A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about cheetah

Ndutu (cheetah) - Ngorongo picnic - Arusha Part 2

Malisa finally finds us a cheetah


View Tanzania for Lyn and Chris' 40th Anniversary 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Hyena

Sporting an old wound on his hind quarters, probably as a result of a slap from a lion while trying to steal food, this guy looks rather sorry for himself.

large_21d93430-39fe-11e9-95d1-f9d031db6dcb.jpg

A few more adults and sub-adults are scattered around in the long, dry grass.

large_c205b260-3a87-11e9-a2ac-81490082c361.jpg

large_d308b530-3a87-11e9-a2ac-81490082c361.jpg

Not far away we come across their den in an old disused aardvark hole.

large_f4ac9da0-3a87-11e9-a2ac-81490082c361.jpg

large_e8408810-3a87-11e9-a2ac-81490082c361.jpg

This family cackle (collective noun for a group of hyenas) consists of at least two different litters of pups, six weeks and four weeks old respectively.

large_1c24d550-3a88-11e9-a2ac-81490082c361.jpg

Hyena pups are born black and start to grow their spots at around two weeks old.

large_05903190-3a88-11e9-a2ac-81490082c361.jpg

Elephants

large_417cadf0-3a9c-11e9-962a-7381b20a6089.jpg

large_4fec34a0-3a9c-11e9-962a-7381b20a6089.jpg

large_5ead5dc0-3a9c-11e9-962a-7381b20a6089.jpg

Common Flat Lizards

We spot these little reptiles from a great distance because of their bright, almost luminous, colours. They are a new species to us, causing some excitement, at least for me. I am bemused by their name though - surely there is nothing 'common' about these flamboyant lizards?

large_6b9b62a0-3a9e-11e9-962a-7381b20a6089.jpg

Dik Dik

large_b30b5100-3aac-11e9-bf1d-494ae7915813.jpg

Little Bee Eater

large_c6bc83e0-3aac-11e9-bf1d-494ae7915813.jpg

Steenboks

It is easy to tell the genders of steenboks apart, as only the males have horns.

large_2c9f5a80-3ac5-11e9-aa82-878551bfa6cb.jpg

Giraffe

large_e2b88570-3ac6-11e9-aa82-878551bfa6cb.jpg

large_ed10af20-3ac6-11e9-aa82-878551bfa6cb.jpg

large_f63ae020-3ac6-11e9-aa82-878551bfa6cb.jpg

large_a2cd21d0-3acd-11e9-b762-0d69ae0d6e59.jpg
Love the photobomb!

large_c0c89bb0-3acd-11e9-b762-0d69ae0d6e59.jpg

large_cef68580-3acd-11e9-b762-0d69ae0d6e59.jpg

Elephants

Down on the Big Marsh

large_64755de0-3ad1-11e9-bc61-7da761598750.jpg

large_7c785eb0-3ad1-11e9-bc61-7da761598750.jpg

large_8f293890-3ad1-11e9-bc61-7da761598750.jpg

large_9f7cc180-3ad1-11e9-bc61-7da761598750.jpg

Cheetah

Since we left the lodge this morning, Malisa has been driving around from bush to tree, mound to rock, all across the plains, checking out all the usual places cheetah are known to hang out. Here in Ndutu, cheetah are usually quite easy to spot and Malisa is determined not to leave here until we've seen one. Finally we find not one, but two: a mother and her one-year old cub.

large_aee9b960-4013-11e9-869d-93fc85e0a9ff.jpg

Every time we think we have a great view for photographs, the cats turn their heads and/or bodies the opposite direction, so we end up driving round and round the tree several times to try and get a decent picture.

large_c5e7cd50-4013-11e9-869d-93fc85e0a9ff.jpg

large_566e17d0-4014-11e9-ad11-518ddf350467.jpg

large_64e8e920-4014-11e9-ad11-518ddf350467.jpg

As we have a long way to go to get back to Arusha today, we reluctantly leave the cheetah behind. Only for the cats to move to a different position as soon as the car starts up. So we stay for a little while longer.

large_f913ee20-4013-11e9-8b7d-c1e2514699fe.jpg

large_78e09ae0-4014-11e9-ad11-518ddf350467.jpg

But we really have to go. But then the cub gets up. Just a little bit longer.

large_08edb330-4014-11e9-ad11-518ddf350467.jpg

large_d2378470-4017-11e9-869d-93fc85e0a9ff.jpg

Now we truly must make a move. But then mum gets up. Just a few more photographs.

large_e36febf0-4013-11e9-869d-93fc85e0a9ff.jpg

Then they sit down again.

large_08284380-4018-11e9-869d-93fc85e0a9ff.jpg

Look at those claws!

large_250ccf20-4018-11e9-869d-93fc85e0a9ff.jpg

It is absolutely necessary for us to get on our way now. Then they start licking. We can't go quite yet.

large_2477b7e0-4014-11e9-ad11-518ddf350467.jpg

large_32567040-4014-11e9-ad11-518ddf350467.jpg

There comes a time when we cannot put off our departure any longer, and we all agree that this is a very special 'leaving present'. What a way to go out on a high.

large_46847440-4014-11e9-ad11-518ddf350467.jpg

large_5b456ca0-4018-11e9-869d-93fc85e0a9ff.jpg

We start to make our way back to Arusha, but we have a considerable distance to cover yet (another seven hours driving at least).

large_091e8e30-471a-11e9-979a-319ffd7c05f9.jpg

Goat Herds

One of the main differences between National Parks and Conservation Areas in Tanzania (we are currently in the latter) is that wildlife share the Conservation Areas with the local people and their livestock, who are banned from National Parks.

We see a couple of young kids with erm... young kids (ie. baby goats). One of the children is leading a new born goat, so new he is still very wobbly (the goat, not the child). Lyn and I get totally carried away snapping pictures of this cute little one, until the infuriated adult herder comes over to shout angrily at Malisa. “He is unhappy the you will sell the photo and get lots of money while he gets nothing”. Malisa assures him that no-one is intending to make a profit from selling the pictures of his baby goat, but we slip him some money anyway.

large_1c3ed5a0-401d-11e9-869d-93fc85e0a9ff.jpg

large_f7810300-401c-11e9-869d-93fc85e0a9ff.jpg

large_36588170-401d-11e9-869d-93fc85e0a9ff.jpg

Endulen

Apparently devoid of all vegetation, our surroundings still appear to support a vast number of giraffes. What on earth do they find to feed on?

large_7590eaf0-4025-11e9-bbe5-75a567981df7.jpg

Leaving the sanctity of the vehicle to 'answer the call of nature' in this barren, desolate and forbidding area, we find ourselves roasting in the formidable heat and sandblasted by the violent gusts carrying clouds of dust. With no vegetation or human habitation as far as the eye can see, you would not survive long on foot in this furnace-like terrain.

large_7f72d330-4025-11e9-bbe5-75a567981df7.jpg

Lake Eyasi

The temperatures drop noticeably as we climb to higher altitudes. We will be reaching the same altitude as the highest mountain in Norway at some stage on our way to Arusha today – that rather puts it into perspective.

large_49d10200-4026-11e9-bbe5-75a567981df7.jpg

Maasai Country

Vegetation has begun to appear, both wild and cultivated, as has a few Maasai settlements including a school and even a small hospital. The Maasai people have a reputation as fierce warriors, and are not always terribly hospitable to outside visitors. The children, however, break into a sprint as they see our car approaching, hoping we will stop and maybe bestow them with a gift in the form of a pen, sweets or money.

large_c63b49e0-4026-11e9-bbe5-75a567981df7.jpg

This is not the place to make a 'call of nature', but both Lyn and I are desperate. After what seems like an eternity, but in reality is only about an hour, Malisa finally finds a suitable spot with no kids or houses within sight. Phew. A communal "ahhhhhh" can be heard from all sides of the vehicle.

large_b314a3c0-4026-11e9-bbe5-75a567981df7.jpg

Augur Buzzard

This magnificent birds is sitting close to the road, but doesn't automatically fly off as soon as we pull up in the car, as they usually do. When he starts to look around, we stay for a while, hoping he might fly off.

large_0d1c87a0-4047-11e9-a903-8168f04abed2.jpg

large_293c3ca0-4047-11e9-a903-8168f04abed2.jpg

And he does, skimming the ground at low level, presumably looking for mice or other small rodents.

large_74e2ff40-4047-11e9-a903-8168f04abed2.jpg

large_7d7a3f10-4047-11e9-a903-8168f04abed2.jpg

large_87113ba0-4047-11e9-a903-8168f04abed2.jpg

Accident

Oops. It looks like the left front wheel of this vehicle has sheered off.

large_5c50cbe0-4049-11e9-8a32-097b801a0847.jpg

Nyati Transit Picnic Site

Positioned near the Ang'Ata Camp we stayed at the first night out in the bush, this picnic area has stunning views out over the Ngorongoro Crater.

large_f2aba500-404f-11e9-a60c-598ff60a99cc.jpg

We are joined for lunch by a number of Black Kites who soar overhead, ready to swoop on any unattended food. The seagulls of Ngorongoro.

large_feea6900-404f-11e9-a60c-598ff60a99cc.jpg

large_1c7e6e80-4050-11e9-a60c-598ff60a99cc.jpg

While I am busy photographing the flying birds, I hear some distant music. Coming from my trouser pocket. Having spent the last six days with no mobile signal, it takes me a while to register that the noise is my phone ringing. Panicking that there is a problem with my dad, I am relieved when it is only a confirmation of an appointment the day after we get back.

Dirt

I notice that my face and neck is covered in dust from the dirt tracks in the park today. As always, I am looking forward top getting in the shower tonight.

large_52a9eca0-4050-11e9-a60c-598ff60a99cc.jpg

On our way again

Once we reach Lodoare Gate and exit the Conservation Area, the road is sealed and very smooth, sending me into a nice, comfortable slumber. It is also very steep and winding, and we see a number of accidents along the way, far more than we have ever seen in the past.

large_6e7e7260-4051-11e9-a60c-598ff60a99cc.jpg

large_ab6b5ee0-4051-11e9-a60c-598ff60a99cc.jpg
Mount Meru

Just outside Arusha, we meet up with Tillya at a modern shopping mall, where the clean, modern toilets are very welcome. A quest to spot a Shoebill rumoured to be hanging around the local fields is fruitless, however.

From here we hit the urban jungle with traffic jams, road works and pedestrians milling round. By the time we reach Kia Lodge near the airport, it is dark and quite late. We have to say goodbye to Malisa here, as he will be going home to his family tonight, so the lodge will arrange our airport transfer tomorrow morning. Parting is always such sweet sorrow, but David and I have already decided that we will be back in 15 months' time.

large_c92d7940-4051-11e9-a60c-598ff60a99cc.jpg

Every time we leave Tanzania after a safari, we wonder how any subsequent trip could possibly live up to the one we have just had. This time is no exception – it seems like each time we come, the safari experience gets better than the next.

Having travelled a great deal, using a vast number of operators, including a dozen or so different safari outfitters, I can categorically confirm that Calabash Adventures tops them all. Malisa, who has been our driver-guide for the last three safaris, and Dickson, who took us for the previous three, both have exceptional knowledge in all areas pertaining to the natural world, charming personalities, delightful sense of humour, and graceful compassion towards both man and beast.

Tillya, the owner of Calabash Adventures, is devoted to ensuring each and every client gets the most out of their time in the bush and has the best time ever.

large_c9cc82f0-4052-11e9-a60c-598ff60a99cc.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 14:19 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds elephants kite africa safari tanzania lizard birding cheetah picnic accident den maasai giraffe ngorongoro hyena goats bird_watching buzzard game_drive ndutu calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area dik_dik bee_eater augur_buzzard mount_meru nyati steenbok hyena_den hyena_pups cackle common_flat_lizard little_bee_eater big_marsh goat_herds baby_goats endulen lake_eyasi nyati_transit_picnic_site picnic_site black_kite Comments (1)

Lobo - Ndutu Part I - Lion Cubs on Togoro Kopjes

Our last full day in the bush


View Tanzania for Lyn and Chris' 40th Anniversary 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Because we are moving on from Lobo to Ndutu today, we load up the car with all our luggage this morning. A troupe of Vervet Monkeys takes that as an opportunity to check out our car to see if we have any easily accessible food. We don't, and they are shooed away empty-handed.

Hartebeest

large_c0484fb0-2eba-11e9-805e-017f01ad9f76.jpg

large_cbff1f00-2eba-11e9-805e-017f01ad9f76.jpg

Elephant

I see an elephant close to the road in front of us, but find myself dismayed and terribly embarrassed when it turns out to be a tree. Doh. For the rest of the day I am teased mercilessly about it.

Zebra in the Sunrise

large_23273720-2ebd-11e9-805e-017f01ad9f76.jpg

large_3523dc30-2ebd-11e9-a880-b3dd4a18524f.jpg

Hyena in the Sunrise

large_16ba68d0-2ebe-11e9-805e-017f01ad9f76.jpg

Togoro Plains

Having had some good sightings here a couple of years ago, we take a detour to Togoro Plains to “see what nature has to offer us today” (one of Malisa's favourite sayings).

