Once inside the park, all I can say is Wow. It was amazing. The landscape, the animals, everything about it. Even though we later went to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, this was my favorite park of all three.
It’s funny how your first excitement is to see animals that you quickly become immune to. At first you’re lik “Oh my god, stop! Impala!” and you take a zillion photos. Then “look, zebra, stop!” take a zillion photos. Wildebeast, STOP. Take a zillion photos.
The drivers amusingly do as you ask, but by the end of the first day you’re like, “oh look, more zebra. No, no need to stop”. By the end of the second day, you don’t even point them out anymore. Zebras, wildebeast, dik-dik (antelope-like things that are the size of a very small dog), they are just everywhere!
It turns out, despite my not wearing my glasses, I proved to be an expert animal-spotter. It was really exciting to be driving along and be the first one to see many of the animals. The best was seeing the lion … but that was later.
So the first day we see TONS. Giraffe, osterich, elephants, waterbuck, zebra, wildebeast, vervet moneys, warthogs, so much, the mind just almost became numb.
We stopped at a picnic site for lunch where we ate a boxed lunch prepared by our hotel. Mainly, a hunk of meat, some bread, fruit, juice, crackers and a cookie. Pretty filling, if not overly appetizing. It was werid to be eating right there in a park where any animal could walk right up to us!
We did another drive in the afternoon and then went to our luxury tented camp for the evening (see separate review). I was really tired and passed out around 8:30. Of course then woke up dying to use the loo but it was pitch black and I had no idea what time it was. Fortunately, it was only 9:30 so the electricity still worked!
M and I woke the next morning thinking it had rained in the night because we both thought we heard rain, but it must have been the wind. We ate a good breakfast, saw the sun rise, and went off on our first drive around 8am.
There were elephants about 2 minutes from the hotel and a little while later we came across a couple of giraffes who seemed unhappy to see us and languidly strode away when we stopped for their picture. Fortuantely, N was videotaping and caught the following on camera:
Good Luck: Do you know how you tell a boy giraffe from a girl giraffe?
Snarky: Um, we’re not that far away, actually…
Hmm, it was a funnier comment in person I guess. Turns out if you CAN’T see the tell-tale anatomy, girl giraffes have hair on the top of their horns whereas boys have grey spots. For me, I had to rely on the anatomy as without glasses, I could never figure out which they were by their horns.
We saw lots of elephant females with babies (which are just too cute for words). Sadly, Tarangire allows hunting in a certain area outside the park. It doesn’t happen often because not many people can afford it, and it makes a lot of money for the government, but the result is that the animals — since they don’t know where the hunting boundaries are — are more wary of humans than in other parks. Female elephants in particular are very protective of their young. We had one large female really give us the ‘evil eye’ to the point where we thought it best to drive away. Apparently cape buffalo are also really aggressive. They can fool hunters by pretending to be injured to the hunter comes up to them, and then they attack (good for the buffalo, in my opinion!)
As the day wore on we saw lots more animals which are always cuter when with babies. We saw some elephants with a baby that was only a few months old, some giraffes with a baby whose head barely poked out of the long grass, and even a baby hyrax, which is a large rodent, on its mom’s back.
Later in the afternoon we went to a spot overlooking a river bank about 20 feet away. Good luck spent a lot of time looking for something and then finally said another driver had told him they had seen lions here, but he didn’t see them. I then got out my binocs and began searching the opposite bank. As I panned across it was tall yellow grass as far as the eye could see: grass, grass, grass, grass, grass, grass, lion, grass… pan back to lion! Sure enough, there she was poking her head out of the grass with her mouth open sort of panting-like. Then she came on to the bank where we saw her eating what was left of a zebra carcass. It was a little gross to watch her eat the zebra remains, but in some ways you couldn’t pull your eyes away.
Shortly thereafter, another female came out and she was wearing a radio-collar, which was very strange to see. It was like a very thick cat collar, but it didn’t seem to bother her much. She then went to sleep on the bank. Good Luck then saw the male sitting near a bush on the opposite bank.
The rest of the day was spent with lots more giraffes, zebras, and elephants. We got a great photo of two young male giraffes “play fighting” by doing yoga-like intertwinings of their necks.
We also got to see a leopard asleep in a tree (leopards, cheetahs and rhinos are the hardest to find) but I couldn’t get a good photo of it, it was too far away.
The next day was M’s 30th birthday. We all agreed that she awoke to the best possible view for a birthday. We did another amazing game drive that day, and then left for the Serengeti. Overall, an absolutely amazing trip!
Below are links to the photos, this is the largest album as the novely of some critters wore off over time. As always, the photo commentery will guide you through the images so be sure to read the captions.
I should also point out that my camera is woefully inadequate for taking safari photos, so many of them are a little blurred when I was on maximum zoom. M and N both had much better cameras and will send me their photos once they get back and I’ll see if I can add them to the mix.
Tags: Africa, elephant, giraffe, lion, Tanzania, Tarangire, zebra