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Tanzania

Diary of a Safari - Day 2. Up Close and Personal

semi-overcast 27 °C

Fearing that our Lumix compact camera wouldn't get us close to the action. and would leave us with camera envy. we had seriously considered buying some flashy equipment with telephoto lenses for this trip. In the end we stuck with our little compact rather than lug around a monster and just hoped we could get close enough to a few of the animals for some captivating shots... . Then this happened...
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Whoa – a bit too close for comfort. A whole herd of elephants, including a week old calf, just 15 feet away. Let's step back a bit. That's better...
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But it wasn't just the elephants that got within spitting distance. What about this lioness with her four cubs? ...
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This fabulous feline was no more than 20 feet away from us and posed proudly as we took photo after photo from the safety of our safari jeep. Then there was this little chap...
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This adorable little Kirk's dik-dik – the smallest member of the antelope family – wasn't the least bit scared of us and we could have reached out and touched him and his mate.
Herds of impala surrounded us from time to time and, although a little skittish, were often within a few yards of us...
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The eland is the largest of all the African antelopes and this elegant fella with spiralled horns was quite happy just to stand a few yards away to pose for a lengthy photo shoot...
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Cape buffaloes are some of the largest, most formidable and unpredictable, of all the animals here and an adult male would have no difficulty knocking over our jeep with his massive horns and armour plated head. This big guy probably weighed at least a ton and thankfully showed no interest in anything but his lunch...
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Zebras are a dime a dozen, (that would be a shilling a dozen in Tanzanian money), and we could have taken a thousand close-ups of them as they made little effort to get away from us. (Actually we probably did take a thousand photos). This one was particularly curious...
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While the big animals are easy to spot it is the babies that are most adorable. This little vervet monkey was just a few days old when we saw him playing in the grass by the side of the road...
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While he was cute enough to cuddle, the rest of his troupe kept a close eye and would have soon seen us off.
Now we have moved from Tarangire to the Great Rift Valley and today we were incredibly lucky to witness one of the rarest sights in sub-Saharan Africa. We look forward to letting you in on our big surprise tomorrow.
Tutaonana Baadae

Posted by Hawkson 07:12 Archived in Tanzania Comments (6)

Diary of a Safari - Day 1. Excellent Beginnings.

semi-overcast 27 °C

A clear equatorial moon shines a path from the restaurant to our suite at the Tarangire Sopa Lodge when a guard steps out of the shadows and announces that he will escort us. “There are lights...” we protest so he swings his torch to show that we are surrounded by wild zebra, water buck, dik-dik, monkeys and rock hyrax. “The animals come for the green grass and then the lions come for dinner,” he explains. We know there are lions here. We earlier saw this one hunting a herd of zebra so we eagerly accept his offer...
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The grounds of Sopa Lodge can be pretty wild – even dangerous to some – but there's nothing rustic about the interior or the service...
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We may be in the wilderness of East Africa where life hangs on a thread for multitudes of wild creatures, but for us there is nothing but haute cuisine, soft beds and swimming pools...
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Our first day is ending and we have seen more wild animals than we dared hope to see during the entire nine day safari. However, the day did not start well. Torrential rain followed us from Arusha to the gates of Tarangire National Park. The rain eased as we ate a picnic lunch and a cheeky vervet monkey hid in the bushes and prepared to snatch a bite for himself...
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Charles, our driver and guide, was quick to shoo him away so he leaped on another table and made off with an apple. This is Charles...
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Yes – those are zebra in the background. Zebras are everywhere here. We have seen many hundreds. This is a zebra crossing...
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Much is made of the worldwide depletion of wildlife due to climate change and poaching, but since Tarangire National Park was founded in 1970, and the poachers deterred, animal life has thrived. Here are a few of today's catch to whet your appetite, (not that any of these creatures are for eating)...
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And now to sleep peacefully after our first amazing day – thankful that the lioness did not catch the zebra as we watched, but sad to think her cubs may have missed supper. C'est la vie!

