SAFARI: An African Sunset Worthy of The Lion King

Serengeti Sunset From Lobo Lodge
Spectacular Serengeti Sunset From Lobo Lodge

Lobo Lodge was located deep in northern Serengeti, isolated, gorgeous, and completely unoccupied except our group of four and the staff that outnumbered us. But boy oh boy were the views lovely in every direction. As the sun set, we saw the giraffes and elephants amble to the shadows and set down at night. Later on, as we enjoyed cocktails at the outdoor bar by the pool, hyenas yipped and barked. Not a bad evening to go to sleep to.

SAFARI: Majestic Elephants In Tarangire

Elephant Cluster On A Hot Day
Elephant Cluster On A Hot Day and Baby Sleeping Under Mom

Tanzania is a nation of 40% national park, all of whom contain some elephants, but the Tarangire National Park is home to the majority of them, some 5000 elephants, 1000 of whom have been photo Id’d by the park service. On a warm and dry sunny day, we watched this group of elephants cluster under the great tree for shade. Note that baby is passed out sleeping on the ground beneath his parents to the left. Heavenly, peaceful, and content.

SAFARI: Crater Cloudscapes and All Creatures, Great And Small

Out Of The Crater On The Way To The Serengeti - This Guy
Out Of The Crater On The Way To The Serengeti – This Hungry Guy

SAFARI –┬áNGORONGORO CRATER – PART 2

  • Yeah, I know you can get burned out on too many animal pictures. One of the things I’m mixing up here to try and keep it interesting is closeups–or as I call them “The National Geographic shots”–and some wider views of the plains with the animals dotting the landscape, to give you perspective on what we saw, and reassure you this is not some open air zoo, but their homes. There is an unmistakeable vibe of peacefulness and contentment with the animals here, and though the law of the wild/circle of life still applies, the tranquility of the crater and these magnificent beasts is unmistakeable. That’s part of what makes a trip to Africa a spiritual journey of sorts. Which says a lot, since in my regular life, I’m an earthbound, pragmatic fellow in general. Moreover, if the zoos back home were hard to visit before the trip, we all agreed wed have a very tough time seeing these guys in small enclosures ever again. their spirits soared on these wide open plains, and ours with them.
Believe It Or Not, This Is A Little Antelope.
Believe It Or Not, This Is A Little Antelope.
And This Guy Is the Giant Eland...a Huge Antelope.
And This Guy Is the Giant Eland…a Huge Antelope With An Equally Huge Chin Thingamabob
BW Elephants Look Small In The Ngorongoro Crater
Even Elephants Look Small In The Plains Of The Ngorongoro Crater
Mama Simba Watching For Food
Mama Simba Watching For Food
Then She Stood Up And Wandered Over On The Road Near Our Landcruiser To Scope Out Some NEarby Zebra
Then She Stood Up And Wandered Over On The Road Near Our Landcruiser To Scope Out Some Nearby Zebra
Thomson's Gazelle Kids Playing
Thomson’s Gazelles – Clash Of The Not So Titans
Warthog Kneels To Eat
Warthog Kneels To Eat
Female Ostrich Is The Family Breadwinner
Female Ostrich Is The Family Breadwinner
While Papa Ostrich Waits For The Food From Mama
While Lazy Papa Ostrich Waits Nearby For The Food From Mama
Landcruiser Migration For Black Rhino Sighting
Landcruiser Migration For Black Rhino Sighting, But Ended Up Blocking Rhinos From Crossing The Road
Young Black Rhino
Critically Endangered, But Populations Slowly On the Rise: Young Black Rhino
Mom and Baby Zebra - Note The Coloring Difference
Mom and Baby Zebra – Note The Coloring Difference
Ngorongoro Crater Diversity Is Everywhere
Ngorongoro Crater Diversity Is Everywhere
Rainclouds and Sunbeams With Zebra and Wildbeest
Their Own Slice Of Heaven: Crater Rains and Cloudscape With Zebra and Wildbeest