Lions

On the top of a rock at Togoro Kopjes, two mamas with their seven babies are sunning themselves.

large_012c02c0-2ec4-11e9-ac1b-6127ccc31541.jpg

large_0de8a950-2ec4-11e9-ac1b-6127ccc31541.jpg

They are a fair distance away, so we move to try and get a closer view, but that means the sun is in the wrong direction for good photos.

large_edac98d0-2ec4-11e9-b6b9-f3eceeda08aa.jpg

After a short while they leave their original rock and head to another. First one of the adult females, then the rest of them, one by one.

large_2db021e0-2eca-11e9-a036-4784b41745f3.jpg

large_b9aa8630-2ecb-11e9-a036-4784b41745f3.jpg

large_d6d6acb0-2ecc-11e9-a036-4784b41745f3.jpg

large_ae5525e0-2ecd-11e9-a036-4784b41745f3.jpg

large_5d4cee80-2ed7-11e9-8a03-a701ec84461a.jpg

large_0e7fa210-2ed8-11e9-8a03-a701ec84461a.jpg

large_ff73fb10-2eda-11e9-8a03-a701ec84461a.jpg

large_fc135900-2edc-11e9-8a03-a701ec84461a.jpg

Their destination is another kopje nearby, and while the mums easily make it to the top, many of the cubs are struggling to climb the rocks.

large_07861210-2eeb-11e9-a72f-11603f708763.jpg
"Are you coming kids?"

large_a9596b40-2eec-11e9-846f-5b66221fc749.jpg

large_eb8aea20-2eec-11e9-846f-5b66221fc749.jpg

large_9dbafd90-2efa-11e9-9202-a9ef2e1248f5.jpg

large_2b187780-2f00-11e9-a048-ef34c24b7170.jpg
"Mum? Where are you?"

large_0a866250-2f02-11e9-8b81-a95dafdb7c97.jpg
"I think she went this way guys"

large_b02733b0-2f02-11e9-8b81-a95dafdb7c97.jpg
"Wait for me!"

large_100b4720-2f04-11e9-8b81-a95dafdb7c97.jpg

large_1e297980-2f04-11e9-8b81-a95dafdb7c97.jpg

They get so far, then hang around exploring the rock while they try to work out their route from there to the top.

large_fa4611e0-3133-11e9-a2f7-b36fd2f5cf74.jpg

large_03495d20-3138-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

large_2c3214c0-3138-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

Meanwhile, mum wonders where her babies are.

large_516342a0-3138-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

“It's obviously not this way lads, I've had a look”.

large_678b9000-3138-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

Watching their different personalities as they try to follow their mamas up the steep slopes of the rocky outcrop is such a delight.

large_afa952f0-3138-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

Yay! The first cub has made it to the top to join his mum.

large_eb4a1060-3138-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

He is soon joined by the next little lion to brave it all the way. Mum doesn't look too pleased to see them, however.

large_04eb57e0-3139-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg
"What took you so long boys?"

And then there were three.

large_21fb8760-3139-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

Meanwhile, back on the lower rock...

large_5f0e2450-3139-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

One particularly timid little scaredycat is really unsure and has to be coaxed from the top by the adult female. It never ceases to amaze me how these cats communicate – we have seen it in so many ways and incidents now.

large_7f531900-3139-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg
"But, but, it is slippery...?"

large_e989cd50-3139-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg
"C'mon, you can do it. Be brave!"

large_982e7870-3139-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

“I guess that just leaves us then, bruv”

large_ae589a90-3139-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

large_c2d051c0-3139-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

As soon as all the little ones make it to the top of the second kopje, one of the lionesses goes off to see about getting the large brood some lunch. We surmise the hartebeest we see in the distance are on today's menu.

large_69ef9050-313b-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

Meanwhile, the kids explore their new playground.

large_af184aa0-3145-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

large_bfbf98e0-3145-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

large_dac50440-3145-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

large_f0613e40-3145-11e9-9153-df1bdc3f94bd.jpg

Klipspringers

Spooked by the lions, these small antelopes prance from one rock to another. Their hooves have a rubber-like coating to give them a better grip on rocky surfaces.

large_87e23d50-314b-11e9-a76d-ed3fa199e26a.jpg

large_a9e535b0-314b-11e9-a76d-ed3fa199e26a.jpg

The lions seems to have spotted them too but appear too lazy to do anything about it. Not that they would stand much a chance of catching the fast-moving klipspringers, not would they provide much food for nine hungry lions.

large_e633bf50-314b-11e9-a76d-ed3fa199e26a.jpg

This has been such a heart-warming and entertaining encounter, one of the highlights of our trip so far.

Dark Chanting Goshawk

large_d8508060-31ca-11e9-8de4-71f780a26913.jpg

Pallid Flycatcher

large_8a1406d0-320e-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

Lappet Faced Vulture

large_f3eea950-31ca-11e9-8de4-71f780a26913.jpg

Cheetahs

These three cheetahs under a tree in the distance flatly refuse to do anything other than chilling in the shade, however long we hang around. Don't they know who we are?

large_4f9e3040-31cb-11e9-8de4-71f780a26913.jpg

Crocodile in the Orangi River

large_70907bf0-31cb-11e9-8de4-71f780a26913.jpg

Retima Hippo Pool

Retima Hippo Pool is a bend in the river where numerous hippo gather together for safety in protecting their young.

large_2f125e00-320c-11e9-b212-03c816ebce01.jpg

large_c5ee0ea0-320c-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

There is a lot of yawning, grunting, belching, farting, pooping, bickering and splashing going on. But mostly just sleeping.

large_e0df55c0-320c-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

large_ee3dba90-320c-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

large_fb2dcd30-320c-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

large_0ba16140-320d-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

A crocodile does some sunbathing while he is waiting for the opportunity to grab a snack of baby hippo.

large_2b7c97a0-320d-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

That is why the hippo snuggle close together around their youngststers.

large_44518e70-320d-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

large_18173ad0-320d-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

The spot has been created into a rudimentary but popular viewing area over the years, with picnic tables and a toilet block.

large_5bc43620-320d-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

While we have visited here a few times in the past, this is the first time we have stopped here for a picnic.

large_6b85b840-320d-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

large_7d54bda0-320d-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

Blue Eared Glossy Starling

As is usual in an area where humans gather for food, a few opportunist birds hang around; this time the large and colourful Blue Eared Glossy Starling.

large_19a19970-320f-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

Thank you to Calabash for yet another amazing morning of safari.

large_998d51d0-320d-11e9-8305-870785a497cc.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 01:59 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals monkeys elephant sunrise breakfast cute africa safari tanzania crocodile zebra birding cheetah picnic lions hippo lion_cubs serengeti hyena vulture lobo starling bird_watching calabash_adventures vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys cuteness_overload hartebeest retima_hippo_pool lappet_faced_vulture hippo_pool kopjes game_viewing cuteness orangi_river togoro_plains lobo_wildlife_lodge the_best_safari_company togoro togoro_kopjes lionesses klipspringers dark_chanting_goshawk goshawk retima blue_eared_glossy_starling Comments (2)

Serengeti Day 5 Part 2 - Ngare Naironya Springs

The Stripes are the Stars


View Tanzania for Lyn and Chris' 40th Anniversary 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

The Gang

All ready to go to see more wildlife this morning:

large_f370d240-28c0-11e9-a4e8-c78c5d63998d.jpg

large_16053530-28c1-11e9-a4e8-c78c5d63998d.jpg

Ngare Naironya Springs

After breakfast we return to the waterhole, which is now full of zebras coming and going, splashing about, drinking and generally being zebras.

large_313b4d80-28c1-11e9-b689-051620dc27a8.jpg

large_4cdfdf10-28c1-11e9-b689-051620dc27a8.jpg

large_669b1730-28c1-11e9-b689-051620dc27a8.jpg

large_84305530-28c1-11e9-b689-051620dc27a8.jpg

large_9dcd7e00-28c1-11e9-b689-051620dc27a8.jpg

large_bd5711f0-28c1-11e9-b689-051620dc27a8.jpg

large_d59dab70-28c1-11e9-b689-051620dc27a8.jpg

Clouds of dust swirl around in the air as the zebra are spooked by our car or each other at different times.

large_ea0731d0-28c1-11e9-a4e8-c78c5d63998d.jpg

large_fc5d6890-28c1-11e9-a4e8-c78c5d63998d.jpg

A hyena appearing on the horizon sends the skittish zebras into a mass exodus.

large_49c36760-28c2-11e9-a4e8-c78c5d63998d.jpg

large_643da9c0-28c2-11e9-a4e8-c78c5d63998d.jpg

Warthog

Once the zebra have vacated the bar, a couple of warthogs saunter down to take a drink.

large_7cecf020-28c2-11e9-a4e8-c78c5d63998d.jpg

large_b0c93f10-2a2b-11e9-989c-5f8e31953b0a.jpg

large_483beda0-2a2e-11e9-989c-5f8e31953b0a.jpg

large_91e08e10-28c2-11e9-a4e8-c78c5d63998d.jpg

large_c7191c30-2a2c-11e9-989c-5f8e31953b0a.jpg

large_a2e69e20-28c2-11e9-a4e8-c78c5d63998d.jpg

Hammerkop

A couple of Hammerkops also make the most of the fresh water.

large_d6dc0260-28c2-11e9-a4e8-c78c5d63998d.jpg

We move a short distance to another part of the springs where a steep-sided natural depression with water in the bottom is surrounded by trees. I guess this could be a bit of a death trap if a predator or two were to appear, as there is no easy escape route. The zebra seem acutely aware of the potential danger too – even just the shadows of a hammerkop flying above is enough to spook them.

large_28e545c0-2acc-11e9-84a1-c9aa0b27c650.jpg

large_d6a4d740-293a-11e9-867b-6f9e78104374.jpg

large_f6bd64c0-293a-11e9-867b-6f9e78104374.jpg

large_1b30c0e0-293b-11e9-867b-6f9e78104374.jpg

With the zebra safely out of the way, a couple of Olive Baboons brave the waterhole.

large_9b83f730-2945-11e9-ae25-cd6c22cbf7a5.jpg

large_93750e50-2952-11e9-bdf1-0b4e1eed3356.jpg

This amazing place is a wildlife-watcher's paradise, and at times it is difficult to know which direction to look – and point the cameras – as there is something exciting going on all around us at all times.

Frisky Impala

Male impala are territorial, although usually only during the rutting season. You can tell these are two guys, as only males have horns. Impala are extremely agile and can jump up to three metres in height, covering a distance of 10 metres.

large_c7859d90-2ac4-11e9-abd9-eb5d2bd80218.jpg

large_db707e10-2ac4-11e9-abd9-eb5d2bd80218.jpg

large_ebb19070-2ac4-11e9-abd9-eb5d2bd80218.jpg

Meanwhile, the zebra think it is very much a laughing matter.

large_4de814d0-2ac5-11e9-8a84-b3522561d2ef.jpg

Topi

large_45d62710-2ac4-11e9-abd9-eb5d2bd80218.jpg

large_61834420-2ac4-11e9-abd9-eb5d2bd80218.jpg

large_6e50b390-2ac4-11e9-abd9-eb5d2bd80218.jpg

Zebra

As I said in the title, here on these plains the stripes really are the stars. There are zebra everywhere, thousands of them, including some very young foals. Mummy zebras are fiercely protective of their offspring and will fight off any other strange adult who gets too close to her baby.

large_e52175d0-2ac5-11e9-8456-a54236c760a9.jpg

large_fb9fd270-2ac5-11e9-8456-a54236c760a9.jpg

large_0e47f9c0-2ac6-11e9-8456-a54236c760a9.jpg

large_24af7300-2ac6-11e9-8456-a54236c760a9.jpg

large_396c7090-2ac6-11e9-8456-a54236c760a9.jpg

large_54044d10-2ac6-11e9-8456-a54236c760a9.jpg

large_7c167ad0-2ac6-11e9-8a84-b3522561d2ef.jpg

There is also some love in the air.

large_70cf19b0-2ac7-11e9-9a86-2fe1452eb4de.jpg

These zebra are part of the Great Migration – they tend to be out the front, before the other ungulates, as they will chomp on the taller grass that the wildebeest are unable eat, leaving the shorter grass for them. Easily spooked, thy are constantly on the move, and once one zebra runs, lots of zebra run. I spend ages and take hundreds of photos practising my panning skills, with varying success.

large_2a57dad0-2ac7-11e9-9a86-2fe1452eb4de.jpg

large_38e08ed0-2ac7-11e9-9a86-2fe1452eb4de.jpg

large_47857d60-2ac7-11e9-9a86-2fe1452eb4de.jpg

large_62ae8da0-2ad8-11e9-b9ec-0d51107e9558.jpg

The heavily pregnant zebra on the right looks like she might give birth any moment.

large_8bf44210-2ac7-11e9-9a86-2fe1452eb4de.jpg

Cape Buffalo

Cape buffalo doing what cape buffalo do best: stare! I do find their gaze rather unnerving.

large_85eefaf0-2acb-11e9-84a1-c9aa0b27c650.jpg

The buffalo will migrate too, but they don't do the complete circuit as they are unable to cross the biggest rivers.

large_9348a4d0-2acb-11e9-84a1-c9aa0b27c650.jpg

Being slightly short-sighted, the buffalo are often spooked by warthogs as they confuse them for lions. I can see how the outline, size and colour of the two animals can appear slightly similar if your eyesight is not good. Try squinting at the picture below and you may be able to see what I mean.

large_b8c840d0-2acb-11e9-84a1-c9aa0b27c650.jpg

large_a85322f0-2ac7-11e9-a423-c18c52564a64.jpg
Warthog

Hooded Vulture

large_8fdcb720-2ad8-11e9-b9ec-0d51107e9558.jpg

large_99c55620-2ad8-11e9-b9ec-0d51107e9558.jpg

Black Faced Vervet Monkeys

large_0e826be0-2ae0-11e9-8746-bf32ebae6bc1.jpg

large_a6fd7900-2afe-11e9-9dd1-df6f5cbd76b7.jpg

large_b7013440-2afe-11e9-9dd1-df6f5cbd76b7.jpg

Tse Tse Flies

Despite smothering ourselves with Avon's Skin so Soft lotion, which greatly reduces the number of insect bites, we are hugely bothered by the tse tse flies here in this forest. This is the worst swarm of these pesky flies we've ever encountered, and when we stop the car, we can hear them as a constant buzz.

