Tanzania Safari Report – Day 3 / Tarangire

We did another marathon all day game drive today. It was fun but tiring. And a little disappointing because we didn’t see any lions or leopards. It appears to us that there’s little communication between the various drivers, so that finding shy creatures like lions or leopards is more luck than anything else. If we ran the place, things would be different. Because we clearly know better. Of course.

On with the photos. Jackals are small scavengers. They’re quite skittish, so getting pictures of them is challenging. This guy paused for a minute on a road besides some elephant dung before loping off.

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Impala are a common type of antelope found throughout Africa. The coloring on their backside and tails forms the letter M, as you can see with some of the antelope in the background of this photo. The common, if exceptionally poor, joke is that the M stands for McDonalds, as these guys feed many other animals. That’s safari humor for you. Try the fish and please remember to tip your waitstaff.

Apparently like many species of mammals in Africa, and the star of one really bad reality show in America, Impala males have harems. That leads to a bunch of single male Impala having to hang out with each other. It’s like working at a software company. Here are a bunch of bachelors.

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And finally, here’s today’s obligatory Elephant photo. Tomorrow is a travel day.

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Tanzania Safari Report – Day 2 / Tarangire

We were woken up around 5am today by what we thought were elephant calls from two elephants. One was calling from one side of the camp, the other was calling from the other. Turns out that two lions were hunting in our camp, and those were roars. Everyone was still here when we finally did get up, so I guess the hunt was not successful. The camp is a series of tent bungalows that overlook a large grassy plain. As I type this, there are groups of zebras, impalas, waterbuck, vervet monkeys, and a couple elephants wandering around, all within maybe 1000 feet of me. And maybe the two lions from this morning.

I had an important learning today. I noticed a couple of related things. First, there are a lot of tsetse flies around. These aren’t your garden variety houseflies. No sir. These not-so-little winged devils bite! The second thing I noticed were all these black and blue flags hanging from trees. Here’s an example of one (the normally black stripes are more of a grey here).

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It turns out that tsetse flies are attracted to the colors blue and black. These flags are coated with insecticide and serve to reduce the population of the winged monsters.

Now, learning is power and all that, but it’s only powerful if it happens at the right time. The right time for this particular learning for me would have been a week ago, while I was packing for this trip. For, you see, the vast majority of my clothes are either blue or black. I’m a walking tsetse fly attractor! Now I understand why people dress in khaki while on safari (we thought everyone was just posing as Master Safari Expeditioneers(TM)).

We did one long game drive today. We left around 9am and returned around 3pm. This is different from what we were used to in South Africa and Botswana. There, we’d do two game drives, one in the morning from about 6:30am to 10:30am and one in the afternoon from about 4pm to 7pm. Our camp in Tarangire is currently surrounded by high grass, and it takes about an hour of driving to get to the areas where we can see game. So it makes sense to do one longer drive instead of two shorter drives.

There are a lot of monkeys around here, but it can be difficult to photograph them. They tend to scurry around. Here’s a Vervet that I managed to catch in the process of climbing a tree.

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Cape Buffalo are another animal found in large quantities in Tarangire. We came across a herd of them in the morning mist.

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And of course a post about Tarangire wouldn’t be complete without an elephant photo.

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Tanzania Safari Report – Day 1 / Tarangire

I started a tradition several years ago, when I started to travel more frequently. I would email a ‘Pic of the day’ to my family while traveling, along with a brief explanation of the photo and what I was doing. At first, the pictures were from my Treo 600 and the explanations were brief. But over the years, I upgraded my camera as well as my prose (well, I hope). These safari reports are adapted from those emails.

After spending a sleepless night in Nairobi after our delayed flight from Amsterdam, we had an early morning flight to Mt Kilimanjaro / Arusha airport. After landing, I was detained in customs. Tanzania has a requirement for a yellow fever vaccine if you’re coming from a specific list of countries. I don’t have the vaccine, but I also wasn’t coming from any of those countries. Except that, I was, because Kenya is on the list, and we had overnighted there because of our previous bad travel karma. It was looking like I was going to have to pay a fine and get vaccinated at the airport, neither of which I wished to do. After explaining our tale of travel woe, and with the help of some vocal Englishmen who were suffering the same fate, the customs agents relented and we were eventually on our way.

Anyways, we connected with our driver and, after 6 hours of driving made it to our first stop, a camp deep in the Tarangire National Park. It took 3 hours of driving to get to the entrance of the park, and then another 3 hours within the park to get to our camp. During that time we did some game driving, so it wasn’t just a straight shot through the park.

Tarangire is known for its zebra and elephant populations, and we immediately saw some of each. Here’s one guy playing king of the hill. He should have bigger ambitions.

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Elephants will coat themselves in mud to keep cool during the warm afternoons. You can see the remnants of a mud bathe on this guy.

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We also saw a couple warthogs right after entering the park. These guys, unlike most of the warthogs we saw in Tanzania, were not very skittish, so we were able to get fairly close.

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Finally, we saw some Waterbuck, which were voted by Suzanne as the cutest animal in the park.

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Baby Elephant Walk

What you don’t see in this picture is the circus tent to the right that they’re walking into. That, and the clowns, whom I had to Photoshop out. I hate clowns. Taken in Sabi Sands, South Africa.

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Elephant Eye

Taken in Sabi Sands, South Africa. Who knew they had crazy long eye lashes?

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