SAFARI: We Visit Babylon – Ngorongoro Crater

Lion Cub
Lion Cub

SAFARI – Ngorongoro Crater

  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a couple hours away from Lake Manyara, and stunningly beautiful. The NCA is home to the Ngorogoro Crater, a 13 mile diameter collapsed remains of a volcanic caldera where 25,000 animals now make their home in this lush green Babylon garden. The place was simply jaw dropping, hard to believe you were not looking at a postcard–much like the Grand Canyon, except far far greener. If you need a reason to go to Africa — this is definitely it. It also happens to be the home of the critically endangered black rhino, and rhino sightings caused hordes of Land Cruisers to converge as the guides talked on their walkie-talkies. We were very fortunate to get close sightings of a mother and her young rhino son within 50 yards. Anyhow – enjoy the simply amazing pictures of this natural wonder of the world.
CLICK TO EXPAND: Panoramic of Ngorongoro Crater
CLICK TO EXPAND: Panoramic of Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater Portrait
Ngorongoro Crater Portrait
Zebras On The Plains of Ngorongoro Crater
Zebras On The Plains of Ngorongoro Crater
Zebra Face Forward
Zebra Face Forward
Watercolor Effect of Soft Focus:  Duck And Spotted Hyena
Watercolor Effect of Soft Focus: Duck And Spotted Hyena
Cape Buffalo Makes Happy Face - NOT
Cape Buffalo Makes Happy Face – NOT
Grey Crowned Crane - Awesome Plumage!
Grey Crowned Crane – Awesome Plumage!
Rare Black Rhino On The Plains
Rare Black Rhino On The Plains
Oxpeckers Chomping Ticks On Black Rhino
Oxpeckers Chomping Ticks On Black Rhino
Augur Buzzard - Looks Like A Falcon
Augur Buzzard – Looks Like A Falcon
Thomson's Gazelles
Thomson’s Gazelles
Young Warthogs Playing
Young Warthogs Playing
Baby Wildebeest With Mom Chilling In The Grass Nearby
Baby Wildebeest With Mom Chilling In The Grass Nearby
Umbrella Acacia Trees Along The Road Into The Crater
Umbrella Acacia Trees Along The Road Into The Crater

SAFARI: More Gorgeous Animals And The First Of Several Amazing Lodges We Had To Ourselves

Lake Manyara - You Never Forget Your First Wild Giraffe
Lake Manyara – You Never Forget Your First Wild Giraffe

SAFARI – LAKE MANYARA

  • Tanzanian Tourism–of which safaris are a huge part–took a 40% nose dive due to basic geographical ignorance on the part of many tourists who labeled the entire African continent with the stigma of the Ebola epidemic that broke out last fall. Never mind that Tanzania is in east Africa over 3100 miles away; to put that in perspective, it would be like canceling a trip to Key Largo, Florida because someone in Seattle got the virus. Moreover, Western Europe, including Spain, which did have Ebola cases, are closer than Tanzania to the western Africa outbreak. And the final depressing fact is that although the US and Europe reported both Ebola cases AND deaths resulting from it, Tanzania has to date reported zero (0) cases of the epidemic. The net result was that the four of us stayed in some grand old lodges all by ourselves – polished timber throwbacks to the 1800’s English hunting lodges. Amazing and a little sad. I hope Tanzania rebounds soon.
Lake Manyara Baboon
Lake Manyara Baboon
Lake Manyara Young Baboon  In Tree
Lake Manyara Young Baboon In Tree
Lake Manyara Blue Monkey In The Grass
Lake Manyara Blue Monkey In The Grass
Lake Manyara Impala Mom and Baby
Lake Manyara Impala Mom and Baby
Lake Manyara Impala Sprint
Lake Manyara Impala Sprint
Lake Manyara Dik-dik (Tiny Little Fella)
Lake Manyara Dik-dik (Tiny Little Fella)
Lake Manyara Southern Ground Hornbill
Lake Manyara Southern Ground Hornbill
Lake Manyara Warthog Power Trot
Lake Manyara Warthog Power Trot
Wildebeests A-Plenty
Wildebeests A-Plenty
Lake Manyara Simba - Our First Sighting
Lake Manyara Simba – Our First Sighting
I'm Not The Elephant You're Looking For (1st One We Spotted)
I’m Not The Elephant You’re Looking For (1st One We Spotted)
Junior Crosses The Road
Junior Crosses The Road
Clouds Above Lake Manyara Cliffs
Dramatic Clouds On The Lake Manyara Cliffs
Lake Manyara Lodge Restaurant
Lake Manyara Lodge Restaurant – We Had The Place To Ourselves
Lake Manyara Lodge Pool View
Lake Manyara Lodge Pool View
Lake Manyara Lodge Terrace View
Lake Manyara Lodge Terrace View

