tanzanian_tales: (Lion)
[personal profile] tanzanian_tales
Picking up where I left off...

In the last post I mentioned my luck, and where it really kicked in was with our two big carnivore sightings, because not only did we see a lion, we saw four. They were lying in the grass and staring intently into the distance, and it was easy to see why. There was a male impala on the hillside facing them, and they were no doubt thinking about how badly they wanted a late lunch and what the odds were of catching it.

 photo LionFirstDayCropResizeIMG_5268_zps626a3218.jpg

 photo LionTarangireDay1IMG_5284_zps225f8556.jpg

And the came what had to be the day’s highlight, at least for me: a leopard. Leopards have incredible jaw strength and like to use it to drag their kills into trees, where their dinner – not to mention they themselves – will be safe from bigger or more dangerous carnivores, like lions (which can also climb trees, as you’ll see) and hyenas. Leopards are an elusive cat, and it doesn’t help that they spend a lot of their time up in the branches, hidden by leaves. They were also #2 on my hope-to-see list, right behind cheetahs and just ahead of servals. This shot was taken at quite a distance, and S actually had to direct me where to look before I could even see it. And once I did, I could only marvel at how it managed to sleep so soundly without crashing to the ground.

 photo LeopardFirstDayCropIMG_5324Resize_zps16fe64ab.jpg

I mentioned that we saw a lot of birds, and we did: the aptly named superb starling as well as the ashy starling, helmeted guinea fowl, ostriches (the male is black, to camouflage him as he protects the nest during the day, the females gray to hide them as they sit on the nest during the day), hammerkops (which have very weird heads and build huge nests), various kinds of hornbill and the utterly gorgeous lilac-breasted roller. Most of my bird shots that first day were pretty crappy, but here's a yellow-necked spurfowl for you.
 photo Yellow-neckedSpurfowlTarangireDay1IMG_5160Resize_zps1e1933e6.jpg

Night drives aren't allowed in the park (more on that later), so everyone has to be back in camp or outside the gates by about 6:30. (Since Tanzania is fairly near the equator, sundown is pretty consistent year round.) And that first night is when we discovered the joy of tsetse flies. They. Are. Bastards. They're bigger than I expected, and they bite, though apparently they bite some people (me) more than others. I've since heard that if you take B12 it keeps them away, so next time - if there is a next time - I'm trying that. They only live at certain altitudes, but unfortunately the camps are located at or above that level, because most of the animals avoid it because of the freakin' tsetses. They were worse in Tarangire than anywhere else, though, so at least we got the bulk of them out of the way early.

We arrived at our nyumba and were greeted by the staff with cold wet towels to wipe the dust from our faces and welcome glasses of juice to revive us. Then we were assigned to our tents and given some time to freshen up before dinner. I have to tell you, I loved staying in the tents – although I wish the solar lights had been brighter, because my vision stinks, so even with a headlamp it wasn’t always easy to read before bed. But other than that, they were like little hotel rooms in the woods, with nightstands and shelves and – best of all – showers! I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a shower as much as I did that night. When it was getting on toward dinnertime we wandered up toward the dining tent and joined most of the group around the nightly fire. The smoke helped keep the bugs away, and it was a nice way to unwind with a glass of wine or a beer (or, if you’re me, a Coke) and talk about the day. Then it was time for our welcome dinner, which was also attended by a local bat.

A quick word about food: There was lots of it, and it was good. Chicken and lamb, with some pork and beef, were the main meats, plus there were always lots of vegetables and every night a dessert. My favorite thing about dinner, though, was the fact that every night started with soup, and they were some of the best soups I’ve ever had. I was a particular fan of the several sweet potato and pumpkin soups they served.

Every night over dinner S would give us a rundown of the basic plan for the next day, telling us what time to expect “Jambo, jambo,” or “Greetings, greetings,” the morning wake-up call, and when we needed to be ready for “wheels out.” I’ve never much liked my alarm clock, but I think I’d feel much more affection for it if it called out “Jambo, jambo” instead of buzzing nastily at me.

After that it was off to bed, where I generally typed up some quick notes (I travel with an AlphaSmart Neo for journaling, and I love it), read a little bit on my Kindle and then collapsed in exhaustion. Sometimes P and I would look through our pictures and talk about the day, but we faded out pretty quickly - though I had really bad jet lag for four or five days and would lie in the dark feeling exhausted and trying to sleep and not being able to. It’s not physically strenuous to ride in a Rover all day – and I kind of enjoyed the bumpiness of the roads, because it made it very clear that I was Far From Home – but it is mentally exhausting to have your mind and eyes “on” all day, and since jambo, jambo was usually at 6:00 or 6:30, early to bed made a lot of sense.

Next up: Elephants, elephants and – yes, you guessed it – more elephants.

Date: 2013-03-23 05:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hamsterwoman.livejournal.com
The leopard looks really cozy up there!

Date: 2013-03-23 10:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] qn128.livejournal.com
Now those were two posts made of awesome!

Date: 2013-03-23 11:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shimmerngspirit.livejournal.com
I want to hear all about the food!!!!

What spices, etc.

Do people really think b-12 works? I'll start supplementing right away. Although B-12 might be needed as injections.

Date: 2013-03-23 02:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant.livejournal.com
Also, avoid blue clothing. The flies home in on it, as it is the colour of veineous blood vessels. It's common to soak blue cloth in insecticide and hang it in a tree as a tsetse trap.

Date: 2013-03-23 01:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
Wonderful how the second lion photo really shows its strength. And, yay for bird looking very bird-ish. :)

Date: 2013-03-23 02:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petzipellepingo.livejournal.com
Petzi Sis thanks you for these, you made her day.

Date: 2013-03-23 02:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant.livejournal.com
Love the leopard shot!

Date: 2013-03-23 03:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wildrider.livejournal.com
How awesome!!!

Every time I hear "tsetse flies" I think about the movie "The In-Laws" (the original, with Peter Falk) -- where he's telling the story about the tsetses "big as eagles" carrying off small children... :D

How I wish I could go!

Date: 2013-03-23 04:14 pm (UTC)
nverland: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nverland
Gorgeous, especially seeing big cats

Date: 2013-03-23 05:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bigboobedcanuck.livejournal.com
Catching up on these posts. Amazing vids and photos! It's a thrill to live vicariously through you. Thank you! :)

Date: 2013-03-23 07:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] curiouswombat.livejournal.com
And even more wow! And the food sounds good, too.

Date: 2013-03-24 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeuxdebleu.livejournal.com
Just finished reading parts 1 and 2. Fascinating stuff and your photos are magnificent. What a lot of work putting these posts together, but we appreciate it.

Bring on the elephants....

Date: 2013-03-24 04:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] frivol.livejournal.com
Love the photographs once again, and the shot of the leopard is fabulous. Thank you again for the update- it lets me in on what a trip such as this would be like. (Not being likely to do such a thing realistically.)

Bad luck about the tsetse flies: glad to hear you got away from them pretty soon. And 'jambo, jambo' would make a lot of things better, I feel. :)

Date: 2013-03-24 11:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] msb66.livejournal.com
Fantastic!

Date: 2013-03-25 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] re-vised.livejournal.com
Loooooove the leopard in the tree. Leopards may be my favorite big cat.

Jambo, jambo would be much more pleasant to wake up to than "eer! eer! eer!"
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