Tanzania Safari Report – Day 4 / Tarangire And Lake Maryana

Today was another long day. It took about 3 hours to exit the Tarangire game preserve. On the way out, however, we happened upon two adult lions (one male, one female) with their 3 cubs. So that was good. Plus some friendly warthogs, which was a nice touch. Unfortunately the lions were not close to a road, so I was unable to get any decent photos. You’ll just have to trust me. Did I mention that one of the lions had a zebra riding on it’s back? And that the zebra had a monkey on it’s back? Like I said, you’ll just have to trust me.

Then it was an hour drive to Lake Maryana, a small game preserve/lake smack up against the Rift Valley wall. It’s known for a massive stork population. We also saw three different species of monkeys and some hippos.

From there, we drove up the Rift Valley wall and on to our current destination, a coffee plantation a few minutes drive from the Crater at Ngorongoro.

Did you know that in the original story, the three pigs end up eating the wolf?

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Blue Monkeys in Lake Maryana National Park.

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Lake Maryana is known to have one of the largest stork populations in Africa. So of course I was not able to get any decent pictures of them. Again, you’ll just have to trust me; there were a lot of storks there.

Next week I’ll be back with pictures from the Crater at Ngorongoro and from the Serengeti.

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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Baobab Tree

We just returned from safari and are slowly adjusting to life back home. Whereas last year we visited South Africa and Botswana, this time we visited Tanzania, specifically Tarangire National Park, Lake Maryana, the Ngorongoro Crater, and finally the Serengeti. I’ll be posting pictures from our trip over the next several weeks, after we’ve gotten back into living in the correct timezone. But for now, here’s a picture of a Baobab Tree from Tarangire, and way more information than you wanted to know about it.

The Baobab tree is not actually a tree, but a succulent, meaning it has more in common with a cactus than a redwood. They can live over 1000 years, and it’s impossible to date them. There are no rings to count and carbon dating is inexact at best because the ‘tree’ is somewhat fibrous and regrows itself over time. Because of the way they grow, they end up hollow, making a nice space for people or critters to live. Elephants will often strip the bark off the tree, either through random damage or for eating, and that appears to have happened with this tree.

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