Friday June 30, 2017

There are lots of things about this African Safari that I find hard to describe … lots of things that even photos can’t convey … lots of things you can only appreciate by BEING HERE.

Take landscapes, for example. We’ve lost count of the different landscapes we’ve traversed here in East Africa. From gently rolling plains smothered in acacia trees, to golden-grass savannas stretching to the horizon … from parched, sun-baked dust-pans, to lush-green swampy wetlands. A few days ago, for example, we found ourselves in a place that can only be described as remarkable …

06-01 Ngorongoro Crater - not our photo (1024x453)


This World Heritage Site has been called the Eighth Wonder of the Natural World – the biggest intact volcanic caldera on the planet and the largest ‘zoo’ on earth. We slept two nights high up on the rim, driving in the misty early-morning down 600 metres onto the crater floor … one of the most picturesque settings we’d seen on our safari, and an animal population so used to humans that you can almost “reach out and touch”.

06-02 Lake Manyara Serena Lodge (1024x639)


This scenic gem, extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had ever seen in Africa”, kept our cameras busy. Baboon troops lounging along the roadside, blue monkeys (you oughta see their privates!) scampering between the ancient mahogany trees, oversized hornbills honking loudly in the high canopy, and truly extraordinary birdlife. 400 different species have been spotted here, and while we didn’t spot anything like 400, we did our level best.

Below are more of the weird and wonderful birds that we’ve seen over the past two weeks – a feast-for-sore-eyes, I’m sure you’ll agree. We saw LOTS MORE than these (some of our group have been ticking them off in a book about ‘Birds of East Africa’ – and they spotted the 100th yesterday). But these are a few that we managed to catch on camera … some of them huge and hard to miss (like the fish eagles, the vultures and the secretary birds) … others small and quick to take flight (like the scarlet-chested sunbird) … some so well-camouflaged they were nearly impossible to see (like the strangely-named water thick-knee) … others so beautifully coloured they took our breath away (like the tiny malachite kingfishers; the first photo shows the pygmy variety, barely 10cm long; the second, a standard malachite, a little bigger, with the fish in its mouth).

Most of these birds, of course, were high in trees or much further away that our photos suggest (thank God for zoom-lenses) … but each of them more fascinating than I can say.

Highlight of the day at Lake Manyara were the zillions of pelicans and yellow-billed storks that were feeding, bathing, squawking and flapping about in the shallow, alkaline waters! A most amazing sight!

06-37 yellow-billed storks & pelicans (1024x768)06-38 great white pelicans (1024x768)

Wednesday: AMBOSELI

Framed against the glorious backdrop of Africa’s highest peak, the magnificent pink-tinged snow-capped Mt Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park provides the classic movie image of an African safari park. The mountain remained hidden behind cloud most of yesterday, but it cleared yesterday afternoon. And, speaking of movies, we saw one last night, about this park’s most famous four-legged mother: Echo, the elephant.

06-03 Amboseli Serena Lodge (1024x637)

Amboseli is home to one of the few large elephant populations in all of Africa that hasn’t been ravaged by poachers – and we enjoyed the spectacle of jumbo-sized families on the move: big mommas, their playful youngsters, and the occasional oversized bull – plodding patiently across the dusty plains, and feasting greedily on tasty salads while standing up to their haunches in muddy swamps.

Anyway, enough for now about elephants. I’ll tell you more next time I write …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. Would you like to join us on our NEXT AFRICAN SAFARI? We’ll most likely go again in 2020 (three years from now). Get in early, so you don’t miss out! Register your interest now by calling Dianne on 0508 323 333 or emailing [email protected].

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