Tag Archives: safari

Travel: Africa animals, lions, tigers, bears!

Ok, so I stole the line from the Wizard of Oz and there really weren’t tigers or bears, but you get the idea. There we were, our first day in the Serengeti. I had not yet learned the trick of peeing behind cars with strangers as we drove past an acacia forest. Having a past interest in the relationship between the acacia tree and ants, I asked the driver if we could get out and look at them. All 3 of us were shocked for about a millisecond when the driver said sure! And then we surged to the door beside me (it was the only one working). No sooner than the last of us put foot outside on the ground than we heard the driver say “Leave the door open in case the lions come”. No matter how calmly he said it, we all came to a dead stop and started scanning the horizon (as if we would be able to see them sneaking up on us!).  Not to fear however, all the lions we met were from the safety of our jeep with the top off and the windows down (gulp!). Lions are basically lazy cats. There was only one time we saw them moving and that was a lioness moving away from a kill with her cubs in the EARLY morning. (Safari tip 78: be prepared to wake up early to see the good stuff – if you want to sleep in, go to the beach.) The lions knew that we were no threat really. Staring at one who just didn’t care if you were there puts you in your place! Enjoy these photos…..

These cubs were no more than a couple months old. So very cute.

Our jeep had a window in the top that we could stand on the seats and look through the roof, but for this, I think I had my window down and was sitting in my seat. Probably not the best idea.

The Lionesses (there were 3) were all very relaxed with us no more than 20 feet away

Mmmmmm, milk

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Travel: Safari animals-antelopes and others

K, I couldn’t just leave it at beautiful scenary and hair-raising stories about getting to the park! I had to get some animals in there. Travel tip #16: when photographing animals, set your camera to take fast pictures.

One of the first antelopes we saw was this 2-toned one. I’m sure our guide knew the species (he literally knew everything we could ask), but I’ve forgotten what it was. I’m almost sure it’s a Topi.

Then of course, we ran across some springy springboks. You really can’t imagine their springiness until you see it in person. It was too fast for me to capture as we literally saw them for less than a minute as they raced across the road in front of us. See the brown specks in the photo?

And it wouldn’t be complete with a gnu or two. We saw a number of Gnu (or Wildebeest) herds as we were there on the tail end of the migration. Although, as our guide pointed out, the animals didn’t read the guidebooks and they go where and when the food and water are there. While the gnus are quite strange and ugly creatures, they are impressive in a herd.

However, you usually ran across them with Zebras. We were told that they ran together because the animals looked for different things like water and they preferred different grasses (long and short) so it was an advantageous partnership.

 


Travel: Safari

Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! Sorry, not Dorothy here. But I did see lions when I went on safari in Tanzania (see first post on large kittens here). I can’t believe I haven’t posted a blog on this yet, although a bunch of my travel tips made it into my other posts. Getting to the safari was an adventure in itself. My friends were supposed to come with me, but due to one thing and another, neither of them (2 other girls) could make it, but my tickets were booked and off I went. Since I was travelling alone, I figured that it would be safer to fly from Dar es Salaam to Arusha, the starting point for most of the safaris, rather than taking the umpteen hours bus which could be hijacked, breakdown, and I don’t even want to comtemplate the state of the washrooms after that long.

So, off I went to the airport to wait for my flight…and wait…and wait – yup, delayed flight! ok, no prob – call the safari tour people to tell them I’d be late and get on the plane when it came. The flight path goes a little over the ocean as it swings towards Kilimanjaro…because the Arusha airport was closed (I remember this like it was yesterday). And that was the point that smoke started to fill the cabin and the pilot announced we would have to turn around and land (the bus is looking better all the time, huh?). Ok, so wait for the NEXT flight (I know, at this point, most people would have taken the bus!)…which was a government plane and was fine.

Finally, I get to Arusha and meet my safari guide….who tells me there that the group I was supposed to join left and I would have to wait for the next one – no problem – it was coming in the next day – and another person would be waiting too. But I would have to stay overnight, meet the other person and leave the next morning…..and, please don’t go out in Arusha at night alone. The hotel was fine except for the fact that my room fan wasn’t working and I was on the ground floor and door to the outside balcony didn’t really close….but that’s what cellphones are for, right?

The safari company really did take care of me though – the agent made sure I had all the right equipment (sleeping bag), enough cash (since I hadn’t planned on staying the night), came and checked on me that evening (and told me the other person didn’t make it in so it would just be me going) and had dinner with me so things were looking up.

The next morning, I had to take a car out to a meeting point to meet the group because they were coming from another direction. Spent an interesting half hour waiting at an impromptu roadside market at the crossroads between the road to the Serengeti, Arusha and another park. FINALLY met the other group – a couple of friends from Belgium (girl and boy) who would be my safari companions for the next 3 days.

phew!!!  and we hadn’t even reached the park yet!!! This is where I learned Travel tip #33 How to Enjoy African Time!

Here’s a couple of photos of driving into the Serengeti – I began to suspect that it would be worth it from these views.

[Both photos taken with colour slide film. Travel tip #36: When travelling on safari, expect dust, lots and lots of dust. Travel tip #37: Clean your camera lens often. Travel tip #38: Learn how to use Photoshop clone tool]

 


Rough road ahead. Remove dentures.

I couldn’t make up something like the title of this post. I believe it came from a collection of real road signs in South Africa. My last photo post of lions reminded me of my safari trip! It was a short 4 day, 3 night trip into the Serengeti ending in Ngorogoro crater all on the Tanzania side. I had no idea what to expect and frankly, except for my bottle of bug spray was pretty poorly prepared. However, I would do it all again. But the next time, I would remember to take proper support (ladies: get a good sports bra). SAFARI TIP #1 It does not matter that you have been an “A” all your life – get the maximum support. The roads look deceptively smooth and you’re in a proper vehicle, but OMG, seriously, go for the full support and keep your mouth closed!

I know there are safaris on horseback and would love to do one of those one day, but you can cover so much more distance in the jeep plus lug all of your gear. However, you do then tend to spend the entire time out in the car. SAFARI TIP #2 This necessitates learning the life-saving skill of multi-tasking (guys you do have an advantage here since you can stay standing). I quickly learnt how to pee out in the open with company, while simultaneously looking for snakes, spiders and lions (or other carnivores). The location you chose was also strategic – gravity makes liquids flow downhill. And lastly, ladies, consider wearing skirts. You all may be laughing now, but if haven’t mastered this out in the middle of nowhere with only your friends around, you wait until dusk at camp with a hell of a lot more people around and less coverage! Oh, and make sure you get the toilet paper ready before you drop your pants.

I won’t natter on for too much longer, just one last SAFARI TIP #3. Get a headlamp – they aren’t just for miners anymore. You can get some pretty funky ones at outdoors stores now and spend the money – don’t cheap out just because they are a little pricey. There will be plenty of situations where you will want BOTH hands free AND still want to see where you are – or more importantly where the monkeys/bugs/snakes are around you. On the plus side though, you generally know where the lions are even without the light 🙂

Happy travels!


Meow! Here kitty, kitty, kitty.

Switching it up a bit today. This is another of my favourite pictures from my portfolio and it’s not of a horse. Note, I had to zoom way out to get this short, hence the vignetting. Let’s just say I was praying that the windows of the car could roll up fast!