large_7bff5ca0-2b03-11e9-af12-3d1cfb47ae66.jpg

Ostriches

large_7da22210-2b01-11e9-9dd1-df6f5cbd76b7.jpg

large_b6c0b690-2b03-11e9-af12-3d1cfb47ae66.jpg

Swollen Ankles

My ankles feel sore and tight, and I soon discover why – the top of my socks have really been digging in to my legs. Oops.

large_0f9637f0-2b03-11e9-af12-3d1cfb47ae66.jpg

Buffalo lying down

You can see their horns are starting to wear down. Unlike antlers, bovine horns are permanent and do not fall off and regrow.

large_b1dc7730-2b04-11e9-9dd1-df6f5cbd76b7.jpg

Rough Track

Malisa goes off the 'main road' along a track that can only be described as 'basic'.

large_c6de7790-2b05-11e9-9dd1-df6f5cbd76b7.jpg

large_d2934b10-2b05-11e9-9dd1-df6f5cbd76b7.jpg

Warthog

Initially their short stature makes the baby piglets invisible in the long grass (which is why they run with their tails in the air, so that all the members of the family can see each other), it is only when they cross the dirt track behind us that we spot the cute little family.

large_8a4bb030-2b8d-11e9-9d6e-d370bfb83769.jpg

large_a7b21600-2b8d-11e9-9d6e-d370bfb83769.jpg

Spot the Elephant

It is astonishing how easy it is to lose such an enormous animal.

large_a56f6710-2b8f-11e9-85cf-f5f21e59f856.jpg

There he is: a large bull elephant appears from behind the bushes.

large_4355fe40-2ba8-11e9-96b9-55da73e18862.jpg

He is eyeing us with suspicion as he walks along, grabbing some grass to eat as he goes.

large_d6f0b4b0-2ba8-11e9-96b9-55da73e18862.jpg

large_56428190-2ba8-11e9-96b9-55da73e18862.jpg

Maybe suspicion wasn't his perspective, as he seems to be rather more excited to see us now.

large_e704eab0-2ba8-11e9-96b9-55da73e18862.jpg

Such an amazing organ, the elephant's trunk (you thought I was talking about something else there, didn't you?) has 150,000 muscles, helping it to eat, pick things up and communicate among other things.

large_f2de5d30-2ba8-11e9-96b9-55da73e18862.jpg

Cheetah siesta

Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. It seems this cheetah most definitely got that memo and has no intention of moving from his shady comfort zone.

large_b76e4550-2bab-11e9-96b9-55da73e18862.jpg

The Affectionate Tree

I love the way the trunk of this tree appears to caress the round shapes of the rocky outcrop, bringing a whole new aspect to the expression 'tree hugging'.

large_d91c4a70-2bac-11e9-96b9-55da73e18862.jpg

His mate was a slow developer and only discovered the appeal of rocks in later life, resulting in a swift U-turn in his growth pattern. Not so much a hug as a desperate grab.

large_90171840-2bad-11e9-96b9-55da73e18862.jpg

I will leave you with that rocky embrace for this time. Thank you Calabash Adventures, you're the best!

large_06e62cd0-2baf-11e9-af27-830c72db58fc.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 05:08 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals springs monkey elephant africa safari tanzania zebra cheetah buffalo baboons ostrich serengeti dust hyena vulture lobo impala topi waterhole warthogs game_drive calabash_adventures hammerkop tse_tse_flies hamerkop cape_buffalo panning vervet_monkey ngare_naironya_springs zebra_fighting zebra_running hooded_vulture black_faced_vervet_monkey swollen_ankles Comments (2)

Serengeti Day 4 Part 2 - ele herd, lion cubs v/whirlwind

Plenty of elephants


View Tanzania for Lyn and Chris' 40th Anniversary 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After a very nice packed lunch, a stroll around the Visitors Centre, a use of the facilities and a tank full of petrol, we set off for some more explorations of the Seronera area of Serengeti.

large_b5dab870-19a1-11e9-a788-69570ac27a06.jpg

Baby Thomson's Gazelle

This little youngster, here seen with his older brother, is less than two weeks old. All together now: “Awwww”.

large_f110b710-19aa-11e9-9685-fb32f369263d.jpg

large_01f50e50-19ab-11e9-9685-fb32f369263d.jpg

large_0bc9fe40-19ab-11e9-9685-fb32f369263d.jpg

Elephants

If we thought yesterday's herd was big at 75 animals, today we count 83 elephants. They are, however, technically two large herds in close proximity. Not just to each other, but also to us, walking right by all the cars gathered.

large_ebb9ef60-1b22-11e9-99d0-35ad7cd88a9f.jpg

large_033c7590-1b23-11e9-99d0-35ad7cd88a9f.jpg

large_11d13780-1b23-11e9-99d0-35ad7cd88a9f.jpg

Two males are bonding with a spot of play-fighting, or is it a bromance?

large_3c9a9600-1b23-11e9-99d0-35ad7cd88a9f.jpg

The herd, or memory as a group of elephants is also known, consists of several cute youngsters.

large_7d2bf970-1b23-11e9-99d0-35ad7cd88a9f.jpg

large_88f677d0-1b23-11e9-99d0-35ad7cd88a9f.jpg

large_9d65f1a0-1b23-11e9-99d0-35ad7cd88a9f.jpg

We stay with the elephants for a long time, just watching them make their way across the savanna, heading for an area with palm trees and water.

large_ee3cd440-1b23-11e9-99d0-35ad7cd88a9f.jpg

large_0a84d1c0-1b24-11e9-99d0-35ad7cd88a9f.jpg

large_15ec6fa0-1b24-11e9-99d0-35ad7cd88a9f.jpg

Cheetah

Under this tree in the far distance is a big male cheetah. Honestly.

large_3a474fd0-1b26-11e9-af5f-39b8c474335b.jpg

large_4612dfa0-1b26-11e9-af5f-39b8c474335b.jpg

He is keeping a close eye on a warthog in the even further distance.

large_7db79040-1b26-11e9-af5f-39b8c474335b.jpg

large_864fba70-1b26-11e9-bb3a-e3d922008995.jpg

The cheetah gets up, walks around a bit, then lies down again. Too much excitement for one day.

large_512fac50-1b3b-11e9-9343-ab9a6e724c8e.jpg

large_5dcc95e0-1b3b-11e9-9343-ab9a6e724c8e.jpg

I don't think he fancies his chances against the elephants on the horizon.

large_0514ead0-1b3e-11e9-8639-83091d9c1264.jpg

We let him carry on with his siesta and continue on our way to “see what nature has to offer us”.

large_0a07efe0-1b40-11e9-9343-ab9a6e724c8e.jpg
Lilac Breasted Roller

Grey Backed Fiscal Shrike

We see a couple of these birds within minutes of each other, or maybe it is the same one following us.

large_f2d1dc00-1b3f-11e9-9343-ab9a6e724c8e.jpg

Different bush, different light

large_fca3e5c0-1b3f-11e9-8639-83091d9c1264.jpg

Spotted Hyena

Malisa tells us that a campaign has been in place to thin out the numbers of hyenas in the Ngorongoro crater as there were too many in such a small space. A number of them were tranquillised, marked and moved to the Serengeti; however, within sixteen hours they were back in the crater. I guess it is easier to eat your food in a bowl such as Ngorongoro rather than trying to chase your peas around a large dinner plate like the Serengeti.

large_128ca630-1b4d-11e9-8ab3-572c7c93021b.jpg

Thomson's Gazelles

large_7c2839d0-1c3b-11e9-8762-af2f47ff37ac.jpg

large_8766f2f0-1c3b-11e9-8762-af2f47ff37ac.jpg

large_9199e160-1c3b-11e9-8762-af2f47ff37ac.jpg

Two males fight for control of the large harem. The following conversation then occurs in the vehicle:

Malisa: “Thomson's Gazelles are polyandrous, females mate with several males”

Grete: “Lucky girls”.

Chris: “I'd call them sluts”

large_53860ba0-1c3c-11e9-8762-af2f47ff37ac.jpg

Secretary Bird and Roadkill

She is eating a hedgehog, although it is unlikely that she killed it herself, it was most likely the victim of a road accident.

large_a9495910-1c3d-11e9-973e-6ba326b989b7.jpg

large_b33b6df0-1c3d-11e9-973e-6ba326b989b7.jpg

Whirlwind

This mini dust tornado barges its way across the savanna with no regard for man or beast in its way.

large_353b1560-1c40-11e9-be38-053e20996255.jpg

large_2a28c370-1c40-11e9-be38-053e20996255.jpg

Giraffe

Just out for an afternoon stroll

large_a45d3f90-1c40-11e9-be38-053e20996255.jpg

large_43b92590-1c41-11e9-be38-053e20996255.jpg

He stops off for a snack along the way.

large_f0491220-1c9b-11e9-ae77-a32695ceb956.jpg

large_b3c663b0-1c9c-11e9-ae77-a32695ceb956.jpg

White Browed Coucal

large_532629a0-1c42-11e9-9aaf-d3ed5fc45731.jpg
"You looking at me"?

Sausage Tree

large_5c502dc0-1ca9-11e9-90f4-f38ca6d03759.jpg

You can see why these sponge-like fruits are used as loofahs.

large_668b3280-1ca9-11e9-90f4-f38ca6d03759.jpg

Black Faced Vervet Monkeys

As soon as we stop the car, it is like the dust suddenly catches up with us, and for a while the animals are enveloped in a cloud of brown 'smog'.

large_280dc580-1caa-11e9-90f4-f38ca6d03759.jpg

It takes a minute or so for the dust to settle. Thankfully on this occasion the monkey didn't make a run for it before the air had cleared.

large_c5995850-1caa-11e9-90f4-f38ca6d03759.jpg

Thomson's Gazelles

As is often the case when you see Vervet Monkeys, we find Thomson's Gazelles nearby. They have a symbiotic relationship based on commensalism, where the gazelles benefit from fruits dropped from the trees by the monkeys and their early warning signals of impending danger.

large_8e781da0-1cac-11e9-90f4-f38ca6d03759.jpg

large_fcb5b430-1cac-11e9-90f4-f38ca6d03759.jpg

large_424ec810-1cad-11e9-90f4-f38ca6d03759.jpg

large_7b1192e0-1cad-11e9-90f4-f38ca6d03759.jpg

Pond Life

Waterholes are always a hive of activity, especially at this time of year when much of the savannah has completely dried out.

large_416b5b00-1caf-11e9-b09f-9f4ea8bc460c.jpg

large_4c794020-1caf-11e9-b09f-9f4ea8bc460c.jpg
Secretary Bird

large_59945a60-1caf-11e9-b09f-9f4ea8bc460c.jpg
Bohor Reedbuck

large_ad872300-1caf-11e9-b09f-9f4ea8bc460c.jpg
Three Banded Plover

large_71c78b90-1cb2-11e9-a9c5-0b0027a6d2a6.jpg
Ruff

large_7aa36af0-1cb1-11e9-90f4-f38ca6d03759.jpg
Bohor Reedbuck

large_6f474520-1cb9-11e9-a6a3-b13ff94b2656.jpg
Secretary Bird

large_78f0e9e0-1cba-11e9-a6a3-b13ff94b2656.jpg
Blacksmith Plover

large_b76846f0-1cba-11e9-a6a3-b13ff94b2656.jpg
Three Banded Plover

Lions

Shade created by a tall tree shelters four lions from the midday sun. These are three cubs from two different mothers. One of the females has gone off, leaving the other in charge of the babies. She may be hunting or she may have 'sacrificed herself' by going off to mate with a strange male to stop him from coming into the pride and killing the cubs.

large_08e634a0-1cdf-11e9-9299-d98ccbc94499.jpg

large_e00d8290-1cde-11e9-9299-d98ccbc94499.jpg

large_f0041e70-1cde-11e9-9299-d98ccbc94499.jpg

Whirlwind

We hear it long before we see it. It's a strange sound, a bit like tires on gravel or ice, but without the engine noise. The cubs can hear it too, and it seems to really spook them.

large_158a4a20-1cdf-11e9-9299-d98ccbc94499.jpg

large_200257e0-1cdf-11e9-9299-d98ccbc94499.jpg

One the dust devil has passed, they all gather together and peace is yet again restored to this small lion family.

large_2a5f3c80-1cdf-11e9-9299-d98ccbc94499.jpg

Troop of Olive Baboons

Young and old baboons are all around us – on the ground, climbing the trees and eating the flowers, riding on their parents' backs or bellies...

large_6fb67fe0-1cf4-11e9-9b3f-29b15c3cba94.jpg

large_7e69ed60-1cf4-11e9-9b3f-29b15c3cba94.jpg

large_932208f0-1cf4-11e9-9b3f-29b15c3cba94.jpg

large_a08772a0-1cf4-11e9-9b3f-29b15c3cba94.jpg

large_b4022c30-1cf4-11e9-9b3f-29b15c3cba94.jpg

large_c3343f90-1cf4-11e9-9b3f-29b15c3cba94.jpg

large_cdda6230-1cf4-11e9-9b3f-29b15c3cba94.jpg

large_d8c81520-1cf4-11e9-9b3f-29b15c3cba94.jpg

Thank you Calabash, the best safari company by far, for another terrific morning in Serengeti.

large_af55dad0-1cf7-11e9-9b3f-29b15c3cba94.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 04:40 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds monkeys elephants tree africa safari tanzania cheetah petrol lions giraffe baboons lion_cubs roller serengeti dust hyena shrike bird_watching hedgehog game_drive water_hole lilac_breasted_roller whirlwind calabash_adventures olive_baboons vervet_monkeys seronera spotted_hyena plover secretary_bird game_viewing sausage_tree ruff mini_tornado thomson's_gazelle reedbuck visitors_centre seregeti_visitors_centre grey_backed_fiscal_shrike dust_devil white_browed_coucal black_faced_vervet_monkets pond_life three_banded_plover blacksmith_plover Comments (1)

Serengeti Day 2 Part 2 - lion cubs, cheetah, eles on kopje

Cuteness overload with a lioness and her three cubs


View Tanzania for Lyn and Chris' 40th Anniversary 2018 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Having had a lovely relaxing breakfast, it is time to go out and see "what nature has to offer us" today.

