A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about elephants

Tarangire Part I

Elephants galore


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

It is still dark when we leave the lodge this morning, just as it has been every single morning since we arrived here. Today is our last day in Tanzania, so it won't be long before we are able to have a lie-in once we get home.

There is no sign of the lion from last night around the hotel grounds this morning, but we do see a lot of giraffe close to the lodge today, as well as a couple of waterbuck.

large_Waterbuck__Common_1.jpg

large_Waterbuck__Common_2.jpg

large_Tarangire.jpg

large_Baobab_2.jpg

The weather is still pretty murky by the time we reach the Tarangire National Park gates, hence the quality (graininess) of the first handful of photos.

large_FC971745EB8D8B5BAB498FA802228A04.jpg

These girls belong to a harem. Male impala sometimes have as many as 50 or so females in his harem, here there are nowhere near that many. Where there is an impala harem, there is usually a bachelor herd nearby waiting for the polygamous husband to retire (or maybe just tire, with so many females to service) so that they can move in.

large_Impala_Harem_1.jpg

large_Impala_Harem_2.jpg

large_Impala_61.jpg

large_FCCEE478F2E9DDC7DE3E4EAE7408703E.jpg

Tarangire is famous for its incredible bird life, especially at this time of year, with nearly 500 species recorded in the park. We see quite a few this morning, including a few species that are new to us (known as a lifer - a new addition to the life list)

large_FD2D9082FCE73C5358A22F6E0E9D39CA.jpg

Ashy Starling

large_Widow_Bird..te_Winged_1.jpg

White Winged Widow Bird (a lifer)

large_Parrot__Brown_1.jpg

Brown Parrot

large_Spurfowl__Yellow_Necked_2.jpg

Yellow Necked Spurfowl

large_Barbet__D_Arnaud_s_31.jpg

D'Arnaud's Barbet

large_FF000275DFED6DAD7773C149B9BE6208.jpg

Speckled Fronted Weaver

large_Whydah__Br.._Paradise_1.jpg

Broad Tailed Paradise Whydah (another lifer)

large_Weaver__Lesser_Masked_61.jpg

Lesser Masked Weaver (above) construct elaborate and fanciful hanging nests (below)

large_Weaver_Nes..r_Masked__2.jpg

large_Weaver_Nes..r_Masked__1.jpg

large_Shrike__Magpie_61.jpg

Magpie Shrike

large_Starling__Wattled_81.jpg

A rather wet and bedraggled Wattled Starling

large_FE0118BECEA8918296C31CA4C44E9E69.jpg

large_FE0923A2E2FE678C034E07241D619BF8.jpg

large_FE0F360ADB970BFC1280BD4BE253107B.jpg

large_FE154509FC33C9BAD48EF486DFB7F373.jpg

large_FE64E47DA2B61493B4090AA7B8331250.jpg

We're having to put the roof up, down, up, down this morning as the showers come and go at various intervals. I think you could call the weather changeable.

large_06C38526B503B8F6F21C0BDFAA4986F0.jpg

large_01A6F84FF68678C4D36C2B8676463606.jpg

large_Ostrich_31.jpg

large_052A849FA160FBB5581E3C1B9AEA3099.jpg

large_05550C77D62EDF76154694469FC3138A.jpg

large_Guineafowl__Helmeted_31.jpg

large_05730C47F181A78DE02B6251D53122DD.jpg

large_White_Bell..o_Away_Bird.jpg

large_Go_Away_Bi..e_Bellied_3.jpg

large_Go_Away_Bi..e_Bellied_2.jpg

large_Dwarf_Mongoose.jpg

large_Mongoose_Dwarf_1.jpg

large_Mongoose_Dwarf_2.jpg

large_More_Birds.jpg

large_Coucal_White_Browed_1.jpg

White Browed Coucal

large_Sandgrouse__Black_Faced_1.jpg

Black Faced Sandgrouse

large_Weaver__Wh.._Buffalo_41.jpg

White Headed Buffalo Weaver

large_0755D27DA20A37DBA1E7001DA241B299.jpg

Brown Snake Eagle

large_Eagle__Brown_Snake_2.jpg

Brown Snake Eagle

large_Spurfowl__..w_Necked_71.jpg

Yellow Necked Spurfowl

large_Spurfowl__..w_Necked_73.jpg

Yellow Necked Spurfowl

large_279A9A01CEABBC6D3D6B7576D017F170.jpg

While the mongooses we saw earlier were quite some distance away, these are really close by the road, where an abandoned termite mound has been converted into social housing for a family on mongooses.

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_1.jpg

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_2.jpg

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_6.jpg

As we stay to observe them for a while, small, furry heads pop out of various orifices in the mound, including some cute babies.

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_3.jpg

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_7.jpg

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_5.jpg

And angry little not-so-cute adults.

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_9.jpg

large_Red_Billed_Hornbill.jpg

large_Hornbill__Red_Billed_72.jpg

large_Hornbill__Red_Billed_73.jpg

large_Hornbill__Red_Billed_74.jpg

large_Hornbill__Red_Billed_75.jpg

large_Hornbill__Red_Billed_79.jpg

large_29209AB7DC4383F3DFD80307DD9D3FEF.jpg

large_Warthog_71.jpg

large_Warthog_72.jpg

large_Common_Waterbuck.jpg

You can distinguish the Common Waterbuck from the other species found here, the Defassa Waterbuck, by the white markings on its rump, commonly referred to as the toilet seat.

large_Waterbuck__Common_91.jpg

large_2A51F6319E9365C694D0E5A858EF6248.jpg

Tarangire National Park is famous for its huge herds of elephants, so we are quite surprised to not have seen any yet this morning, just damage caused by these large animals as they passed through.

large_Elephant_Damage_1.jpg

Not long afterwards, when we are on on our way to the Matete Picnic Site for breakfast, we see a lone elephant, as if on cue.

large_30236F860E05E4EF0FCBC61BBEAED90E.jpg

Then a large bachelor herd appears.

large_Elephants_31.jpg

large_Elephants_32.jpg

Time for morning ablutions, in the form of a little dust bath.

large_Elephants_36.jpg

large_Elephants_39.jpg

The mood suddenly turns nasty, with an unfriendly mob marching angrily towards us. Malisa proves that he is just as capable (and safe) a driver backwards, as he has to quickly reverse the car out of the way of the bullies. Never argue with an angry elephant.

large_349BA7FEA8CF8B506D1CF443F94322DB.jpg

large_349E83259A390D94D147FA17EE84A9AB.jpg

It's not all anger management issues this morning, however, there's a bit of bonding session going on here with two teenage brothers butting against each other.

large_Elephants_46.jpg

large_5BFADC3ED7FBCCAE6C49318BAAE93DEC.jpg

When they have finished showering each other with affection, they walk right past out car, so close I could reach out and touch them. I have to really restrain myself not to.

large_5C0B9FC6EC68A4964692974EE5776916.jpg

large_Elephants_51.jpg

large_Elephants_54.jpg

large_618CDCEBB02D0644BEAE121A3370DD76.jpg

I feel so incredibly privileged to be here so close to these majestic giants, watching them go about their daily lives and be party to their family interactions, I almost cry with happiness.

large_Elephants_53.jpg

All around us are elephants, in every direction we look. I have to pinch myself to make sure this is really happening. To think I was only complaining a couple of minutes ago that we hadn't seen any elephants yet.

large_6211DA30C788F7C520590E53F7E5B441.jpg

large_Elephants_57.jpg

large_621955B3D732550A98EAC87FF8E5A789.jpg

large_Elephants_701.jpg

large_Elephants_704.jpg

More family snuggles. This is like reality TV but with animals. Much more interesting.

large_Elephants_60.jpg

large_62575AEDD3342CAE67F60036CCD7256C.jpg

large_62A1C170E432D8194EA18AA1A10995FC.jpg

For some reason this next picture reminds me of Colonel Hathi in the Jungle Book cartoon.

large_62408268915A9461E0802324F98F5290.jpg

large_Jungle_Book.jpg

I have heard of 'pink elephants', but never 'red'. These eles have obviously been rolling in the mud. Or maybe it's the latest must-have face mask.

large_62BDECB2D23937BE6D7504AC9D0CA326.jpg

large_62EEEAA7F1E7D24F0D8CB0E4B10EE137.jpg

She has a young baby with her, probably around four months old. We can only just see the top of his back over the long grass.

large_Elephants_66.jpg

In places the grass is shorter so we can see him better.

large_62FC6284CE2315BD17A2E185A531BD72.jpg

On the other side of the car is an even younger baby, this one is less than 2 weeks old. All together now: “awwwww”

large_631867049D902A332A8494D23904B1F6.jpg

large_Elephants_702.jpg

Look at the difference in size!

large_Elephants_703.jpg

We leave the elephants behind (pun intended) and (yet again) try to make our way towards the picnic site. This could take a while, depending on what we see on the way.

large_66417AA5D765B94E0EBC652496DB46B0.jpg

large_Roller__Lilac_Breasted_34.jpg

large_White_Head..falo_Weaver.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh.._Buffalo_91.jpg

large_Matete_Picnic_Site.jpg

We finally make it for breakfast, to a completely empty picnic site. This place has changed beyond all recognition since we were first here ten years ago: back then there was one squalid long-drop toilet. Now there is a very modern facilities block with clean flushable toilets, lockable doors, water, soap and toilet paper.

large_Matete_Picnic_Site_1.jpg

Check out my next blog entry for more animal encounters with Calabash Adventures, the best safari
operators by far.

large_C94A6755AE2467398EDEE276FEA1B52E.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:38 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds rain travel elephants africa safari tanzania parrot eagle picnic giraffe tarangire impala waterbuck starling weaver mongoose shrike barbet bird_watching hornbill lilac_breasted_roller mongooses calabash_adventures maramboi coucal best_safari_operator widow_bird impala_harem spurfowl guineafowl guinea_fowl go_away_bird dwarf_mongoose matete matete_picnic_site picnic_breakfast Comments (4)

Ndutu - Naabi Hill

And now for a little light relief


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

Those of you who read my previous blog entry, will be pleased to know that all that blood and gore is followed by a large dose of cuteness.

large_A_little_Light_Relief.jpg

large_Pygmy_Falcon.jpg

Aren't these baby falcons cute?

large_Falcons__Pygmy_1.jpg

large_Great_Sparrowhawk.jpg

A nice little lifer for us this morning (a 'new' bird which we haven't seen before)

large_Sparrowhaw..t__Black__1.jpg

large_F3645B3AF72EF8403B334451E53A317F.jpg

Having spent nearly two hours with the lions, we head for Ndutu Airstrip to have our picnic.

large_Breakfast_.._Airstrip_2.jpg

large_Breakfast_.._Airstrip_1.jpg

large_Baby_Giraffe.jpg

large_9123D51DB8FC8685ED4FFB35F0CCE64D.jpg

large_F485889AC89FDC62D9E89EFD7139A88A.jpg

large_F49484EDDE42F70804A1CECF88BB0FD9.jpg

large_Steenbok_72.jpg

large_Steenbok_75.jpg

Malisa spots something moving in the grass and sets off across country.

large_Black_Bellied_Bustard.jpg

“It's only a chicken.”

large_Bustard__Black_Bellied_22.jpg

There's a bit of a story behind this saying: back in 2008, in Sikkim (India), David spotted something and shouted excitedly from the back of the car: “It's a colourful bird!”. With an obvious tone of despair and disinterest, the driver replied: “It's only a chicken”. Malisa has perfected that same tone and the expression has become synonymous with disappointment at seeing something not as exciting as expected.

large_F5758B170B14DA867E2D6B7C15BBFEF9.jpg

The black bellied bustard is followed very shortly by a couple of White Bellied Bustards.

large_Bustard__White_Bellied_51.jpg

large_Bustard__White_Bellied_52.jpg

This place is full of bustards!

large_F5CDB79095A64E0ACB7D4657AD0DF403.jpg

Running away from us of course.

large_Elands_71.jpg

large_F5CECB1AA75E21E9778A26D99BF2370C.jpg

large_Ostrich_71.jpg

large_22DF0B03BDF6A81CA3F88CA60115F171.jpg

Having not encountered any other cars since we've been here in the Ndutu area, we are almost startled by the vehicles down on the marsh watching the elephants.

large_Elephants_101.jpg

One of the cars carries a Facebook friend, Jim, his wife and their friends. I knew he was going to be in the area at the same time as us, but not exactly where or when, so it is quite a coincidence that he is the first person we see after three days of not seeing any other human activity outside the lodge.

large_Elephants_104.jpg

large_Facebook.jpg

There are two groups of elephants here, this one on the right with 17 members...

large_Elephants_105.jpg

large_Elephants_109.jpg

large_Elephants_107.jpg

...and a similar sized herd coming in from the left.

large_Elephants_110.jpg

large_Elephants_111.jpg

large_Elephants_112.jpg

We speculate what will happen when they all meet in the middle. Are they fractions of the same herd, or will there be conflict?

large_Elephants_113.jpg

Apparently not. After some initial trumpeting (which we take to mean "hello, how are you doing, long time no see", they seem to just mingle and chill. I guess they are all the same family.

large_Elephants_114.jpg

large_Elephants_115.jpg

Gotta love those little ones.

large_Elephants_116.jpg

large_Elephants_118.jpg

large_Elephants_123.jpg

large_Elephants_126.jpg

large_Elephants_127.jpg

large_Elephants_133.jpg

large_Elephants_153.jpg

They all meander as one down to the small pond, enjoying the green grass and fresh, cool water.

large_Elephants_120.jpg

large_Elephants_124.jpg

large_Elephants_132.jpg

The herd has yet again split up, which means that everywhere you look, all around us, are elephants.

large_Elephants_140.jpg

Some of the group decide to head for the trees rather than the water.

large_Elephants_137.jpg

large_Elephants_138.jpg

large_Elephants_160.jpg

large_Elephants_161.jpg

large_Elephants_164.jpg

Elephants are very protective of their little ones, and will usually try their best to hide them in the middle of the herd.

large_Elephants_141.jpg

But when you have an itch, you've got to scratch it! And trees make very good scratching posts.

large_Elephants_142.jpg

large_Elephants_144.jpg

But mum soon appears to offer her baby protection from any would-be predators. Although it is unusual, lions have been known to attack young elephants.

large_Elephants_145.jpg

large_Elephants_148.jpg

large_Elephants_149.jpg

When the tree doesn't do the trick, our little fellah resorts to using his own legs to soothe that itch.

large_Elephants_152.jpg

Check out David's video for an extra dose of cuteness.

.

