Wednesday, October 22, 2008

safari time

tanzanian landscape

A six day safari in hindsight was a little too long.

I won't bore you with loads of chat about Zebras, Giraffes and Lions, or post a plethora of pictures of same. You all know what African animals are like and as most of us have been exposed to the wonders of David Attenborough, my own collection of photos is embarrassingly amateurish.

zebra crossing (groan...)

But in a nutshell, Neil and I began at a place called Lake Manyara which gave us our first glimpse of Hippos, Gazelle, Monkeys and also Elephants up close. It was here that we had a baby elephant getting a little stroppy and practicing being aggressive with us. It would advance towards our landrover stamping its feet and shaking its head and then turn scaredy cat and run into the bushes. Shortly after it would emerge and do the same thing. Very endearing.

From Manyara we took a long drive via Olduvai Gorge where they found the earliest hominid footprints,

olduvai gorge

out into the Serengeti. It was here we saw our first leopard.

It was also here that I was chased by a hippo.

We had gone out around 6am for an early morning game drive. We found ourselves at the hippo pool, which also happens to be one of the few places you are allowed out of your vehicle. The pool is a couple of metres down a muddy slope - far too steep for the unwieldy beasts to scale. But to one side there is a cluster of thick bushes, and when we stopped the landrover a large hippo suddenly emerged from the bushes to within a few metres of us and bellowed at us before disappearing back into the undergrowth.

After a short while it seemed like the animal had wandered back down to the pool.

So we left the car and I wandered over to the muddy bank overlooking the pool. I decided to use the 'film' option on my camera for the first time as the hippos were moving about and yawning a lot.

I began filming when suddenly I heard our guide yell "Hippo....RUN!!"

I spun around, took a step, slipped in the mud, hit the ground, sprang up, lost a shoe - hesitated between saving my shoe or saving my life for several minutes, then finally made it back to the car.

By this time, said hippo had given up on us as a bad joke and gone back to bathing. My camera was still running, and when I played it back to our guide he was weeping with laughter. I will try and post the video when I get home.

hippo pool

After Serengeti we went to Ngorongoro crater, where we rounded up our 'Big Five' (Lion, Leopard, Water Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino) by spotting (from a distance) the Black Rhinoceros.

From Ngorongoro we then headed to a Bushman's camp. These bushmen are different from the Masai, and live a far more basic and nomadic life. They sleep on animal skins and do not build shelters except in the 'wet', and appear to keep no possessions except minimal clothing, weapons and (I'm guessing) a few pots for water and cooking.

We joined a small group of men for an early morning hunt. Not the most ideal adventure for a vegetarian. Fortunately, big game is scarce this time of year so their hunt consisted of a solitary bird for the time we were with them. (Not so fortunate for said bird).


But it was fascinating to watch one of the men making an arrow when we first arrived.

Finally, our last game drive was at a place called Tarangire. This was another park that gave us more of the same.

dusty and tired

One of the things that I was particularly struck by were the baobabs. These magnificent trees were sometimes enormous in scale, and were currently without their foliage. Their stark silhouettes against the darkening African skies is an image I will long remember.

beautiful baobab

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