Friday, July 11, 2008

The Safari

Sorry it has taken me so long to update about our safari this past weekend - it has been a busy week! We left at 8 AM on Saturday and drove about two hours to our sort-of hotel. Between the six of us (Alia, Ami, Baldeep, Minette, Michelle, and I, because Lindsay and Kaitlin went to the Serengeti), we had four rooms. Each one had a small room with a queen-ish size bed and a bathroom with a small sink, "squatter" toilet, and a shower. The beds had a sheet on the mattress and we were each provided a blanket. Amazingly, there was even running hot water, and the food made for us by the chefs was delicious.

After checking in, we left for Lake Manyara National Park. We spent four or five hours standing and poking our upper bodies out of the roof of our safari car, looking at the beautiful landscape and wealth of wildlife. We saw baboons, elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, lions, impala, warthogs, elephants, wildebeast, various monkeys, dikdik, flamingos, buffalo, mongoose, toucans, some kind of huge lizard, and lots of different birds. It was TONS of fun. As we drove, we were constantly on the lookout for huge clouds of dust blowing into our faces and branches of trees with huge thorns hanging dangerously close to our faces. Our driver, Justin (he works for Pelle), did a wonderful job of finding lots of wildlife and being patient with our somewhat ridiculous excitement and need to take pictures of absolutely everything.

The next day (Sunday), we visited Ngorongoro Crater. First, we went to a gorge near the crater. We visited a Maasai village that is open to tourists (for a fee of course). The Maasai men and women performed traditional songs and dances for us, and then of course showed us to a display of traditional crafts for us to buy. Later, we visited a museum overlooking the site where the oldest human remains were found and listened to a talk about the discovery and significance of the remains. Finally, we drove out of the gorge and down into the massive crater. Ngorongoro Crater was formed from the collapse of the top of an extinct volcano. Within it we saw similar wildlife to that of Lake Manyara, plus hyenas, ostriches, and a rhinocerous (although it was too far away to us to really even tell what it was). We even saw two lions mating (through our binoculars, of course)!

Monday was Saba Saba (Seven Seven, or 7 July), which is a national holiday in Tanzania. We visited Tarangire National Park and went on yet another driving safari - seeing the landscape and wildlife never gets old. At one point, we stopped the car in a spot with a group of about fifteen baboons on one side and a herd of impala on the other. The baboons were as close as about four feet from the car, and we sat there for about twenty minutes just watching them interacting with each other (chasing each other around, babies clinging to their mothers, climbing a tree, playing, screeching, etc). It was an amazing experience.

We returned to Arusha at about 5 PM on Monday, exhausted, covered in dust, and completely content. Enjoy the pictures!

^Giraffes and zebras at Lake Manyara.


^Look closely... lion in a tree at Lake Manyara

^Zebra, wildebeast, and a zillion flamingos (the pink line at the top) at Lake Manyara

^LTP! Although standing on the safari car probably wasn't the best idea.

^The obligatory group pic.

^Ostrich at Ngorongoro
^Our lunch spot in Ngorongoro Crater.

^Maasai men and women performing traditional songs and dances. The mp3 file I recorded with my iPod is much more impressive than this picture.

^Zebras and wildebeast at Ngorongoro. Apparently they get along well.

^The side of Ngorongoro Crater.

"Upside-down trees." Notice how it looks like the roots are in the air. The legend says that God got mad (I forget why), uprooted the tree, and threw it back to Earth upside-down.

^A common scene - cattle crossing the road on the way home.

1 comment:

Russell D. Owen said...

Dear Hilary,

Thanks for your blog. It is a treat to be able to check in on your adventure.


Russ (T2, Chapel Choir)