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.
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 – The SERENGETI
The African elephants are magnificent, majestic animals, remarkably quiet given their size, with only a snort or two here and there most of the time we saw them. How heartbreaking to come back home and find out they face a short and brutally uncertain future with an onslaught of well funded poacher syndicates in their relentless quest for ivory for China, with over 100 elephants a day killed by some estimates. At that rate, they may only last 20 years or less. What a loss that would be to the world, these gentle beautiful creatures with their lifelong memories.
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.
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.
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. Tanzania 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.
- 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).
- 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.
Well, these ADD l’il guys may be everywhere on Saba, but this was the first chance I had to actually have one sitting still long enough to snap a focused picture. Now that I did, I think they’re kinda purty thangs…all them colors and such. Wonder if they taste good with in a wild mushroom/red wine demi-glacé? Did I write that out loud? Jus’ kiddin’….testing to see if anyone actually reads this blurb 🙂 Cute Tweetie can go be his hyper self with his squeaky family all in the yellow flower trees.
Light rain in the forecast on and off the next couple days, so everyone who’s not here in Saba cross your respective fingers for us. The cisterns–nay, the island–need it…big time.
Bless any of you who actually get the bizarre reference in the blogpost subject 😉
It’s hot here in Saba, and no wind this morning made my day an exercise in sweating. I walked down to the Fort Bay harbor, climbed up the rocks above, then headed back up The Road to the The Bottom, where I frightened some people with the sheer amount of moisture dripping off of me, then took the Crispeen Track trail back up to St John’s, where this l’il guy was on my mailbox post, cool as a cucumber. He’s an anole lizard, indigenous to Saba, plus he’s an excellent poser.