Friday, December 16, 2005

Tales from the Serengeti

Baboon on the truck
Baboons, we saw baboons first, they were almost everywhere we went. Most especially on the roof of whatever lodge we were staying at, they would bound back and forth across the roof, thud, thud, kathump. It was very cool to have baboons play above your head, but we were warned not to leave our windows/veranda doors open or they would get into the room and wreak havoc.

We also saw Vervet Monkeys and Elephants, we were quite excited by our first elephant. She was very, very old, missing part of a tusk and oh, so very wrinkled. But she had a certain majesty about her.

Our first day was spent driving around Lake Manyara, our driver, Issa, we called Issa Andretti, because sometimes he drove like a maniac! But Issa knew where to find the wildlife, he had been driving for Bobby Tours for ten years. We saw many animals that first day, the birds are amazing with beautiful, brilliant colours, such as the lilac-breasted roller. We stayed at the following lodges/hotels:

Lake Manyara Hotel - day 1
Seronera Wildlife Lodge - day 2 & day 4 - could have booked a balloon ride over Serengeti, but too expensive
Lobo Wildlife Lodge - day 3 - amazing, built into a huge rock (kopje)
Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge - day 5 -we saw a great Bantu acrobatic show
Tarangire Safari Lodge - day 6 - my favourite by far

Lobo stands out because it was built into a huge kopje , it was a beautiful place to stay. Ngorongoro lodge also stands out because of its exceptional view on the edge of the huge caldera. And also because I had my first scotch on the trip here during $2 happy hour :-) But the absolute best was Tarangire, where the elephants roamed freely through.

Memories that stand out:

  • the charging hippo, our driver didn't see him and it looked like we were going to get rammed but Issa got us out of the way just in time. Let me tell you they are BIG animals
  • the lion cubs playing at dawn
  • the stinky, farting, bubbling hippo pool (ewww) There must have been 40-50 hippos in this pool, if they weren't farting and pooping in the water, they were swishing it all over themselves with their tails. There was constant movement and noise.
  • getting bit by a fly in a tsetse fly area (very nerve racking and damn it, it hurt too!)
  • the young lion trying to court his lioness who had escaped from him for a while into a tree and he couldn't follow ( he did try, but could not climb)
  • the wildebeest following each other in a single line, nose to rear, that seemingly went on forever toward water. And watching them run as they got closer.
  • the baby elephants, they are so cute and almost wrinkle free (well, not really but compared to an adult, really smooth)
  • visiting oldupai gorge (that is really how it is spelled)
  • the sound a zebra makes, so alarmed, a barking, braying type of noise. They are very skittish and would not pose nicely for the camera. We tried to get a good head/face shot but they would not venture too near the truck.
  • shopping at a Masai market, where we were pretty much the only wuzungu there. It took a while before we were harassed to buy goods, most people were very friendly and just offered their wares as we walked by.
  • the curious young giraffe, who went off on his own, but was closely watched by mama...
  • the gigantic baobab trees in Tarangire Park

We were on Safari at the end of the dry season, it was very dry and dusty with isolated patches of lush greenness. I would love to go back at the end of the wet season, the babies will have been born, the Serengeti would be green and the migration would be going on full bore.

We still had a fabulous time, I saw every animal I would have hoped to see, and more that I had never heard of. The following pictures are courtesy of A.W. , as always, I thank her for so generously sharing her photos with me. (If you click the pictures they will come up larger on the screen.)

Machine vs. Elephant?

machine vs. Elephant
Into Ngorongoro Conservation Area
heading into Ngorongoro Conservation AreaElephant eating his fav meal ... thorny bush

Elephant eating a thorny bush Stinky, dirty hippo pool:

The stinky hippo poolThe courting Lion and his shy Lioness in the tree:

The courting Lion and the tired lioness in the tree
A curious young Giraffe

Curious young Giraffeand his watchful parents

Watchful Mama Giraffe Giant Baobab tree in Tarangire Park

Giant Baobab Tree


bayou_boy504 said...

The pictures are great...

Michelle said...

hippos! cute!

JB said...

Since I was a little girl I have wanted to go on a safari across the Serengeti Plain. I used to check out every book on African animals from the local library, take them home, and try to draw each animal. My brother and I even pretended we were on safari many times, using our binoculars to spot the lions in the thicket and pretending the tall limps of a tree were the long necks of giraffes.

I still long for Africa, the place I’ve always most longed to visit. Reading about your travels makes me realize how much I really need to go there.

I love all the details you use to describe your trip, and the photos are terrific, too!

librarychik said...

Thanks JB, I strongly suggest you go, all I can think about is when can I return? I loved it and want to go back. The hardest part is getting there, it was very expensive. Once there, if you are willing to live an adventure, it is VERY cheap. I averaged $6 a day for hotel and probably the same or less for food. (Except Zanzibar, more expensive)