild dogs cry out in the night As they grow restless longing for some solitary company I know that I must do what's right Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become
It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do I bless the rains down in Africa Gonna take some time to do the things we never had
Rain can also be a blessing for photographers, creating some lovely moody shots.
Seeing a herd of Lancruisers in the distance, and knowing that they always hunt in packs, we surmise there must be a suitable prey around.
We are not disappointed. Wet and bedraggled, there is a pride (or sawt) of lions in the long grass, with what’s left of a dead wildebeest.
Two mums and three cubs (around 1½ - 2 months old) gather around the carcass.
The rain is persistent now; so we put the roof down to stop everything in the car getting wet. Although, looking to the west, it does seem that it might clear up soon.
Actually, almost as soon as we put the roof down, the rain eases off. Typical. We leave it down for a while to see what happens, but as the rain seems to hold off, we raise it again to allow for more movement and ease of photography.
One of the mums has had enough, and goes off, growling.
She then lies down in the short grass to tidy herself up from the eating and the rain.
Followed by a quick roll on the ground.
Before continuing her stroll.
The other mum watches her girlfriend with interest.
And decides that she too would like a roll in the long grass. Copy cat!
Obviously her tummy is not quite full yet: she goes back to the wildebeest for another bite or two.
The cubs try to emulate mum, tugging at their dinner.
I have to say that the normal cuteness associated with lion cubs is not very evident in the wet!
Eating is boring when you’re a young lion cub, playing with mum is much more fun!
Mum, on the other hand, is not impressed. “Will you stop that for goodness sake, I am trying to eat!”
Meanwhile, the sun is trying to come out.
It seems mum number two has also had her fill for the day, leaving the kill behind; licking her chops as she wanders off through the long grass.
She stops to sniff the air; her face still bloody from dinner.
Aha! So, that is what she could smell!
Dad settles down for a rest – or at least that’s what he thinks. The cubs have other ideas.
Just like mum, dad is not amused either and growls at the playing cubs, who have been jumping up and down on his back and rolling around all over him.
The playful kitties go back to annoying mum for a while.
She is still having none of it.
I am sure this is an expression mothers throughout the world can relate to: the sheer frustration of pleading young eyes.
Eventually they realise it is less hassle to just play amongst themselves.
Time to get a move-on
We reluctantly leave the playing kitties to head for camp. It is already 18:15 and we have another 45 minutes drive from here. "Depending on what we see on the way", as Malisa always says when we ask him how long it will take to get somewhere.
The roads are wet and slippery and in his rush to get to camp before we get into trouble, Malisa starts to skid on the muddy track, then over-compensates. For a brief moment we are hurtling sideways at some speed before he manages to skilfully correct the car. Well done that man! Although I found the ‘Serengeti Drift’ quite exhilarating!
This weather seems to have really brought out the hyenas, as we see a dozen or more during one particular stretch of road. Or perhaps they just like this specific area.
Shooting straight into the setting sun makes for some spectacular backlit images.
Seeing the rainbow, I ask Malisa to find me a giraffe for the foreground. Not too demanding then!
The nearest I get is an elephant and a tree. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.
This evening’s stormy clouds have created one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen in Africa, with moody, threatening clouds and ever-changing colours.
I hang out of the window with my camera all the way to the lodge; constantly changing the settings (mainly exposure and white balance) to try and achieve different effects. You can see some of the end results below.
Serengeti Serena Lodge
Just as we arrive at the lodge – in the dark – a long tailed mongoose crosses the road. A very rare animal to spot, it is a first for us. Even Malisa is exciting about it!
The car park is full and very dark; and we have to negotiate lots of obstacles to get to reception. They are busy and check-in is the slowest we have experienced so far. Eventually we are taken to our rooms – it is a great shame that we cannot see them, as they look very unusual and rather fancy from the post card!
The design of this hotel is based on traditional Maasai dwellings, with a number of thatched-roofed rondavels dotted around the ground. We give it the nickname of the ‘Nipple Hotel’ due to…. well, I am sure you can figure that out yourself.
The restaurant is disappointing, with no available tables when we arrive, and most of the buffet food is finished. I am feeling quite weary this evening, and I can’t even finish my one bottle of beer. I must be tired!
As he walks us back to the room, the escort points out a bush baby in the trees.
Lyn and Chris' room.
The room is much too hot despite a fan, and I cannot bear to be surrounded by the mosquito net, so I remove it. I am covered in bites anyway, and they itch like mad in the heat this evening so I struggle to sleep.
Despite an unsatisfactory evening and night, we had an otherwise excellent day on safari. Again. Thank you Calabash Adventures and guide Malisa.
Another early start in the dark today, complete with luggage as we are moving on to pastures new. Leaving Mbuzi Mawe this morning, we are all feeling the cold.
Lilac Breasted Roller
Much as I really enjoy leaving at the crack of dawn to make the most of the day on the savannah, this first hour or so is not conducive to photography. Darkness = high ISO = grainy and dull images.