We spend a considerable amount of time watching the elephants, taking great delight in their shenanigans and interactions with each other.

large_Elephants_173.jpg

large_Elephants_189.jpg

large_Elephants_186.jpg

large_Elephants_188_B_W_1.jpg

We watch the elephants slowly make their way into the forest, before turning our attention to other attractions in the immediate surroundings.

large_Elephants_190.jpg

The pond is also home to a number of birds

large_Heron__Grey_2.jpg
Grey Heron

large_Heron__Grey_4.jpg
Black Headed Heron

large_Dove__Laughing_2.jpg
Laughing Doves

large_Terrapin__Serated_1.jpg
Serrated Terrapin

large_Buzzard__Augur__Flying_1.jpg
Augur Buzzard

large_Heron__Black_Headed_3.jpg
Another Black Headed Heron

large_Tortoise__Leopard_2.jpg
Leopard Tortoise

We also come across a lone elephant taking a shower.

large_Elephant_H.._a_Shower_3.jpg

large_Elephant_H.._a_Shower_6.jpg

large_7C150990A8E500F759101557BBCE765B.jpg

We say goodbye to the Ndutu area as we make our way towards Serengeti this morning, with a last look at Lake Ndutu and the animals it attracts.

large_Lake_Ndutu_101B.jpg
Lake Ndutu

large_Giraffe_at_Lake_Ndutu_21.jpg
Giraffe

large_Hartebeest_and_Zebra_31.jpg
Hartebeest and zebra

large_Hartebeest_101.jpg
Hartebeest

large_Eagle__Bla..d_Snake_101.jpg
Black Breasted Snake Eagle

large_Gazelle__Grants_101.jpg
Grant's Gazelle

And here they are all together: Grant's Gazelle and Hartebeest with the snake eagle in the tree
large_Grant_s_Ga..ake_Eagle_1.jpg

large_Courser__Two_Banded_22.jpg
Two Banded Courser

large_Ndutu_Ranger_Station.jpg

In order to save time at the Serengeti Gate, we sign out of Ngorongoro Conservation Area at the Ndutu Ranger Station.

large_Ndutu_Ranger_Station_1.jpg

At Malisa's recommendation, I resist using the toilets here, preferring to wait until we get to the proper Serengeti gate at Naabi Hill, where I know the facilities are modern and clean.

large_Ndutu_Rang..ion_Toilets.jpg

With the correct paperwork in hand, we leave Ndutu behind and make the journey across the Short Grass Plains to reach the official gate to enter the Serengeti for the next chapter of our adventure.

large_Malisa_wit..ger_Station.jpg

On the way we meet up with James and his client in one of the other Calabash vehicles.

large_Calabash_Vehicle_32.jpg

Another drinking giraffe.

large_Giraffe_Drinking_201.jpg

And a huddle of zebras under a tree.

large_Zebras_201.jpg

This Long Crested Eagles takes off and we follow him - at the same speed and height - down the road for some time. A very cool experience.

large_Eagle__Long_Crested_101.jpg

Much as I hate to say goodbye to Ndutu (it is one of my favourite places in Tanzania), I am looking forward to seeing what Serengeti has to offer us. Thank you Calabash Adventures for giving us this opportunity.

large_91135D63D9A37C79671502FE5D5FECE8.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 06:31 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds elephants africa safari tanzania terrapin buzzard ndutu calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area Comments (3)

Ndutu Day II Part II (Wedding Anniversary)

Finally, some cats


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

We're ready to roll for another afternoon of exciting adventures in the African wilderness.

large_Calabash_V..Tented_Camp.jpg

large_Speckled_Mousebird.jpg

large_Mousebird__Speckled_1.jpg

large_5518B5AA983A3D84BDDAE8832C3EC6CB.jpg

large_Dik_Dik_61.jpg

large_Dik_Dik_62.jpg

Dik diks mate for life, so more often than not you find two together or even three, like here with their offspring.

large_Dik_Dik_63.jpg

large_Dik_Dik_64.jpg

large_Lesser_Masked_Weaver.jpg

large_Weaver__Lesser_Masked_1.jpg

large_5A2DA3CA9C767722239D238321545DA9.jpg

large_Giraffes_61.jpg

large_Giraffes_62.jpg

“Sit down and close your window!” comes the urgent call from Malisa as we find ourselves right in the middle of a swarm of bees flying from one nest to another. Phew, that could have been nasty!

large_Black_Faced_Vervet_Monkey.jpg

large_Monkeys__B..ed_Vervet_1.jpg

large_Monkeys__B..ed_Vervet_2.jpg

large_5A6C2D360130A38084E072768EDCCF4B.jpg

large_Secretary_Bird_42.jpg

large_Vultures.jpg

We see three different vultures (Lappet Faced, African White backed and Hooded) sitting in a tree and wonder if there is a kill somewhere.

large_Vultures__..__Hooded__1.jpg

It's mid-afternoon and we still haven't seen any cats today.

large_5B0C3E0D9ED41FC8C664AE51D645DACA.jpg

large_Eagle__Tawny_42.jpg

large_5B4AA755BD7FDA88011156D0A9B14142.jpg

Cute little baby, some 3-4 months old. Later we see an adult wildebeest, on his own, limping badly. I cannot help to think he will be someone's dinner tonight.

large_Wildebeest_61.jpg

large_White_Bellied_Bustard.jpg

large_Bustard__White_Bellied_2.jpg

There's a lot of dust around this afternoon and I am seriously worried about my lungs. They do not feel good. I am therefore grateful when the skies start getting darker and more threatening.

large_Stormy_Weather.jpg

With a strange light, dark clouds and rain on the horizon; it looks like we are in for some inclement weather.

large_Stormy_Clo..er_Ndutu_51.jpg

I am hoping for a dramatic thunder storm.

large_Stormy_Weather_at_Ndutu_3.jpg

No such luck though. The rain is somewhat localised, and fortunately not in our locale.

large_Stormy_Clo..er_Ndutu_52.jpg

large_Stormy_Clo..er_Ndutu_41.jpg

But I guess it is best to start heading towards the camp.

large_Stormy_Clo..er_Ndutu_42.jpg

Before long, the skies are blue with pretty pink clouds. Talk about changeable!

large_Blue_Skies_over_Ndutu_1.jpg

large_5D212AC1EF3C22AD779CBE436E26EBFC.jpg

Time is getting on, the light is fading fast, and we have given up all hope of seeing any big cats today, which means these two lions are a real bonus.

large_Lion_75.jpg

Not that they do much, but enough to get a few nice photos to round the day off nicely.

large_Lion_65.jpg

large_Lion_71.jpg

large_Lion_74.jpg

She is greatly bothered by flies, and tries to wipe them off with her paw.

large_Lion_69.jpg

It doesn't last long, however.

large_Lion_77B.jpg

large_Lion_78.jpg

Time is moving on, the lions are tired and we really should be getting back to camp.

large_Lion_86.jpg

large_Lion_88.jpg

large_Lion_72.jpg

large_Lion_76.jpg

large_829610EFD33604AC033E53D120490B68.jpg

On the way we see a lone buffalo in the sunset.

large_Buffalo_23.jpg

large_Buffalo_22.jpg

And then another.

large_Buffalo_24.jpg

large_Black_Brea..Snake_Eagle.jpg

large_Eagle__Bla..ted_Snake_1.jpg

large_83E4FF21AC2F1382E39E40AC004764C5.jpg

large_Sunset_Over_Ndutu_72.jpg

large_Sunset_Over_Ndutu_73.jpg

large_Sunset_Over_Ndutu_74.jpg

large_Night_Sky.jpg

One of the things I love about a safari in Africa is that we get well away from any light pollution, making the stars all the more visible at night. I am very surprised, and delighted, that we are able to see any stars at all this evening after all the thick, dark clouds that covered the sky just a couple of hours ago.

The downside of being in the wilderness, of course, is the fact that we are surrounded by wild and dangerous animals, which means I can't stray far from the lodge and the armed askari guards.

Setting up my tripod just outside the entrance to the lodge means I do get some stray light from behind, but we can still see the milky way quite clearly.

large_Stars_over_Lake_Masek_21.jpg

large_Wedding_Anniversary.jpg

As I said in the very first blog post from this trip, the reason for being here in our favourite part of the world at this time, is to celebrate forty years of married bliss.

We brought with us a bottle of bubbly from the UK, which Nina, the waiter, kindly opens for us at dinner.

large_Wedding_An..ebrations_1.jpg

large_Wedding_An..ebrations_2.jpg

large_Wedding_An..ebrations_3.jpg

large_Wedding_An..ebrations_4.jpg

I clear my throat, bring out a scroll tied with red ribbon, unroll it and begin to read:

large_Scroll_1.jpg

Ode to marriage

The year was 1974
In Wembley near London Town
A boy wooed a girl with flowers and more
He wanted to settle down

The girl was from Norway, her English not good
He loved her accent and eyes
Always a gentleman, just as he should
Much better than other guys

She was so young and impressed by his car
Just 16 years old, in her prime
He chatted her up in the Century bar
Into his Lotus she'd climb

Education finished, she left her school
To Norway she must return
If he let her go, he would be a fool
He knew he would always yearn

He told her he loved her and would she be his?
She said “yes” straight away
They must stay together, she surely agrees
“Let's get married, without delay”

Friday the 13th the engagement took place
But the very next day she left
He jacked in his job and took up the chase
To Norway, feeling bereft

Friday the 13th, such a special date
“Let's see when the next one is”
The following year was the estimate
To enter married bliss

By 1977 they wed
In Oslo Town Hall it was
From the bright lights of London to Bristol they fled
In a fancy car of course

They easily settled as husband and wife
Both working as hard as they could
To pay for their major passion in life
Exploring the neighbourhood

Their travels took them to near and far
A never-ending quest
From Antarctica, to China to Zanzibar
They were totally obsessed

The years quickly passed amid work and fun
And travels to faraway lands
A number of bucket list items were done
Scuba, canoeing, and boarding on sands

Work in IT and banking, a means to an end
For funding the thrill-seekers' aim
Rafting and driving a tank round the bend
Quite the daredevils they became

Zeppelin, bobsleigh and bamboo raft
Plus driving a Formula Ford
They sailed and quad-biked and often laughed
Even bungy, but never bored

DIY, cars and cycling too
Always busy, he loved to be
Participating in local voodoo
He even learned to ski

Her passions are cooking and photography
And travelling as much as she can
Sociable, smiling and very carefree
She idolises her man

Old age has crept up, with health not so great
But they're only as young as they feel
Troubles are easy when shared with your mate
Which was always part of the deal

To mark this occasion, where should they be?
A favourite haunt for sure
Tanzania of course, for a safari
Such a wonderful place to explore

As they sit here tonight, celebrating their love
Memories plenty to look back on
They thank their stars and heavens above
For the 40 years that have gone

It's 40 years since she gave him her heart
And she loves him more than ever
She said she's be with him “till death us do part”
And even then it's forever

By the time I am finished there is not a dry eye in the house, even the waiter has to wipe away a tear.

large_ACA22F60E53BBAA2FD1414941E5856E9.jpg

As was the case at lunch, a selection of several dishes are brought to our table: stir fried chicken, curried vegetables, lentils, potatoes and rice, preceded by soup and followed by fresh fruit.

large_Wedding_An..ebrations_6.jpg

large_Celebration_Cake.jpg

Malisa also has a surprise up his sleeve: he has arranged for the lodge to make us a cake. The entire staff of the lodge accompany it is brought out, singing traditional Tanzanian songs and keeping the rhythm by banging kitchen utensils. Love it!

large_Wedding_An..ebrations_7.jpg

.

Who would have thought, all those years ago, that this young couple would be here in the African wilderness forty years later, drinking champagne and eating celebration cake.

large_The_Wedding.jpg

Calabash Adventures really are the best, thank you so much for all the arrangements.

large_AD7CE4CDE2B1505AD1736FA3FE3F135B.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:09 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds monkeys rain elephants cake clouds africa safari tanzania celebrations birding lions vultures weaver wildebeest bird_watching bustard ndutu calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area lake_masek_tented_camp dik_dik wedding_anniversary champage mousebird stormy_weather Comments (4)

Ndutu - Day I Part III (Elephants, Vultures and Lion)

What a memory!

semi-overcast 27 °C
View The Howards' 40th Anniversary Tour 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Having left the cheetah versus lion stand-off behind, we continue in our search of wildlife experiences. Our first encounter is a lone elephant with one tusk.

large_Elephant_13.jpg

large_Elephant_12.jpg

Followed by an Egyptian Goose family.

large_Geese__Egyptian_11.jpg

large_A_Memory_of_Elephants.jpg

In the distance, in amongst the trees, we see a couple more elephants and go to investigate. It turns out to be a large memory (the collective noun for elephants) of at least 32 animals, including several youngsters and a randy old bull.

large_Elephants_11.jpg

large_Elephants_16.jpg

large_Elephants_15.jpg

large_Elephants_14.jpg

We follow them as they work their way through the forest, decimating bushes and trees in their wake.

large_Elephants_18.jpg

large_Elephants_23.jpg

large_Elephants_50.jpg

When they are not eating, they try to keep in the shade as much as possible. I don't blame them, that sun is mighty hot!

large_Elephants_19.jpg

The elephants are so huge, yet so amazingly silent; mainly because the soles of their feet have built in shock absorbers so it is like they are walking on sponges.

large_Elephants_30.jpg

large_Elephants_35.jpg

large_Elephants_40.jpg

With this area being very much drier than normal (despite this being the wet season), the elephants stir up a great amount of dust, as they slowly meander amongst the trees.

large_AC0FB040B57899033AEC3B184F004D5B.jpg

large_AC11EEC7DC2330C7D82B132632D7D5C8.jpg

The dust is playing havoc with my already-suffering lungs, and I try to cover my mouth and nose with a bandana so as not to breathe in any more dirt particles than I have to.

large_AC1519D4E4F00625219067AC49BA3EB3.jpg

large_Elephants_70.jpg

This little guy certainly isn't helping!

large_Elephants_67.jpg

large_Elephants_68.jpg

large_Elephants_69.jpg

Having spent a magical 40 minutes just observing these gentle giants as the go about their daily life, we leave them to their clouds of dust and go to “see what else nature has to offer us.”

large_Elephants_42.jpg

large_Elephants_45.jpg

large_Elephants_47.jpg

large_Elephants_48.jpg

large_Elephants_55.jpg

large_Elephants_56.jpg

large_Elephants_58.jpg

large_Lilac_Breasted_Roller.jpg

One of my favourite African birds!

large_Roller__Lilac_Breasted_1.jpg

large_White_Rumped_Helmetshrike.jpg

large_Shrike__Wh..ed_Helmet_1.jpg

large_Vulture_Mayhem.jpg

Feasting on the carcass of a zebra who died of natural causes, a plethora of vultures are accompanied by a few storks.

large_Vultures_a..ead_Zebra_2.jpg

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_1.jpg
Rueppell's Griffon

large_Stork__Marabou_1.jpg
Marabou Stork

large_Vulture__A..te_Backed_1.jpg
African White Backed Vulture

What a racket! They sound like a huge flock of sheep as they squabble over the meat.