Hyena

Presumably injured in a fight for food, this hyena is limping badly.

large_1e9b97f0-0230-11e9-bce6-650dd8811785.jpg

large_2c6c1f80-0230-11e9-bce6-650dd8811785.jpg

Coqui Francolin

large_b50c51c0-0230-11e9-bce6-650dd8811785.jpg

large_c32294e0-0230-11e9-bce6-650dd8811785.jpg

large_333bb4e0-02c3-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg
Rattling Cisticola

large_4d0d3420-02c3-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg
Short Toed Snake Eagle (I think)

large_947d03d0-02c3-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg
Magpie Shrike

large_9f497320-02c3-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg
Black Shouldered Kite

Lioness with cubs

Perched on the edge of a kopje (rocky outcrop), a lioness tries to sleep as her three cubs mill around, suckling and wanting to play and explore their surroundings.

large_1c456920-02c3-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg

large_f30f5f60-02c3-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg

large_110003d0-02c4-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg

large_262909a0-02c4-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg

large_2f28f650-02c4-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg

large_59e87450-02c5-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg

One of the cubs appears to have an eye infection.

large_8de216f0-02c8-11e9-9d19-1dd3b427bd50.jpg

Why so melancholy, young man?

large_60de3a50-02df-11e9-9ac5-c3fdd06d7b7c.jpg

Over the time we spend observing these little cats, the different personalities of each of the cubs begins to shine through.

large_c2991420-02e1-11e9-8c21-a7a14991cf6b.jpg

"Mum, I'm bored!"

large_ab0eecd0-02e1-11e9-8c21-a7a14991cf6b.jpg

This guy has a bit of a 'gormless' character, he looks like he is blissfully happy but doesn't know why.

large_0b732680-03c4-11e9-9aae-8729d1e44744.jpg

I take over 1,000 photos of the young family, and make no apologies for the cuteness overload to follow.

large_6850f440-03c4-11e9-9aae-8729d1e44744.jpg

large_72d202b0-03c4-11e9-9aae-8729d1e44744.jpg

large_fb65df30-0490-11e9-b5a1-45ecc1e63434.jpg

large_48a17d30-0492-11e9-b5a1-45ecc1e63434.jpg

large_06466d90-04a3-11e9-9351-0b60af99b9c8.jpg

large_0f4b1530-04a3-11e9-9351-0b60af99b9c8.jpg

large_bbc73330-051f-11e9-8237-c96f2b4cae14.jpg

large_cf5a7dd0-051f-11e9-8237-c96f2b4cae14.jpg

large_f0d97920-051f-11e9-8237-c96f2b4cae14.jpg

I would love to get a picture of the lion cubs on my mobile that I can upload to Facebook when we get back to the lodge tonight, and after lamenting that I am unable to zoom in enough to get a decent shot, Malisa takes my phone and tries to take a photo through the binoculars.

large_8c3cdfb0-056b-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

While it works reasonably well, the lions have other ideas and by the time Malisa has managed to line everything up and focus both binos and phone, the cubs have moved out of sight. Doh.

large_12cd6bd0-056c-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg
Not a bad picture considering it was taken with a mobile phone through binoculars

LBB

The world is full of LBBs (Little Brown Bird), also known as SUBBs (Small Unidentified Brown Bird). On closer inspection this one turns out to be a Rattling Cisticola.

large_832401e0-056d-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg


Spotted Hyena

We follow this lone hyena down the road for a while.

large_58f95ef0-056e-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

large_636314d0-056e-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

Common Morning Glory

Unlike our two previous visits when we have travelled at the end of the rainy season and everything is green with an abundance of flowers; at this time of year seeing flowering plants is a bit of a novelty. Malisa never ceases to amaze me with his knowledge: not only can he identify animals and birds, he also knows the names of the plants we see.

large_43730170-056f-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

White Bellied Bustards

Doing their best to hide in the long grass.

large_f3b33eb0-056f-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

Black Backed Jackals

large_942c2d70-0570-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

There are two of them.

large_360cc280-0571-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

large_40502bb0-0571-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

Cheetah

We spot a cheetah mum with two five-month old cubs.

large_0cfeda30-0572-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

large_166502c0-0572-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

large_20645e10-0572-11e9-95f9-2dd4ee0bc768.jpg

She appears to be a good mum as both she and her cubs look healthy and well fed. This morning she starts to stalk a Thomson's Gazelle for their breakfast.

large_aed432f0-05e6-11e9-ae80-810cd0c8da84.jpg

large_51a4a640-05e7-11e9-ae80-810cd0c8da84.jpg

Unfortunately the Tommy spots the hunter and makes a dash for it; so no breakfast for the beautiful cats this morning.

large_41c450b0-0617-11e9-9585-dbbebd6b77c3.jpg

Instead she leads her family to find some shade – a single tree next to a low kopje.

large_4bd49bf0-0617-11e9-9585-dbbebd6b77c3.jpg

large_9f7c9ff0-0617-11e9-bb7f-098d667bfafa.jpg

large_67a66290-0618-11e9-9585-dbbebd6b77c3.jpg

Mum has a good sniff around to make sure they are not settling down on the patch of a rival cheetah family or other obvious danger.

large_f6b1fe80-0619-11e9-9cca-35db89c8f357.jpg

large_9d9557a0-063e-11e9-adba-9d3659486828.jpg

large_a867e170-063e-11e9-adba-9d3659486828.jpg

The cats are quite some distance away (the photos are taken with a 600mm lens and significantly cropped in the post processing stage), but here in the Serengeti off-road driving is not permitted so we can't get any closer. We are therefore rather dismayed to see several cars blatantly flout this law. Shame on them.

large_73034e10-0644-11e9-ae5e-8325ff7b2198.jpg

When the cats settle down under the tree we leave them to it and move on.

large_291c51f0-0646-11e9-ae5e-8325ff7b2198.jpg
Eurasian Roller

large_7f7c9820-0646-11e9-ae5e-8325ff7b2198.jpg
White Rumped Helmetshrike

large_8092a690-0647-11e9-ae5e-8325ff7b2198.jpg
Ficher's Sparrow Lark

Elephants

So far on this trip we haven't seen many elephants, but that is about to change as a herd - or memory as they are also called - of 15 elephants walk past.

large_94f80640-069f-11e9-ae68-3bb829728009.jpg

large_0cdbff80-069c-11e9-ae68-3bb829728009.jpg

They have some very small babies too. Aww.

large_8bd0e280-069f-11e9-ae68-3bb829728009.jpg

Having a herd of elephants just strolling by your car as if you are not there is a magical experience, making you feel like you are part of some wildlife documentary.

large_68b8c940-06a2-11e9-ae68-3bb829728009.jpg

large_87f1bd70-06a8-11e9-b0a8-0b1cb3e35ba3.jpg

Mwanza Flat Headed Rock Agama

You'd be forgiven for thinking these are two totally separate species of lizards, seeing the flashy and vibrant male against the terribly drab female.

large_ff182780-06ae-11e9-b9f5-af1c76c7fbfd.jpg

large_259da220-06ac-11e9-b9f5-af1c76c7fbfd.jpg

large_2f495f30-06ac-11e9-b9f5-af1c76c7fbfd.jpg

large_76349590-06ac-11e9-b9f5-af1c76c7fbfd.jpg

large_09db1730-0b60-11e9-93f2-bb3e39469cb3.jpg
Little Bee Eater

More Elephants

Colourful as they are, it is not the lizards that are the star attraction here at this kopje – there are nine elephants dotted around, between and on top of this rocky outcrop. I have to say that it is the first time I have seen rock climbing elephants!

large_54c8b110-0b62-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

These enormous creatures are surprisingly quiet as they walk – the soles of their feet have built in 'sponges', which not just makes them 'light' on their feet, but they also use their feet to communicate. One elephant will 'talk' with his trunk on the ground, which others can pick up by putting more pressure on one leg than the other. When you see elephants leaning to one side, they are basically having a chat with their mates. Pretty cool eh?

large_803e0700-0b62-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

Copying the older elephants, the five-month old baby tries to pick up smaller stones from the kopje in order to get to the essential minerals.

large_d2ba0e20-0b62-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

large_df532720-0b62-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

A couple of other trucks have gathered here too, including one containing an overexcited Asian female, squealing in an infuriatingly high pitched voice “OMG OMG OMG, those red things” when she sees the rock agama, followed by “OMG OMG OMG he's smiling” and “OMG OMG OMG he's peeing” referring to the elephants. Thank goodness she is not in our vehicle.

large_69dad380-0b62-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

Nothing can mar the magical experience, however, of having a herd of nine wild elephants walk right around the car, a mere ten feet away.

large_3c696a00-0b63-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

large_5aa80760-0b63-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

large_717e6f10-0b63-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

It seems everywhere we look there are elephants.

large_86b02770-0b63-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

One of the youngsters squeezes through a gap between the rocks, but when his older sister tries, she gets stuck for a while before wriggling herself loose.

large_cc037fc0-0b63-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

large_d8c09b80-0b63-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

The youngster is still suckling.

large_f3c20f40-0b63-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

We stay with them for one-and-a-half hours (taking hundreds of photos) until they walk off into the distance. What a special time that was!

large_6e5f3840-0b64-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg

large_dc416100-0b67-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg
Tawny Eagle

large_00d0f7b0-0b68-11e9-98ec-c720f85f9b3a.jpg
Two Banded Courser

Lappet Faced Vulture

Amazingly, this is the first vulture we have seen on this trip, when we came before we encountered so many kills left on the ground with the remains being devoured by a variety of scavengers. Not so this time.

large_e35e9b00-0e88-11e9-acda-bf310aa3fb90.jpg

Lesser Kestrel

large_df285350-0b72-11e9-b379-4d67db8aaa1d.jpg

large_e8d262b0-0b72-11e9-b379-4d67db8aaa1d.jpg

large_f2297010-0b72-11e9-b379-4d67db8aaa1d.jpg

Time to stop for lunch after yet again spending an exciting morning in the Serengeti. Thank you to Calabash Adventures for another terrific safari.

large_a218a720-0b73-11e9-b379-4d67db8aaa1d.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 04:03 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds food flowers elephants flag breakfast cute kite anniversary africa safari tanzania eagle celebrations lizard birding cheetah picnic eating lions wind lion_cubs lioness roller hyena vulture eggs starling shrike agama jackal pastries bird_watching bacon suckling bustard sausages omg game_drive kestrel hamper lark limping calabash_adventures cuteness_overload kopje wedding_anniversary francolin breakfast_picnic bee_eater cisticola game_viewing breakfast_box 40_years packed_breakfast ole_serai tiffin posh_food cuteness lbb subb morning_glory purple_flowers helmetshrike rock_agama Comments (3)

Serengeti Day I Part II - Baboons, Maasai Pride and Cheetah

Cats galore


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

As we leave the visitors centre after breakfast, the first animals we come across is a small troop of Olive Baboons, including a tiny little baby less than a week old.

large_Baboon__Olive_10.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_1.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_2.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_14.jpg

As we watch the inquisitive youngster play, and then tumble down the slope to the road below while his concerned parents look on in 'horror', I can see so many similarities to humans with their offspring.

large_Baboon__Olive_4.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_8.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_3.jpg

Including the telling off the baby gets when he is back up at the top and joins his family again.

large_Baboon__Olive_5.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_6.jpg

Dad makes sure the youngster stays close and then takes him away from the dangerous slope.

large_Baboon__Olive_15.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_16.jpg

large_82C23B93C1A646D58FC562F15BC7FE9E.jpg

We move away too, and continue driving until one of the other safari vehicles calls us over to point out 14 lions sleeping under a tree.

large_Lions_under_a_tree_1.jpg

These lions are too lazy to do anything this morning, the only action we see is the occasional head being lifted and quickly laid down again.

large_Lions_under_a_tree_3.jpg

large_Lions_under_a_tree_4.jpg

We let sleeping lions be, leaving them to their morning siesta while we continue our safari.

large_Maasai_Kopje.jpg

The Serengeti is dotted with rocky outcrops such as these, referred to locally as kopjes. This particular area, known as Maasai Kopjes, is always a good place to spot members of the resident lion pride.

