Monday, February 27, 2017

Africa - Tanzania, Sunday & Monday, February 26-27, 2017

We certainly have early calls on this trip.  Today, we were up for breakfast at 6:30 and off in our Toyota Land Cruiser by 7:30 for the morning game drive.  Our first find ... a lion on the rocks.  Wouldn't that be a great name for a cocktail?  "I'll have a Lion on The Rocks, please," and would likely consist of some wild liquor with a B&B chaser and garnished with some kind of herb.  Sounds relatively tame, but like it's namesake, if tested, could do maximum damage. Anyway, back to the lion on the rocks, this magnificent animal looked docile enough to walk up and pet.  However, I wasn't interested in them going all "Siegfried and Roy" on me, so I remained safely in the cruiser.  

Check out those brown eyes!!
We saw so many beautiful animals today.  I'll share a few of the photos with you.  

Spotted Hyena cooling off in a mud hole.

What??  You wanna a piece of me?

The gorgeous Cheetah was resting under a tree right beside the road.  We didn't seem to bother her at all.

Black Backed Jackal.

Hukuna Matata Pumba!!

This Warthog was posing for us.

Tripple Zebra breakfast time.  I'm getting dizzy with all of those stripes.  The Zebra is one of my favorite animals.  They have such  beautiful markings.  Is he white with black stripes or black with white stripes??

Layers of Wildebeest.

 After a few hours of bumping along the Serengeti, we had a tasty picnic lunch out in a vast open area on the plains. 

We could see across the plain for miles.

Serengeti Picnic.

What a nice break from the vehicle.
I suppose they choose this area because they can see in every direction for miles and would likely see any dangerous animals approaching in time to get us back in the vehicles.

We didn't have any animals around, but plenty of flies and gorgeous but aggressive birds that occasionally swooped down to serve themselves.  The Superb Starling seemed particularly fond of the granola treats, while the Lilac-breasted Rollers preferred the veggies.  The Starling was an amazing blue color.  They seemed to congregate on a bush nearby to plan their next attack.

Such gorgeous birds.

After the picnic, we continued our game drive and found a few more interesting creatures.

Marabou Stork.

Marabou Stork spread their wings allowing the sun's uv rays to kill bacteria on their wings.

Thought this little baby baboon was adorable on his mom's back.
I found myself fascinated with the Acacia Trees throughout the Serengeti.  Their branches stretch toward the sky with incredible grace creating a perfect umbrella.  The branches are loaded with sharp thorns amongst the leaves.  A favorite treat for Giraffe and Elephant, the Acacia tree (also known as Thorny Umbrella Tree) has a natural security system.  When the animal begins to feed on the branches, the tree secretes a tannin that makes the leaves bitter and the giraffe moves on.  The pressure of the elephant on the root system causes the same tannin release so the elephant moves on as well.  These trees are connected underground with a common root system allowing them to send nutrients to nearby trees when needed.  They synchronize their fruit and flowering and amazingly alert other trees in the event of fire allowing them to send nutrients to the root system, preserving it, so it can grow back after a fire.  What an amazing tree.  

Acacia Trees dot the Serengeti.
We returned to the lodge around 4:00 in the afternoon for a lecture scheduled by Princess Louise Leakey,  paleontologist and anthropologist from National geographic who conducts research on human fossils in eastern Africa, answering the question of "Where we came from."  I attended Louise's lecture the last time I visited Tanzania, so I opted out and settled in at the bar to enjoy the view of Gazelles, Wildebeest, and Zebra running across the Serengeti.  I chose wisely.  

We had a "bush" dinner tonight.  After being in the Land Cruiser ALL day today, the thought of getting back in it didn't appeal to me, but I'm so glad we did.  Only about a ten minute drive from the lodge, the setting was beautiful and the sunset over the Serengeti was spectacular. 

Bush Dinner in the Serengeti.  

Serengeti Sunset.
The Maasai Warriors marched in and performed typical Maasai songs and dances.  The Maasai are known for their fierce hunting techniques.  It is said they can kill a lion with a stick and a machete like sword (as I mentioned in a previous post.)  The sword is well hidden beneath their robes called a Shuka.  They are also know for their jumping skills.  As if they have springs for legs, they can jump - flat footed - about 3 feet into the air.  

Maasai Warriors perform their native songs and dance.

AND they JUMP!!
Following our bush dinner, I retired to my room, where I intended to write my evening entry in the blog.  However, I began to download photos and the next thing I knew, I woke up as my computer fell to the floor.  I've been up until 1:00-2:00 every night making entries.  Guess it finally caught up with me.  So I did not get my blog posted last night.  I'll catch up right now.

Africa - Tanzania, Monday, February 27, 2017

After some much needed rest, we set off extra early this morning for a quick game drive on the way back to the airport.  We were in the car, cameras loaded and ready to go at 6:30 a.m.  We revisited the same rocks from yesterday and found six beautiful lions on the rock.  Again, I wanted to pet them, but thought better of it.
Six Lions on a rock.

