Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Tanzania Safari: Serengeti and the Great Migration

The next 3 days of of our African Adventure were spent in the Serengeti.

Our goal here was to spot some of the rarely seen leopards,



and to see the Great Migration.

I'd say we got pretty lucky.

This time we stayed under canvas. In a real tent.

Hey I didn't say it wasn't a nice tent. 

We stayed at Kati Kati camp in Central Serengeti. This was my favorite accommodation of the trip. Not only because it was just cool to sleep in a tent in the middle of the Serengeti, but because the service and food were absolutely brilliant. I would recommend this camp to anyone going on a Serengeti safari for sure.

And we were in luck, because it was right smack in the middle of the wildebeest migration.

Can you see those guys off in the distance? Yes, those were wildebeests in our camp.  

Bet you can see this guy..

That's a huge buffalo behind our tent. I didn't even notice the cool back and white toucan-looking bird in the tree above him until I developed this picture. Can you see him? Apparently he's really a Von der Decken's Hornbill, thanks wikipedia.

There's no fence around the camp so the animals just ran where they please.  

We could hear lots of animals at night.. even lions!! And when we would walk from the dinner tent to our tent at night (with our escort of course), if you shined a flashlight out into the woods you would see lots of yellow eyes.

A little scary, but a pretty cool experience.

Now lets get back to the animals. As I said, the migration was in full swing while we were there.


It was amazing to see the plains just filled as far as the eye could see with these beautiful animals.



But of course, that wasn't all. We saw so many different types of animals on this safari I couldn't possibly count them.  Of course there were the lions...




and elephants,



and giraffs...


He's cute isn't he?

But there were also some unexpected beauties.

Flat-headed Rock Agama
Vultures
Red and Yellow Barbet
Secretarybird


Lilac-breasted roller
On the first day we found a cheetah.


It was the only one we saw so I guess we didn't know how lucky we were.  


I hope he's not crying.




Did I mention we got pretty close?

Our most spectacular find was of course the leopard. We saw a couple of them actually, but they were usually snug in the shadows of a far away tree.

But this guy. came right out into the open.


and he was stunning.


He waltzed across the road the road right in front of our jeep like we weren't even there and climbed a tree for his afternoon nap.

It was breathtaking.

I left Africa with a renewed appreciation for our beautiful planet. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and I'm so thankful to have been lucky enough to experience it.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

A Tanzania Safari: Visiting the Ngorogoro Crater

After departing Tarangire we headed off to our second safari, location the Ngorogoro Crater within the Ngorogoro Conservation Area. It is also an UNESCO world heritage site. The crater is just that, an enormous volcanic caldera. It's said to have formed 2 -3 million years ago and has been inactive almost as long. According to wikipedia about 25,000 large animals live inside the crater which spans about 10 - 12 miles across, making it an excellent place to view wildlife.

Hotels

Here we spent a night at a small boutique property called Ngorongoro Farmhouse, situated in a lush coffee plantation minutes from the Crater.

Here I found the rooms to be quite basic but the grounds and views made it worthwhile.

photo: twctanzania.com




Taking a walk through the grounds is divine. 



And of course there is a pool to cool of in and a full service restaurant.

photo: twctanzania.com

Since we visited Ngorogoro Crater twice in this weeklong trip, once o the way to Seregeti and once on the way back, we stayed one night each in 2 different hotels. The second
 was a lodge right on the rim of the crater, Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. We stayed here for the views.




Diner was provided as it is at most Safari accommodations, but this one included some special entertainment from a local Masai tribe. 


I think that staying in mid range hotels to save some money on this trip was not a bad idea considering that we spent so little time in the hotel. Each day was a very full day transit driving and/or game driving. We would always leave the hotel at dawn to get in as much game viewing as possible before the parks close which was usually around 5:00 pm. Once back at the hotel you really just wanted to relax for a little while, maybe have a drink or two, then dinner and bed so that you could get up early again the next morning.

Ngorongoro Crater Tour

After a very early breakfast, we piled into the jeep and descended into the Ngorongoro Crater at dawn.  


What and amazing place.  

As soon as we hit the crater floor we saw a line of jeeps in the distance and rushed over.  

I quickly learned that whenever you see a bunch of jeeps lined-up, there is something good going on.


There we witnessed an amazing show.



A pride of lions had just killed a buffalo, and the rest of the buffalo were not very pleased about it.



We watched, for what seemed like hours, as the buffalo and the lions exchanged aggression while the lion pride (complete with almost a dozen baby cubs) tried to feast on their kill.



They don't seem very intimidated do they?


It was  truly a spectacular sight.




Sooner or later, the buffalo herd gave up and left so the lions could feast undisturbed.  

So we made our way through the crater for more amazing spectacles.








At the end of the day, after our crater ascent, we headed toward the Serengeti to continue our African adventure...

Stay tuned for more elephants!


After 3 wonderful days in the Serengeti it was time to head out. On the way out we caught a little cat and dog fight.

Jackal chasing a wildcat
I never knew wildcats looked so much like regular house cats.

African Wildcat
Then we headed to our next lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater.





The next morning brought another crater tour before our journey back to the airport.  

Grey Crowned Crane

There we got very lucky again and spotted some very rare, and beautiful small cats.

Caracal
Serval 
Our guide was obsessed with finding us a rhino, so we could get our "Big Five" in. After quite a while we managed to spot one hiding in the grass.  We waited.. and waited..

and eventually he poked his head up just long enough for a snap.

Victory!








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