This morning we appear to be in the heart of the migration, with wildebeest all around us. Unfortunately, with the animals come the tse tse flies. Nasty little buggers and they are particularly numerous and bothersome where there are trees, such as here.
Hot Air Balloon
A hot air balloon glides gracefully over the savannah as we make our way through the park.
Grey Headed Kingfisher
I think it must have rained heavily during the night, as the river is flowing over the causeway this morning.
Lappet Faced Vulture
Everywhere we look there are zebras. A huge herd – or dazzle – of zebras. Long lines of zebras. Adult zebras. Baby zebras. Lactating zebras. Mating zebras. Eating zebras. Zebra crossings. And more zebras. And then some.
Two young brothers can barely be seen above the long grass. Having just eaten (we missed it), they saunter off into the distance.
We follow a troop of baboons along the road for a while.
The baby is very young - no more than two or three days old at the most.
But I still think he looks like an old man.
Such a tender family moment!
That moment when your dad has got you by the scruff of the neck but mum is looking out for you.
Located in Seronera in Central Serengeti, the visitors centre is a good place to stop for several reasons: 1. they have new and very clean / modern toilets (I have a problem again today) 2. there is a nice picnic area with lots of semi-tame birds, hyraxes and mongooses 3. an intersting exhibition displays information about Serengeti in general and the wildebeest migration in particular 4. there is also a nice little nature walk on elevated wooden walkways.
Sadly the boardwalk is closed for crucial repairs today, but we are given a guided tour of the information centre.
Those of you who have been following this blog from the beginning, will know that I have a wish list, and that aardvark is on that list (and has been for the last four safaris here in Tanzania - it became a running joke with our previous driver Dickson). I still haven’t seen one, so I have to make do with a mural on the wall.
Rock and Tree Hyrax
It is very hard to tell the difference between these two different animals – the tree hyrax has a lighter stripe down the back, but it is not always obvious.
And I guess the Tree Hyrax is more often found in …. yes, you guessed it … trees.
But not always.
Although the hyrax, also called rock rabbit or dassie, are similar to the guinea pig in looks, its closest living relative is the elephant! They are present throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa, and in some places they can become quite unafraid of humans and are considered a pest!
A hyrax with ambition: pretending to be a wildebeest.
Grey Capped Social Weaver
The Gowler African Adventure
On previous holidays with Lyn and Chris (canal barge cruising) we have always had a themed day where we all dress up for a bit of fun, so this time I made these T-shirts for us all to wear, with the ‘team logo’. This safari has been in the planning stages for well over a year, and along the way we have had a lot of fun.
After our usual packed breakfast at the picnic site here in the Visitors Centre, we continue our game drive, exploring more of the Serengeti.
Black Faced Vervet Monkey
Although we can only just see the tops of their backs, we can certainly smell them!
Black Headed Heron
Wire Tailed Swallow
Q: What do you call a group of giraffes? A: A tower, journey, corps or herd.
There’s a bit of trivia for your next pub quiz.
Suddenly they all turn to face the same direction and continue staring that way for quite some time. I wonder what they have spotted?
We'll never know.
They’re everywhere. So many of them – we count 31!
One of the older ladies appear a little ‘eccentric’, carrying grass on the top of her back.
Having a good scratch.
You know the grass is long when you can lose a couple of baby elephants in it.
For the next half an hour, the herd of elephants (also known as a memory or parade) slowly meander all around us – sometimes very close - as they munch their way across the savannah.
A lone male lion tries to hide in a prickly bush.
Earlier we saw an almost white giraffe, whereas this one is very dark. I had no idea giraffes vary so much in their colouration!
White Browed Coucal
Tse Tse Flies
This area seems to be teeming with these pesky little flies, and I get bitten around fifteen times in as many minutes. They hurt when they bite you and itch like **** afterwards.
Lions in a tree
Just like I was complaining about the tse tse flies a few minutes ago, lions sometimes climb onto tree branches to get away from them, but as you can see from the photo below, it doesn’t seem to make any difference.
On the other side is another lion in another tree.
After a while, another car pulls up. As usual, we can hear the Americans before we see them. They take a few shots with their mobile phones and numerous more selfies before they move on again. They are not even here for three minutes.
We, on the other hand, stick around to see what the lionesses might do, and are rewarded with a bit of action. If you can call it that – at least it is some movement rather than just photographing sleeping lions. Or photographing ourselves with sleeping lions in the background.
The lone lioness from the other tree decides to join her mates.
There is a lot of shuffling going on, they never seem to find a particularly comfortable position. I can see why you'll never see a male lion in a tree!
Look at the number of flies on this poor girl's face! It's no wonder she is not comfortable.
Well, that was certainly worth enduring the tse tse flies for!
Time to stop for lunch, and a convenient time to break this blog entry. This afternoon’s game drive will feature in a new entry
Thank you so much to our guide Malisa and Calabash Adventures - the best safari company by a long shot.