Today we see one male lion atop a rock, fast asleep.

large_Lions_of_t..sai_Pride_1.jpg

And that is what I do too as we continue on our way: go into a deep sleep complete with some strange and unpleasant dreams. This chest infection is depriving me of so much on this safari, but at least I wake up as we approach the next kopje, where we see a further three lions.

large_Lions_of_t..sai_Pride_2.jpg

large_Lions_of_t..sai_Pride_4.jpg

These rocks are also home to several rock hyraxes, as well as a black mambo, but I am not quick enough to take a photo of that unfortunately.

large_Hyrax__Rock_1.jpg

These lions are all part of a large tribe who have ten cubs between them, so we are hoping we might see some more cats around. The dad we saw earlier had obviously gone off to sleep on a different rock to get some peace and quiet away from the kids. I don't blame him.

large_Lions_of_t..sai_Pride_5.jpg

large_Lions_of_t..sai_Pride_6.jpg

And there's a cub at the bottom of the rock.

large_Lions_of_t..sai_Pride_7.jpg

This poor female is limping – she is left handed and has hurt her paw while hunting. I do hope it doesn't hinder her looking after her family in the future.

large_Lions_of_t..sai_Pride_8.jpg

As I am feeling really quite unwell again now, I take some more tablets, then fall into another deep sleep as we leave the Maasai lions behind.

large_Lions_of_t..sai_Pride_9.jpg

large_8C17F16899F654C481FE63EA8F92F55F.jpg

The next time I wake up is when Malisa pulls up alongside a couple of other cars by a tree. After opening my eyes and feeling rather disorientated trying to get my bearings and figure out what is going on, I see a cheetah in the shade of the tree.

large_8B16965AB3C7CCECA38761C8F08F40C6.jpg

I don't notice the baby at first. What a cutie!

large_8C203F13E7D6FB58FC05CD2045FEF09D.jpg

There's two!

large_8C63E782FDB3871B7F28A9E4D3461921.jpg

They are less than a month old and seriously cute.

large_8CFD1649DE612A90581F861F0278B53C.jpg

Over the back of mum a third little head pops up.

large_8D589FFA0D684A765322953D18C8C1E2.jpg

large_Cheetah_7.jpg

large_B5A7098DE8C899DDD34C200BE03EDFCE.jpg

large_Cheetah_12.jpg

large_B5B01B579C177AE0DDF67F1E7885D5D5.jpg

large_B5B1F0C1BE46B26CD804E9E890812138.jpg

large_B5B3F4680480101CA4A63A2A0EEABABF.jpg

I love the way the colouration of baby cheetah is designed to mimic that of the honey badger, in an attempt to keep them safe from predators.

large_Cheetah_and_Honey_Badger.jpg

large_Cheetah_25.jpg

large_Cheetah_27.jpg

large_Cheetah_28.jpg

large_Cheetah_31.jpg

We stay with the cheetah mum and her three adorable babies for some time, watching their playful antics and tender moments as the youngsters explore the tree and the shady undergrowth.

large_Cheetah_26.jpg

large_Cheetah_33.jpg

large_Cheetah_35.jpg

large_Cheetah_38.jpg

large_Cheetah_41.jpg

large_Cheetah_42.jpg

large_Cheetah_43.jpg

large_Cheetah_45.jpg

After more than 2½ hours it is time to leave our little kitties behind and move on to see what else nature has to offer us today. Stay tuned and read my next instalment for more safari stories and pictures.

large_Cheetah_65.jpg

large_Cheetah_70.jpg

large_Cheetah_71.jpg

Thank you Calabash Adventures for another fantastic safari experience.

large_1F6E69FF0E784CB1B92E62450EDF1EF8.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 05:32 Archived in Tanzania Tagged travel adventure cute fun africa safari tanzania cheetah lion lions baboons lion_cubs serengeti adorable calabash_adventures excitemnt olive_baboon cheeta_cub Comments (8)

Ndutu Day I Part II (Honey Badger and Cheetah)

OMG! It's the elusive honey badger!


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

large_Stormy_Clouds_1.jpg

After breakfast we go and check on the lion cubs we saw earlier, to find they are all asleep; so we leave them to it and go to “see what nature will offer us”. This is one of Malisa's favourite sayings, and I love it!

.

large_White_Browed_Coucal.jpg

large_Coucal__White_Browed_1.jpg

large_Lesser_Spotted_Thick_Knee.jpg

We all get very excited when Malisa spots a Lesser Spotted Thick Knee in the undergrowth. I know it is a crappy picture, but this is a lifer for us (first time we have seen one, to be added to the Life List). He is gone before I manage to get a better photo unfortunately.

large_Thick_Knee..r_Spotted_1.jpg

large_Crowned_Plover.jpg

Mummy Plover is fiercely protecting her eggs, which are in a nest within a shallow hole on the Short Grass Plains of Serengeti, without any cover or other protection. We could so easily have run the nest over if Malisa wasn't so observant.

large_Plover__Crowned_1.jpg

large_Plover__Crowned_3.jpg

large_Plover__Crowned_4.jpg

Malisa explains that this area is the best place to see cheetah. Mind you, he said the same last year; and we didn't see any then either.

Although we can see jackals, hyenas, eland and Thomson's gazelles in the distance; I really struggle to keep awake.

large_Honey_Badgers.jpg

I certainly wake up and feel a surge of adrenalin when I see something in the distance and we discover they are a pair of honey badgers! Malisa races off at speed across the savannah, and I try to hold on for dear life while taking photos of the badgers. Unsuccessfully. The photography, that is, not holding on to my life.

large_Badgers__Honey_1.jpg
Trust me, these are honey badgers. Yes, really.

Here are some better pictures:

large_Badgers__Honey_3.jpg

A Thomson's Gazelle joins in with the race, just because.

large_Badgers__Honey_4.jpg

The badgers make several twists and turns to try and shake us off, but Malisa is determined not to lose them.

large_Badgers__Honey_6.jpg

Before we know it, they run into their little sett and are gone.

large_Badgers__Honey_8.jpg

What an amazing sighting: these beast are extremely rare to spot; in fact it is only Malisa's second time! Wow!

large_Badgers__Honey_10.jpg

Check out David's video showing the honey badgers in action.

.

large_Hidden_Valley.jpg

This was one of my favourite places on the 2016 safari. What a difference a year makes! Last year the valley was lush and the waterhole was full of literally tens of thousands of animals drinking and bathing. This year the valley is dusty and the waterhole dry. And not a single animal!

large_Hidden_Valley_Comparison.jpg

large_Reedbuck.jpg

I feel very deflated and quite disappointed that Hidden Valley is devoid of life. I guess unpredictable rains will have this effect on nature. However, seeing a pair of reedbucks, normally very shy animals, partly makes up for it.

large_256B7005F7AEF4A271FA87FA8599768E.jpg

They stand and look at us for a short moment before fleeing.

large_267AD845C8553B78CD04F31F1BFDD3B8.jpg

large_Reedbuck_4.jpg

large_267CD696C929EE2399F9A629D6494A9F.jpg

large_Reedbuck_5.jpg

large_269A6D66E01694A08F3ECBE9D00CC1B4.jpg

A few hardy zebra eventually arrive at the desolate valley.

large_Zebra_11.jpg

large_Zebra_12.jpg

Despite being fascinated by the unusual cloud formation; I find myself feeling more and more sleepy as we cross the short grass plains towards the Small Marsh, an area famed for being a good breeding site for both cheetah and lions. My chest infection has now turned into bronchitis, and I started a course of antibiotics this morning, which seems to have completely knocked me out. All my body wants to do is sleep. All my mind, heart and photography finger want to do is to see animals. Right now my body wins, and I drift into a peaceful slumber.

large_26D7B3AE93C2F1AEA41AB0CE4AE102F8.jpg

The renowned cats in this area are certainly not around today; just a few zebra and giraffes graze quietly here this morning.

large_Giraffe_11.jpg

large_Zebra_13.jpg

Having our breakfast with the lions this morning meant we were unable to leave the vehicle to 'mark our territory'; and by now I am getting pretty desperate. I guess there not being many dangerous animals around is a benefit as I get my Shewee out and seek shelter and privacy to pee behind the car.

I am not quite sure how to explain this without going in to graphic detail, and trust me, you don't want to know. Suffice to say, I have a massive shewee fail. So here I am, in the middle of the wilderness of the Serengeti, changing my underwear; with a very bemused giraffe looking on! The adventures of the Howards are never boring! Sorry – or thankfully in my case – there are no pictures.

large_Giraffe_12.jpg

large_Dik_Dik.jpg

large_4298F9F9A46741DB13ED67F4113B8603.jpg

large_Lion.jpg

So, Malisa was right after all (of course), this is a good place for lions. Considering a couple of minutes ago I was outside the vehicle wearing very little, this blog could have had a very different story - or even ending - to it.

large_43E95516BC946CDF7701B5EF4463CB1B.jpg

large_Cheetah.jpg

Not only do we see a lion, just a short distance away is also a lone female cheetah. Acutely aware of the lion down on the marsh, she rests uneasily in the shade of a bush.

large_43CB14B6F27DCE3544DC4DD7B2D88468.jpg

Although lions are not considered predators as far as cheetahs go, they can and will attack cheetahs as they are considered competitors within the food chain. Probably hiding babies in a bush somewhere, the cheetah is constantly on the move, trying to shake the lion off.

large_4417F9C7CF72F4FCEE02A32A2D986A8A.jpg

As usual, we follow her and eventually she settles down, at least for a while.

large_46830442F330A3156F3AB412CD069494.jpg

She is still very much alert, looking left and right to ensure she is safe.

large_46112F87C31F0112C967500DBCCF3C2E.jpg

large_Cheetah_5.jpg

It's tiring work dodging lions.

large_46C34F91B463E5D508C6722DC010ABB9.jpg

large_Cheetah_8.jpg

There is no chance of relaxing though.

large_Cheetah_10.jpg

With a jolt, this beautiful slender cat stands up, having obviously spotted something.

large_Cheetah_13.jpg

The reason for her sudden unease soon becomes clear.

large_47CE7A51043B02AAA02D9FA33689D3E8.jpg

The Cheetah keeps a very close eye on the lioness as she gets nearer.

large_Cheetah_15.jpg

The lioness, however, does not appear to be heading for the cheetah. The cheetah is on our left, whereas the lioness is heading to our right.

large_47E21FAFA7343BF4E64A10DB6CBCFFF9.jpg

For a long time nothing happens, as they are both settled into an uneasy truce, the cheetah some ten metres to our left, the lion – hidden in the bushes – about the same distance on our right side. We take lunch here, with another car picnic.

The cheetah is taking no chances though, and moves further into the bush. We follow of course, hoping she will lead us her to her babies; who by the looks of her teats, are very young.

large_Cheetah_16.jpg

large_Cheetah_17.jpg

large_Cheetah_18.jpg

large_Cheetah_19.jpg

She is constantly checking to see if she is being followed.

large_Cheetah_20.jpg

large_Cheetah_21.jpg

Eventually she walks down to the marsh where she settles down. No babies to see this time.

large_Cheetah_22.jpg

large_Cheetah_23.jpg

large_Cheetah_24.jpg

It is time for us to move on and "see what else nature has to offer us". Be sure to read the next instalment to see what else we saw this first day on the plains of Ndutu. Thank you to the team at Calabash Adventures for putting together an amazing safari for us.

large_562E6CD49D49E8F24EAC0D3716F59600.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 05:35 Archived in Tanzania Tagged africa safari tanzania cheetah lion giraffe ngorongoro honey_badger calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area coucal dik_dik Comments (1)

Mbuzi Mawe - Seronera Part I

Zany zebras, baby baboons, eccentric elephants and lounging lions


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

large_Day_11_of_..Adventure_3.jpg

large_AF2EFA62F25B0195EE356C0E5BD757A1.jpg

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.

large_Chris_feel..e_cold_11-1.jpg

large_David_feel..e_cold_11-2.jpg

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.

large_Roller__Li..easted_11-1.jpg

Wildebeest

large_Annual_Migration.jpg

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.

large_Wildebeest_11-2.jpg

large_Wildebeest_11-4.jpg

large_Wildebeest_11-21.jpg

Hot Air Balloon

A hot air balloon glides gracefully over the savannah as we make our way through the park.

large_Balloons_o..engeti_11-2.jpg

Grey Headed Kingfisher

large_Kingfisher..Headed_11-1.jpg

Flooded River

I think it must have rained heavily during the night, as the river is flowing over the causeway this morning.

large_Flooded_River_11-1.jpg

large_Flooded_Ri..eafowl_11-1.jpg

large_Flooded_River_11-3.jpg

large_Flooded_River_11-4.jpg

Lappet Faced Vulture

large_Vulture__L.._Faced_11-2.jpg

Zebras

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.

large_Zebra_11-3.jpg

large_Zebra_11-4.jpg

large_Zebra_11-6.jpg

large_Zebra_11-8.jpg

large_Zebra_11-9.jpg

large_Zebra_11-11.jpg

large_Zebra_11-12.jpg

large_Zebra_11-14.jpg

large_Zebra_11-17.jpg

large_Zebra_11-20.jpg

Cheetah

Two young brothers can barely be seen above the long grass. Having just eaten (we missed it), they saunter off into the distance.

large_Cheetah_11-1.jpg

large_Cheetah_11-4.jpg

large_Cheetah_11-6.jpg

Olive Baboons

We follow a troop of baboons along the road for a while.

large_Baboon__Olive_11-1.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_11-6.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_11-7.jpg

The baby is very young - no more than two or three days old at the most.

large_Baboon__Olive_11-9.jpg

But I still think he looks like an old man.

large_Baboon__Olive_11-13.jpg

Such a tender family moment!

large_Baboon__Olive_11-14.jpg

That moment when your dad has got you by the scruff of the neck but mum is looking out for you.

large_Just_Don_t.._again_son_.jpg

Giraffe

large_Giraffe_11-11.jpg

large_Giraffe_11-13.jpg

large_Serengeti_..Centre_11-2.jpg

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.

Banded Mongoose

large_Mongoose__Banded_11-3.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_11-2.jpg

Sadly the boardwalk is closed for crucial repairs today, but we are given a guided tour of the information centre.

large_Serengeti_..entre_11-21.jpg

Hippo Jaw

large_Serengeti_..po_Jaw_11-1.jpg

Buffalo Skulls

large_Serengeti_..Skulls_11-1.jpg

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.

large_Serengeti_..Centre_11-5.jpg

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.

large_Hyrax__Rock_11-31.jpg

And I guess the Tree Hyrax is more often found in …. yes, you guessed it … trees.

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-1.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-2.jpg

But not always.