Posted by Hawkson 08:52 Archived in Tanzania Comments (5)

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

semi-overcast 26 °C

Our flight from the Tanzanian capital to Arusha in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro was on a plane small enough to have flown inside an Airbus A380...
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However, we had left behind the hot humid air of Dar-es-Salaam and were rewarded with fresh mountain air and vistas of blossoming bougainvillea and jacaranda...
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It is always summer in this tropical land and the trees are laden with bananas, mangoes and all manner of fragrant blossoms. In contrast, the streets of Arusha are dusty and potholed and the numerous minibus drivers seem to rely on God to get them and their passengers safely to their destinations...
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Although Arusha is Tanzania's third largest city, and centre of its lucrative tourist industry, the veneer of modernity is spread thinly over its crumbling streets.
There are some recently built stores and banks, and many expensive hotels, but much of the commerce takes place in the chaotic Central Market that has changed little from pre-colonial days. The shoe sellers still hang out their wares under the banyan trees...
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The women still spend their days selling local fruits and vegetables under colourful umbrellas...
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And the main market is crammed with all manner of goods. However, most foreigners here are like us – tourists on safari or trekkers heading up Mt. Kilimanjaro – so vendors have little chance of selling us baskets of dried fish or household wares...
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Away from the city centre the modern buildings quickly dissolve into a mish-mash of humble adobe homes where, apart from cellphones and satellite TVs life carries on much has it has done for generations...
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Arusha market has probably changed little since Ernest Hemingway came here in 1936
and wrote “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. In the book, his main character, Harry, attempts to put his life back on track after living a life of sloth and luxury. A safari is supposed to bring him back to the virtues of hard work. We, on the other hand, are going on safari for the opposite reason - we are rewarding ourselves with a little sloth and luxury after a life of hard work. Harry had an accident, contracted gangrene and died – and that seems a very good reason for us not to follow his path.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Tanzania so far is its people.
This was our first sighting of handsome Maasai warriors in flowing robes as they strode purposefully through Arusha...
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And we met this statuesque young woman as we walked back to our hotel on the edge of the city...
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Reda has a face and physique that would catapault her to the pages of Vogue and have her gracing the catwalk at any Parisian fashion show Yet here, in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, she is just a young unemployed women with dreams.

Posted by Hawkson 08:57 Archived in Tanzania Comments (3)

A First Taste of Tanzania

sunny 32 °C

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This was us several years ago when we watched A380 super-jumbo jets being built at the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, and today we took our first flight aboard one from London to Dubai. It was pure pleasure – spacious seating; more than two thousand movies and TV programs to watch, (including live U.K. Arabic and U.S. channels): and abundant refreshments for the 600 or so passengers.
Dubai airport was equally impressive and after a few hours wandering among some of the world's ritziest fashion, jewellery and food emporiums, we boarded our next flight to Tanzania.

The arrivals hall at Dar-es-Salaam airport has none of the glamour of Dubai but we have seen worse. The sparsely manned visa section was besieged by a lengthy snake of hot and cranky foreigners eager to gain an entry permit, while we simply sailed through with visas previously obtained in Canada. The ancient baggage belt could barely cope with a plane load of returning locals weighed down by enormous bags and boxes of everything the Middle East has to offer and we had to wait awhile for our puny 13 kilo suitcases. Once they had arrived we cleared customs and set off in our hotel's minibus through the city's clogged streets.
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As in most third world countries, almost anything can be bought on the street in Tanzania and as we inched our way from one set of traffic lights to the next we were importuned by a procession of hawkers - a meandering mobile department store, weaving its way on foot through the slow moving traffic with an incredible range of goods on hand. Sellers of hardware, haberdashery, cleaning products and small electrical appliances were interspersed with a plethora of food vendors laden with bags of nuts, crisps and snacks of all kinds, while ice-cream merchants pedalled their wares up and down the traffic lanes on trikes – if only we hadn't left our camera in the luggage compartment of the minibus!.
However, we are now in our hotel in the heart of the city, (watching CNN as the first of Trump's band of villains does the perp walk), and we can show you the view across the city and harbour from our room...
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There are no lions, elephants or giraffes in this thoroughly modern city, but tomorrow we fly to Arusha on the edge of the Serengeti to begin our safari, Things will be different there!

Posted by Hawkson 11:06 Archived in Tanzania Comments (4)

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