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_3.jpg

large_Vulture__A..s_Griffon_2.jpg

Check out the short video clip below to hear the commotion a few birds can make!

.

There is a distinct pecking order, and some of the birds are very aggressive. This guy is beating a newcomer to a pulp.

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_5.jpg

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_6.jpg

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_8.jpg

Meanwhile, other vultures move in on the dining table and take his place, which means he has to fight them off too before he can dine. And so it goes on.

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_11.jpg

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_12.jpg

After a while it turns into massive free-for-all brawl. Like Bristol on a Saturday night.

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_15.jpg

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_14.jpg

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_17.jpg

More and more birds arrive, hoping to get a small piece of the action. Failing that, some food.

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_13.jpg

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_4.jpg

large_Stork__Marabou_2.jpg

You can see who gets to eat.

large_Griffon__Rueppell_s_16A.jpg

large_Little_Bee_Eater.jpg

Further along, a much more peaceful scene, this gorgeous little bee eater just sitting around minding his own business.

large_Bee_Eater__Little.jpg

large_DE30F959B7F43D78740D248B834F462E.jpg

large_Secreatray_Bird_11.jpg

large_A_Lion_s_Dinner.jpg

Warning – the following photographs contain gory images

In the shade of a tree, we find a lioness feasting on a baby wildebeest.

large_Lion_with_..st_Dinner_1.jpg

By the looks of the flies on her dinner, the kill is probably not fresh, so we guess it was an opportunist grab from a cheetah.

large_Lion_with_..t_Dinner_12.jpg

large_Lion_with_..st_Dinner_4.jpg

large_Lion_with_..t_Dinner_14.jpg

large_E1951906B38216FB3A17F24F9840B898.jpg

Fed up with having an audience while she eats, the lioness decides to move her dinner elsewhere.

large_Lion_with_..t_Dinner_19.jpg

large_Lion_with_..t_Dinner_20.jpg

Heading for the long grass, she cleverly hides herself and her dinner.

large_Lion_with_..t_Dinner_23.jpg

large_Lion_with_..t_Dinner_22.jpg

large_Lion_with_..t_Dinner_21.jpg

It is time for us to head back to camp as the light fades and evening draws in. Government rules state that we have to leave the park by sundown, which is around 18:30.

large_Spotted_Flycatcher.jpg

large_Flycatcher__Spotted_1.jpg

large_D_Arnaud_s_Barbet.jpg

large_Barbet__D_Arnaud_s_1.jpg

large_Black_backed_jackal.jpg

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_11.jpg

large_Zebra.jpg

large_E36CAC69B536AAAA7EA35BD9ACF8F8E7.jpg

large_Steenbok.jpg

As is common when the soil is parched like this, as soon as we stop the car, the dust from the wheels seems to catch up with us, hanging heavily in the air.

large_Steenbok_in_the_Dust_1.jpg

Waiting a couple of minutes sees the dust clearing. Normally a very skittish antelope, it is extremely unusual to see one standing still, just looking at us.

large_E55C5B20DF6E9E2C96A3EC76BCFFC123.jpg

As soon as we get back to the camp I jump in the shower, then start to get ready for dinner. I feel totally knocked out by this chest infection with absolutely no energy: all I want to do is sleep. I don't physically have the energy to get dressed, so I make my excuses and send David down to meet Malisa for dinner on his own. I immediately fall into a restless sleep, punctuated by coughing fits and recurring bad dreams. Oh joy.

Yet another wonderful day on safari with Calabash Adventures.

large_E59B22D7BD3D8D80AED1AC8360C22B15.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 16:44 Archived in Tanzania Tagged travel elephants africa safari tanzania lion ngorongoro vultures geese goose lilac_breasted_roller ndutu calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area memory_of_elephants vulture_mayhem Comments (2)

Ndutu - Day I Part I (the Marsh Pride)

Cuteness overload!


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

After a quick coffee, we leave the lodge dead on 06:00 this morning, while it is still dark.

large_BC2CFCD50FADB1135F37678ADFF7F49B.jpg

large_Jackal.jpg

We can barely see the surroundings, but just about manage to make out this black backed jackal in the darkness.

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_1.jpg

large_Tawny_Eagle.jpg

large_Eagle__Tawny_1.jpg

large_BB94376EFE8172441B3F9B5C3EDEA334.jpg

Just as the sun is rising, an elephant walks by. As they do.

large_B7059EC0FA59EBA4AA44CF9768FA964E.jpg

large_BBBB3F10EC85D94618AE68D8F3C11013.jpg

large_BBBF9F9AD202D6248E6B4A43D2FEF6B7.jpg

He gets mighty close to the car.

large_Elephant_4.jpg

large_Elephant_3A.jpg

large_DB41ABCC9588D77C82FF1F6E89CDDB5E.jpg

As soon as we approach, they make a run for it.

large_DB460A51CD6B15CF6CBF119C6D0FDB01.jpg

large_DBA18456A4BC9D747C7E06CD100B55E9.jpg

large_Buzzard__Augus_1.jpg

large_DBF1923AB8F3BFE437E368CE6EC3EE15.jpg

large_DBF55497FC3B6E9CC12903C8285723D9.jpg

Talk about bad hair day!

large_Secretary_Bird_2.jpg

large_Red_Necked_Spurfowl.jpg

large_Spurfowl__Red_Necked_2.jpg

large_Spurfowl__Red_Necked_1.jpg

large_DC5086C4F63F1BC567B55E244C554059.jpg

large_DC5BDAD4A80B7DE5DF868D027D02660D.jpg

large_Lion_cuba_of_Ndutu.jpg

Malisa wants to go down on the Big Marsh to look for the lion cubs who live around that area.

large_Malisa_ith_Binoculars_2.jpg

It doesn't take him long to find them.

large_Lion_Cubs_1.jpg

There were six of them, to two mothers, but sadly one was eaten by a python.

large_Lion_Cubs_2.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_19.jpg

The mischievous little cubs – they are 2½ months old now – spend their time playing, suckling and having fun.

large_Lion_Cubs_5.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_6.jpg

When they start to make their way across the marsh, mum keeps stopping to make sure they are all keeping up.

large_Lion_Cubs_11.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_12.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_16.jpg

Occasionally she stops and looks straight at us, and I wonder what is going through her mind at this time. Irritation? Fear? Curiosity? Breakfast?

large_Lion_Cubs_17.jpg

The cubs find a small dead bush and investigate.

large_Lion_Cubs_23.jpg

Before continuing on their way.

large_Lion_Cubs_26.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_28.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_30.jpg

The group leave the open marsh and head into the wilderness to explore. We follow. That is the beauty of the Ndutu area, it is one of the few places in the Tanzanian parks where safari vehicles are permitted to drive off the marked tracks.

large_Lion_Cubs_33.jpg

Like most kids, the cubs are into everything and explore high and low. This tree proves an irresistible challenge.

large_Lion_Cubs_34.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_36.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_37.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_38.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_41.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_44.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_46.jpg

Soon they're on the move again!

large_Lion_Cubs_49.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_51.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_53.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_55.jpg

Mum doesn't notice that one of her babies is underneath her as she tries to sit down.

large_Lion_Cubs_56.jpg

The cub manages to escape just in time to avoid being squashed.

large_Lion_Cubs_57.jpg

The two females share the parenting of all the cubs, so if one mum is busy or disinterested, the cubs can just go to the other to suckle.

large_Lion_Cubs_58.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_61.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_63.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_59.jpg

Although mum doesn't always seem to be quite so thrilled by the arrangement.

large_Lion_Cubs_64.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_68.jpg

Mum wants to move on, junior wants to eat!

large_Lion_Cubs_69.jpg

In fact, mum wants to eat too, but before she goes out hunting, she has to find a safe place to hide her cubs from predators.

large_Lion_Cubs_72.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_73.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_75.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_79.jpg

Mum heads for a large bush and the babies settle down to feed. Again.

large_Lion_Cubs_81.jpg

Another car arrives, and drives too close to the den for comfort, revving its engine as it does. Mum is not happy.

large_Lion_Cubs_82.jpg

When her darlings have had their fill, she leaves the den in her hunt for breakfast.

large_Lion_Cubs_84.jpg

Her offspring try to follow, but somehow she appears to communicate to them that they should stay put while she goes off hunting.

large_Lion_Cubs_86.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_85.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_87.jpg

As the cubs obediently settle down near the den, I get an overwhelming sense of privilege and gratitude, with a perception of being part of a wildlife documentary. I have to pinch myself to make sure this really is me having this incredible experience, not some kind of parallel universe.

large_Lion_Cubs_88.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_89.jpg

Nothing can beat watching wild animals in their natural habitat!

large_Lion_Cubs_90.jpg

We too leave the cubs behind and follow the females for a while, to see what they get up to.

large_Lion_Cubs_92.jpg

large_Lion_Cubs_93.jpg

When it becomes evident that they are in no hurry to go chasing prey; we decide to have a break and open our breakfast box while we wait for any action.

large_Lion_Cubs_95.jpg

large_Breakfast_Picnic.jpg

Lots of lovely fruit in today's breakfast box, as well as egg, bacon, sausage and yogurt. Plus a cake. We are certainly not going to starve on this trip!

large_Breakfast_Box_1.jpg

What an exciting morning, and it is only 09:15! Be sure to read the next instalment to see more of our experiences in Tanzania with Calabash Adventures.

large_203A5F669BAD79AB613FD2B9C9967E62.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 00:43 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals elephants africa safari tanzania lions lion_cubs ngorongoro ndutu calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area Comments (4)

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)

Serengeti Part II

Finally! The BIG FIVE!


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

large_Mawe_Mupe_Picnic_Site_1.jpg

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

large_Elephants_10-1.jpg

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

large_Mawe_Mupe_Picnic_Site_3.jpg

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

large_Weaver__Sp..ronted_10-1.jpg
Speckled Fronted Weaver

large_Weaver__Ru..ailed_10-14.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

large_Starling__Superb_10-14.jpg
Superb Starling

large_Silverbird_101-4.jpg
Silverbird

large_Sparrow__Grey_Headed_10-1.jpg
Grey Headed Sparrow

large_Weaver__Ru..ailed_10-12.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

large_Shrike__Magpie_10-2.jpg
Magpie Shrike

large_Starling__Superb_10-12.jpg
Superb Starling

White Headed Buffalo Weavers

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

large_Weaver__Wh..uffalo_10-3.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-10.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-11.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-13.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-14.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-15.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-17.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-19.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-21.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-22.jpg

large_Weaver__Wh..ffalo_10-25.jpg

Giraffe

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

large_Giraffe_10-301.jpg

large_Twende.jpg

With full bellies we continue our afternoon game drive.

Leopard

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

large_Leopards_in_a_Tree_10-2.jpg

large_Leopard_10-12.jpg

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

large_Leopard_10-13.jpg

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

large_Leopard_10-33.jpg

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

large_Leopard_10-18.jpg

large_Leopard_10-21.jpg

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

large_Leopard_10-26.jpg

large_Leopard_10-30.jpg

large_Leopard_10-32.jpg

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

large_Leopard_10-36.jpg

large_Leopard_10-37.jpg

large_Leopard_10-38.jpg

large_Leopard_10-40.jpg

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

large_Leopard_10-41.jpg

large_Leopard_10-43.jpg

large_Leopard_10-47.jpg

large_Leopard_10-48.jpg

large_Leopard_10-49.jpg

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

large_The_Big_Five.jpg

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

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

Olive Baboons

large_Baboon__Olive_10-31.jpg

large_Baboon__Olive_10-32.jpg

More Elephants

large_Elephants_10-201.jpg

And a couple of giraffes

large_Giraffe_10-402.jpg

Vultures

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

large_Vulture_Tree_10-101.jpg

large_Vulture_Tree_10-102.jpg

large_Vulture_Tree_10-103.jpg

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

large_Vultures_Circling_10-1.jpg

Hippo

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

large_Hippo_10-1.jpg

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

large_Hippo_10-2.jpg

large_Hippo_10-4.jpg

large_Hippo_10-8.jpg

large_Hippo_10-11.jpg

large_Hippo_10-18.jpg

large_Hippo_10-19.jpg

large_Retima_Hippo_Pool_1.jpg

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

large_Hippos_at_..o_Pool_10-1.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R..o_Pool_10-1.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R..o_Pool_10-3.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R..o_Pool_10-8.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-22.jpg

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

.

large_Hippo_at_R..o_Pool_10-9.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-10.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-13.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-14.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-16.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-19.jpg

large_Hippo_at_R.._Pool_10-20.jpg

Brown Snake Eagle

large_Eagle__Brown_Snake_10-1.jpg

large_Eagle__Brown_Snake_10-2.jpg

large_Eagle__Brown_Snake_10-3.jpg

‘White’ Giraffe

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

large_Giraffe_with_Leucism_10-1.jpg

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

large_Giraffe_with_Leucism_10-2.jpg

large_Giraffe_with_Leucism_10-3.jpg

More Hippos

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

large_Hippos_10-211.jpg

large_Hippos_10-212.jpg

Kimasi Kopje

large_Kimasi_Kopje_10-1.jpg

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

large_Kimasi_Kopje_Sunset_2.jpg

large_Kimasi_Kopje_Sunset_4.jpg

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

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..Sunset_10-1.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..Sunset_10-2.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..Sunset_10-3.jpg

Mbuzi Mawe

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

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..Sunset_10-5.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe..Sunset_10-6.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_at_Sunset_10-1.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_at_Sunset_10-2.jpg

large_Mbuzi_Mawe_at_Sunset_10-3.jpg

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

large_Lizard_on_..urtain_10-1.jpg

large_Dinner_8.jpg

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

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

.

That's magic!

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

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

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

large_AE1EA017E6A1F6EB1B522C0DABE7975F.jpg

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

Ndutu Part II

A very rare sighting indeed!


