After a beautiful drive we reached Tarangire National Park. The national parks in Tanzania are not fenced in – animals migrate freely between the parks and through the countryside.
We were immediately greeted with amazing groups of zebras and elephants.
This adult elephant was covered in dirt, which it shook off in a big cloud of dust while the two baby elephants played.
We drove along ridges with incredible views including gigantic Baobab trees.
A group of zebras crossing the river.
And another zebra…
And more zebras…
Also large groups of waterbucks. Not as flashy as the zebras but still beautiful.
After several hours, and several hundreds animals, we arrived at Tarangire Safari Lodge, locating on a bluff with a breathtaking view.
The camp has about 20 permanent tents and small bungalows in a line along the ridge. This is the view from our bungalow! Best view ever.
As we walked to our bungalow, we heard a commotion in the valley – animals running and screeching. Down below near the river, a lion had killed a zebra! When we walked back over we could see the lion in the distance guarding its kill.
On the way back, this bird landed next to us – a Superb Starling. This was the most common bird we saw – they were everywhere. Beautiful.
We headed back out in the Land Rover in the late afternoon when the animals would be active again. The Land Rover had two sun roofs – we stood up to look at the wildlife. Here Nick watches some elephants cross the road as it starts to rain.
Stephano would stop once in a while and peer out through his binoculars – he had an amazing ability to spot animals in the distance. He found these lions sleeping under a tree.
And then they started moving…
Stephano said it appeared the lions had eaten recently. They were lazily walking and playing – not really hunting for anything. One headed over to a big rock, just across the river from us, and then posed for some photos.
As the lions walked back toward the tree, we drove off in search of more animals.
And then the Land Rover broke down… At least it was scenic – this is the view from where we were stuck. (Actually everywhere was scenic.)
After some jokes about fending off lions and hyenas during the night, Stephano calmly called back to camp on his cell phone. Fortunately we were close to camp and he had a good signal – we had very good cell phone coverage throughout the trip, even in remote areas.
And this is how we got back to camp…
And we made it back safely to the lodge in time for dinner.
The next morning, we were up at the crack of dawn to head back out, now in our temporary replacement Land Rover due to the breakdown. Nick was a trooper throughout the trip – he barely complained about getting up early.
As you can see, our new truck had no doors or windows (or sides.) It’s just a platform with seats and a canopy. This would lead to a scary moment later that morning!
The beautiful scenery and wildlife continued. Here a lone elephant heads somewhere in the early morning.
This baby baboon played in a tree. (You can thank me for not posting more baboon pictures with their gross red behinds – I’m not a big fan of monkeys…)
And we watched these elephants eating breakfast.
A vulture headed off looking for something dead to eat…
And on we went in our truck (with no doors or windows or protection of any kind…)
And then we came upon some elephants. We stopped the car, and then they moved very close to us. They didn’t look happy – they seemed menacing, covered in red dirt.
One of the elephants walked right up next to the truck and stood there, waving its ears, lightly stomping its feet, and looking very threatening.
Stephano whispered that it wasn’t a problem, but stay very still and don’t make any noise.
And that’s when Nicholas, with his red striped shirt, decided to get further away from the elephant…
This was one of the few times we were actually scared, but I’m sure the risk of the elephant charging us was actually very low. All turned out well. (Although it would have been nice to be back in our truck that had sides…)
On we went…seeing a warthog that had just wallowed in mud.
Beautiful Grant’s gazelles
And monkeys (black faced vervets) that surprisingly have one prominent part of their anatomy colored bright powder blue…
On the previous day, Nick had seen a cool-looking rock by the side of the road as we drove by, but we didn’t stop. We passed down the same road and Nick found the rock again. It’s a volcanic rock that’s been sheared in half with smooth glass on the inside. (The entire area has been shaped by volcanos.) We placed it back after taking the photo – there are very strict rules about removing anything from the national park.
We headed toward home, passing this group of elephants under a sausage tree as a storm brewed in the distance.
And after a day that didn’t seem like it could be any more amazing, we came upon dozens of giraffes.
Photos can’t capture how amazing it was to see these animals and nature at its finest – we won’t be visiting a zoo any time soon….