Sunday, August 21, 2016

8/8 -- New Adventure Planned!

We had been planing to visit our son's family in New Jersey during October and had hoped to find a trip to Europe to combine with it, but before we left for Africa, nothing seemed like a good option. The day after we got home, Jim searched for last minute deals on the OAT website and found a trip to Northern Spain and Portugal that would dovetail nicely with New Jersey -- at a discount no less!

After verifying the dates with the kids, we signed up for our next foray only days after returning from the last one. The funny thing is, although we have 45 days to get ready, I am already starting to figure out our wardrobe for the two halves of the trip!

Watch this space in late September!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

8/5 & 6 -- Heading Home

We took a small plane to Arusha, did some last minute shopping and repaired to a day room for a few hours to freshen up and finalize packing. We met Severin's lovely wife at lunch and she brought us presents -- for the ladies, a scarf necklace with tube-shaped beading at the middle and ends, and for the men, a length of fabric used as a wrap on cold days.

Our trip to the airport was made more challenging when a key bridge outage created the need for a 45 minute detour. But the Kilimanjaro International Airport is small and the delay didn't hurt us. We  headed south to Dar es Salaam to drop off some passengers and pick up more before flying to Amsterdam.

We had a couple hour layover and some more excitement after boarding. The captain told us there was a group of 11 trying to board but two of them had 'paperwork problems' and raised a ruckus when denied boarding. The other 9 refused to continue if their friends couldn't and apparently the situation got heated enough that the airline left them all behind, but then had to also find and remove their luggage before we could depart. This is a big reminder to flyers: KEEP CALM!

The two 11 hour flights were otherwise uneventful and we were home only 30 minutes later than planned. It feels really good to be in our own bed again! We had a fabulous time and saw more than we had ever hoped for and will probably go back to Africa to spend more time in places like South Africa and Namibia. We had originally thought of this as our last Africa trip (after Egypt and Morocco), but maybe not.

8/4 -- Last Day on the Serengeti

We started much earlier today -- 6:15am -- to catch sight of the early rising and more nocturnal creatures and had breakfast on the way. We saw jackals and hyenas and a lion walking along the road (instead of the typical sleeping posture). Some of the photos are not labeled because when I click to add the caption, they disappear. There is a series of three, starting with a hyena followed by vultures and a marabou stork that was taken from the same vantage point, and indicative of the dining protocols in the wild.
Another weaver bird variation -- Social Weaver

Hooper's Starling -- bluish purple hue. He hopped around a lot
making it impossible to get the photo I wanted.
Hyrex (elephant relative)


Gray Heron


Two Jackals



Two Dik-Diks
Lion on the road -- may be the same one with a collar tag we
saw yesterday.

Striped Mongoose

Gray-headed shrike

White Bellied Bustard


Resting lion - she rolled over -- below

Hippo slapping his head on the water to wet himself down

Hippo dining

Hippos in disappearing pool

Lots more in the same situation
We returned to the camp for lunch and to start preparing to depart tomorrow. It will be good to get home, but sad to leave Africa and the wonderful adventures we have had.

Friday, August 5, 2016

8/3 -- More Game Viewing

We had another leisurely start and a slightly different route through the park, although the first two hours is about the same each time based on where we are located. Today, we headed to the Masai Kopjes, a set of low rocky hills favored by the lions. It was also much further into the treeless area and reminded me of what the American Great Plains must have looked like before it was settled by Europeans. 

We saw small herds of hartebeast for a change instead of singletons, spotted lions several times, and watched two small groups of elephants all seek shade under a single tree. We had lunch in our trucks in the shade by a kopje and spotted the red-headed agama again on a rock above us. Although we did not see any lions there, it was not safe to get out and roam around.
Widowed Dik-Dik. They mate for life.

Dik-Dik husband, apparently hit by a truck. Most go about
25mph and can stop in time for animals, but some, including
rangers, speed thru at twice that speed.

White-bellied Bustard -- very different from the Kori
Bustards we have been seeing - smaller and cuter.

A large herd of Cape Buffalo -- this is less than a third of them.
Apparently, they don't migrate.

Heron and stork

Hartebeest in the buffalo vicinity. Animal types mix for greater

Black Crake
Finally a lion going somewhere.

More typical lions: resting in the shade.

As we neared the kopjes, the trees thinned out.

Elephants trying to find shade.

Two vultures. The one on the right is probably feeding the kids.

Red-headed agama at lunch

Elephants headed to water

Zebra rolling in the dust to scratch its back.

Secretary Bird

Lion resting after lunch (barely visible at the left)

Another lion in the vicinity, probably the same pride, with
a tracking collar.
Elephants in the shade, and on the road.

Yearling nursing.

Elephants crowding around a small watering hole
On our way back, we saw several groups of Thompson's Gazelles with a lookout posted on a termite  mound, much like how a cheetah scouts for prey. Unfortunately, we didn't stop for photos.