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

large_The_Adventure_Continues_2.jpg

large_Day_8_of_t..ture_Part_2.jpg

Ndutu Lodge

Food at Ndutu is always a pleasure and today’s lunch is no different. After a starter of soup and bread, we are served a ham salad, the taste of which is nothing short of exquisite!

large_Ham_Salad_8-1.jpg

I am feeling grateful for a relatively small portion at midday, until the accompaniments arrive: potato salad, capsicum salad, and coleslaw.

large_Lunch_at_Ndutu_8-1.jpg

large_8CB1585AED36FE3837A619EB254CB08A.jpg

Ndutu Lodge is one of the few remaining truly independent safari lodges in Tanzania, and also one of the oldest camps around, dating back to the 1960s when it was the domain of the flamboyant and eccentric professional hunter George Dove.

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-2.jpg

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-7.jpg

When he abandoned hunting in 1967, he made a tented camp here at Ndutu. The lodge was taken over and refurbished in 1985, with stone cottages replacing the original tents. The lodge remains an extremely popular place to stay, and rightly so.

large_Ndutu_Lodge_8-11.jpg

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-3.jpg

Renowned wildlife researchers Jane Goodall and Hugo van Lawick used Ndutu as a base for much of their research about wild dogs and the lodge is popular with a lot of well-known wildlife photographers such as Nick Garbutt, Stu Porter and Steve Bloom. And not to forget Grete Howard and Lyn Gowler!

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-4.jpg

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-6.jpg

I love the lodge's motto:
“Don't expect five stars; from our campfire you will see millions.”

large_Our_Room_4.jpg

large_Ndutu_Lodge_8-13.jpg

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-5.jpg

The lodge is also a cracking place for bird watching, with over 400 species recorded in the vicinity; so after lunch Lyn and I head out with our long lenses to see what we can shoot.

large_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge_9-1.jpg

Slate Coloured Boubou

large_Boubou__Sl..oloured_8-1.jpg

Blue Capped Cordon Bleu

large_Cordon_Ble.._Capped_8-5.jpg

Fischer's Lovebirds

large_Lovebirds__Fischer_s_8-23.jpg

Swahili Sparrow

large_Sparrow__Swahili_8-3.jpg

Speckled Mousebird

large_Mousebird__Speckled_8-5.jpg

Laughing Dove

large_Dove__Laughing_8-1.jpg

White Rumped Helmetshrike

large_Helmetshri.._Rumped_8-4.jpg

Common Drongo

large_Drongo__Common_8-1.jpg

Pool Party!

large_Canary__Wh..ax_Bill_8-1.jpg

Variable Sunbird

large_Sunbird__Variable_8-8.jpg

large_Sunbird__Variable_8-1.jpg

White Bellied Canary

large_Canary__White_Bellied_8-6.jpg

Grey Backed Camaroptera

large_Camaropter.._Backed_8-1.jpg

Scarlet Breasted Sunbird

large_Sunbird__S..hested_8-23.jpg

large_Sunbird__S..emale__8-11.jpg

large_Sunbird__S..reasted_8-2.jpg

Lesser Masked Weaver

large_Weaver__Lesser_Masked_8-2.jpg

Speckled Fronted Weaver

large_Weaver__Sp..Fronted_8-1.jpg

Steel Blue Whydah

large_Whydah__Steel_Blue_8-3.jpg

Ndutu Safari Lodge is located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, just outside the border with the Serengeti National Park. Of course, there are no physical barriers separating the two reserves, and the migrating animals aren’t too good at reading maps, so they wander in and out of the parks at will.

Dik Dik

We see these dik diks in the lodge grounds as we leave for this afternoon's game drive.

large_Dik_Dik_8-1.jpg

large_Dik_Dik_8-2.jpg

Lake Ndutu

We head for the lake again this afternoon. Lake Ndutu used to belong to Ngorongoro Conservation Area, but the authorities decided to move the border so that the lake is now inside Serengeti National Park. The reason for doing this is to do with to off-road driving, which is not permitted in the Serengeti but can - and does – take place in the conservation area. The number of cars driving too close to the lakeshore caused erosion damage and was a threat to the environment and the wildlife.

The white post marks the border, and Malisa is very careful to stick to the designated tracks here.

large_Border_bet..al_park_8-1.jpg

Lesser Flamingo

On the lakeshore we find a few Lesser Flamingo – the ones that are darker with more pink colouring, are the younger birds; they get paler as they grow older.

large_Flamingo__..e_Ndutu_8-7.jpg

large_Flamingo__..e_Ndutu_8-8.jpg

large_Flamingo__.._Ndutu_8-10.jpg

large_Flamingo__.._Ndutu_8-11.jpg

Spotted Thick Knee

We also spot a Spotted Thick Knee in the grass.

large_Thick_Knee__Spotted_8-2.jpg

A mini tornado

large_Mini_Tornado_8-1.jpg

And a couple of wildebeest carcasses

large_Wildebeest_Carcass_8-1.jpg

large_Wildebeest_Carcass_8-2.jpg

Lions

Heading towards Lake Masek, we come across the lions we saw last night feeding on the zebra carcass. Today there are only eight, not nine, so one must have gone walkabout.

large_Lion_8-102.jpg

We can still see the dried blood on this guy's face from yesterday's feast!

large_Lion_8-103.jpg

large_Lion_8-120.jpg

Because they ate yesterday, there is no need for them to kill again for another three days.

large_Lion_8-106.jpg

large_Lion_8-107.jpg

Now they are just lazing around, digesting the food.

large_Lion_8-124.jpg

large_Lion_8-117.jpg

large_Lion_8-118.jpg

large_Lion_8-119.jpg

After eating, lions do not produce any solid waste for days: they poop blood!

large_Lion_8-109.jpg

It's always such a relief to be able to 'pass through' a big meal I find.

large_Lion_8-111.jpg

large_Lion_8-113.jpg

A family of Helmeted Guineafowl stroll by. As they do.

large_Guineafowl..hicks__8-11.jpg

There is not much left of yesterday’s zebra today, and the stench is nauseating.

large_Look_Away_..e_Squeamish.jpg

large_Zebra_Carcass_8-6.jpg

The lions have had their fill.

large_Zebra_Carcass_8-1.jpg

The vultures have finished it off, and now all that is left is for the bluebottles to clean it.

large_Zebra_Carcass_8-2.jpg

large_Zebra_Carcass_8-3.jpg

We let sleeping lions be, and move on.

large_Lion_8-125.jpg

large_Lion_8-126.jpg

large_Lion_8-127.jpg

large_Lion_8-128.jpg

Caracal

We’re busy looking up into a tree at a hiding hoopoe, when Malisa gets word on the radio about a caracal being spotted down on the flats between the two lakes. Seeing this elusive cat is very rare, so it is an adrenalin-filled vehicle that rushes off in the direction of the sighting.

We can’t believe our luck when he comes rushing out of the bushes, right next to our car. He certainly isn’t hanging around, and I only manage to get a quick bum-shot as he dashes for cover!

large_Caracal_8-1.jpg

Anticipating that he may – or may not – emerge the other side; we drive around the thicket, occasionally catching a very brief glimpse of his backside as he creeps deeper into the shrubbery.

This is where having a quality guide pays off – Malisa moves with some considerable haste towards a very small clearing, urging us to get our cameras poised, ready for action so that we can shoot on the move if he emerges.

And he does. And we do.

large_Caracal_8-3.jpg

What a wondrous sighting! Knowing that this is only the third time Malisa has ever seen a caracal – it is that rare – we feel extremely honoured to have managed to catch a brief three-second glimpse of one today.

Giraffe

large_Giraffe_8-11.jpg

African Hoopoe

We finally get a picture of the hoopoe that was so rudely interrupted by a caracal earlier.

large_Hoopoe__African_8-2.jpg

Speckled Mousebird

large_Mousebird__Speckled_8-12.jpg

Lake Masek

I don’t know what it is about trees on this trip – in Tarangire I remembered the tree I photographed two years ago, and today I recognised a tree under which we had a picnic in 2011. I really do need to get out more…

large_Lake_Masek_8-1.jpg
Lake Masek 2016

large_Picnic_at_Lake_Masek_2011.jpg
Picnic at Lake Masek 2011

Cape Teal

large_Teal__Cape_8-1.jpg

Common Stilt

large_Stilt__Common_8-2.jpg

Lesser Flamingo

large_Flamingo__..e_Masek_8-2.jpg

large_Flamingo__..e_Masek_8-9.jpg

large_Flamingo__..e_Masek_8-3.jpg

large_Flamingo__..e_Masek_8-5.jpg

Hippo

The hippo only stay down this end of the lake as fresh water from the stream that runs into the lake at this point means the water is not as brackish here.

large_Hippo_8-1.jpg

large_Hippo_8-2.jpg

Augur Buzzard

large_Buzzard__Augur_8-1.jpg

The Golden Hour

large_The_Golden_Hour_8-1.jpg

large_The_Golden_Hour_8-2.jpg

As the sun dips low on the horizon, painting everything in its path a rich golden orange, we encounter an elephant with her young baby – some 1½ years old.

large_Elephants_8-2.jpg

large_Elephants_8-4.jpg

large_Elephants_8-6.jpg

large_Elephants_8-7.jpg

large_Elephants_8-16.jpg

After a while the elephants wander in to the sunset, and so do we, heading for camp.

large_Elephants_8-22.jpg

large_Sunset_in_Ndutu_8-14.jpg

large_Eagle__Cre..t_Ndutu_8-3.jpg

large_Sunset_in_Ndutu_8-16.jpg

large_Eagle__Cre..t_Ndutu_8-2.jpg
Crested Eagle

large_1CA46F45C66589E380ECF4FC57F3E6AD.jpg

After another great dinner at Ndutu Safari Lodge, we join the genets for a quick drink in the bar, marking the end of yet another glorious day in the African Bush.

large_Dinner_Ndutu_Safari_Lodge.jpg

large_Genet__Lesser_Spotted_8-2.jpg

large_Ndutu_Safa..dge_Bar_8-1.jpg

As usual, I would like to thank Calabash Adventures and our ever-wonderful guide Malisa for allowing us to experience all this.

large_1C841B19FADA498CC41E721435400DDF.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 16:23 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds sunset road_trip travel elephants adventure roads cute holiday fun africa safari tanzania lunch birding photography lions giraffe hippo flamingo roadtrip ngorongoro stilts kill good_food bird_watching hoopoe game_drive road-trip ndutu teal safari_vehicle canon_eos_5d_iii calabash calabash_adventures which_safari_company best_safari_company ngorongoro_conservation_area lion_kill thick_knee cape_teal lake_masek caracal ndutu_safari_lodge Comments (0)

Maramboi - Ngorongoro

How can we possibly top that?


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

large_Day_6_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

large_B8F1E3A8E6D039BF4099DA322DF4CC84.jpg

large_Breakfast_at_Maramboi_1.jpg

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

large_Warthogs_at_Maramboi_21.jpg

large_Warthogs_at_Maramboi_23.jpg

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

large_Starling__Superb_6-3.jpg

large_Bulbul__Common_6-3.jpg

...and the sunrise.

large_Sunrise_over_Maramboi_5.jpg

large_Sunrise_over_Maramboi_7.jpg

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

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_1.jpg

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_2.jpg

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

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_3.jpg

large_Maramboi_-..lunch_box_4.jpg

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

large_Maramboi_-..hris__Box_1.jpg

Why have a healthy lunch when you can have cake?

large_Maramboi_-..hris__Box_2.jpg

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

large_Maramboi_-..p_the_car_1.jpg

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

large_Bee_Hive_3.jpg

large_Bee_Hive_1.jpg
The old traditional style

large_Bee_Hive_4.jpg
And the more modern type

Minjungu

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

large_Minjungu_W..ai_Market_1.jpg

large_Minjungu_W..ai_Market_2.jpg

Today we are heading for Ngorongoro.

large_Ngorongoro..Area_sign_1.jpg.

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

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

large_Thomson_s_Gazelles_6-1.jpg
Thomson's Gazelles

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

large_Donkey_6-4.jpg

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

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

large_Donkey_6-3.jpg

large_Donkeys__Albino__6-1.jpg
Albino donkey?

large_Donkey_6-5.jpg
Nice ass!

Maasai Manyatta (village)

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

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

large_Maasai_Manyatta_6-1.jpg

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

large_Bajaji__tuk_tuk__Taxis_2.jpg

large_Bajaji__tuk_tuk__Taxis_1.jpg

large_Bajaji__tuk_tuk__Taxis_5.jpg

Mto Wa Mbu

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

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_4.jpg

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

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_5.jpg

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

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_9.jpg

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

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_10.jpg

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_11.jpg

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

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_9.jpg

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

large_Mto_Wa_Mbu_12.jpg

large_Red_Bananas.jpg

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

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

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-5.jpg
Yellow Billed Storks

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-4.jpg

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-3.jpg

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

large_Pelican__Pink_Backed_6-2.jpg
Pink Backed Pelican

large_Storks__Yellow_Billed_6-2.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork

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

large_Baboons_6-2.jpg

large_Baboons_6-4.jpg

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

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

large_Climbing_u..o_Highlands.jpg

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

large_Looking_ou..e_Manyara_1.jpg

large_Looking_ou..e_Manyara_2.jpg

large_Looking_ou..e_Manyara_3.jpg

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

large_Necklaces.jpg

large_Necklaces_with_Animals_2.jpg

large_Necklaces_with_Animals_3.jpg

large_Necklaces_with_Animals_1.jpg

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

large_Malisa_a_Sandals_5-1.jpg

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

large_Malisa_a_Sandals_5-2.jpg

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

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

large_Sunflowers_6-11.jpg

large_Sunflowers_6-12_Nik.jpg

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

large_Souvenir_Shop.jpg

Karatu

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

large_Karatu_1.jpg

large_Karatu_2.jpg

large_Karatu_3.jpg

large_Karatu_4.jpg

large_Karatu_5.jpg

large_Karatu_6.jpg

large_Karatu_7.jpg

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

large_Karatu_-_P..ycle_Taxi_1.jpg

large_Karatu_-_P..ycle_Taxi_2.jpg

Loduare Gate

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

large_Lodoare_Gate_1.jpg

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

large_Lodoare_Gate_2.jpg

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

large_Lodoare_Ga..on_Centre_2.jpg

large_Lodoare_Gate_-_3D_Map_1.jpg

large_Lodoare_Ga..on_Centre_1.jpg

large_Lodoare_Ga..on_Centre_3.jpg

There is also an even smaller shop.

large_Lodoare_Gate_-_Shop.jpg

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

large_Lodoare_Gate_-_Toilets.jpg

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

large_Lodoare_Gate_8.jpg

large_Lodoare_Gate_6.jpg

large_Lodoare_Gate_5.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro..o_the_Rim_4.jpglarge_Ngorongoro..o_the_Rim_6.jpg

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

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

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_10.jpg

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_12.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_15.jpg

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_16.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro.._the_Rim_17.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro..m_the_Rim_4.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..m_the_Rim_6.jpg

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

.