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-3.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-4.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-5.jpg

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!

large_Hyrax__Rock_11-2.jpg

large_Hyrax__Rock_11-3.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-7.jpg

A hyrax with ambition: pretending to be a wildebeest.

large_Hyrax__Rock_11-5.jpg

large_Hyrax__Tree_11-8.jpg

Grey Capped Social Weaver

large_Weaver__Gr..Social_11-2.jpg

large_Weaver__Gr..Social_11-1.jpg

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.

large_The_Gang_11-1.jpg

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

large_Black_Face..Monkey_11-1.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkey_11-2.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkey_11-3.jpg

Hippo

large_Hippo_11-21.jpg

Although we can only just see the tops of their backs, we can certainly smell them!

large_Moving_Quickly_On.jpg

Black Headed Heron

large_Heron__Black_Headed_11-1.jpg

large_Heron__Black_Headed_11-2.jpg

Spotted Flycatcher

large_Flycatcher__Spotted_11-1.jpg

large_Flycatcher__Spotted_11-3.jpg

Wire Tailed Swallow

large_Swallow__Wire_Tailed_11-1.jpg

Giraffes

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.

large_Giraffes_11-31.jpg

Suddenly they all turn to face the same direction and continue staring that way for quite some time. I wonder what they have spotted?

large_Giraffes_11-32.jpg

We'll never know.

Olive Baboons

large_Baboons__Olive_11-51.jpg

large_Baboons__Olive_11-52.jpg

Elephants

large_Elephants_11-1.jpg

large_Elephants_11-505.jpg

They’re everywhere. So many of them – we count 31!

large_Elephants_11-3.jpg

large_Elephants_11-22.jpg

One of the older ladies appear a little ‘eccentric’, carrying grass on the top of her back.

large_Elephants_11-31.jpg

Having a good scratch.

large_Elephants_11-32.jpg

You know the grass is long when you can lose a couple of baby elephants in it.

large_Elephants_11-45.jpg

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.

large_Elephants_11-501.jpg

large_Elephants_11-30.jpg

large_Elephants_11-42.jpg

large_Elephants_11-43.jpg

large_Elephants_11-47.jpg

large_Elephants_11-49.jpg

large_Elephants_11-51.jpg

large_Elephants_11-56.jpg

large_Elephants_11-64.jpg

large_Elephants_11-503.jpg

large_Elephants_11-70.jpg

large_Elephants_11-59.jpg

large_Elephants_11-72.jpg

large_Elephants_11-69.jpg

large_Elephants_11-67.jpg

Lion

A lone male lion tries to hide in a prickly bush.

large_Lion_11-201.jpg

Giraffe

Earlier we saw an almost white giraffe, whereas this one is very dark. I had no idea giraffes vary so much in their colouration!

large_Giraffe_11-310.jpg

White Browed Coucal

large_Coucal__White_Browed_11-1.jpg

Impala

large_Impala_11-2.jpg

large_Impala_11-1.jpg

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.

large_Go_Away.jpg

Lions in a tree

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-101.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-102.jpg

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.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-2.jpg

On the other side is another lion in another tree.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-4.jpg

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.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-103.jpg

large_Photograph.._Lions_11-1.jpg

large_Lion_Selfies_4.jpg

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.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-6.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-11.jpg

The lone lioness from the other tree decides to join her mates.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-8.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-5.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-13.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-14.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-16.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-17.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-19.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-21.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-22.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-23.jpg

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!

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-26.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-29.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-107.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-39.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-33.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-32.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-36.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-41.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-42.jpg

Look at the number of flies on this poor girl's face! It's no wonder she is not comfortable.

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-44.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-46.jpg

large_Lions_in_a_Tree_11-48.jpg

Well, that was certainly worth enduring the tse tse flies for!

large_ADC09FF8DC74B54B9D7E8300CE12D840.jpg

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.

large_F752D402D2F7E6CC0EDD50393B8DD826.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:35 Archived in Tanzania Tagged landscapes trees animals birds monkeys road_trip travel elephants roads scenery cute holiday africa safari tanzania unesco birding cheetah photography lions giraffe hippo baboons roadtrip ballooning serengeti vulture memory flycatcher impala kingfisher mongoose wildebeest shrike hot_air_balloon hyrax bird_watching hippopotamus game_drive tented_camp lilac_breasted_roller road-trip adorable safari_vehicle calabash calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators which_safari_company best_safari_company vervet_monkeys black_faced_vervet_monkeys tower_of_giraffe serena_hotels central_serengeti tse_tse_flies lions_in_a_tree mbuzi mawe grey_headed_kingfisher lappet_faced_vulture serengeti_visitors_centre wildebeest_migration rock_hyrax tree_hyrax banded_mongoose swallow barn_swallow coucal grey_backed_shrike moru Comments (0)

Ndutu - Part I

More cuteness overload


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

large_Day_8_of_t..ture_Part_1.jpg

large_Early_Morning_Start_8.jpg

Bat Eared Fox

We leave the lodge while it is still dark this morning, and as dawn breaks we spot a couple of Bat Eared Foxes.

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-28.jpg

Having previously only seen the top of their ears in the distance, I get very excited at this sighting.

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-23.jpg

They in turn get excited at the sight of a White Bellied Bustard with a couple of chicks.

large_Bustard__W..Bellied_8-2.jpg

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-25.jpg

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-26.jpg

This is a chase they have little chance of winning, but they have a go at it anyway.

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-16.jpg

large_Fox__Bat_Eared_8-19.jpg

Still hungry and with the bustards half way across the savannah by now, the fox is left sniffing the air.

large_B7C454E89DA008624D96054BCD0EB550.jpg

Lake Ndutu Sunrise

We turn our attention to the lake, where a dazzling sunrise marks the beginning of another day filled with thrilling wilderness experiences.

large_Sunrise_ov..e_Ndutu_8-1.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..e_Ndutu_8-4.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..e_Ndutu_8-6.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..e_Ndutu_8-7.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov..e_Ndutu_8-8.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov.._Ndutu_8-11.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov.._Ndutu_8-12.jpg

large_Sunrise_ov.._Ndutu_8-14.jpg

Verreaux's Eagle Owl

large_Owl__Verreaux_s_Eagle_8-1.jpg

Black Backed Jackal

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-10.jpg

Having stalked a guinea fowl which then flies up into a tree, the jackal spends ages just staring at it while it makes loud warning calls to its mates.

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-2.jpg

Eventually the jackal comes to accept that neither tree climbing nor flying are part of his repertoire; and he wanders into the sunrise, posing for some great rim-lit shots.

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-12.jpg

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-14.jpg

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-15.jpg

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_8-21.jpg

Broken Down Vehicle

In the distance we see a car with its bonnet open, so Malisa goes over to check if they need any help. Between the three of them they manage to get the Jeep going, albeit coughing and spluttering in a plume of smoke.

large_Broken_Down_Vehicle_8-1.jpg

This is not really the place to break down – roadside recovery service is somewhat limited and cheetahs are plentiful.

large_Broken_Down_Vehicle_8-2.jpg

Pale Tawny Eagle

large_Eagle__Pale_Tawny_8-2.jpg

large_C02BB8B206C8294A73AC52D49612CFD4.jpg

large_Eagle__Pale_Tawny_8-3.jpg

large_Eagle__Pale_Tawny_8-4.jpg

Coqui Francolin

large_Francolin_Coqui_8-2.jpg

Grey Breasted Francolin

large_Spurfowl__..reasted_8-1.jpg

Cheetah

large_853BF599F0DADEF0AAE2E89D91DB8E68.jpg

“What’s that?” With his binoculars glued to his eyes, Chris spots something in the long grass and exclaims excitedly: “it’s a cheetah!”

large_Cheetah_8-2.jpg

Bringing the car to a halt, Malisa takes a look: “There’s two… no, it’s a female with cubs!” There are four of them, about two months old.

large_Cheetah_8-1.jpg

Desperate for some breakfast, mum is constantly on the move, and wherever she goes, the cubs follow.

large_Cheetah_8-13.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-4.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-49.jpg

As is the unwritten rule, once we have had the kitties to ourselves for a while, Malisa radios the other couple of cars in the area to let them know about the sighting.

large_Cheetah_8-32.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-57.jpg

Painfully thin, mum really needs to eat soon, as her suckling babies have taken all her energy.

large_Cheetah_8-75.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-11.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-43.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-62.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-64.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-71.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-76.jpg

We spend the next hour or so following this family as they move across the plains, always on the look-out, always on the prowl.

large_Cheetah_8-79.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-80.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-81.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-85.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-88.jpg

Not a true cat in that it does not have retractable claws like those in the panthera genus (lions, leopards, jaguars and tigers); the cheetah belongs to the genus acinonyx, as it cannot roar.

large_Cheetah_8-90.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-91.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-94_Nik.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-95.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-98.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-99.jpg

Who knew that baby cheetah chirp like a bird?

.

large_Cheetah_8-104.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-101_Cropped.jpg

As the cheetah make their way towards the woodland, we reluctantly move on to see what else the Ndutu area has to offer today.

large_Cheetah_8-107.jpg

large_Cheetah_8-108.jpg

Black Shouldered Kite

large_133DA52D022C6A802EABFE9DFF595720.jpg

large_Kite__Blac..uldered_8-3.jpg

large_Kite__Blac..uldered_8-4.jpg

Lappet Faced Vulture

large_Vulture__Lappet_Faced_8-1.jpg

Yellow Throated Sandgrouse

large_Sandgrouse..hroated_8-1.jpg

large_Sandgrouse..hroated_8-3.jpg

Bat Eared Fox

After the excitement of seeing a Bat Eared Fox up close early this morning, I am doubly surprised to see another one!

large_Foz__Bat_Eared_8-51.jpg

large_Foz__Bat_Eared_8-52.jpg

Helmeted Guineafowl

large_Guineafowl__Helmeted_8-1.jpg

Lions

Down at The Big Marsh, two brothers – around seven years old - are trying to sleep off last night’s big meal.

large_Lion_8-1.jpg

large_Lion_8-3.jpg

large_Lion_8-6.jpg

large_Lion_8-9.jpg

large_Lion_8-15.jpg

large_Lion_8-17.jpg

large_Lion_8-18.jpg

large_Lion_8-20.jpg

Two Banded Plover

large_Plover__Two_Banded_8-1.jpg

Coke's Hartebeest

large_Hartebeest__Coke_s_8-8.jpg

large_Hartebeest__Coke_s_8-7.jpg

large_Hartebeest__Coke_s_8-6.jpg

This is what happens when you fight - you lose a horn! Let that be a lesson!

large_Hartebeest..e_s_8-3__1_.jpg

Dark Chanting Goshawk

large_Goshawk__D..hanting_8-3.jpg

Fischer's Lovebirds

large_Lovebirds__Fischer_s_8-1.jpg

Grey Headed Kingfisher

large_Kingfisher.._Headed_8-1.jpg

Breakfast

large_Picnic_2.jpg

We set up a picnic on the plains in the shade of a tree.

large_Breakfast_..__Ndutu_8-2.jpg

Ndutu Lodge has done us proud with their picnic box – there is egg, bacon, pancake, fruit, yogurt, cake, banana and juice.

large_Breakfast_..__Ndutu_8-1.jpg

Caterpillar

large_Caterpillar_8-2.jpg

A large, hairy caterpillar is attracted to our picnic basket, and David is attracted to its fluffiness.

large_Caterpillar_8-11.jpg

large_Caterpillar_8-6.jpg

large_Caterpillar_8-13.jpg

Only after David lets it crawl all over his hands for quite some time, does Malisa warn: “You’ll get a rash”.

large_Caterpillar_8-14.jpg

More Lions

large_Lions_8-21.jpg

While the large male lion in Ngorongoro Crater was a real Rasta Lion, these ‘teenage boys’ (around 1½-2 years old) have more of a punk style.

large_Lions_8-22.jpg

large_Lions_8-23.jpg

large_Lions_8-27.jpg

It’s a hard life being a teenager.

large_Lions_8-25.jpg

large_Lions_8-31.jpg

Hooded Vulture

large_Vulture__Hooded_8-1.jpg

If the vulture is hanging around hoping the lions will provide him with breakfast in the shape of a kill, I think he might have a long wait – these boys do not look like they are going anywhere soon.

large_Vulture__Hooded_8-3.jpg

large_Lions_8-32.jpg

He might as well make himself comfortable…

large_Vulture__Hooded_8-4.jpg

Oh, wait… there might be some action here…?

large_Lions_8-33.jpg

large_Lions_8-36.jpg

Or maybe not.

large_Lions_8-40.jpg

large_Lions_8-41.jpg

large_Lions_8-42.jpg

large_Lions_8-43.jpg

Spotted Hyena

large_Hyena__Spotted_8-1.jpg

They like lying down in the mud to cool off, which is why you so often see hyenas with dirty bottoms.

large_Hyena__Spotted_8-2.jpg

Empty Plains

For a while we drive across never ending plains, seemingly devoid of any wildlife.

large_Driving_Ac..avannah_8-2.jpg

Malisa spots leopard footprints in the sand and later rescues a dung beetle who has fallen upside down and cannot get back up. Our handsome guide is all heart, for sure – not just a good driver / guide but caring too!

large_Dickson_sp..tprints_8-1.jpg

.

Hidden valley

A shallow depression in the endless landscape unseen from the distance – hence its name – hides several small waterholes and an overwhelming number of animals.

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-18.jpg

large_Wildebeest.._Valley_8-3.jpg

What can I say? Apart from another “wow”, it is hard to find words to describe the spectacle of 200,000 or so zebra (plus around another 100,000 wildebeest) drinking, cavorting, taking a cooling dip, running, play fighting, and whatever else these ungulates do.

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-37.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-30.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-43.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-16.jpg

large_Zebras_1.jpg

Never before have I seen so many zebra in one place, the area around the waterhole is a veritable sea of stripes.

