Today we embarked on a four day safari with guides Daniel and Johnson, that will take us to three different locations. First we head to Tarangire National Park, then the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and finally Serengeti National Park. As we head southwest out of Arusha, we pass through the Cultivation Zone that surrounds Mt. Kilimanjaro. Along the way we see many Masai tribesman herding cattle, goats and sheep, dressed in the brightly colored Masai blanket that distinguishes these nomadic tribesmen from the more than 120 different tribes in Tanzania.
The farmland is comprised of rich volcanic soil used to grow two primary crops for the Maasai, maize and beans. These are perfect crops to sustain both their families and their herds. Other crops grown in the region include coffee, carrots, potatoes, and bananas.
The first of three safari locations is Tarangire National Park. Tarangire is translated as Warthog (gire) River (taran). The vast park has broad views, with a rolling terrain of hills and grasslands. The thorny acacia trees and broad-trunked baobab trees span the landscape.
As we drive through the park we see giraffes, ostrich, impalas, elephants, baboons, warthogs, zebra, water buck, a variety of colorful birds, and the smallest antelope, called dik dik, in their natural habitat. We even get to see a trio of cheetah off in the distance. It is remarkable to see these animals in their natural habitat. Meanwhile, Daniel and Johnson share their encyclopedic knowledge when answering the many questions we have.
Our day 2 safari destination is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Ngorongoro is an ancient caldera that was formed when the volcano magma chamber collapsed to form a 2,000’ deep caldera that is nearly 12 miles across and comprises 109 sq mi of grassland, marsh and a large alkili lake.
The descent into the caldera is steep, but once inside it is easy to see why so many different animals flourish here. The food is plentiful and the presence of predatory lions, hyena, jackals and leopards do not seem to alarm the wide array of grazing herbivores.
The crater is home to 7,000 wildebeest, 4,000 zebras, 3,000 eland, 3,000 gazelles, 600 hyena, 200-300 elephants, over 60 lions, 30 rhinos, and many others. In all, over 25,000 wild creatures call the Ngorongoro Crater home.
We spend several hours driving all over the crater floor and see all of the following animals and more: Thompson Gazelle, Cape Buffalo, Wildebeest (Gnu), Lion, Zebra, Pelican, Stork, Egyptian Geese, Flamingo, Hammerlock, Crown Crane, Grant Gazelle, Sacred Ibis, Grey Heron, Golden Jackal, Hippopotamus, Hyena, Rhinoceros, Eland Antelope (largest antelope), Warthog, Ostrich, and Baboon.
We end our long day, ending on the Serengeti as we arrive at our camp at sunset. When I get access to some of the pictures from those with telephoto lenses, I will update this post.