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

large_DDEDC653ADA48DA1895E79F90170B558.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_14.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_17.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_15.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_12.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_20.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro..ater_Rim_24.jpg

large_Ngorongoro.._Comparison.jpg

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

large_Mist_1.jpg

The Tomb of Michael Grzimek

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

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

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

large_Michael_Grzimek_s_Grave_.jpg

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

large_Malanja_De..n_5_Smaller.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_10.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_13.jpg

large_Malanja_De..ildebeest_1.jpg
Zebra and Wildebeest

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

large_Ngorongoro..th_arrows_1.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_6.jpg

large_Malanja_Depression_15.jpg
Maasai herders taking their livestock to softer grass

large_Malanja_De..ai_cattle_1.jpg

large_Malanja_De..ai_Cattle_7.jpg

Red Duiker

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

large_Duiker__Red_6-1.jpg

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

large_Duiker__Red_6-4.jpg

large_Duiker__Red_6-7.jpg

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

large_Duiker__Red_6-9.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

large_Malanja_Depression_7.jpg

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

large_Malanja_Depression_9.jpg

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

large_Seneto_Descent_Road_2.jpg

The entrance area is full of flowers and plants.

large_Flowers_at..cent_Road_3.jpg

large_Candelabra..cent_Road_1.jpg

large_Flowers_at..cent_Road_2.jpg

And birds.

large_Wagtail__African_Pied_6-1.jpg
African Pied Wagtail

large_Chat__Nort..nteater_6-1.jpg
Northern Anteater Chat

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

large_F33CFE8AB7894849730F11CBB29A5CDB.jpg

And this is our road.

large_Seneto_Descent_Road_3.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_1.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_2.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..ent_Road_21.jpg

The scene is quite surreal, like an impressionist painting.

large_Ngorongoro..ent_Road_22.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_3.jpg

large_Ngorongoro..cent_Road_5.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro_Crater_1.jpg

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

large_Buzzard__Augur_6-1.jpg
Augur Buzzard

Warthogs

large_Warthogs_6-1.jpg

large_Warthogs_6-3.jpg

Wildebeest

large_Wildebeest_6-1.jpg

large_Wildebeest_6-2.jpg

large_Wildebeest_6-4.jpg

large_Lark__Flappet_6-1.jpg
Rufous Lark

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

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

Zebra

large_Zebra_6-5.jpg

large_Zebra_6-4.jpg

large_Zebra_6-10.jpg

large_Zebra_6-12.jpg

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

large_Zebra_6-13.jpg

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

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

Thomson’s Gazelle

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_6-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__Thomson_s_6-2.jpg

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

Grey Crowned Crane

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_6-2.jpg

large_Crane__Grey_Crowned_6-9.jpg

Grant’s Gazelle

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_6-1.jpg

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_6-2.jpg

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

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

large_Zebra_6-17.jpg

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

.

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

large_Ostrich_6-1.jpg
Female ostriches

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

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_3.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_2.jpg

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

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-1.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-4.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-8.jpg

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-9.jpg

large_Elephant_6-2.jpg

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

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

large_Vulture__A.._Backed_6-1.jpg

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

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-10.jpg

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

large_Wildebeest_6-7.jpg

large_Lion_6-1.jpg

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

large_Lion_and_Wildebeest_6-2.jpg

large_Lion_6-2.jpg

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

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

large_Elephants_6-31.jpg

large_Elephants_6-20.jpg

large_Elephants_6-11.jpg

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

large_Elephants_6-12.jpg

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

large_Elephants_6-19.jpg

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

large_Fording_th..ati_River_1.jpg

large_Fording_th..ati_River_2.jpg

large_Woodpecker__Nubian_6-1.jpg
Nubian Woodpecker

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

large_Ngorongoro..th_arrows_2.jpg

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

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

The mystery is solved and I can sleep soundly tonight!

large_Picnic_6.jpg

large_Lerai_Picnic_Site_1.jpg

large_Picnic_Lun..cnic_Site_2.jpg

large_Picnic_Lun..cnic_Site_1.jpg

We have company for our picnic.

large_Starling__Hildebrand_6-2.jpg
Hildebrand Starling

large_Weaver__Rufous_Tailed_6-1.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

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

Black Faced Vervet Monkeys

large_Black_Face..Monkey_6-32.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkey_6-33.jpg

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

large_Black_Face..Monkey_6-34.jpg

Blacksmith Plover

large_Plover__Blacksmith_6-32.jpg

I’ve never seen one sit like this before.

large_Plover__Blacksmith_6-31.jpg

large_Lark__Rufous_6-21.jpg
Rufous Lark

Wattled Starling

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

large_Starling__Wattled_6-22.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-23.jpg

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

large_Starling__Wattled_6-26.jpg

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

large_Starling__Wattled_6-27.jpg

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

large_Starling__Wattled_6-28.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-32.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-30.jpg

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

large_Starling__Wattled_6-35.jpg

large_Starling__Wattled_6-36.jpg

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

large_Starling__Wattled_6-39.jpg

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

large_Starling__Wattled_6-40.jpg

This one’s not for him either.

large_Starling__Wattled_6-41.jpg

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

Sacred Ibis at Gorigor Swamp

large_Ibis__Sacred_6-1.jpg

large_Ibis__Sacred_6-3.jpg

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

large_Rhino_6-1.jpg

More wildebeest.

large_Wildebeest_6-51.jpg

large_Wildebeest_6-53.jpg

Including this suckling baby.

large_Wildebeest_6-52.jpg

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

large_Zebra_6-52.jpg

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

large_4D8ED378F3C7D1945133AF40F8372B16.jpg

The threat appears in the form of a spotted hyena.

large_Hyena__Spotted_6-31.jpg

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

large_Rhino_6-2.jpg

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

large_Lion_6-11.jpg

large_Lion_6-12.jpg

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

large_Lion_6-13.jpg

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

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

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

large_Lions_6-31.jpg

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

large_Lion_6-14.jpg

large_Lion_6-25.jpg

large_Lion_6-19.jpg

large_Lion_6-26.jpg

.

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

large_Lion_6-15.jpg

large_Lion_6-16.jpg

large_Lion_6-21.jpg

large_Lion_6-28.jpg

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

large_Lion_6-56.jpg

large_Lion_6-57.jpg

large_Lion_6-59.jpg

large_Lion_6-60.jpg

large_Lion_6-61.jpg

large_Lion_6-63.jpg

large_Lion_6-64.jpg

large_Lion_6-67.jpg

large_Lion_6-68.jpg

large_Lion_6-51.jpg

large_Lion_6-70.jpg

large_Lion_6-74.jpg

.

.

.

.

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

large_Lion_6-36.jpg

large_Lion_6-86.jpg

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

large_Lion_6-33.jpg

large_Lion_6-34.jpg

large_Lion_6-72.jpg

large_Lion_6-78.jpg

large_Lion_6-37.jpg

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

large_Lion_6-87.jpg

.

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

large_Lion_6-90.jpg

large_Lion_6-82.jpg

large_Lion_6-84.jpg
Time to smell the flowers

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

large_Lion_6-83.jpg

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

large_Lion_6-92.jpg

large_Lion_6-93.jpg

large_Lion_6-91.jpg

large_Lion_6-100.jpg

large_Lion_6-105.jpg

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

large_Lion_6-106.jpg

large_Lion_6-98.jpg

large_Lion_6-107.jpg

large_Lion_6-108.jpg

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

large_Lion_6-103.jpg

large_Lion_6-104.jpg

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

large_Lion_6-101.jpg

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

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

large_Ngorongoro_2014.jpg
Ngorongoro 2014

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

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

large_Lion_6-48.jpg

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

large_Lions_6-203.jpg

large_Lions_6-204.jpg

large_Jackal__Golden_6-1.jpg
Golden Jackal

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

large_Lion__Rasta_6-2.jpg

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

large_Lion__Rasta_6-4.jpg

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

large_Malisa__the_Rasta_Lion_1.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro..Exit_Road_1.jpg

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

Ngorongoro Serena Hotel

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_Hotel.jpg

large_Ngorongoro_Serena_1.jpg

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

large_8857486BB838418A52CCA311CB0285B8.jpg

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

large_885C1CEBA38F71A0CAAC6A3C619EDA94.jpg

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

large_Maasai_Dancing_6.jpg

large_Maasai_Dancing_9.jpg

large_Maasai_Dancing_3.jpg

.

large_8A1E7A9DF285A0C4FC7F94E3C982F746.jpg

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

large_Ngorongoro..estaurant_2.jpg

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

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

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

large_8A50EC48F050D8987AAF11796EE7AEB0.jpg

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

Tarangire National Park

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


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

large_Day_5_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

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

large_Early_Morning_Start_7.jpg

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

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

large_Lions_5-1.jpg

Two lionesses with two cubs!

large_Lions_5-6.jpg

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

large_Lions_5-8.jpg

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

large_Lions_5-10.jpg

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

large_Lions_5-11.jpg

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

large_Lions_5-12.jpg

large_Lions_5-14.jpg

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

large_Sunrise_5-2.jpg

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

large_Lions_5-22.jpg

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

large_Lions_5-28.jpg

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

large_Lions_5-30.jpg

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

large_Impala_5-1.jpg

large_Impala_5-2.jpg
Impala bachelor herd

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

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

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

large_Giraffe_5-3.jpg

large_Giraffe_5-7.jpg

large_Giraffe_5-8.jpglarge_Giraffe_5-12.jpg

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

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

large_Giraffe_5-5.jpg

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

large_Baboons_5-14.jpg

large_Baboons_5-15.jpg

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

large_Baboons_5-18.jpg

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

large_Baboons_5-20.jpg

large_Baboons_5-25.jpg

large_Baboons_5-21.jpg

large_Baboons_5-22.jpg

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

large_Baboons_5-23.jpg

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

large_Baboons_5-24.jpg

A warthog looks on with amusement.

large_Warthog_5-1.jpg

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

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

large_Canary__Ye..Crowned_5-1.jpg
Yellow Crowned Canary

Marula

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

large_Marula_Fruit_3.jpg

Baobab Tree

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

large_Young_Baobab_Tree_5-1.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_National_Park_1.jpg

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

large_Bishop__Red_1.jpg
Red Bishop

large_Rufous_Tailed_Weaver_5-1.jpg
Rufous Tailed Weaver

large_Lovebirds__Fischer_s_5-1.jpg
Fischer's Lovebird

large_Starling__Asha_5-3.jpg
Ashy Starling

Tarangire National Park

large_Tarangire_..l_Park_Logo.jpg

large_Tarangire_..nal_Park_11.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_2014___1.jpg
September 2014

large_Tarangire_..nce_Gate_11.jpg
May 2016

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

large_Tarangire_2014___2.jpg
The queues for the permits in 2014

large_Tarangire_.._the_desk_1.jpg
The queue in 2016

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

Tse Tse Flies

large_Tse_Tse_Flies.jpg

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

large_Tse_Tse_Flag_1.jpg

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

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

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

large_Francolin__Red_Necked_5-1.jpg
Red Necked Francolin

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

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

large_Spurfowl__.._Necked_5-1.jpg
Yellow Necked Spurfowl

Dwarf Mongoose

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_5-4.jpg

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_5-8.jpg

Black Faced Sandgrouse

large_Sandgrouse.._faced_5-10.jpg

large_Sandgrouse..k_faced_5-7.jpg

large_Coucal__Senegal_5-1.jpg
Senegal Coucal

large_Lapwing__Crowned_5-1.jpg
Crowned Lapwing

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

large_Mongoose__Banded_5-1.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_5-2.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_5-3.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_5-4.jpg

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

large_Shrike__Magpie_5-4.jpg
Magpie Shrike

large_Lapwing__Crowned_5-1.jpg
Crowned Lapwing

large_Giraffe_5-22.jpg
Giraffe with passengers

large_Oxpecker__.._Billed_5-3.jpg
Yellow Billed Oxpecker

African Green Pigeon

large_Parrots__A..n_Green_5-4.jpg

large_Parrots__A..n_Green_5-7.jpg

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

large_Hornbill__.._Ground_5-2.jpg

Elephants

large_08D47DD4EF0CC87ECE15DF44DB3BF9A2.jpg

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

large_Elephants_5-1.jpg

large_Elephants_5-2.jpg

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

large_Elephants_5-19.jpg

large_Elephants_5-4.jpg

large_Elephants_5-7.jpg

large_Elephants_5-12.jpg

large_Elephants_5-15.jpg

large_Elephants_5-17.jpg

large_Elephants_5-18.jpg

large_Guineafowl__Helmeted_5-11.jpg
Helmeted Guineafowl

Mr and Mrs Ostrich

large_Ostrich_5-5.jpg

large_Ostrich_5-1.jpg

large_Ostrich_5-3.jpg

large_Cisticola__Rattling_5-1.jpg
Rattling Cisticola

large_Bee_Eaters__Little_5-2.jpg

Little Bee Eaters - one of my favourite birds!

large_Bee_Eaters__Little_5-3.jpg

large_Courser__Two_Banded_5-2.jpg
Two Banded Courser

large_Mongoose__Dwarf_5-9.jpg
Dwarf Mongoose

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

large_Lion_Footprints_5-1.jpg

Matete Picnic Site

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

large_Matete_Picnic_Site_5-1.jpg

large_Matete_Pic..e_River_5-1.jpg

large_Matete_Pic..and_Lyn_5-1.jpg

large_Breakfast_7.jpg

large_Matete_Pic..eakfast_5-1.jpg

large_E92D2068AC43C6FEB0441E4318FFE5E9.jpg
Elephants in Tarangire River

large_Hyrax__Tree_5-3.jpg
Tree Hyrax

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

large_Lilac_Breasted_Roller_5-3.jpg
Lilac Breasted Roller

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

large_Gazelle__Grant_s_5-1.jpg
Grant's Gazelle

Sausage Tree

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

large_Sausage_Tree_5-2.jpg

large_Sausage_Tree_5-1.jpg

More Elephants

large_Elephants_5-23.jpg

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

large_Elephants_5-20.jpg

large_Elephants_5-22.jpg

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

large_Elephants_5-24.jpg

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

large_Elephants_5-27.jpg

large_Elephants_5-29.jpg

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

large_Elephants_.._Collection.jpg

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

large_Elephants_5-33.jpg

large_Elephants_.._Chris__5-1.jpg

large_Elephants_5-36.jpg

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

large_Elephants_5-38.jpg

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

large_Elephants_5-39.jpg

large_Elephants_5-41.jpg

large_Elephants_5-44.jpg

large_Elephants_5-43.jpg

large_Elephants_5-45.jpg

large_Elephants_5-46.jpg

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

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

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

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

large_Elephants_5-51.jpg

large_Elephants_5-52.jpg

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

large_Hammerkop_5-4.jpg
Hammerkop

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

large_Monitor__Savannah_5-1.jpg

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

large_Monitor__Savannah_5-3.jpg

large_Monitor__Savannah_5-4.jpg

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

large_Hornbill__..Ground_5-21.jpg

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

large_Lovebirds__Fischer_s_51.jpg
Fischer's Lovebirds

Black Faced Vervet Monkeys

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-2.jpg

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-3.jpg

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-5.jpg

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

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-7.jpg

Baobab Trees – the Tree of Life

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

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

large_Baobab_Tree_5-51.jpg

The story of how the baobab got his looks

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

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

large_Baobab_Trees_5-2.jpg

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

large_Baobab_Trees_5-6.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

large_Baobab_Trees_5-10.jpg

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

large_Baobab_Trees_5-8.jpg

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

large_Baobab_Fruit_5-1.jpg

large_Baobab_4.jpg

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

large_Baobab_Fruit_benefits.jpg

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

large_Baobab_Tree_5-52.jpg

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

large_Baobab_Trees_5-3.jpg

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

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

large_Baobab_Taberma.jpg

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

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

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

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

large_Baobab_Trees_5-9.jpg

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

large_Rafiki.jpg

Termite mounds

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

large_Termite_Mound_5-1.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_Roads_5-1.jpg

large_Hornbill__Red_Billed_5-1.jpg
Red Billed Hornbill (male)

