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Knights Off The Grid

On Safari: Tanzania

TANZANIA | Tuesday, 29 March 2011 | Views [1074]

I travel halfway around the world to get a shot of a lion and the one I get up-close and personal with has a comb over.  Super.  

You ever have those moments in your life when you see something that your brain just refuses to process? Emily and I have had them constantly for the past several days. My synapses simply refuse to compute a giraffe staring at me like I’m the weird one; or being forced to slow our vehicle down to allow a herd of zebras cross in front of us; or waking up at 3am in the Serengeti because we can hear hyenas whining outside our tent; or just the simple fact of having a huge male lion acknowledge your presence; or watching a cheetah eat a cute, newly dead Thompson Gazelle. Every experience was too surreal to be real - thank God for Nikons.

Em and I spent 4 nights and 4 days on Safari with Lucas and Hezron, our guide and cook respectively. It was a budget safari which, as we learned, definitely had its advantages. Unlike the high-end safaris, our tour didn’t follow the rules line by line. When you’re forced to ask your guide to quit throwing rocks at the lion cubs, you know you’re in for something special - they were sleeping and, in our guide’s defense, nobody wants a photo of sleeping lion cubs. The rules got thrown out the window another time when we found a cheetah that had just taken down a gazelle about 100 meters off the main road. That’s way too far for a good photo op so without blinking our driver takes off across the Serengeti and parks literally 10 feet from the action.

We spent day one at Lake Manyara Park - famously known for their lions hanging out in the trees. Unfortunately, Emily and I only know this from the t-shirts and stories we heard from our guide; no lions in trees for us. However, we did see countless elephants, baboons, wildebeests and hippos. It was a good day.

Day two and three was the famous Serengeti and it definitely lived up to its billing. As I’m sure happens to every tourist in the park, by the end of the first day you could probably delete 90% of your photos from that day. You actually get spoiled. I’d be messing around in the vehicle and Emily would say something like, “Look Chris, a Cheetah!” and, without looking up, I’d ask “Is he doing something special?  

We didn’t think it could get any better than the Serengeti but then we headed to the Ngorongoro Crater - named by the Maasai after the sound a wooden cowbell makes - which is a collapsed caldera and one of the coolest geographic areas I’ve ever seen. It’s a complete ecosystem in itself due to the near vertical walls surrounding the crater.  The crater is an ecosystem in itself - even the Wildebeests move from one end of the other during the annual migration.  

We returned to Moshi in the evening of the forth day and immediately took 45 minute showers. It was the first time in my life I’ve had to wash my hair 4 times before I could get it to soap up (and this is Chris writing - imagine how Emily’s shower went!) One notable experience during safari was the evening Emily and I got to share a goat leg for dinner. Not bad considering it looked exactly like a goat leg.

Did you know a giraffe is over six feet tall when born and an adult giraffe has a tongue typically longer than 17 inches Again, I don’t know why you’d care, but I learned it on safari and just thought I’d pass it along.

Tags: laka manyara, ngorongoro crater, serengeti, tanzania

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