9 February 2017, Day 22, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Today is a long drive in Tarangire National Park. We will drive the length of the park, from north to south. Along the way we will see distinct regions where soil and vegetation change.
As we begin, a jackal runs across the road, a mongoose dangling from her mouth. She runs to her young, three of them. An eating frenzy begins. Each grabs a piece, runs a short way away to eat, and comes back for more. My pictures, unfortunately, are all fuzzy to the max. Sorry.
We begin in dark gray clay soil, which becomes sticky and slippery in the rainy season. Our first sighting is a mongoose sitting atop a termite mound. There are vultures atop a Baobab tree, impala (of course), vervet monkeys, zebras, guinea fowl. There are lots of tall trees and a fair amount of undergrowth.
We see elephants, baboons and more impalas. We pass a herd of wildebeest on the left side of the road and a herd of zebras on the right. There are ostriches, male and female. The male is black, and sits on the eggs at night; the female is grayish-brown and sits on the eggs during the day. Camouflage!
We see yellow-necked spur fowl, more elephants, and a flaming orange fireball lily. There are warthogs, starlings, guinea fowl, vultures. We see giraffes, the emblem of Tanzania. And there is a waterbuck.
We stop at a poacher’s hide, a carved out “room” in a huge baobab tree. Some climb inside, including Bob. Here the soil changes to red sand, and the vegetation is small trees and grasses. There are ebony trees and euphorbia candelabra. The termite mounds are red rather than gray. As we leave we spot a tawny eagle.
We stop at a picnic area on a cliff overlooking the Tarangire River for tea There are elephants and elephants down below.
Back in the vehicles again, we descend into the valley, where many elephants are dotted across the plain. The Tarangire River is shallow, hot, and salty at this time of year. It floods in April and May. There are blacksmith plovers and Egyptian geese, and a monitor lizard in the water as we cross the river on a low concrete bridge.
We see 2 eland far away on a hillside, more elephants, and come upon a group of 9 giraffes. One of them obliges us by splaying its legs and bending its head down to drink. Not exactly your everyday experience. We see impalas, a reedbuck, a secretary bird, a large group of at least 3 dozen elephants, monkeys, banded mongoose, and again eland in the distance.
We drive back to the picnic area to enjoy our boxed lunch, or “yummy, yummy” as Witress says. There’s too much lunch, as usual. The vervet monkeys are on the prowl, looking to steal food. Mahunga pulls out his slingshot to chase the monkeys away.
Later, another couple decides to feed the monkeys. Oh, no! Emboldened, one jumps from the tree down onto our table and steals a chocolate. He proceeds to sit in the tree and eat the chocolate. Ron picks up the foil with a napkin – good scout. We pack up the leftover food and Witress takes it to the folks who run the picnic area.
Now we head toward the other end of the park, coming to the landscape known as the “Small Serengheti”. There are open grasslands mixed with small trees, no undergrowth. Lion researchers operate in this area.
We see a rare fringe-eared oryx. Wow! And five lionesses under a tree. Those are the highlights.
Outside the park, we make a stop at the Makonde Carvers. The leader of some 16 men who work here, carving and painting, shows us the workshop. All is done by hand. They work in ebony, mahogany, and rosewood. The mahogany items are painted; the ebony and rosewood are polished and oiled. Too bad we have no money with us.
We exit the park and drive back on the highway and again down the dirt road to our temporary abode at Simba Tarangire.
Keep scrolling for more pictures!