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

large_Waterbuck__Common_5-22.jpg
Common Waterbuck

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

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

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-8.jpg

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_5-9.jpg

large_Black_Face..Monkey_5-12.jpg

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

large_Black_Face..Monkey_5-14.jpg

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

large_Starling__Ashy_5-11.jpg
Ashy Starling

large_Hornbill__Red_Billed_5-2.jpg
Red Billed Hornbill

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

large_Elephants_5-101.jpg

large_Plover__Three_Banded_5-1.jpg
Three Banded Plover

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

Lunch

large_3DEE753A91C1ED349427DDB01A2792D1.jpg

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

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

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

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_7.jpg

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_5.jpg

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_11.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_12.jpg

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_2.jpg

large_Tarangire_..e_-_smaller.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_River_Lodge_1.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_.._with_mango.jpg
Pancakes with mango

We make friends with some of the local inhabitants.

large_Bat_5-1.jpg
Bat

large_Stick_Insect_1.jpg
Stick Insect

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

large_Tarangire_..ree_1_Orton.jpg

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

large_Flowers_Orton.jpg

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

large_Elephants_5-102.jpg

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

large_Plover__Crowned_5-11.jpg
Crowned Plover

large_Kingfisher..Headed_5-11.jpg
Grey Headed Kingfisher

large_Hoopoe__Green_Wood_5-5.jpg
Green Wood Hoopoe

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

large_Impala_5-54.jpg

And an African Ground Squirrel.

large_Squirrel_5-1.jpg

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

large_Impala_5-60.jpg

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

large_Impala_5-51.jpg

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

large_Impala_5-55.jpg

large_Francolin_..easted_5-11.jpg
Grey Breasted Francolin

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

large_82BB4AF194B8E71210C3ED1596C260BA.jpg
This is thankfully not life sized!

large_Kestrel__Grey_5-2.jpg
Grey Kestrel

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

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

large_Dik_Dik_5-2.jpg

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

large_Dik_Dik_5-3.jpg

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

large_Dik_Dik_5-6.jpg
Lost the will to live?

large_Spurfowl__.._Chicks_5-1.jpg

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

large_Spurfowl__.._Chicks_5-2.jpg

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

large_Spurfowl__.._Chicks_5-3.jpg

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

large_Barbet__Re.._Yellow_5-4.jpg

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

large_Barbet__Re.._Yellow_5-2.jpg

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

large_Barbet__Re..Crested_5-4.jpg

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

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

large_Impala_5-63.jpg
Impala

large_Giraffe_and_Impala_5-21.jpg

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

large_Kingfisher..Headed_5-12.jpg
Grey Headed Kingfisher

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

large_Elephants_5-104_Nik.jpg

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

large_Elephants_5-105.jpg

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

large_Elephant_5-111.jpg

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

large_Elephant_5-112.jpg

large_Elephant_5-113.jpg

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

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

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

large_53E87205B64A326CF68225D3BD816F0E.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_..Billed_5-11.jpg

large_Oxpeckers_.._Billed_5-1.jpg

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

large_7729538DC4493E4A66517002FCC8606D.jpg

large_Tarangire_Sunset_2016___4.jpg

large_Tarangire_Sunset_2016___5.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___15.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___25.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_Sunset_2016___6.jpg

large_Tarangire_Sunset_2016___7.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___23.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___10.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___17.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___24.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___26.jpg

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___28.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_..lo_2016___1.jpg

large_Tarangire_..lo_2016___2.jpg

I do find their stare rather unnerving.

large_Buffalo_5-3.jpg

large_Buffalo_5-2.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_..t_2016___27.jpg

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

large_Tarangire_..14_and_2016.jpg

Same tree, different sunset!

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

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

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

large_Giraffe_5-71.jpg

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

large_Maramboi_Dinner_1.jpg

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

large_Maramboi_Dinner_2.jpg

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

large_7BE2A447D6E852A66EB79A43C0F815C4.jpg

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

Nairobi

Close encounters with giraffes, elephants, birds, flip flops, history and exotic meats

overcast 24 °C
View The Gowler African Adventure - Kenya & Tanzania 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Day_3_of_t..Adventure_2.jpg

As we are enjoying breakfast in the hotel, Tillya (owner of Calabash Adventures) arrives and greets us from behind a huge smile. He has come up from Arusha to personally show us Nairobi today.

large_Tillya_1.jpg

large_Giraffe_Centre_1.jpg

Giraffe Centre

Our first port of call today is the Giraffe Centre, and we arrive nearly half an hour before they open. They kindly let us in early, and we have the place to ourselves apart from one other family.

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_7.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_8.jpg

Betty Melville founded the Centre in 1979 with the main objective being the breeding of the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe whose habitat had been reduced to an 18,000-acre ranch that was slowly being subdivided to resettle squatters. Only 130 animals remained at that time. Betty rescued two of them and founded the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, a Non-Profit making organisation.

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_10.jpg

Following fundraising efforts, 26 breeding giraffes were rescued, rehabilitated and relocated to other parks within Kenya. Since then, the programme has had huge successes, having rescued, hand-reared and released around 500 orphaned giraffes back into the wild since opening.

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_9.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_39.jpg

The Giraffe Centre is now one of the top tourist attractions in Nairobi, where visitors can come to hand feed the giraffes. And that is exactly what we are doing this morning! Tillya recommended that we arrive at the centre first thing in the morning in order to successfully feed the giraffes – apparently the giraffes are often too full to be bothered to come out for the tourists later in the day!

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_2.jpg

Our first close encounter is a pregnant female who is quite happy to be fed but doesn’t like being petted.

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_14.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_27.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_33.jpg

We are encouraged to place specially formulated food pellets in our mouths for the giraffes to grab them with their long tongues, making for some hilarious reactions.

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_15.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_16.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_17.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_18.jpg

No one seems to have told the giraffes that it is not 'proper' to do 'tongues on a first date'.

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_30.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_6.jpg

I am a little concerned that Chris appears to be enjoying the kissing a little too much…

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_23.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_24.jpg

David, on the other hand, isn’t quite so sure.

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_25.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_26.jpg

He soon gets into the swing of it, however.

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_31.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_32.jpg

The ranger assures us that giraffe saliva is antiseptic. That’s OK then…

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_20.jpg

It's all good fun!

.

large_Grete_Giraffe_1.jpg

After a lovely long snogging session, it’s time for some education. In 1983, conservation also became part of the organisation’s agenda when they opened the environmental education centre. The primary objective here is to provide conservation education for school children and the youth of Kenya and they offer all sorts of free programmes to schools and other youth groups. They also give an interesting and numerous presentation to us tourists about all things giraffe, where we are treated to a very hands-on experience.

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_42.jpg

large_The_Giraffe_Centre_43.jpg

Wild warthogs run freely around the grounds and have a symbiotic relationship with the giraffes – apparently they like to hang out underneath their tall friends in order to snack on giraffe droppings. That brings a whole new meaning to the expression 'friends with benefits'.

Warthogs are said to have small brains, a simple mind and a bad memory. As soon as the giraffes start to run, the warthogs follow; but they will soon forget why they are running.

large_Warthogs_a..fe_Centre_2.jpg
They also seem to have a high sex drive...

Nature Trail

large_Giraffe_Ce..ure_Trail_1.jpg

A naturalist guide named Moses takes us on a short nature trail, and explains about the medicinal, poisonous and other plants we see along the way.

large_Moses__our..alist_guide.jpg

large_Giraffe_Ce..ure_Trail_3.jpg

.

.

large_Giraffe_Ce..re_Trail_13.jpg

The bark of this tree produces a milky substance, which – if you get it in your eye – will make you go blind. I like Moses' logic: “If you get the milk into your eye, you have two options – you look for running water. If you cannot find running water, you go blind. If you cannot find running water, you look for a lactating mother; and it’s very hard to spot a breastfeeding mother on safari…”

large_Poisonous_Tree.jpg

The Alaeodendron treats syphilis, diarrhoea and bloody cough, but the leaves are poisonous to cattle.

large_Alaeodendron_2.jpg

The sap from the Acokanthera schimperi tree is collected to produce the poison used on hunting arrows. It can also be used to treat syphilis.

large_Arrow_Poison_Tree_2.jpg

large_Giraffe_Ce..re_Trail_14.jpg

large_Giraffe_Ce..re_Trail_12.jpg

large_Giraffe_Ce..re_Trail_11.jpg

Before we left home, I created a wish list of animals and birds I would like to see on this trip, and one of the items is a chameleon. I'm off to a good start, being able to one tick off on the first day!

large_Jackson_s_Chameleon_1.jpg
Jackson's Chameleon

These termite mounds appear to have been evacuated, probably because an anteater appeared on the scene, and a snake has moved in. Both aardvark and python are on my wish list, but we see neither.

large_Termite_Mound.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphanage_2.jpg

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

We are early for the Elephant Orphanage too, and end up waiting outside for a while.

large_David_Shel..Orphange_21.jpg

Daphne Sheldrick set up David Sheldrick’s Wildlife Trust in memory of her husband after his death in 1977. The trust has played a significant and important role in Kenya's conservation effort, something the Sheldricks had both been heavily involved in prior to the creation of the trust.
Orphaned baby elephants are brought to the centre and are hand raised using Daphne's special baby milk formula - not an easy job. Armed with enormous patience, the staff take on the role of the elephants' mothers, teaching them how to suckle, use their trunks and ears, roll in the dust and bathe.

large_David_Shel..Orphange_65.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_38.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_52.jpg

The baby elephants are fed every three hours and continue to be mothered up until the age of two, when they are able to feed for themselves; at which stage the slow process of reintegration into the wild begins. This could take up to ten years.

large_David_Shel..Orphange_34.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_26.jpg

large_David_Shel..rphanage_17.jpg

For an hour each day, the public are allowed in to the orphanage to see the elephants being brought out to feed.

large_David_Shel..Orphange_49.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_57.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_62.jpg

We stand at the rope waiting for the elephants to arrive, while looking around for other wildlife. A herd of impala wander past, a pin-tailed whydah flitters about and an inquisitive serval causes a bit of a stir.

large_David_Shel..Orphanage_1.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphanage_3.jpg

large_Wydah__Pin_Tailed_2.jpg

One by one the baby elephants start arriving. Slowly at first, then the anticipation of food gets the better of them and the excitement is palpable.

large_David_Shel..Orphanage_5.jpg

large_David_Shel..rphanage_10.jpg

large_David_Shel..rphanage_11.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_28.jpg

The baby elephants are adorable, and watching them drink, play and being generally mischievous is an enchanting experience.

large_David_Shel..Orphange_32.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_31.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_23.jpg

large_David_Shel..rphanage_13.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphanage_6.jpg

Alamaya

Lyn fosters a baby elephant called Alamaya (a Mother's Day gift from her daughter Kelly). Ravaged by hyenas, Alamaya had lost her tail and suffered severe trauma in the attack, and it wasn't until three months after her rescue, when an operation was performed to help cut away scar tissue which was inhibiting her from urinating, that they discovered that Alamaya was in fact a he. So severe was his injuries when he was rescued from the Masai Mara in neighbouring Kenya two years ago that nothing remained to give the vets any evidence of his genitalia or indication of gender.

large_David_Shel..Orphange_22.jpg
Lyn at the entrance to the sanctuary, showing off her adoption certificate

Kelly chose Alamaya in particular, because the lack of a tail would make him easier for us to spot in amongst all the frolicking baby elephants. His name Alamaya is the Maa (local language) word for 'brave'.

You can read all about Alamaya here and even see the video of her/his rescue.

So, here we stand, looking at the backside of every elephant as they appear from the forest. They all have tails. A little disappointed, we resign ourselves to the fact that Alamaya is one of the elephants not making a public appearance today.

large_David_Shel..Orphange_60.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_48.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_35.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_30.jpg

The last elephant saunters in to the arena, and much to our delight, he is tail-less! This is Lyn's transgender immigrant foster child.

large_David_Shel..-_Alamaya_7.jpg

large_David_Shel..-_Alamaya_3.jpg

large_David_Shel..-_Alamaya_9.jpg

large_David_Shel.._Alamaya_21.jpg

Seeing Alamaya now, it is hard to imagine what a tough start in life he had!

