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On To The Central Serengeti

As we moved to the Central Serengeti, we found places where there was obviously much more rainfall, making for more greenery, and larger herds of animals, plus some we hadn’t seen before.

 

 

We saw lots of scavengers. They had a lot to choose from!

 

These aren’t your storks that bring babies! They’re scary looking!

 

Secretary bird

 

A baby vervet monkey. They were so cute!

 

 

 

 

 

Dik dik (the smallest of the antelopes)

One of our funny stories of the trip was “The great sandwich theft!” This cute vervet money came right up to the truck and I snapped a photo right before he jumped onto the back of it. I told our guide, and he looked around, but didn’t seem concerned. Then the monkey jumped into the open top, opened Mr. Tattered’s boxed lunch, grabbed his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and jumped out. I was so shocked I couldn’t even lift my camera to get a shot. I had no idea what he was doing, and I was afraid he was going to bite me! This was NOT his first rodeo. He knew EXACTLY what to do and was in and out in a matter of seconds.

 

male leopard

 

We’d already seen 4 of the “big five” animals (Lions, Leopards, Elephants, and Buffalo) and were hoping to see the last, the Rhino. We never got real close, but we DID see one from a distance. That counts, right?

The big 5, surprisingly to me, weren’t the most common ones, but the ones most “trophy” hunted. That distressed me. MY big 5 were the lions, giraffes, hippos, elephants and the….well, there’s probably a 10-way tie for 5th place. Heeheehee!

Tomorrow we head for Gnorongoro.

 

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Gnorognoro

On this day we left the Serengeti and passed through Maasai land on our way to Gnorongoro, a giant crater at about the 9000ft level.

 

As we neared the crater, everything was covered by red dirt.

We saw more lions here than anywhere else, but aside from new birds, there were not a lot of “new” species. Which didn’t surprise me. I mean how many more can there be???

 

 

This one was taken with NO magnification. She was that close…

This is one of my favorite photos of the trip. The male lion has eaten his fill and looks like a guy in his recliner after a big meal. Notice the herd of wildebeest in the background who know they are safe for the moment!

The thing that DID surprise us was how cold it was at night. I mean, it’s at a high elevation, but for some reason that didn’t equate to cold to me. Had it not been for the hot water bottles they put in our beds, Mr. Tattered may have frozen to death. He got his, AND mine! I was comfortable. Heeheehee!

We did see a baby rhino (again, from a great distance, but hey, some people never see them at all, so we were grateful for what we got!)

One of my favorite stories, was the one about how the white-headed buffalo weavers find their mates. The males build the nests, then the females find the nest they like best, and accept the male who built it!

 

 

I guess if I had to give up one area we went to, this would be it, but it had its own charm, especially when it came to the lions. We did see a TON of them. So enjoy a few more photos, then tomorrow we’ll move onto Manyara Lake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Overflow Northern Serengeti

As I put together the post on the Northern Serengeti, I realized there were way more photos I wanted to show you. So, I’ve put together another array, but I’ll let most of them speak for themselves… Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, so that’s an overview of the Northern Serengeti. There were lots of smaller animals and many more birds, but you get the idea. If this had been it, it would have been an amazing trip, but there was more to come!

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Northern Serengeti

We flew from the small airport in Arusha into the Northern Serengeti on a tiny little plane, landing on a dirt air strip (Kogatende) in the middle of nowhere. It was quite thrilling.

Our permanent guide met us there, having driven up with our suitcases, and we immediately headed out to the Mara River, the dividing point between Kenya and Tanzania, where the Great Migration takes place.

We were seeing animals right away – We had to laugh. As excited as we were to see a few animals at a distance in Arusha National Park, it was just awe-inspiring to see many, many more up close!

Impala were first, followed by zebra…

 

 

 

 

The migration of the wildebeests from Kenya to Tanzania was our primary reason for choosing Tanzania, and although we were towards the end of the migration, it didn’t disappoint. The first 2 days we saw smaller migrations, just a few thousand at a time. Day 3 we saw many, many thousands.

One of the more interesting parts of it was that frequently, the wildebeests waited for the zebra, who have a good memory for the crossing points to go, then they follow. In the absence of the zebras we couldn’t tell what the tipping point was that took them from milling around to taking the plunge.