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-39.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-56.jpg

Lots of very young babies, some just a few days old.

large_Zebra_at_H.._Valley_8-4.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H.._Valley_8-6.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-61.jpg

With a thunder of hooves and a cloud of dust, a few more thousand wildebeest arrive.

large_Wildebeest.._Valley_8-2.jpg

large_Wildebeest.._Valley_8-6.jpg

large_Wildebeest..Valley_8-11.jpg

They just keep on coming...

large_Zebra_and_.._Valley_8-3.jpg

.

Imagine the dust and the noise when a stampede ensues – what an extraordinary location and unforgettable experience this is!

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-51.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-31.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-29.jpg

large_Running_Zebras.jpg

.

A small limping wildebeest baby causes us great concern – he is unlikely to last long if f he can’t keep up with the herd and his vulnerability will make him an easy target for predators.

large_Wildebeest.._Valley_8-9.jpg

.

All around us, in every direction, whichever way you look, as far as the eye can see, there are zebra and wildebeest. No other animals. The spectacle is surreal and immense.

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-11.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-17.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-27.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H..Valley_8-63.jpg

large_Zebra_at_H.._Valley_8-9.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-25.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-24.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-14.jpg

large_Zebra_and_..Valley_8-10.jpg

large_Zebra_and_.._Valley_8-7.jpg

.

large_51192C47DFD5D7D2E70F428442C10B89.jpg

Time to move on.

With smooth ‘roads’, no animals in sight and a hot day, both David and I find ourselves nodding off.

large_Driving_Ac..avannah_8-3.jpg

large_Snoozette_8-1.jpg

Lesser Masked Weaver Birds

After a short ‘snoozette’, I wake when we stop for a tree full of weaver bird nests – all created on the western (leeward) side of the tree at the end of the branches to protect the eggs from their main predators: snakes.

large_Weaver__Le..n_west_side.jpg

And here is the architect herself.

large_Weaver__Le..Female__8-1.jpg

Lilac Breasted Roller

large_Roller__Li..reasted_8-2.jpg

A chirpy little D'Arnaud's Barbet

large_Barbet__D_Arnaud_s_8-5.jpg

large_Barbet__D_Arnaud_s_8-7.jpg

And his mate

large_Barbet__D_Arnaud_s_8-10.jpg

Lions

This is the pride belonging to the two daddies we saw earlier on this morning – three females with six cubs between them.

large_Lions_8-45.jpg

large_Lions_8-46.jpg

There is not much activity going on in the midday heat – they occasionally lift their heads, look at us as if you say “why are you sitting there staring at us instead of taking a nap in the shade” and go back to sleep.

large_Lions_8-44.jpg

large_Lions_8-47.jpg

large_Lions_8-48.jpg

large_Lions_8-52.jpg

large_Lions_8-54.jpg

Malisa explains that he first saw the growth on the side of this young male back in January, and that it doesn’t seem to bother the animal at all. It still doesn’t make comfortable viewing though.

large_Lions_8-51.jpg

The daddies are still resting under the trees on the other side of the marsh, their whole bodies swaying when they pant. It makes me think of a salsa dancer.

.

large_Lions_8-57.jpg

large_Lions_8-66.jpg

large_Lions_8-59.jpg

large_Lions_8-62.jpg

One of the females gets up and starts to walk across to where we – and her partner – are. Perhaps she is jealous? She spends a long time just staring at us before giving up and lying down.

large_Lions_8-70.jpg

large_Have_you_e..an_savannah.jpg

And how! A giraffe was the first large animal I saw on my very first African safari back in 1986 and I was mesmerised. I still feel that same way now, 30 years, eleven safaris, twenty-five game parks and countless giraffes later.

With thanks to Ndutu Safari Lodge for hose words.

Giraffe

large_Giraffes_8-2.jpg

Did you know that each time a giraffe lifts up its neck, it lifts more than 550 pounds?

Tawny Eagle

large_Eagle__Tawny_8-11.jpg

large_Commercial_Break.jpg

We return to the lodge for lunch, a siesta or some bird watching before resuming today’s game drive. For fear of overload, I shall leave you here and create a new blog entry for this afternoon’s excursion.

As always, thanks to Calabash Adventures and their expert guide Malisa.

large_85731954920D7E5CD2EB63891E37170E.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 05:03 Archived in Tanzania Tagged birds road_trip travel adventure sunrise cute holiday africa safari tanzania zebra birding cheetah picnic lions giraffe roadtrip ngorongoro hyena wildebeest jackal bird_watching game_drive road-trip adorable dung_beetle safari_vehicle canon_eos_5d_iii calabash calabash_adventures which_safari_company best_safari_company cuteness_overload ngorongoro_conservation_area hartebeest hidden_valley lake_ndutu bat_eared_fox Comments (0)

Samburu

Animals and people of the Samburu region

sunny 35 °C
View The Journey to the Jade Sea - Northern Kenya 2015 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Day two of our private Journey to the Jade Sea with Undiscovered Destinations

Having taken our weekly dose of Lariam yesterday (malaria prophylaxis), I had a number of horrible dreams in the night. At one stage I woke up screaming for David to release me from a fishing net which was dragged me under water and I was convinced I was drowning. In reality my foot was tangled up in the mosquito net. Panic over, but after being mostly awake through yet another night (I've only had around six hours sleep in total over the last three nights), I am feeling a little weary this morning when the alarm goes off at 05:30.

We are greeted by the sun gently creating a warm glow reflecting in the river as we go for a coffee before an early game drive. The air is already warm and the sun is not yet above the horizon.

large_Sunrise_ov..m_Samburu_1.jpg

I ask the askari (tribal security guard) about the noise I heard in the night which sounded like a cat. “That is a cat” he replies with a wry grin. There was I hoping for some exotic animal. Oh well.

Setting off on a game drive before the day has completely broken, we head straight to the place where we saw the dead donkey last night – the kill has been moved, but there is still no sign of the predator. We also return to the spot we supposedly saw a leopard yesterday, but still nothing.

Beisa Oryx
The third of our Samburu Special Five appears this morning - the East African oryx, also known as the beisa, a species of antelope similar to the gemsbok, which lives in this arid semi-desert area. One of the more unusual attributes of the beisa is its ability to store water by raising its body temperatures in order to avoid perspiration.

large_Beisa_Oryx_1.jpg

large_Beisa_Oryx_3.jpg

In the distance we can see a number of vultures and eagles circling above a bush, and guessing there has been a kill, John heads that way.

large_Tawny_Eagle_21.jpg
Tawny Eagle

large_African_Wh.._Vulture_22.jpg
African White Backed Vulture

large_Tawny_Eagle_30.jpg
Tawny Eagle

He is right. A young male cheetah saunters out from the undergrowth as we approach, then joins his two brothers in the shade for a bonding session.

large_31A23431EE441B808EAA401509B42A46.jpg

large_Cheetah_6.jpg

large_31A0D038949E17A8690732053F31DE9C.jpg
If you look carefully, you can see the blood on the side of his face and forelegs from having just eaten.

large_Cheetah_9.jpg
"Let me clean that up for you"

large_Cheetah_11.jpg

large_Cheetah_14.jpg

With the big cats out of the way, the birds of prey feast on the remains of the kill.

large_Tawny_Eagle_24.jpg
Tawny Eagle

large_African_Wh.._Vulture_23.jpg
African White Backed Vulture

We have the cheetahs to ourselves for a good 20 minutes, but after John has radioed the other drivers, up to 25 vehicles turn up, so we leave them to it and move on in search of the next animal encounter.

large_Vulturine_Guineafowl_21.jpg
Vulturine Guineafowl

large_Vulturine_Guineafowl_23.jpg
Vulturine Guineafowl

large_Warthogs_1.jpg
Warthogs

large_Warthogs_2.jpg
Warthogs

large_Hare_1.jpg
We startle a hare

Somali Ostrich
The Somali ostrich is native to south-eastern Ethiopia, across most of Somalia, Djibouti and northern Kenya. Though generally similar to other ostriches, the skin of the neck and thighs of the Somali ostrich is grey-blue (rather than pinkish), becoming bright blue on the male during the mating season. The neck lacks a typical broad white ring, and the tail feathers are white.

I am not sure I could tell the difference without seeing them side by side, so I take the experts' word for it.

large_Somali_Ostrich_4.jpg
Somali Ostrich - number four of the Samburu Special Five

Another congregation of safari vehicles draws us to the side of an escarpment. Facing into the sun, with the hillside being in the shade and a lot of dust hanging in the air, it is hard to pick anything out. For a while I am just looking at stones.

large_Leopard_1A.jpg

Then I see it: a leopard! (with thanks to Photoshop for helping to make it a much clearer picture post-processing)

large_33000F30AD9E4C0D57E8E5FCF3C066E5.jpg

She jumps up on a rock, then slopes off into the undergrowth.

large_Leopard_2.jpg

For ages all I can see is rock (again), with the occasional movement of a tail behind the shrubs. Then she re-appears – or maybe she was there all along and I just didn't see her.

large_Leopard_3.jpg

As she moves in and out of our sight, I become aware that there is not just one leopard, but TWO.

large_Leopard_4.jpg

After playing with her cub for a while, they both settle down, curled up on the rocky hillside.

large_Leopard_5.jpg

large_Leopard_8.jpg

They remain out of sight for quite some time, and we are just starting to drive off when they re-appear and begin to climb up the rock-face.

large_Leopard_7.jpg

large_Leopard_9.jpg

large_Leopard_10.jpg

large_Leopard_11.jpg

large_Leopard_12.jpg

large_Leopard_13.jpg

large_Leopard_15.jpg

We stay and watch them until they have climbed all the way to the top and disappear into the bush once more. What an amazing encounter! This really is the best leopard sighting ever for us! With all the excitement, I offer no apologies for the number of photos of these cute little kitties I have posted here.

large_Leopard_16.jpg

large_Leopard_17.jpg

large_Leopard_18.jpg

large_Leopard_19.jpg

large_Leopard_20.jpg

Time for some other animals:

Grévy's Zebra - the last of the Samburu Special Five
Now considered endangered, it is believed that a mere 2,500 specimens of the Grévy's zebra remain in the wild; against some 750,000 of their most widespread zebra cousins, the Plains Zebra.

large_Grevy_s_Zebra_1.jpg

Named after Jules Grévy, then president of France, who was given one by the government of Abyssinia in the 1880s, the Grévy inhabits just parts of Northern Kenya with some isolated populations in Ethiopia.

A451FE8CDA80224DC3227AFC6A909355.jpg
From Wikipedia

If you thought a zebra was a zebra (or a horse in pyjamas as my friend Lyn calls them), you'd be wrong. The three species (there is a Mountain Zebra as well) are very different: while the Plains and Mountain zebras resemble horses, the Grévy’s zebra is much more like its close relative, the 'wild ass'. Compared with the other zebras, the Grévy is taller and has larger ears. The main difference, however, is in the stripes as shown below:

large_Zebra_Comparison_3.jpg
(This illustrative poster was seen (and photographed) in the grounds of Marwell Wildlife)

On the subject of stripes – each zebra's pattern is unique, in much the same way our fingerprints are. While zebra stripes are dazzlingly striking to the human eye (and camera – I love photographing zebras!), the big cat predators view the world in black and white only, so those stripes are excellent camouflage in the tall grass!

large_Grevy_s_Zebra_4_B_W.jpg

So, the eternal question – are zebras white with black stripes or black with white stripes? The answer to this question comes down to perspective. Many zoologists would say that a zebra is white because its stripes end towards the belly and the belly is mostly white. Others would say that a zebra is black because if you shaved all the fur off a zebra the skin is mostly black. Not that I have any intention of shaving a zebra...

large_Grevy_s_Zebra_3.jpg

So, we have now managed to see the Samburu Special Five: the Beisa Oryx, the long necked Gerenuk, Reticulated Giraffe, Somali Ostrich and Grévy's Zebra. Result!

large_Samburu_Special_Five_2.jpg

There is much more to Samburu National Reserve than just the Special Five of course.

large_Lion_21.jpg
Let sleeping lions be

large_Lion_22.jpg

large_Lion_25.jpg

large_Impala_31.jpg
Impala

large_White_Brow..ow_Weaver_4.jpg
White Browed Sparrow Weaver

large_Red_Billed_Hornbill_22.jpg
Red Billed Hornbill

large_Eastern_Ch..g_Goshawk_3.jpg
Eastern Chanting Goshawk with kill

large_Eastern_Ch..g_Goshawk_4.jpg

large_5B0321C598A456B2186909965BD5179A.jpg
Elephants

large_Elephants_22.jpg

large_Reichard_s_seedeater_1.jpg
Reichard's Seedeater

Suddenly a grinding noise starts to appear from underneath the car, sounding like sand caught in the brake drums. We stop and John gets out, checking all around the car. There is nothing obvious. What is obvious is that being outside the car while surrounded by wild animals (I can still see the elephants nearby) is risky business. David and I keep a close eye out for any predators.

large_Jphn_check..rom_the_car.jpg

I somehow don't think this Lilac Breasted Roller posts any threat to John's safety though.

large_5B1F0C4BD5909BDD0512C3928859F7E9.jpg

David gets in the driver's seat and revs the engine while John listens out for the sound from the back, front, left side, right side, underneath.....

large_David_revving_the_engine.jpg

Not being able to find anything particularly amiss, we continue on our way, keeping an ear out for the disturbing sound, which worryingly appears and disappears intermittently. Not a good sign for the off-the beaten-path thousand-mile-journey ahead.

large_Grevy_s_Ze..eisa_Oryx_3.jpg
I am surprised about the relative small size of the oryx: for some reason I imagined it to be bigger than the zebra, more like the size of an eland.

large_Crowned_Lapwing_3.jpg
Crowned Lapwing

large_Dik_Dik_21.jpg
The tiny Dik Dik

large_Sandgrouse__Black_Faced_3.jpg
Black Faced Sandgrouse

Surrounded by birds and animals of the African bush, we stop for a while and enjoy a late breakfast which we brought with us as a picnic box from the lodge.

large_Superb_Starling_31.jpg
Superb Starling

large_White_Head..o_Weaver_22.jpg
White Headed Buffalo Weaver

large_Warthogs_21.jpg
Warthogs

I love the way these guys hold their tails straight up when they run. So cute! That is if you can actually call a warthog cute. I have to admit they have the sort of face only a mother can love.

large_Warthogs_24.jpg

large_White_Brow..w_Weaver_33.jpg
White Browed Sparrow Weaver

Dust
The dry season may be good for watching the animals, but it is bad for the dust, which gets into everything: the car, my nose, eyes, mouth, the camera, my clothes, skin, bags... maybe even the drum brakes?

large_Grevy_s_Ze..d_Warthog_1.jpg

large_Gerenuk_31.jpg
Gerenuk

I would dearly love to see a gerenuk stretching its long neck and eating from the top of one of these bushes, as they do, but this one doesn't seem to want oblige, however long we hang around.

large_Baby_Oryx_2.jpg
Baby Oryx

large_D_Arnaud_s_Barbet_1.jpg
D'Arnaud's Barbet

Ethnic Groups

One of the primary focuses of this tour is ethnology, concentrating on the minority groups who live in the north west region of Kenya: learning about their lifestyle, their customs, their culture, their modus vivendi.