We have some amazing close encounters with the elephants as they wander up to the single rope fence that divides us from them. What an experience!

large_David_Shel..Orphange_25.jpg

large_David_Shel..Orphange_58.jpg

large_179C8D39D720F82C2E6780ECA501ECDA.jpg

An African Love Story

If you have an interest in African animals and elephants in particular, I would wholeheartedly recommend reading Daphne Sheldrick's autobiography 'An African Love story: Love, Life and Elephants'. I read the book very recently and absolutely loved it. It is an extraordinary story of unconditional love of animals and enormous dedication to conservation. Well worth a read.

large_Love__Life_and_Elephants.jpg

As we leave the centre, Tillya decides he wants to do his bit and become a foster parent to a baby elephant. Here he is with the certificate for his adopted child. Congratulations on your latest offspring Tillya!

large_Tillya_and..certificate.jpg

large_22CCF77B0482A23D47E1E625F62EA592.jpg

large_Utamaduni_Craft_Centre.jpg

Utamaduni Craft Centre

Utamaduni, which means “culture, tradition and folklore”, consists of a number of individual craft shops, where a portion of the profits supports charities including Street Boys.

large_Utadamuni_Craft_Centre_1.jpg

large_Utadamuni_Craft_Centre_2.jpg

Veranda Restaurant

Our main reason for visiting Utamaduni is to have lunch in its peaceful restaurant on a shaded patio.

large_Utadamuni_..estaurant_3.jpg

large_Utadamuni_..estaurant_2.jpg

large_Utadamuni_..estaurant_1.jpg

I don't want to fill up too much at lunchtime today, as we are going to Carnivore for an early dinner tonight, so I settle for the melted steak and cheese sandwich.

large_Steak_and_Cheese_Melt.jpg

After my disappointment finding a lack of birds in our hotel gardens yesterday, the grounds here at Utamaduni more than makes up for it. I spend the entire lunchtime jumping up and down from my seat trying capture some of the feathered inhabitants that flit around the feeders and bird baths.

large_Red_Billed_Firefinch_6.jpg
Red Billed Firefinch

large_White_Brow..ow_Weaver_9.jpg
White Browed Sparrow Weaver

large_Baglafecht_Weaver_1.jpg
Baglafecht Weaver

large_Olive_Thrush_1.jpg
Olive Thrush

large_Large_Golden_Weaver_2.jpg
Large Golden Weaver

large_Dusky_Turtle_Dove_1.jpg
Dusky Turtle Dove

large_Red_Billed_Firefinch_4.jpg
Red Billed Firefinch

large_Bronze_Mannikin_1.jpg
Bronze Mannikin

large_White_Brow..ow_Weaver_2.jpg
White Browed Sparrow Weaver

large_Reichenow_s_Weaver_2.jpg
Reichenow's Weaver

large_Marula_Studios.jpg

Marula Studios

In most parts of Africa recycling is not a modern environmentally friendly feel-good concept; it has long been a necessity:
over the years we have seen petrol sold in used glass bottles along the side of the road, children's toys created from whatever is available, old car tyres becoming sandals or a toy for the kids, jewellery made from seeds or ring-pulls, cement sacks turned into clothing, sardine tins reappearing as oil lamps... you get the picture.

large_Recycling_1.jpg

The concept of recycling and upcycling has been taken one step further here at Marula Studios. Started by Julie Johnston after seeing the creative toys produced from plastic waste by the children of Lamu Island off the Kenyan coast; stuff which would otherwise have been an environmental hazard to birds, turtles and other marine life.

large_Marula_Studios_1.jpg

From its humble beginnings in 2005, the enterprise now employs over one hundred women to collect discarded flip-flops (and the now more ubiquitous Crocs - Homer, take note!) dumped or washed up on Kenya's beach resorts.

large_Marula_Studios_4.jpg

Truckloads of odd sandals are transported to the workshop here in Nairobi where the flip-flops are washed, sun-dried, sorted into colour schemes and then glued together to form bigger shapes.

large_Marula_Studios_3.jpg

We are given a private tour of the workshops, with each stage explained to us in detail.

large_Marula_Studios_8.jpg
Washing

large_Marula_Studios_10.jpg
Drying

large_Marula_Studios_9.jpg
Sorting

large_Marula_Studios_21.jpg
Gluing

Using ordinary kitchen knives, the resulting blocks are carved into all sorts of shapes such as animals, toys, ornaments, photo frames, coasters, key chains, Christmas decorations, bottle holders and much more.

large_Marula_Studios_15.jpg

large_Marula_Studios_16.jpg

Larger pieces start life with a core of Styrofoam before the flip-flops are affixed.

large_Marula_Studios_14.jpg

large_Marula_Studios_19.jpg

Sanding machines add the finishing touches.

large_Marula_Studios_18.jpg

The end products become stunning works of art and are sold here at Marula Studios and exported all over the world.

large_Marula_Studios_17.jpg

large_Marula_Studios_20.jpg

large_Marula_Studios_23.jpg

To complete the recycling loop, any off-cuts left over from the carving is used for the creation of the soft mats found in children's playgrounds.

large_Marula_Studios_6.jpg

The concept is a simple one, but it benefits the society in many ways:
· Cleaning up the beaches, making them more appealing to locals and tourists
· Preventing birds and marine life from getting sick or dying from ingesting waste
· Creating local employment on the coast as well as in the workshops and studio
· Reducing the amount of waste
· Offering domestic and foreign visitors unique souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home

large_Marula_Studios_29.jpg
These two pieces now happily coexist in their new home in Bristol.

Naturally, exit is through the shop.

large_Marula_Studios_25.jpg

large_Marula_Studios_26.jpg

large_Marula_Studios_28.jpg


Karen Blixen House

large_Karen_Blixen_House.jpg

For those of you old enough to remember the book Out of Africa and subsequent award-winning film starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, the name Karen Blixen will be familiar. The film provides a vivid snapshot of life in the last decades of the British Empire and some breathtaking scenery shots, although not a true version of Karen's memoirs of the 17 years she spent in Africa.

large_Karen_Blix..m_in_Africa.jpg

On a private tour of the house, the guide tells us all about the history of the house, pointing out the original pieces of furniture from Karen's time and the movie; as well as recounting Karen's Blixen's personal life story.

History of the House

Karen and her husband Bror von Blixen bought the house in 1917 as part of a coffee farm venture in Kenya, which was then called British East Africa. Karen called the house 'Bogani' or 'Mbogani' meaning a house in the woods. When their marriage failed after eight years, Karen continued to run the farm on her own until she returned to Denmark in 1931.

large_Karen_Blixen_House_1.jpg

Later the farm was broken into 20 acre parcels for development by its next owner Remy Marin, who is said to have named the subsequent residential Nairobi suburb Karen after the farm's famous resident.

large_Karen_Blixen_House_2.jpg

For a time the house was only sporadically occupied until the Danish government purchased it in 1964 and presented it to the Kenyan government as an independence gift. After the success of the Out of Africa film in 1985, the government opened the house as a museum. Many pieces of furniture that Karen Blixen sold on her departure were acquired for the shooting of the Out of Africa film, and are now part of the exhibition in the Museum. The architecture is typical of late 19th century, which includes the spacious rooms, verandas, tiled roof and stone construction typical of this period.

large_Karen_Blixen_House_3.jpg

The grounds contain old farm equipment, and from the terrace we can see the famed Ngong Hills, as mentioned in the opening scene from the Out of Africa film:

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills...”

.

large_Karen_Blixen_Museum_7.jpg

large_Karen_Blix..ong_Hills_1.jpg

Karen Blixen's life

Born in Denmark in 1885, Karen entered into a marriage of convenience with her half-cousin Bror van Blixen who promised to buy her a dairy farm in Africa. Bror, however, developed their farm as a coffee plantation instead. The farm fared little better than their marriage - which ended in divorce after hard-drinking womanising Bror infected Karen with syphilis (funnily enough, the guide omits the bit about syphilis in her story) - and was plagued by a number of disasters including fire, repeatedly bad harvests and falling market price for coffee.

large_Karen_Blixen_1.jpg
Karen Blixen

After her divorce, Karen fell in love with an English man, Denys Finch Hatton. Tragedies were to follow Karen, however, and after Finch Hatton died in a plane crash in 1930 (he is buried in the Ngong Hills we can see beyond the house), she was forced to return to Denmark where she pursued a career in writing.

large_Denys.png
Denys Finch Hatton

Karen died on her family estate in Denmark in 1962 at the age of 77.

large_CarnivoreLogo.png

We go back to the hotel for a quick shower and change before Peter – Tillya’s driver – takes us to Carnivore Restaurant for dinner, where we again arrive early, nearly half an hour before they open for dinner. This means we have to sit and have a drink in the bar, oh the horror of it!

large_Carnivore_..nna_Cider_2.jpg

large_Carnivore_..t_-_the_Bar.jpg

The well-fed and very expectant cat follows us in to the restaurant when we are seated.

Carnivore Restaurant

The Carnivore opened its doors in 1980 to instant success as a strikingly different dining experience to anything previously seen in Kenya. Voted by UK magazine Restaurant to be among the 50 best restaurants in the world in 2002 and 2003 in recognition of the fact that you could dine here on exotic game meats. When we first came here in 2001 (and later in 2006) we were told that they had their own farm where they bred exotic game for the BBQ, and we were served meat such as zebra, warthog and even giraffe!

large_Carnivore_Restaurant_1.jpg

In recent years, however, strict new laws mean that zebra, hartebeest, kudu and the like are now off the menu, which is quite ironic as I can buy all those and others in a store less than 20 miles from where we live in Bristol, UK (OK, I have never seen giraffe meat in the shop, but certainly all the others). Exotic meats or not, this is NOT the place to visit with a vegetarian – the Carnivore is a meat speciality restaurant whose motto is 'The Ultimate Beast of a Feast'; not dissimilar to a medieval banquet.

large_Carnivore_.._the_Manu_1.jpg
Tonight's menu

Nyama Choma

This certainly is a BBQ with a difference and not for the light eater – hence my choice of a small lunch earlier. The Carnivore is a rather indulgent ‘Nyama Choma’ (barbecued meat) dining venue where we can sample a variety of local meats roasted over a charcoal fire. Dominating the entrance to the dining room is the spectacular fire pit, the likes of which I have never seen anywhere else on our travels. Whole joints of meat – legs of lamb and pork, ostrich, sausages, rumps of beef, spare ribs, chicken wings, kidneys and crocodile steaks are skewered on traditional Maasai spears and roasted over the fire.

large_Carnivore_..the_Grill_3.jpg

We are shown to our table and the movable feast can begin. Knowing from experience what is about to come, I urge the others not to eat the soup for starters but dive straight into the feeding frenzy of grilled meats.

large_Carnivore_..with_Food_1.jpg

When the meat has reached a perfect temperature, an army of carvers carry the full skewers from table to table, carving slices of meat on to our sizzling cast iron plates for as long as we want and as much as we can handle.

large_Carnivore_.._the_Flag_1.jpg

As long as the little white flag on the table is still flying the meats continue to arrive.

As I said earlier, most of the meat these days is of the more mainstream type, but that does not mean there is a lack of variety:

Roast beef
Roast leg of lamb
Roast chicken
Pork sausages
Crocodile
Ostrich
Turkey
Beef sausages
Honey glazed pork ribs
Chicken wings
Lamb chops
Beef ribs
Chicken legs

large_Carnivore_.._the_Food_1.jpg

Some of the ‘speciality meats' are brought out in little taster-sized morsel on a tray.

large_Carnivore_..with_Food_3.jpg

There are chicken livers, spicy lamb sausages, rabbit and bulls’ testicles.

large_Carnivore_..__Testicles.jpg

Yes, you read that right: bull’s testicles. That’s what the small half-an-egg-shaped item is at the front of the plate. Not a strong taste, but it has a somewhat odd texture. Not unpleasant, but not something I would be in a rush to order again. At least I have the balls to try it!

The food is piled on our plates until our stomachs are over-full and the lurking (ever-expanding) cat has devoured any 'accidentally' dropped leftovers. Something tells me we won’t be sleeping well tonight – such an enormous amount of meat on top of this morning’s Larium*** tablets doesn't bode well!

  • ***Larium is a malaria prophylaxis known for its rather unpleasant side effect of psychotic nightmares.

large_Carnivore_..with_Food_2.jpg

When we reach the point in this gastronomic overload that even just one more mouthful will send us over the top – we declare defeat and lower the white flag in capitulation.

.

large_Carnivore_..Capitulated.jpg

Yes, it is fairly pricey; and yes, it is most certainly touristy, with the zebra-aproned waiters’ theatrical ‘performances’ giving it an almost Disneyesque feel; but Carnivore has been an icon amongst tourists, ex-pats and wealthier locals for the last 25 years for a reason. Love it or hate it, I do think visitors to Nairobi should experience this circus-like dining adventure at least once.

Peter takes us back to our hotel for an early night as we have an early start tomorrow.

Thank you Tillya and Calabash Adventures for a great first day in Africa!

large_49C73E9F9B830D4886B5C0DAB9F7343B.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 08:50 Archived in Kenya Tagged animals birds travel vacation elephants adventure holiday fun africa safari lunch bbq photography kenya giraffe flip_flops charity barbecue crafts kissing nairobi braai recycling bird_watching canon_eos_5d_iii calabash_adventures the_best_safari_operators karen_blixen giraffe_centre snogging tongues which_safari_company best_safari_company nature_trail utadamuni marula_studios out_of_africa isak_dinesen carnivore carnivore_restaurant nyama_choma Comments (1)

Maralal - Naivasha - Nairobi - Brussels - London - Bristol

A long journey and a long day

overcast 23 °C
View The Journey to the Jade Sea - Northern Kenya 2015 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Day eight of our Journey to the Jade Sea with Undiscovered Destinations.

What a difference a cool room makes! I slept like a log last night! Yet again I have the alarm set early, this time so that I can catch the animals coming to the waterhole at dawn.

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_309.jpg

I don't have long to wait. Even before the sun is up they slowly and silently appear out of the bush, kicking up the dust as they go. Initially one by one, including little ones; then a large dazzle (yes, that is what a group of zebras are called) arrives, sauntering out of the woods as if they don't have a care in the world.

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_301.jpg

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_303.jpg

The early morning mist, the parading zebra, the dust swirling around their hooves: it's a magical scene. I feel very honoured to be part of this – what a fabulous way to spend my last morning in Kenya.

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_304.jpg

The zebra take their time filling their bellies with the cool water, keeping a constant eye out for predators.

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_313.jpg

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_316.jpg

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_338.jpg

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_340.jpg

Occasionally something spooks them.

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_318.jpg

Then the sun comes out and bathes the scene in a golden glow, transforming it from being magical to a truly extraordinary enchanted world! This change in light, however, signals the time for the zebra to once again return to the bush.

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_322.jpg

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_324.jpg

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_325.jpg

large_Gr_vy_s_Zebra_326.jpg

The sun also brings out a couple of vervet monkeys, a skittish jackal, a few impala and some guinea fowl.

large_Black_Face.._Monkey_304.jpg

large_Impala_301.jpg

large_Helmeted_Guineafowl_2.jpg

Leaving Maralal Lodge, we are lucky enough to encounter more animals on our way through the sanctuary – eland, impala and some more zebra.

large_0B954461B059EA4449120DB3242D160E.jpg

large_Impala_302.jpg

large_Eland_3.jpg

At Maralal Town we hit tarmac again for the first time in six days! Luxury!

large_Tarmac_Road_at_Maralal_1.jpg

The excitement is short-lived, however, a mere 200 metres or so before we are back on the usual gravel track.

large_Maralal_to_Naivasha_1.jpg

After a while once again return to relative 'civilisation', as we pass several private ranches, run by white settlers who cater to the luxury market. Behind barbed wire fences we spot gazelles, giraffes, buffalo and zebra. This is the canned safari experience for rich westerners.

large_Disneyland.jpg

The baboons, though, are no snobs and come and go as they please.

large_Olive_Baboons_21.jpg

Having forgotten to take our malaria tablets this morning, we swallow them with some water mid-morning in the car; an action I soon come to regret when my stomach starts bubbling. Ugh!

