Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 3: Tarangiri

-The morning safari...It was still dark when we left camp at 6AM. There were probably 15 or 20 other tents at the campsite and we were the 1st to leave. Within 5 minutes we saw many magnificent Masaai Giraffes. Big males, shorter females eating from the tree tops. We saw many Wildebeest and Zebra as well. Amazing elephants with many babies. A family of Warthogs ran in front of us too. I can't tell if those shots are going to come out good or not.

There was a large tree filled with Vultures. I loved shooting it with my Canon 15mm f2.8 Fisheye lens and capturing the dramatic sky above. We came across some Cape Buffalo that were not too happy to see us. They are angry looking beasts. Again Nixon proved his vast knowlege of the many species of exotic birds. At one point we saw a Hamerkop skillfully fishing with great success. We drove several hours and saw ostrich and more elephants. We then came across an elephant that had been killed yesterday by a Lion! If you ever get a chance to absorb the aroma of the rotting corpse of a giant elephant, I recommend you pass :( RANCID is a word the comes to mind.

After the elephant was killed yesterday, Park Rangers removed the tusks and will donate them to a museum. About 25 yards down the road we found our first cat of the trip. A male Simba (lion) relaxing behind a bush licking his bloody chops. Very, very cool. This was about an hour and a half from camp. Tonight we will head back hoping to find the male and his pride feeding. In about two days more, the smell will become (even more) unbearable and I'm told the rangers will need to burn it. In the meantime, it's a feast fit for a king (literally). On the way back we found a cool Monitor Lizard on a riverbank where under the tall grass on the other side a pride of lions including cubs were reported to have been resting. A beautiful herd of elephants walked by unconcerned with the nearby lions and gave us a nice look while in the river.

When we arrived back at camp I was surprised to find it completely abandoned. Ours were the only 2 tents remaining. Because of the lack of people now there are many, many birds in camp and a large group of Mongoose is very close to the tent scavenging for food. Now I will try to nap for we go out again shortly.

-The inside of the tent is hotter than two cats doin it in a wool sock! No sleep still-I was bathed in sweat. Nixon is napping and Swalehh doesn't speak English. I tried starting to read Catch 22 as I finished my other book last night. I need to get some sleep so I can focus better. After dinner tonight I'll take some Tylenol PM.

Down the road from our campsite is a group of 60 students that have been here for 3 weeks. Every now and then a small group will come over and ask about America and our zoos.

-This evenings Safari was nothing shy of amazing! Just around the corner from camp were Warthogs bathing in the swamp for a great photo op. We were driving fast as our goal was to reach the elephant kill and we only had a couple of hours of daylight. On route we saw a herd of around 300 Cape Buffalo. Awesome, angry looking animals. We saw a group of safari vehicles down neard the river where we heard lions were earlier. Sure enough, there was a lioness right in front of everyone. It was funny because when we parked and I started shooting, many cameras turned on me. When I asked why, they said because of my lens! That cracked me up. This lioness had a radio collar on her neck. We shot her for awhile and continued towards the elephant.

Near the kill, we found another lioness hanging out on a rock. someone had spotted a Leopard earlier but we couldn't find it. We got to the elephant and the smell was worse than before. Next to it was the male lion and two females. They looked quite content so we knew we missed dinnertime. Moments after we arrived I looked behind us and saw a lioness looking very apprehensive. I said to Nixon I didn't think she was part of the pride when the male got up and slowly started stalking her. His two females right behind him. In the blink of an eye, all four lions were running. They went behind some bushes and we heard vicious growling and fighting. We quickly turned the car around and found the 3 lions in the pride running down the road after the uninvited female. They cut into the brush and instantly, the male turned a hard right and started chasing a warthog instead of the lioness. It was so exciting! The lioness continued her retreat and the pride dropped where they were and began to!

Mbili Twiga while the day was just starting to get light outside.
I was looking up at the dramatic clouds in the sky when I noticed there were vultures hanging out in this beautiful baobab tree. Look closely and you can see them.
I had to post this tree again. I really like the mood of these photo's.
A lightning fast fisher...the Hammerkop.
A group of Rock Hyrax sticking together for warmth on a cold morning.
A beautiful Martial Eagle.
This awesome Cape Buffalo challenged me to a staring contest and won with no problem.
A Monitor Lizard hunting on the riverbank.
This elephant was relentless in shaking this tree until it's fruit fell from the branches.
There was a pride of lions under the brush just to the left of these elephants.
A Pied Kingfisher
This cute little guy is called a DikDik (yes, I giggled every time I called it out after spotting one :) They stand about 15 inches tall or so and we saw quite a few.
A huge Lappet faced vulture showing off his wingspan.
A couple of monkeys grooming each other under a tree.
Assuming Lea approves, this one is going on my wall.
The number of elephants in the different herds was unbelievable. This was only a fraction of this particular herd!
A pretty scene with two elephants getting a quick drink in the Tarangiri River.
This is the lioness just moments before she realized she was going to have a very bad day.
If you look closely, you can see the three lions sleeping nearby the dead elephant.
The male lion just noticed that they had an uninvited visitor.
At this point, you could feel the tension.
He took off after her and fast!
At this point the lion being chased had turned off into the brush on the right.
After all the excitement he went right back to resting peacefully.
A flock of birds flying by in the beautiful golden light.
Another beautiful sunset just on the other side of the road from the lions.


Anonymous said...

Was excited to see you put up day 3.How long were you there? I love the DikDik.also the one of the elephant that is going on your wall. I know the smell.We had to dig a hole for a cow that was dead for several days in the Georgia heat! And pick him up with a backhoe. It is a smell you will never forget and hope you never smell again.
Great Stuff!!!.
Waiting for day 4
Photobug Deb

Fellow said...

Got any pictures of naked pygmies like national geographic? I used to love national geographic. Hey great pictures dude, you've outdone yourself.
Unca John

Meg said...

Mat -
I cannot believe all the animals you saw, and so close - craziness! The photos are beautiful. Once you've posted the whole journal and photos, I'll be going through and putting my order in for the ones I'd like!!

kerioakdobes said...

Hi Mat, I love that bird (heron ?) shot against the golden sky
Christine (Kerioak)