SAFARI – We Meet Our First Wild Animals At Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara Acacia Tree Over Riverbed
Lake Manyara Acacia Tree Over Riverbed

NOTE: After this initial safari post, I’ll try and keep the stories to a minimum and make the posts heavily image based, since we captured so many amazing images, they sorta speak for themselves (or through their captions).

  • After 9 days on Kilimanjaro with no shower and a limited change of clothing, Alex, Irina, Caryl and myself welcomed the idea of a 7 day safari standing in a Toyota Landcruiser, staying in lodges each night with–we hoped–warm water. ┬áTanzania doesn’t really do washers & dryers, so our first night back at Iboru Safari Lodge, we walked down the road and picked up an old fashioned bar of washing soap, which we split. I’ll simply say it was both a workout and a scary amount of dirt wrung from my clothing.
Flamingos, Giraffes, Zebra - Lake Manyara
Flamingos, Giraffes, Zebra – Lake Manyara. Flamingos are the sea of pink dots that make up the horizon.
  • We met our driver Julius Wenga (call me “Wenga”), a seasoned laid back fellow with a pleasant demeanor, packed our stuff into the 6 seat green Toyota Land Cruiser, and headed out of Arusha to Lake Manyara, the smallest of Tanzania’s national parks (40% of the country is protected reserve parkland).
Lake Manyara Blue Monkey Can't Take His Eyes Off Of Us...or Vice Versa
Lake Manyara Blue Monkey Can’t Take His Eyes Off Of Us…or Vice Versa
  • Although we visited a Masai Village on the way to Lake Manyara, I’m saving that for another post. We drove for a couple hours out of Arusha, then started ascending. When we entered the park – we raised the roof, and stood up as we went pole pole–there it is again, the ubiquitous “slowly”–over a dirt road and plunged into the jungle, Irina had her binoculars, and the rest of us 3 were armed with cameras, eyes peeled. Today’s pictures are just a few of what we captured, and I’ll try & post a few each day with minimal story. Let’s just say every time we saw a new animal we’d ojnly seen in zoos before, we could barely contain our exceitement, except, as Wenga cautioned us, we had to, to avoid startling the animals. Some of the animals were indifferent and somewhat used to the many jeeps (baboons and monkeys in general), some would start running for the hills (gazelles), and some were far enough away to simply keep an eye on us and continue munching whatever they were munching. Regardless…birds, ungulates, insects, or all manners of flora and fauna..everything we saw was an exotic thrill.
    .
Lake Manyara Nile Monitor Lizard
Lake Manyara Nile Monitor Lizard
Lake Manyara Superb Starling
Lake Manyara Superb Starling
Hakuna Matata! Lake Manyara Warthog and Baby
Hakuna Matata! Lake Manyara Warthog and Baby
African Birds Were Amazing!  Lake Manyara Kilombero Weaver
African Birds Were Amazing! Lake Manyara Kilombero Weaver
Clouds Above Lake Manyara Plain
Dramatic Landscapes Everywhere We Looked: Clouds Above Lake Manyara Plain