For some reason, today's journey does not seem so exciting as all the previous ones. It must be my mindset – I am expecting it to be boring and merely a way of getting back to the airport for our flight home. Our itinerary has nothing in it for today. Snap out of it girl!

large_Attitude.jpg

The shadows created by wandering sheep on the road amuses me for a while. I know, I know: little things for little minds and all that. Just humour me will ya?

large_Maralal_to_Naivasha_2.jpg
large_Shadows_of_Sheep_1.jpg

Suddenly something catches my eye. A motorcyclist has stopped in the road, gesticulating frantically towards the crops in the nearby field. Then I see the reason for his agitation: a large herd of 20+ wild elephants grazing happily by the side of the road.

large_Elephants_301.jpg

large_Elephants_305.jpg

He looks so cute and innocent doesn't he? You wouldn't believe the sort of destruction he and his family can, and do, cause.

large_Elephants_315.jpg

Often elephants and people overlap in their use of habitats and thus come into conflicts, with negative consequences for both parties. Elephants, in their search for pastures and water, engage in extensive seasonal migrations often including moving through farmland causing large-scale damage. In this area where most people rely on subsistence farming, an elephant wiping out fences and crops is likely to have have devastating effects on the families and their livelihood.

large_Elephants_318.jpg

The elephants are agitated and the motorcyclist is nervous. A Samburu herder is looking on from a safe distance on top of a nearby hill.

large_Elephants_304.jpg

large_Elephants_309.jpg

We daren't stop. Driving on slowly, we deliberately rev the engine loudly and sound the horn, in the hope that the elephants will move on.

large_Elephants_306.jpg

Eventually the animals - at least thoseh nearest the road - retreat to a safer distance and we can cautiously pass, with the vulnerable motorcyclist using our vehicle as a shield between himself and the massive beasts.

large_Elephants_316.jpg

large_Elephants_317.jpg

large_Motorcycli..elephants_2.jpg

After three hours' driving this morning we reach Rumuruti and a proper sealed road. For good this time, all the way to Nairobi. Welcome back to civilisation.

large_Tarmac_Road_at_Rumuruti_2.jpg

One of the first things we see is a prison, with the inmates milling around outside doing hard labour – or at least some gardening. We pass by way too quickly for me to even snap one of my 'famous' covert pictures from inside the car, but the scene is like something out of a cartoon, with the prisoners all wearing striped 'pyjamas' and matching hats - a bit like this:

large_Prison_Poster.jpg

From Rumuruti the road climbs the escarpment to a height of 2000m. This is where the police come to do their high altitude training and we see many police trucks and uniformed officers.

Continuing on to Nyahururu, we find it to be a 'proper' town, with shops, petrol station, banks and a traffic jam! Welcome back to civilisation.

All along the side of the road as we leave the town are stalls selling vegetables, and John fills a huge sack with a variety of greens ready to send to his family who live near Lake Victoria.

large_John_buyin..is_family_1.jpg

For lunch we stop at a service station near Naivasha, and not before time: my bubbling stomach has turned into a volcano and I rush off the find the 'facilities'. Much to my delight, there are western sit-down toilets in cubicles with locking doors, a seat on the toilet bowl, a sink with running water and even soap and toilet paper! Pure luxury! Welcome back to civilisation.

John recommends the Indian fast food restaurant in the complex, which suits us fine.

large_Indian_Combo.jpg
Chicken and chips, chicken jalfrezi, vegetable biriyani, vegetable thali

Much to David's delight - no, make that absolute ecstasy - they even sell South African cider! Welcome back to civilisation!

large_Savanna_Cider_1.jpg

We see a number of white people here, the first we've seen since leaving Samburu six days ago. Most of them are white settlers, not tourists, as this is a favourite hang-out for ex-pats. Welcome back to civilisation.

John, knowing that we are interested in bird watching, asks if we would like to take a boat trip on Lake Naivasha and visit Crescent Island. It sure beats spending that time hanging about in the airport, so we gladly accept.

Lake Naivasha

At the docks we wrangle with the boat operators to let Abdi come with us out on the lake. They insist only authorised guides are allowed to accompany tourists in the boats.
“He is not a guide, he is a tourist” I stand firm.
“But he has a Kenyan ID” they argue.
“He is a Kenyan tourist from North Horr” I protest, truthfully: Abdi's 'guiding' duties finished in Loiyangalani, but he decided to come with us to Nairobi anyway, and visit a friend there.

Eventually they relent. It is Abdi's first visit to Lake Naivasha and he is very nervous about the boat as he can't swim. As a strong swimmer myself, I promise to save him if he falls in. With that, we all go out to look for birds.

large_Lake_Naivasha_1.jpg

large_Lake_Naivasha_4.jpg

And birds we see! This is a true bird watcher's paradise - Naivasha is known as a world class birding destination with over 400 species of birds recorded.

Following years of drought and sinking water levels, in 2011 WWF got involved to help the fragile ecosystem around the lake recover and all the people it supports in terms of agriculture and fishing amongst other things. It seems they have been very successful, as the water level is now the highest it's been for a number of years, with evidence of many semi-submerged trees along the shore.

large_Lake_Naivasha_2.jpg

Before we even leave the shoreline, I spot a number of birds.

large_Great_White_Egret_3.jpg
Great White Egret

large_Grey_Heron_21.jpg
Grey Heron

large_Hadada_Ibi..cred_Ibis_1.jpg
Hadada Ibis and Glossy Ibis

large_Black_Kite..rasisus__22.jpg
African Black Kite - beautifully camouflaged

large_Giant_Kingfisher_3.jpg
The Giant Kingfisher is of great excitement to us both!

large_Marabou_Stork_22.jpg
The very ugly Marabou Stork

large_Pink_Backed_Pelican_32.jpg
Pink Backed Pelican

As we make our way out onto the lake, we scatter huge flocks of Red Knobbed Coots – I have never seen so many coots in one place before.

large_Lake_Naivasha_3.jpg

large_Red_Knobbed_Coots_4.jpg

large_Red_Knobbed_Coots_3.jpg

There is even an albino coot in amongst all his black mates.

large_Red_Knobbe..__Albino__1.jpg

The submerged trees are home to a huge number of cormorants too.

large_Great_Cormorant_30.jpg

large_Great_Cormorant_24.jpg

large_Great_Cormorant_28.jpg

large_Great_Cormorant_26.jpg

They are mostly the Great Cormorant, but we also see a few Long Tailed Cormorants.

large_Long_Tailed_Cormorant_32.jpg

The high water level means large areas of flooded ground, rich with fish and shallow enough for wading. The fish community in the lake has been highly variable over the years, influenced by changes in climate, fishing effort and the introduction of invasive species. These days the carp, introduced to the lake in 2001, is by far the most common species caught. Fishing provides jobs and income as well as being an important source of protein for local communities.

large_Fishermen_.._Naivasha_1.jpg

large_Fishermen_.._Naivasha_4.jpg

large_Fishermen_.._Naivasha_8.jpg

I love these guys wearing tops made from cement bags!

large_Fishermen_.._Naivasha_9.jpg

Anyway, back to a few more bird pictures:

large_Cattle_Egret_35.jpg
Cattle Egret

large_Yellow_Billed_Stork_33.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork

large_Little_Egret_32.jpg
Little Egret

Lake Naivasha is also home to a sizeable population of hippos, with some 1,000 of them estimated to live in the lake.

large_Hippo_13.jpg

large_Hippo_14.jpg

Although hippos may look cute and friendly, they are one animal you definitely do not want to cross: hippos are responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal.

large_6FF2802BD385CB79AEEE28E1C3573E0F.jpg

large_Hippo_7.jpg

Although not bloodthirsty like big cat predators, hippos are easily frightened and can be extremely aggressive, especially males defending their territories as well as females protecting their babies.

large_Hippo_8.jpg

large_Hippo_9.jpg

Hippos can run at speeds of over 20 miles an hour and are built like tanks – you certainly wouldn't want to get in the way of one of these! Most deaths by hippo are caused by being trampled to death, although they also sometimes overturn boats, drowning their victims.

large_Hippo_21.jpg

large_Hippo_18.jpg

Hippos consume over 100 pounds of vegetation per day.

large_Hippo_11.jpg

They seem to coexist with the fishermen when in water, and once they are on land, most of the lake is fenced in, so hippo deaths in and around Lake Naivasha are rare apparently.

large_Hippo_17.jpg

I think it's amazing how people just go about their daily life as if these were just sheep grazing, not Africa's greatest killers!

large_Hippo_15_Person.jpg

We cruise out to Crescent Island, which is a private game park and is said to have the country's highest concentration of animals per acre, with wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, gazelle, impala and waterbuck.

large_Waterbuck_21.jpg

By now my stomach is like a cauldron, and I dare not risk leaving the boat at the island, so I let David and Abdi go off with the local guide, also called David, while I do some more bird watching.

large_African_Spoonbill_2.jpg
African Spoonbill

large_Squacco_Heron_3.jpg
Squacco Heron

large_Great_White_Pelican_21.jpg
Great White Pelican

large_Little_Grebe_1.jpg
Little Grebe

large_Red_Billed_Teal_1.jpg
Red Billed Teal

large_Spur_Winged_Lapwing_33.jpg
Spur Winged Lapwing

large_Pied_Kingfisher_5.jpg
Pied Kingfisher

large_African_Jacana_2.jpg
African Jacana

large_Black_Winged_Stilt_2.jpg
Black Winged Stilt

We pick up the boys from the island and Abdi comes back quite excited about his short walking safari. David is a little more nonchalant: “There was nothing much there that we haven't seen elsewhere” he reflects.

large_Crescent_Island_5.jpg

large_Crescent_Island_4.jpg

Anyway, this is what I missed:

.

Before we return to the jetty, we spend some time watching fish eagles doing what fish eagles do best: fishing.

large_African_Fish_eagle_26.jpg

large_African_Fish_Eagle_3.jpg

large_African_Fish_Eagle_9.jpg

large_African_Fish_Eagle_16.jpg

large_African_Fish_Eagle_21.jpg

large_African_Fish_Eagle_12.jpg

large_African_Fish_Eagle_25.jpg

large_African_Fish_Eagle_14.jpg

large_African_Fish_Eagle_6.jpg

large_African_Fish_Eagle_7.jpg

This sees the end of our sightseeing program in Kenya – for this time. Now all that remains is the final stages of our long journey home.

First we have to climb up the Mau Escarpment to make our way to Nairobi. Due to resurfacing roadworks, it's a long, slow slog, but the views over the Great Rift valley are not bad, despite the mist.

large_753F83EFB8D143FB13BD07B15C2AD59B.jpg

large_75426BB593CEF528CE7B9354A1C4EC64.jpg

large_Great_Rift_Valley_36.jpg

At the best viewpoints the ubiquitous souvenir stalls have sprung up, selling sheepskin hats of all things.

large_Fur_Hats_1.jpg

On the outskirts of Nairobi we pass the infamous Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, and the largest urban slum in Africa, with an estimated population of over one million people.

large_Kibera_Slums_4.jpg

This is the depressing info on Kibera according to Wikipedia:
Most of Kibera slum residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.00 per day. Unemployment rates are high. Persons living with HIV in the slum are many, as are AIDS cases. Cases of assault and rape are common. There are few schools, and most people cannot afford an education for their children. Clean water is scarce and therefore diseases caused by related poor hygiene are prevalent. A great majority of people living in the slum lack access to medical care.

large_Kibera_Slums_5.jpg

Check out more facts about Kibera here.

By now I am getting quite desperate for a toilet again, and am not happy to see another traffic jam! I am, however, very impressed with the local agent that Undiscovered Destinations have used on this trip. The Africa Journeys' manager, Wycliffe, who picked us up at the airport (which seems like weeks ago but it has only in fact been eight days) joins us for the last few miles before the airport to ensure we are happy with the trip and answer any queries or complaints. I am delighted to assure him that we cannot fault any aspect of the trip whatsoever! The journey, the sights, the people, the safari, the food, the accommodation... it has all exceeded our expectations. We'll be back!

large_You_can_Le.._Leaves_You.jpg

The flight is full, including a huge crowd of Somalian refugees on their way to a new home in the US, sponsored by IOM. Many are understandably frightened, and they are very subdued as we all gather in the gate lounge.

Still suffering with an upset tummy, I am feeling decidedly ill by this time, so much so that I am contemplating requesting a wheelchair to board the plane. Somehow I manage to make it to my aircraft seat before I throw up. David rings the bell for assistance from the crew, and gets a very curt reply when he asks for a glass of water: “You can get it yourself from the back”. Noticing that I have my eyes closed and am leaning back in the chair, she continues acerbically: “but I see you are somewhat stuck, so I will get it for you. This time” When she returns with the water, I am in the midst of emptying the contents of my stomach into the sick bag. Her attitude completely changes: “Oh dear.... are you OK? If you need anything else just press the button a couple of times, that way we'll know it's urgent”. I am just about to answer: "How about you learn the meaning of customer service instead" but (probably fortunately) I started heaving again at that very moment.

Having endured three screaming kids on the way out, we are rather concerned to see at least a dozen young children among the refugees, but not a sound is heard from them all through the eight hour night flight. I wish the same could be said for the American group. They really hit the pinnacle of stereotypicalness (a new word to add to 'Grete's Dictionary') when one girl exclaims as we are exiting the plane in Brussels: “Do they speak Spanish here?”

By the time we open our front door, it has been 34 hours since we left Maralal Lodge. It's been a loooong day!

large_It_s_ben_a.._travelling.jpg

Purely for medicinal reasons: to settle my upset tummy (believe that and you believe anything), I pour myself a Captain and Coke.

large_Reasons_wh..rink_No_250.jpg

Cheers and welcome home

large_BEDGASM.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 09:32 Archived in Kenya Tagged landscapes lakes animals boats travel elephants holiday kenya hippo roadtrip equator lake_naivasha naivasha bird_watching undiscovered_destinations great_rift_valley Comments (0)

(Entries 13 - 24 of 25) Previous « Page 1 [2] 3 » Next