It is forbidden to approach the wildlife in the Serengeti.  The cruisers must stay on the well worn dirt roads and cannot venture off into the plains after game.  But there is plenty to see from the roads.  Check out this group of Giraffe that crossed the road right in front of our vehicle. 
One doesn't see this every day!!
After the Lions on the Rocks, we found adorable little Klipspringers on the Rocks.  I have no idea what kind of cocktail that could be.  I need to consult with my mixologist for this one.  This was our day for animals on the rocks.  We even found a Zebra on the rocks.

Klipspringers have rubber like hooves that allow them to climb the rocks quickly.  

Zebra on the rocks.  
After our brief morning game drive, we headed back to the airport to return to Kilimanjaro where our jet and fabulous crew awaited.  It felt like being home.  We were very happy to see our jet and our warm welcome back.  Off to Madagascar!!

What a lovely welcome back.

Next stop ...  Madagascar.

Kind of a sexy looking plane, yes?
Our flight took us by Mount Kilimanjaro   Anybody wanna hike it with me? 
Mount Kilamanjaro. 
We arrived at Antananarivo, Madagascar this afternoon around 3:30.  This is a quick over night again as we are flying in small planes tomorrow to Ranohira to the Isalo National Park for two days.  

Madagascar is a small country a little larger than the state of California.  It's relatively undeveloped with no real infrastructure across the country, with  the lowest paid population in the world.  Their average income is $400.00 per YEAR.  There is widespread government corruption and most children are so malnourished that their growth is stunted and their brains are not fully developed causing mental handicaps.  We learned these facts tonight from the United States Ambassador to Madagascar, Robert Yamate who addressed our NatGeo group.

Ambassador and Mrs. Robert Yamate.
On a happier note, Madagascar is home to the very mysterious looking Lemur.  Eighty percent of the flora and fauna is endemic to only Madagascar.  

Ring Tailed Lemur only lives in Madagascar.
Should make for an interesting hike tomorrow in the Isalo National Park.  I look forward to "killing some pixels" tomorrow in search of some of these interesting plants and animals.  Until then, I'll sign off.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Africa - Tanzania, Saturday, February 25, 2017

We arrived at the Coffee Lodge after dark last night and I couldn't get any photos of the adorable Plantation Houses.  So I snapped a few photos this morning.  Here's mine.   

My Plantation House for the night.

Coffee Plants surround the Plantation Houses.

After breakfast this morning, we packed up our gear and headed to Serengeti.  Yes, they really carry things on their heads.  I felt compelled to help out, so I carried my purse. 

Porters carry bags on their heads.  Must be why they are so short.

Can you believe this??  I felt I should help out.  
After our forty minute flight aboard the local carrier, Air Kenya, we landed on the grass strip in Serengeti and boarded our land rover vehicles in search of some animals. 

Excuse me, but where is the plane I arrived on??

Our safari vehicles.
We were not disappointed.  How can anything I write top the photos, so here are a few.  They speak for themselves.

The first two creatures we saw shortly after leaving the airport.

This Cape Town Buffalo was scratching himself on a tree.

Dik Dik


We arrived at the Four Seasons Serengeti Lodge around 1:00 for lunch.  After lunch, we set off on safari again.  I managed to get some amazing photos of hippos fighting, more giraffe, and several other creatures.  Then I somehow managed to delete them from my disk.  I have no idea what happened to them.  So disappointed.  But we'll be going out again tomorrow.  

Lunch at Four Seasons Serengeti Safari Lodge.

Our afternoon safari was followed by our evening ritual of lobby bar happy hour at the poolside lobby bar.  A delightful lady joined us.  I've seen this lady several times, but this is the first day I've had a chance to speak to her.  Jane is amazing.  Close to 90 years old and out kickin it in Africa.  She's very frail and has a tough time getting around, but she is sharp as a tack and so full of life.  We offered to buy her a drink.  I was expecting her to order a coffee with a side of Geritol.  Wrong!  She started talking about wine and how in Africa, she just didn't know if she'd get a good glass or not.  So she said, "I believe I'll have a Cosmo.  You know those 4 girls who were roommates on the tv show always drank them."  She was referring to Sex in the City.  Then she went on to make a toast to "Sex and Kilimanjaro."  This was a valuable lesson to me AGAIN to never judge a book by it's cover.  I can't wait to see what Jane will be up to tomorrow.

Happy hour with Jane!!

Sunset on the Serengeti.
After way too much dinner, I decided to hit the gym to try to burn off some calories.  But first, since it was after dark, I had to call the desk to arrange for a Maasai Warrior to escort me from my room to the gym.  There are critters out there that would like to have ME for dinner and these warriors carry a simple stick.  I asked my escort if he could really take out a lion with that stick.  He laughed and said, "No, but I can with this." and he pulled out a huge machete from under his warrior garb.  Made me laugh out loud for a second time tonight.

The gym was totally empty except for me.  This photo is a reflection from the window overlooking the Serengeti.  There were likely animals out there looking at me saying, "Is that one of those animals that runs on a Hamster wheel?"

After my workout, I called it quits for the night.  Another early wakeup call in the morning will take us on another safari.  Can't wait to see what's waiting for us tomorrow!!