Saturday, 4 August 2012

Camp Tanzania: Safari!

After four days of getting muddy, sweaty and dusty working at Ndarakwai wildlife reserve with Camps International we were in for a bit of a treat. Two days on Safari. Not only that, but we would be visiting the world famous Ngorogoro Crater.  Its like disneyland for wildlife geeks, only more so. First of all however, we went to Tarangire National Park, home of the elephant, and the baobab tree, which is basically an elephant in tree format. Tarangire is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, and within minutes of entering the park we were surrounded by elephants.

Ancient Baobab tree.  The swollen trunk stores water and is a magnet for elephants who use their mighty strength to rip open the bark and access moisture. 

The first group of elephants we encountered was a large herd of females and calves, slipping in to a waterhole to cool off.

From a perch in a nearby tree, a greyheaded kingfisher looks on. 

Not much further up the trail, we met a vast herd of about 30 young bulls who silenty lumbered past our vehicle on their way to the waterhole. They passed close enough that we could have reached out and touched them, and despite their huge size, they didn't make a sound. 

Tarangire is also home to giraffes. 

This could be my favourite photo from the entire trip.  A beautiful elephant creche, with sleeping babies in the shade of their older relatives, who carefully guard them. 

The next day it was onwards to the Ngorogoro Crater.  I hate the term bucket list, but if Dr Who had ever turned up in my life and said he could take me to one place in the universe of my choosing, this would have been it. I had to keep pinching myself and reminding myself that this was "work".

The crater is a giant caldera formed when an enormous volcano erupted and collapsed in on itself between 2 and 3 million years ago. 

 There is a phenomenal amount of larger game in the crater. Everywhere we looked, herds of zebra, wildebeest and buffalo grazed the plains. 

Even though I spent 4 years researching these unusual animals in my previous incarnation as a palaeolithic archaologist, I'd never seen a spotted hyaena before. I saw more than expected-  I'm told that mating is rarely photographed behaviour....

 There were plenty of other spotted hyaenas loping aorund the crater too. Many were on their way to a lion kill that we came across later in the day. 

 Hippos keeping cool.

Young wildebeast bull. 

Because of the geography of the crater, the lion population is vulnerable to inbreeding and disease. Nevertheless, we saw several that day lounging about in the sun. In the distance you can see a male lion guarding a zebra kill he has made.  He is surrounded by about 30 spotted hyaenas. The standoff was still going when we left the crater late in the day.

As a feline fan my favourite animal to see was the serval. I've been on safari a few times before but never tracked down this elusive and charming little cat.  Its not the best photo, the serval is hunting so under cover as much as possible. Sitting and watching it stalking through the long grass was completely thrilling, with stripey ears cocked forward, and spotty back slinking through the brush. What a cat! I'm in love. 


Camps said...

This is fantastic. I love the elephant shot out of the window. So glad you enjoyed it. We'd love to share these with our future gappers and maybe feature it in our newspaper if that's okay.
James c camps international

Camps said...

Wow Lucy. It's amazing. Your photos are incredible. I love the elephant shot and of course the group hug hyena.
James c camps

Lucy Wallace said...

Hi James! Thanks! Glad you like. There's more to come- I've been in the woods all week just back at my computer now so will keep updating. :-)

Lucy Wallace said...

oh- and I've also got loads of photos of the team too- I'm going to burn to a disc and get in the post to you asap.