Wednesday, April 19th:
Today was another early morning for us. We saw our German engineer friend at breakfast and he had a four-hour drive ahead of him to his next stop so he had been up even longer than us! We started on the drive to Tarangire National Park, about an hour from our jungle lodge. On the way there, we saw a lot of animals already and so I decided to start making a list. Yesterday we saw giraffes (in Tanzania, they are masai giraffes), a few zebras (plains type) at a distance, crabs, monkeys, goats (some were fighting!) and cows. I’ll add a list of all the animal types we see during our safaris at the end of each blog post. One large group that we drove by on the highway had 2 ostriches, lots of zebras and a brown zebra baby, a gazelle, and I think there was a wildebeest. Omari has unbelievable spotting abilities so I feel like we won’t miss much. If we can see the African “Big Five”, I think that will be a feat. The Big Five is a list started by hunters but now tour guides talk about these five African animals that are the hardest to hunt and the most dangerous… they are the African lion, the African elephant, the endangered black rhinoceros, the Cape buffalo, and the African leopard. We were lucky enough to spot some elephants in a far away valley on the way to the park… that’s one of five already!
We made a stop at a Masai tribe home. I’m not sure if it was pre-arranged or if Omari just stopped randomly when he saw them in the field at a distance and then thought he’d introduce us… but it was a fun experience having them share some of their traditions with us. Sher and I even joined the Masai dancing ritual for a while which was awkward but a good time.
Later we had lunch at the park gate picnic area before entering and a monkey stole Sher’s sandwich right from his lunch box! The speedy monkey jumped onto our table, screamed, knocked over my drink, grabbed the bun, and made us both shout and jump up. Crazy monkey… we never expected them to be so bold! He even watched from his tree while eating his portion of Sher’s lunch. There were also lots of mongoose running around but they scare easily so we couldn’t get close.
Inside the Tarangire park, we learned a lot about animal behaviour by watching them and Omari explaining as we spotted different animals. We learned that locals call impalas “Muslims” since they are polygamous (the single males with horns are cast out and hang out together in bachelor groups) and they call the tiny dik-diks (little deer-types slight bigger than rabbits) “Christians” because they are monogamous with one male attached to only one female. There were SO many giraffes…. we were really lucky. They liked to observe us in the safari SUV and try to figure out what type of creature we are. The highlight was when we got up close with the elephants inside the park and they walked on the road in behind and in front of us. I’ve been close to elephants in Thailand at a sanctuary camp where we rode them without saddles and bathed with them in the river but they were trained and not in the wild like this. It was one of the most exciting animal encounters of my trips so far.
When we got back to the Octagon Lodge, they greeted us again with warm scented damp cloths and fresh juice. So it wasn’t just a check-in treat, they do this every time we come back! Sher and I had another huge dinner and realized that we’ve both been gaining weight on this trip, not losing it like we expected! We are being fed too well here! Sher sent a picture of us to his mom and she even noticed the weight gain plus his gorilla-like facial hair…. which means that he’s definitely enjoying himself!
Animal list for the day- savannah baboons, African elephants, donkeys, ostriches, zebras, Thompson’s gazelle, wildebeest, velvet monkeys, banded mongooses, masai giraffes, bush pigs, waterbucks, warthogs (Poomba!), Grant’s gazelle, topi, hartebeests.