 

Although the river looks pretty calm, there is quite a current, and for the younger animals, the crossing is treacherous. Many get separated from the herd, and these are waiting to pick them off…

We only saw one get taken down, but there were many we were afraid would drown.

Mothers and babies would get separated in the river. Once the mothers got across, they would begin calling out to their babies. It was heart-warming to see them connect up. Some of the animals were so exhausted when they reached shore, they’d collapse to rest for a few minutes before continuing their journey.

 

Also in the river were large groups of hippos. They stay mostly in the river during the day, then move onto shore at night to graze.

 

 

We also saw giraffes and lions.

And elephants. Lots of elephants.

 

 

 

 

Late afternoon the first day we saw cheetahs hunting. They just casually sauntered by the herd of wildebeests, trying to act like they weren’t interested. We’d been there for quite awhile, and it didn’t look like they were going to attack, so we left. Minutes later our guide got word they’d made a kill so we went back. It was gross, but part of the circle of life we knew we’d see.

 

I swear, if this was ALL we’d seen it would have been fabulous. But there was so much more. I think I’ll probably need to add some more photos from the Northern Serengeti tomorrow. And then there’s still 4 more places!!!

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Next Up, Tanzania – Arusha National Park

After our Gorilla trekking, we flew from Kigali to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania, to begin our 11 days on safari.

There are 6 major areas of Tanzania that are “don’t miss” things, Arusha National Park, the Northern Serengeti, Central Serengeti, Gnorognoro, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire. And we decided since this was probably going to be a one-time visit to Africa, we’d do them all.

The one thing we didn’t schedule was down time, and we should have. We severely underestimated the toll that the washboard, pot-holed, bumpy dirt roads, lack of vegetarian protein, traveler’s diarrhea, and side-effects of malaria medication would take on us oldsters!

But, in spite of the difficulty, we had just an amazing trip, full of surprises. We saw more animals than we ever dreamed we’d see, and many of them very close up. I really don’t know how to do the trip justice, so I’ll just jump in, area by area, and show you my favorite photos from each, adding explanation as necessary, and of course adding an off-the-wall photo from my tattered lens. I hope you enjoy.

Our first day “on safari” was spent in Arusha National Park. The first peek we got at the wildlife was an area called “the little Serengeti.” All the animals were quite a ways away from the road, but it was still exciting to see them.

We saw water buffalo, zebra, gazelle, bush-back antelopes, and giraffes right away. We knew it would only get better from there.

Our first close ups were monkeys – vervet, and blue-faced.

 

We did a couple of miles of a walking safari with a park ranger. I can’t tell you how odd it was to be walking around with the giraffes, buffalo and wart hogs right there. It was nothing like seeing them in a zoo.

 

 

Back in the safari vehicle, we looped the park, seeing scads of olive baboons and flamingos.

 

 

 

One of the most interesting birds we saw was the crowned crane (shown here with a sacred ibis, too.)

We saw quite a few colobus monkeys, too. The guide said we were lucky because they tend to be pretty shy. We came upon a group that sat still and watched us (although I did take a lot of pictures of black and white blurs jumping from tree to tree!)

From Arusha, we flew to the Northern Serengeti on a little 10-seater plane, and that’s where things got REALLY crazy! Stay tuned.

Out of Africa!

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a month since I last posted. But here we are.

The week before we left on vacation, I was up to my eyeballs getting ready to leave, and now we’ve been out of the country on the adventure of a lifetime!

It was one of those fabulous vacations that you are so glad you went on, but are so happy to have over!

Africa is an amazing place, but part of what makes it what it is, is that it is so hard to get to, and a challenge once you’re there, at least for us, shall we say, mature folks. Old age ain’t for sissies, and neither is going on safari for 12??? days, 8-10 hours a day, on dusty washboard roads, day after day, sleeping with one eye open because wild animals are right outside your hard-sided tent, trying to remember not to put your toothbrush under the tap because you’ll come down with God knows what intestinal distress, and getting it anyway because you forgot the fresh tomato sandwich you had every day (for lack of a better choice) are grown in the same filthy water.  Add to that, being vegetarian in a country that doesn’t really understand what that means, concerns over potential side effects of malaria medication, and packing up every 2 or three days to go to yet another camp…It was interesting, educational, thrilling, exciting, and HARD!

