Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Tanzanian Safari 12th -26th Jan.. PART 5

18th Jan.
Another 7.30.am.start as we made off to the Serengeti, a fairly long and uneventful drive through the Ngoro conservation area where people and animals try to co-exist. I noted a harrier hawk and a few pied wheatears etc on route and then we stopped at a Maasai village was on the itinerary to which I wasn't keen.  We were the only visitors there and felt like royalty as everybody came out of their little stick and cow dung huts. As we stood there they all started to dance, jumping up and down, the women as well, we felt rather uncomfortable. After, we were invited to go into one of the tiny huts by the son of the chief, who spoke English. A tiny entrance. almost pitch black inside except for a few gaps in the walls plus a small fire that is kept alight all the time, didn't smell though. Rather too cosy, parents sleep there and children sleep a couple of feet away, mind you I couldn't see anything and they probably couldn't either! They don't seem to want to change their lifestyle, children tend the cows, women build the houses and look after everything, the men, when they get to 16 or 17 go through some sort of ceremony, sounded to painful to describe here! From then on they become warriors or something but don't work any more, just take more wives and wander around carrying their sticks.  I asked the chief's son what do the men folk do all day, implying they were a lazy lot to which he just gave a big grin. The family group living here consisted of 120 people all from one descendant living in several huts surrounded by the traditional ring of sticks and bushes, the 'Enkang' or 'boma'.  Our guide said they don't bury their dead, they just put them out in the bush for the scavengers to take care of.

The Men, doing the 'conga'

The Ladies, not doing much, leaving the men to most of the floor show.

We were invited to look at a lot of beady things the women had made and make a purchase. I chose a couple of small things to which he said cost 34 dollars, I gave them back. They know about money, some are very rich owning big herds of animals, not unusual to see some with mobiles and other trappings but still wear the red cloak.  Finally, we were shown the school where the children read out numbers from a crude blackboard, we made a donation (we understood why they ask for chalk). Wished we bought some old clothes for the kids and some soap.

School; The poor kids have a rough life.

We shook hands. Fortunately, we had some wipes, didn't know how often his got washed especially looking at the lack of a bathroom! Toilet facilities were non existent plus no water and I don't think they kept any rolls of Andrex!   Glad to get away,  we were still a good way  from the Serengeti gate but passed through some lovely green highlands peppered with Maasai 'bomas'

Highland Maasai Village. - must get cold at times

Entrance to the Serengeti - the bus travels from Arusha to Lake Victoria, takes all day and it really gets a lick on overtaking all the tourist vehicles.

3-400 yards from the entrance several lions were by the side of the road.

They seemed quite happy with a dozen jeeps looking on.

Further on a couple of secretary birds

Saddle-billed Stork at this little wet area 

The commonest wader was little stint, several could be found at any wet area along with 3 banded plovers, blk winged stilts and ruff. Other birds were tawny eagles, pallid and Monty's harriers, zitting cisticolas, black crakes, