Tag Archive: African Safari



It’s a wrap! Done with my blogs on my recent trip to Kenya and Tanzania. And here’s the blog summary. Just click away.

 

Nairobi

Treetops Lodge in Aberdares

Lakes Nakuru and Bogoria

Hippos of Lake Naivasha

Balloon Ride Over the Maasai Mara

The Day My Camera Jammed

Not Exactly Roughing It

A Visit To A Maasai Village

The Great Migration

Safari Woes

Ngorongoro

Lake Manyara

 

Twelve blogs? I was on a roll πŸ˜‰

Here’s more. Mi apologia, but can’t resist waxing poetic πŸ™„

 

I drifted through my Safari dreams

Long-kept, nurtured and cherished

Stayed awake through the long flight

Landing like a Zombie in Nairobi.

 

From Treetops Lodge to the famous lakes

Nakuru, Bogoria and Naivasha

We finally reached the savanna

Stretching from Maasai Mara to Tanzania.

 

Stopped by to huddle with Maasai Villagers

Just as well to jump with the lion slayers

Then off the next morn for a balloon ride

Over the plains, before another safari drive.

 

Lions feasting on a wildebeest

And another with a zebra foot

Circle of Life may seem harsh

But such is the nature of life.

 

Ngorongoro is so refreshing

Animals too happy to be migrating

Exactly how I felt in our luxury camp

It’s just too good, I wish not to move.

 

But alas, there is one last game drive

Not just off to the plains nor the lakes

Manyara has a little bit of all, around

Plus a swamp where hippos abound.

 

Maasai Mara and Serengeti

Jambo, Jambo can’t forget thee

Dusted and wasted we felt

Asan Masante, these memories won’t melt.

 

 

Kwaheri, Africa! πŸ’•


We’re on the last leg of our trip. And I thought that somehow, I’d miss the “aroma” of Africa, the iconic red-garbed, jumping Maasai men, the distinct chirps, groans, snorts and roars of wild animals, and the savannah dust! Ernest Hemingway once said Manyara is the loveliest lake in Africa. Perhaps because Manyara is more intimate compared to the vast expanse of the Serengeti Plains, and more green, more lush as compared to the open spaces in Ngorongoro Crater. Consider this: Laka Manyara is 127 square miles vs Ngorongoro’s 3,205 square miles and Serengeti’s 5,700 square miles. In fact, it feels more like a jungle. Also, it is home to the tree-climbing lions of Tanzania. Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky to spot even a single tree-climbing lion. Instead, we saw more or less the same game from the previous safari drives plus an abundance of baboons and monkeys swinging from tree branch to branch, or feeding on the abundant grass.

The bird lovers will love Lake Manyara. The “jungle” adventure here guarantees many bird sightings including pelicans, cranes and other waders in the very shallow lake which easily dries up certain times of the year. But hardly any flamingos. At least not as much as we saw in Lake Bogoria. Or even in Lake Nakuru. But this is Africa. Each park is unique. I’d venture to say this one is for the birders and tree lovers. There is a “treetop walk” where you can walk on hanging bridges between trees. And if you’re lucky, you may find the tree-climbing lions. Now that would really be one for the books.

(Bird photos from my friend Ernie Albano)

The baboons were everywhere. I’ve never seen so many in one morning. Unli-grass buffet for these baboons. The small ones looked so cute busily feeding themselves. And there were velvet monkeys too, busy swinging in the trees. Since this was our last outing, we weren’t too keen anymore to see more wildlife. You can say we’ve had our fill especially with the last 3 parks — Maasai Mara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro. And since the tree-climbing lions were a no-show, we were underwhelmed. No Matata! The Lake Manyara Kilimamoja Lodge with its balconies overlooking the lake and gorge were enough to give us a restful night on the eve of our departure from Africa. Asante Sana, Tanzania!


We came to Africa for the Great Migration of wildebeests, zebras and other wildlife from Serengeti Plains of Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya. The Migration is an annual spectacle following a cycle where animals search for greener grass, risk lives and limbs crossing the Mara River where their predators lurk to spot the weakest among them. It’s a “food trip” for all of them migrants and predators. So Ngorongoro is a breath of fresh air as we spotted happy, fatter wildlife who seem like they found their “happy place”. A Paradise. No one is moving from here. No migration. The animals co-exist, seem playful and no kidding, they’re fatter!

The ancient name of Africa is Alkebulan which translates to “mother of mankind” or “garden of Eden”. The Egyptian word “Afru-ika” literally means “motherland”. There is a conservation area in this important prehistoric site where the discovered fossils are claimed to be earliest known evidence of the human species. After the discovery of human footprints here, it’s plausible that humanity was born here! I leave it to you to debate in your mind if this is likely the Garden of Eden. But there are more interesting facts to consider. Ngorongoro Crater is in Northern Tanzania where lies the Eastern Great Rift Valley. The area is actually an extinct volcanic caldera — the largest in the world — resulting from a volcanic eruption πŸŒ‹ where the cone collapsed some 2.5 million years ago. It is believed that the former volcano was as big as Mt. Kilimanjaro – the highest in Africa — before the implosion. Today, it is a mosaic of grassy plains, swamplands, forest, and lakes which act as one big playground for an assortment of wildebeests, rhinos, hippos, lions, cheetahs, leopards, flamingos, Egyptian geese, gazelles, hyenas, warthogs, waterbucks, elands, zebras, elephants, vultures and many species of migratory birds. Birders would love it here. Maybe they can name the countless birds we found. There are no giraffes as they can’t enter from the steep sides down to the crater lake, but they litter the volcanic rim.

If you’ve watched the epic film “Out of Africa”, you’d recall the scene where Denys (Robert Redford) flies over the Maasai Mara and Ngorongoro Crater. That breathtaking scene from the air while the soundtrack of Out of Africa was playing — remember? Unlike the Maasai Mara and Serengeti Plains, wild animals here are in plain view. As we drove from the rim down to the crater lake, we found so many things going on it’s almost insane. Wildebeests at play, mommy and baby ellies out for a leisurely stroll, hippos grunting and snorting, some zebras playing “dead” on the sun-kissed ground, the cape buffaloes don’t seem as threatening, ostriches a-strutting, impalas, gazelles and other antelopes looking like they’re just waiting to be photographed by strangers. The area sure looks like some Membership Club or playground. If you’re only visiting one park and limited to one safari drive in as little time as possible, try Ngorongoro. The Big 5 is here. There are rare black rhinos here. And the densest population of lions in the world is here. It may not even require as much effort to find these cats. Besides, it’s cooler and less dusty here!

A permit is required to enter the crater and gorge. Mercifully, responsible tourism is observed here. Is it the Eight Wonder of the World? Frankly, I still couldn’t grasp the idea that a mighty volcano the size of Kilimanjaro once stood here. Even mind boggling is the fact that the volcano erupted and collapsed inward! Do volcanoes do that? And what were the animals that may have gone extinct with that volcanic eruption 2.5 million years ago? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yeah, we’re both thinking dinosaurs. They did find some Dino bones here, along with stone tools used by humans. Now, I’m thinking Fred and Wilma. You guessed it. The Flintstones. On a more serious note, the beauty of Ngorongoro is truly remarkable. But even more intriguing is the mystery it held. For now though, I’m content with what I’ve seen and experienced. I’m happy the animals are happy. I’m hopeful the Tanzanian government maintain the “sanctity” of this site and not compromise for the sake of tourism bucks. God bless Africa!


I’m back. One short to make the Big 5. The leopard was a no-show. But the giraffes, zebras and many antelopes more than made up for the leopard’s absence.

 

 

20120910-213541.jpg

 

 

Game! I was happy and content until I reviewed a blog written by my friend Shane Dallas a.k.a. Travel Camel. Shane did his first safari years back and has since gone back to the less beaten paths in Africa. You can say I’m the newbie where Shane has gone on to pursue other dimensions of travel adventures.

 

 

20120910-214022.jpg

 

 

I may have seen enough zebras in Entabeni Private Game Reserve. Β BUT they were all COMMON zebras. Not the Grevy’s Zebras with white bellies and thinner stripes. I was awed by the regal giraffes with their elegant necks and luscious eyelashes, but not one I sighted was the reticulated giraffes Shane has blogged about. The ones we found in Entabeni had brown “splotches” while the reticulated giraffes have finer and more defined skin patterns. Spot the difference, if you will.

 

 

20120910-214535.jpg

Our very first Rhino!

 

 

The rhino we sighted was the white rhino. White not because of it skin color, but WIDE lipped rhinos. Compare this with the hook lipped BLACK rhino. Smaller in size, but different. More rare, they say.

 

 

 

20120910-215622.jpg

The Rare Black Rhino

 

 

And then there are the antelopes. Many impalas. Some elands. But no kudus with their spiral horns. Another friend (whose kudu photo i borrowed) suggests we do a national park next time. More animals, more natural, she says. Well, I guess there’s no “perfect safari”. There are some safari animals indigenous to a certain place. Like the springboks are indigenous to South Africa’s Western Cape while the Grevy’s zebras are nowhere to be found in Entabeni. But that’s fine. There’s always a next visit. πŸ™‚

 

 

20120911-063213.jpg

Kudus. I only met you on a dinner plate but NOT in person 😦

20120911-063322.jpg

Elands. Looking like they just had their sumptuous dinner.

“Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all.”

Brian Jackman (2004 Travel Writer of Year )

OUT OF AN AFRICAN TOILET


What could be more exciting than an African Safari?

 

 

20120903-111054.jpg

Entabeni Rock and the Resident Wildebeests

 

 

Lion and cheetah sightings. Staring down cape buffaloes and warthogs. Admiring giraffes and waiting for hippos to come out of the water. Keeping still and quiet while a rhino sidesteps your safari cruiser. EXCITEMENT. MUCH!

 

 

20120903-112403.jpg

Safari Animals. Awesome experience!

 

 

A break between the morning and afternoon safari drives meant lunch in a garden setting and a visit to the Pedi Village within the Entabeni/Legend Wildlife Park and Game Reserve. AND A PEE BREAK. Of course. Those bladders can only hold it for so long. Unless you have the nerve to pee in the bush and risk a leopard passing by or stepping into a thicket within feet of a pride of lions feasting on a wildebeest.

 

 

 

20120903-113158.jpg

Pedi Village within Legend Wildlife Park

20120903-113314.jpg

 

 

Lunch was great. As with every meal served in Entabeni. Food quality and service quality is tops. Mediterranean this noontime, after an African bush dinner last night. Those meatballs, gyros, squid rings and feta salad are savory, “light” and ideal in-between-safari drives meals. But they need to do something about those toilet locks!

 

 

20120903-114812.jpg

Greek Salad in Africa?

20120903-114916.jpg

Mediterranean Light Lunch In Between Safari Drives

 

 

So there I was, lining up to pee. Only 2 toilets for women. I took the one on the right. Locked myself with the key on the keyhole. I shouldn’t have. But I wanted to shed my thermals under my safari suit as the afternoon sun kept us warm enough. When done, I turned that key right, left, up and down. No luck. I was locked in. I looked behind me and assessed the size of the toilet window. It meant getting up on the water closet and swinging out of the window into what looked like a private garden guarded by 2 pet dogs.

 

 

20120903-115512.jpg

Behind is the toilet facilities where IT all happened.

 

 

I dropped my bag through the window, prepping myself for the “escape”. Only to remember my cellphone was in the bag! No worries, those ladies knew I was locked in and sought help. Frankly I was more worried about the pet dogs by the garden. Thought if I survived the lions and the rhinos, jumped clean out of this toilet window, only to be bitten by 2 pet dogs, THAT WOULD REALLY BE FUNNY. All that barking either sent a message of sympathy (for me) or warned the owners of my impending intrusion.

 

 

20120903-123850.jpg

Pit Stop for Lunch and a Pee, plus more. Lunch was served in the garden… right side of this photo, under the trees.

 

 

Safari rangers to the rescue. These 2 gentlemen were trained well to guide you, protect you and save you during the safari drives. Were they also trained well to rescue old ladies out of a toilet window? Juan got in through the window to test the keys and locks, and then advised me to watch him get out again. He didn’t want me to jump out. Instead, he asked another fellow to help him pull me out. Well, not exactly pull me out. I climbed out as told: upper torso out the window, then right leg out (aaargh) onto the right arm of one rescuer, left hand on another rescuer’s head for balance, the other hand held by one of the rangers, then pulling the rest of me out the window, left leg on a rescuer’s thigh, and finally piggy back on the other fellow till my feet touched ground. All that time, the 2 pet dogs happily watched as if it was a show.

 

 

20120903-124749.jpg

Lunch. 2 x of this serving.

 

 

That episode worked up my appetite such that I had 2 plate servings. Thank you Juan. Thank you Pedi Village Guide. I’m sorry this old hag can’t recall your name. I promise NOT to lock the doors anymore anywhere here.

 

 

20120903-125920.jpg

MY HEROES!

β€œOnly by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir