Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I was so disheartened when, three weeks ago, I put in all my photos of the safari in Tanzania and all the text that went along with them, and somehow it got erased when I published it. I haven't been able to get myself to do it over again until now. But the photos are good (some are daughter, Kate's) and we had such a good time, I had to get back to it! It was just this date one month ago that we returned to Rwanda from Tanzania and Kate and Don (my brother) flew back to the U.S. on the 25th. I'm afraid their visit made me more homesick. It is a good thing my tenure here is more than half over.

After we had seen the gorillas we headed straight for Kigali again so we could fly to Arusha, Tanzania. It took us a whole day to get there (about 490 miles) as we changed planes on the way in Nairobi and Dar es Saalam. Actually, the plan flew into Kilomanjaro instead of Arusha, so we got to see the famous mountain. I wish we had had time to get out of the airports in those cities so I could really get a feel for them, but that was not the case. We took a cab the 70 miles to Arusha and once there we spent the night and found our safari outfit the next AM. Charles was our cook and Bryceson was our guide/driver. We were the only ones in the overland truck so we had Charles and Bryceson to ourselves which was very nice. We camped in tents at night. We just had to place any food (my Peppermint Bark!!) in the truck as the bushpigs are always on the lookout.

The first of the four days out we did a game drive in Manyara National Park. We saw elephants, giraffes, and the first of many lions. This elephant was only a few feet from our truck! This giraffe is watching us watching herself! I wonder if they know how beautiful they are?

The baby zebra above is kicking up his heels, but no one seems to pay any attention. The reddish color you see is true--this is an immature zebra.

The second and third days on safari we spent on the famous Serengeti Plain (Serengeti means "Endless") and, yes, it did seem endless for as far as the eye could see. This is where we really began to see lots of game.

These are the wildebeests. They and the zebras are  two of the large groups that migrate around the Serengeti every year in a big circle, following the rainfall. The wildebeests calve in February. The main part of the migration happens in May, June, and July. Many babies are lost at this time. Here is a great website explaining the migration in more detail--better than I would!

Not gorgeous, but interesting.

The next several photos are of lions and leopards.

Lioness resting in tree.

This pride had recently killed a wildebeest. Each has a piece to eat!

The following is a sequence of shots of a pride moving from one place to another. It is treacherous with all the babies.

Look closely at the two cats on the bottom branch.

You should have seen the stars while we were out on the Serengeti. No obstacles and no lights. The stars were fantastic. We saw Orion every night even though he is considered a constellation of the Northern Hemisphere.

I think I will stop for now and not try to do too much at once. There is still much more to come from this fantastic trip.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

2/03/13 Hoping to finish this travel section today!

Dear Readers: I shall now try to give you a few details about my travels with daughter, Kate, and brother, Don.

The trip to see the gorillas was the first thing on our list. These are the heirs of the gorillas with whom Dian Fossey did her research back in the 1970s. In fact, some of those very gorillas are still alive now. They are very carefully cared for in the Verunga volcanoes. Early in the morning of any gorilla treks guides go up to locate the eight families that people can see. Then as small groups begin to ascend the mountains toward the gorilla families, led by a couple more guides and several porters, they all keep in radio communication with one another. Then if the gorillas move around, the guides can keep the group of trekkers on target. Only about 60 people can go on the treks each day. The government sells permits so they can keep track of how many people are going on any given day. It costs $750.00 USD for one permit. Mine was slightly less since I have a work visa. We "found" our family about 1&1/2 hours after starting out. Here are several photos. This is called the "Lucky" family. It was formed by one big "silverback" male when he became disgruntled at being the third male in the pecking order of another family. He found several females willing to follow him and now there is a family of about 17, with several babies, two of whom are twins. Twins are quite rare among gorillas.

We weren't supposed to get any closer than about 5 feet to the gorillas. Unfortunately, the gorillas don't know how to measure distances! One baby was quite interested in Kate and began to approach her. The guide made Kate move back. They only let you stay to watch the family for one hour and that time flew by. Then we had to make our way back down the mountain. The babies (one, two, and three years old) never walked anywhere. They did somersaults till they got where they wanted to be. One baby practiced beating on his chest like a big boy! I do not have a photo of that. During our hour, the big Daddy decided to take a nap. When he naps, everyone naps! So there wasn't a lot of activity for part of our hour. On our way to the gorillas our guide, Kiranga, took us through the mountains where we saw a huge tea plantation. We have learned to tell tea by its color--lighter green than most of the vegetation. The tea completely filled a long valley--it looked like it might never stop! Really beautiful.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Well, after almost a month I resume my blog again!

What a trip we had. There were a few little challenges but basically we got everywhere on time and on the right day. We saw the mountain gorillas (here is a small enticement for you--a one-year-old baby, one of twins).

We got to Tanzania and met up with our safari crew (our driver/guide and our cook) on 1/19, and took off for our wild animal experience. We first visited Manyara National Park.There was a beautiful lake there and we saw our first lion. The second and third days we were on the Serengetti Plain, the last day were down inside the Ngorongoro Crater. "The jewel in Ngorongoro's crown is a deep, volcanic crater, the largest un flooded and unbroken caldera in the world. About 20kms across, 600 meters deep and 300 sq kms in area, the Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtaking natural wonder." Part of our time near the crater was spent with a village of Maasai people. Photos to follow. See map below for area of Tanzania we visited. More to follow.