The people of Kenya are an eclectic mix, with some 70 or so different tribes, each with its own unique culture. Which ethnic group you belong is still the most important factor in social, work, business and political life. Political parties, for example, are largely based on tribe and less on ideology.

large_Ethnic_Groups_2.jpg

Samburu

In this region, the main group we encounter is the Samburu, who inhabit a large area in the north of the country. Leaving the national park behind, we head for a small manyatta (village) near Archer's Post. John negotiates a price for us to visit their village, which also includes being able to take photographs. I am particularly interested in that aspect as sneaking covert shots of the locals is a definite no-no in this region, and I have been itching to take pictures of the colourful people I have seen as we have been driving through the villages.

The Samburu, also known as the 'Butterfly Tribe' for the bright colours they adorn themselves with, are enchantingly distinctive and mysteriously remote, having maintained the authenticity of their culture by guarding their ancient customs and traditional existence proudly, largely defying modern trends. Migrating from Sudan in the 15th century and settling in this area, the Samburu were not particularly affected by British colonial rule as the British did not find their land useful or attractive.

We are assigned a guide called Lende, although he says we can call him Simon. Lende speaks good English after having studied at university in Nairobi - paid for by Pontac Productions after he starred in the German movie 'The White Masai' which was set and filmed in this area. However, he didn't like the bright lights of the city, preferring to come back here to Samburu country and live with his family in their manyatta.

The Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists who herd mainly cattle but also keep sheep, goats and camels; moving them from one place to another in search of fresh pasture and water. Each time they move, they build temporary huts from tree branches, mud, cow dung and grass in compounds called manyattas, in which they live; keeping their cattle in corrals fenced by thorny branches as can be seen on the right in the picture below.

large_Samburu_Manyatta_3.jpg

large_Samburu_Manyatta_1.jpg

The entire compound is surrounded by a barrier made from thorny bushes. The number of entrance gates in this fence denotes the number of married couples who reside within the manyatta: each family have their own gate through which they bring their cattle back each night to keep safe from predators.

When the rainy season comes (it has not rained for four months now), they have bits of plastic which they weave in to the roof over the top of the huts to keep them dry inside. The interior consists of three rooms: a bedroom for the parents and another in which the children sleep; with cow skins used as mattresses. The third room is the kitchen. I really can't imagine how hot and claustrophobic that would be: some of the smaller huts are barely five feet tall, and the temperature outside is 35 °C. Crouching over a fire in such a tiny room at those sorts of temperatures, not to mention all the smoke...

large_Samburu_Manyatta_2.jpg

Clothing
Brightly coloured traditional cloths, called shukas, wrapped loosely around their bodies, are worn by both men and women. The most colourful costumes are reserved for the moran – the warriors – who also keep their long hair in braids. Not sure where the warriors are today as all the men we see wear their hair short, or tied up in a kind of hairnet - or maybe that is their braided hair in the nets?

large_Samburu_Manyatta_7.jpg

large_Samburu_Dances_4.jpg

large_Samburu_Man_2.jpg

large_Samburu_Man_3.jpg

large_Samburu_Woman_12.jpg

large_Samburu_Woman_13.jpg

Jewellery
While the elaborate beaded necklaces and intricate jewellery the women wear may look beautiful, they are much more than mere decoration - the colours and patterns indicate the girl's status and wealth: red necklaces for unmarried women which is changed to multicoloured once they have wed. The shape and colour of the necklaces are deeply symbolic too: the rise of the concentric circle is indicative of the volcanic cones in Samburu country, green represents fresh grass for the cattle, blue denotes the desert skies, red is an emblem of life giving blood, and black is illustrative of the colour of their skin.

large_Samburu_Woman_14.jpg

large_Samburu_Woman_16.jpg

large_Samburu_Jewellery_1.jpg

large_Samburu_Anklets_1.jpg

large_Samburu_Anklets_2.jpg

Single young men also adorn themselves with necklaces, but once they marry the jewellery is passed down to a younger brother or cousin.

large_Samburu_Man_5.jpg

The first part of the initiation rite of passage for a young boy - “first pain” as Lende calls it – is the extraction of the bottom middle tooth. The boy must not cry, flinch or even blink; if he does he will bring shame on himself and his family, become ostracised from the village or possibly even stoned to death.

large_Samburu_Gu..nde__Simon_.jpg

Mancala
Said to date back to 1400BC, this board game is found in towns and villages all over Africa, the Middle East and beyond. The rules of mancala are complex and vary from region to region and sometimes even game to game, but the aim is to 'steal' all your opponents pieces.

large_Samburu_Game_-_Mancala_2.jpg

Dances
In true tourist style, the people of the village perform a couple of short (thankfully) dances for us, including the traditional 'jumping' by the men. Kenya's iconic image of a jumping warrior is not only part of the dance, but also illustrates to all how gifted each man is. The jumps, known as adumu, are part of a number of rituals that make up the the ceremony in which the junior warriors, or morani, graduate to the ranks of manhood.

large_Samburu_Jumping_1.jpg

large_Samburu_Dances_2.jpg

large_Samburu_Dances_5.jpg

Children
The village care for a number of orphaned children whose parents have been killed by lions and other predators while out in the bush tending to their animals. The children perform for us by reciting the alphabet and numbers in English; followed by the ubiquitous request for sponsorship. David performs for the children (and confuses them) by reeling off the alphabet backwards.

large_Samburu_Children_1.jpg

large_Samburu_Children_4.jpg

Fire
To me, the most interesting part of the whole experience at the manyatta, is the demonstration of how they make fire. Here is how to do it in case you want to have a go at home:

First take a stick with small dents hollowed out. Fill one of the dents with some sand for friction and a very small amount of dry grass.

large_Samburu_Making_Fire_1.jpg

Find some zebra or elephant dung as this is better than cow droppings for dryness and ease of burning. Separate the dung by hand into fine particles.

large_Samburu_Making_Fire_2.jpg

large_Samburu_Making_Fire_4.jpg

Using a long stick with a rounded end, rub your hands together as rapidly as you can.

large_Samburu_Making_Fire_5.jpg

Keep going until you see smoke. Where there is smoke, there is fire.

large_Samburu_Ma..ire_7_SMOKE.jpg

Empty the glowing embers onto your dung and carefully blow on it. Pile up more dung and grass to create a proper flame.

large_Samburu_Ma..Fire_8_FIRE.jpg

large_Samburu_Making_Fire_9.jpg

Voilà! You now have fire!

large_Samburu_Making_Fire_10.jpg

In this short video you can see the whole process:

The Samburu make fire twice a day, morning and evening, and usually just one person will start the fire and others will come here to collect some for their own kitchen.

large_Samburu_Making_Fire_11.jpg

Saying goodbye to the Samburu villagers, we make our way back towards the park again, only to find the road completely blocked by a carefully placed roll of barbed wire. Fearing it to be a trap by some of the renowned 'bandits' of the area , John is not willing to take a chance so goes back for reinforcements.

large_Barbed_wire_road_block.jpg

Making sure the local car complete with an armed guard goes in front of us to investigate, John cautiously keeps well back when they get out of the vehicle to remove the road block. I sneak a couple of photos covertly from the back seat of the moving car hoping no-one will notice, but as you can see, they are pretty blurry and of low quality. I am sure they help convey the jittery atmosphere though.

large_Reinforcements_1.jpg

large_Reinforcements_2.jpg

A tense few minutes for sure, but no 'bandits' appear; we breathe a large sigh of relief and go on our way for more game viewing.

large_Giraffe_31.jpg

large_A_Tower_of_Giraffes_5.jpg
A 'Tower of Giraffes' - yes, that is the collective noun for giraffes.

large_Beisa_Oryx_41.jpg

large_Beisa_Oryx_46.jpg
Beisa Oryx

large_97F79A98A72E2F749EECCEC964598690.jpg

large_97FD468FA641CA70EBF40BBC2159C1FD.jpg
Elephants

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_41.jpg
Check out those ears!

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_44.jpg
Grévy's Zebra

large_African_Harrier_Hawk_21.jpg
African harrier Hawk

Having now seen all the Samburu Special Five, I have set John another challenge: I want to see the gerenuk in its typical pose on its hind legs eating leaves from the top of a bush. This is the best he could do, as the antelope jumps down as soon as we move in for a better view.

large_Gerenuk_41.jpg

We return to the lodge with the rest of the day at unexpected leisure – John needs to go back to Archer's Post to get a mechanic to investigate the noise coming from the car before the long, remote journey over the next few days. Sounds a very good plan to me.

After a lovely lunch of fish in sauce and beef casserole, we chill with a drink in the grounds of the lodge. Yesterday we were six people for dinner in the restaurant but this morning two people moved on, leaving just us and two German birdwatching gents as the remaining guests.

large_Fish_in_a_Pepper_Sauce.jpg

large_Beef_Casserole.jpg

large_Tusker_1.jpg

large_Sentrim_Samburu_Grounds.jpg

We have the swimming pool all to ourselves this afternoon apart from a red headed agama lizard sunning himself on the stone wall.

large_Sentrim_Sa..ming_Pool_1.jpg

large_Red_Headed_Agama_Lizard_3.jpg

Our free afternoon goes something like this:
Eat
Drink
Swim
Drink
Sleep
Bird watching
Drink
Pack
Shower
Drink
Eat
Drink
Sleep

large_Siesta_in_the_hammock_1.jpg

large_Superb_Starlings_41.jpg
Superb Starlings

large_African_Silverbill_31.jpg
African Silverbill

large_Bird_Watching_1.jpg
David looking for birds - of the feathered variety

large_Petronia__..w_Spotted_1.jpg
Yellow Spotted Petronia

large_Dtarling__Red_Winged_1.jpg
Red Winged Starling

The black faced vervet monkeys amuse us for ages with their shenanigans: running around on the roof of the chalet next door (I heard them on our roof in the night too), balancing on the bannisters and jumping into the hammock, swinging around for a while, then repeating the whole thing. They seem to be having such a lot of fun!

large_Black_Face.._Monkeys_45.jpg

large_Black_Face.._Monkeys_48.jpg

As we are enjoying a pre-dinner drink (in the dark) on our little balcony, one of the askari guards – armed with a spear – comes to tell us not to walk alone to dinner as there is an elephant in the camp. Although the lodge is surrounded by an electric fence, it is still possible to enter the grounds from the river front. Providing the elephant is peaceful and not causing any problems, they would rather let it go about its business than upset it. Makes sense.

large_Drink_on_the_Balcony_1.jpg

John joins us for dinner and explains how the noise we heard from the car was the prop shaft bearing. Unfortunately they didn't have the required part in the small town of Archer's Post, so he had to go all the way back to Isiolo to make sure the car is in tip top condition and ready for the journey across the northern wasteland of Kenya. He has only just got back!

large_Dinner_Day_2_Samburu.jpg

As a treat, we enjoy a very nice South African wine with dinner tonight, and just as I have taken a photo of David with the bottle, my flash gun gives out an angry sizzling sound, a puff of smoke and a strong smell of burning. Oh dear.That's the end of my flash photography on this trip.

large_South_African_Wine_1.jpg

The firepit has been stoked up this evening in order to keep the rogue elephant away from the restaurant.

large_Bonfire_1.jpg

After dinner we toast marshmallows while we finish off the wine. Everyone packs toasting forks and marshmallows when they go on holiday, right?

large_Toasting_Marshmallows_4.jpg

large_Toasting_M..ows_7__HTC_.jpg
Photo using my mobile phone

Ever since our visit visit to the continent in 1986, I have been captivated by the African sky. Rarely do you see so many stars anywhere, largely as a result of very little light pollution. The sky appears to me so much bigger in Africa than it does back home, and I can sit and gaze at it for hours. I make a feeble attempt at astrophotography tonight, but there is too much light in the camp, and too many trees around for it to be successful.

large_Starry_Sky_1A.jpg

Purely for medicinal reasons: to help me sleep through the terrible nightmares (believe that and you believe anything), I pour myself a Captain and Coke before bed.

large_Captain___..mburu_Day_2.jpg

Cheers and welcome (back) to Samburu.

large_Reasons_wh..rink_No_243.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 05:05 Archived in Kenya Tagged animals birds village africa safari zebra cheetah kenya lions leopard samburu manyatta barsaloi beisa Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 10 of 10) Page [1]