Tanzania’s national animal is the giraffe, and they are EVERYWHERE, which suits me fine since they are one of my very favorites. I’ve seen them in zoos, but nothing compares to giraffes in the wild. The Maasai giraffe is the national symbol of Tanzania and it is much darker than the other subspecies. The pattern is also a bit different, almost more geometrical than spotted. They are the epitome of gracefulness, and they seem gracious about allowing one close to take photos. Ah. So beautiful! Randy is taking a lot of photos of them. He has to admit they are incredibly elegant, and he also likes the gasp I make whenever I see one. I try not to do it, but whenever one comes or I sight one, it is “ahhh”.
Lake Manyara has its share of elephants! They, too, are everywhere. Some of them have incredibly huge tusks. Unlike the Indian elephant, the African elephants, male and female, have tusks. We’ve seen tons of elephants! Very close!
Bird life is spectacular…it is the time of year for Yellow Stork breeding, so they are all over the place, making a lot of noise. HUGE bird.
We met a nice couple at our lodge which was lovely, it is fun to share experiences with one another. Sadly, the second morning I came down with some sort of sore throat and fever, so I took off an afternoon of game driving. I hate doing that! It is like scuba diving, I just hate to miss it, you never know what you might see! And Randy saw, and took photos, of lions!
On our way back from dinner the Massai Warrior walks us to our tents. He carries a wooden tool for attacking lions, but when he took his flashlight and shone it into the tall grass next to the small path…and at least six pairs of eyes were watching us….my heart went into my throat. Hyenas! Just a few feet away. Once we were in our tent, we were told to zip up, because lions had been sighted nearby. Hardly a surprise, I do have to say that the wildebeest is a complete idiot of an animal, bleating all night long, “hey lion, here we are, come and eat us”. They are sadly rather unattractive as well. Poor things.
The Ngorogoro Crater is spectacular. It sits about 7000 ft above sea level, at least the rim does. Our hotel balcony overlooks the crater, it almost looks like a satellite map or that you are looking at it from the plane. It is a LONG way down. The Maasai, a famous African tribe, live on the craters edge and often graze their cattle in the nutrient rich grass. Actually, Ran was on the balcony today when he heard bells and talking. The Maasai warriors were bringing their cattle by the hotel. The crater is so rich because of its history, millions of years ago it was a huge volcano, but it erupted and collapsed upon itself, creating the crater. Almost all of the animals in the crater are born and die there, the bull elephants are the exception as they leave to mate with females. There are 7 lion prides here. The animals have no reason to leave, the grass is rich and endless on the savannah, water is available, there is plenty of space! The endangered black rhino is here, missing, for some reason, are impala and giraffes. The savannah is flat grasslands with occasional purple flowers here and there. I could not believe how wonderful it smells as you go into the crater. The animals are used to the vehicles and seem fairly unconcerned with them.
Randy took photos today with lions walking around the vehicle, not because they were hostile, just because they needed to go around it. What does Simba (the name for lion in Swahili) need to worry about? Absolutely nothing.
I saw my first jackal, and I was surprised at how beautiful it was. We saw a male and a female. Also the hyena made a few appearances. Everyone says how ugly they are, but I don’t know, they can look kind of cute in the flesh. Obviously, this is African animal heaven in northern Tanzania. It seems as if we are in a documentary! Tomorrow we leave the crater and head for the Serengeti! We are excited to see it, we are spending an entire day game driving. Two more days of safari!
Check out my African photo page for more pictures!