I’m pretty sure Mr. Tattered is through with expedition type vacations, but fortunately I can’t think of any I’m dying to take, so I think we’re okay. China, Cambodia and Vietnam (set for next fall) seem pretty tame in comparison.

So. Now I need to figure out how to convey the spirit of the trip in as few posts as I can, so I don’t bore you to death.

This was one of our sunset photos, one of my favorite non-animal photos of the trip!

Hopefully by tomorrow I’ll have a set of gorilla photos ready to go!

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Hannah’s Big Adventure (part two)

When we were planning the trip we put a lot of thought into whether to fly coach or business class on the long leg of the trip. Domestically we almost always fly a bargain carrier. But when we fly long distances, we almost always fly business class so we have the opportunity to rest and not lose time when we reach our destination. We are cranky travelers, and the times we’ve flown coach, we’ve lost a day or two of our trip recovering. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Heeheehee!) But Mr. Tattered was concerned about totally spoiling the child. She said, “But, Da, if we fly business class I will get a taste of what I can have if I work hard in school and get a good job!” How can you argue with THAT kind of logic?

So business class it was. She took to it like a duck to water!

We woke up just in time to land in Quito, Ecuador.

Da had booked a tour guide to show us the highlights of the city. We had a great day going on the tram to the top of the mountain,

followed by a drive around the area, a stop at his favorite place to get empanadas and ice cream, to the crater of **** volcano

and to the museum at the equator. All along the way our guide told little stories about the city, educated us about the flora and fauna, and taught us a little Spanish.

 

 

We crammed a lot into one day!

The next morning we hit the airport again to head to Baltra and the beginning of our Galapagos adventure.

As you’ll remember, Mr. Tattered and I had been to the Galapagos before. But most of the stops on this trip were not duplicates, so we were looking forward, not only to seeing the islands through Hannah’s eyes, but to seeing some new things ourselves.

Day one was spent getting moved into our new digs, our home away from home for the next six days, on the “Silver Galapagos,”

familiarizing ourselves with the ship, attending a safety briefing, and learning the ropes of the buffet. (Which I might mention, was pretty impressive for a small ship.) Where our first trip to the Galapagos was pretty primitive, this was quite a bit more luxurious. I felt a tad bit guilty about enjoying the luxury, but what can I say? Mr. Tattered didn’t want to “rough it” again, and who am I to question his judgement? Heeheehee! We were off to a good start.

The section of the Galapagos we were about to see is called the North Central area, and encompasses the islands of Genovessa, Seymour Norte, Santiago, Santa Cruz, Española, and San Cristóbal.

I have spent many hours whittling down photos from about 3,000 to just over 700. I’ll save the ones that didn’t make the cut on the original camera cards, but they just can’t be on the computer or in scrapbooks. Before I print them, I’ll attempt to thin them even more. Sometimes when I let a few months go by, it gets a little easier. You would think that once you’ve seen one blue-footed boobie, you’ve seen them all, but each photo captures them just a little differently.

How I’m going to decide which ones to show you is beyond me. So I guess I’ll just jump in and make a selection that tells the story, and we’ll see what happens!

Galapagos 2017

 

Hannah decked out and ready to explore!

 

The Zodiac was our mode of travel to and from the ship.

Red-footed Boobies

A species we didn’t see last time and didn’t even know existed!

 

Nazca Boobies

 

Our favorite, Blue-footed Boobies

Mating ritual

 

Photographing the Sally Lightfoot Crabs (love them!)

 

 

A Frigate with his wares on display!

One of many beautiful sunsets

Land iguana

Small marine iguana

They like to huddle for warmth.

Photographing is fun because the animals have no fear of humans

Albatross – Hannah got an eyeful of THEIR mating habits!

At the fish market, the critters hang out waiting for scraps!

Swimming with the sea lions!

 

The sea lions pretty much own the place!

Lots of nursing pups

And, finally, the tortoises

 

Playing with a shell…

…and her best turtle face!

All too soon, it was time to head back to civilization…

Hope you enjoyed our little tour! If the Galapagos are not on your bucket list, you might want to add it. It is a unique experience, and we’ve just touched on the highpoints – WAAAAAAY more to see!

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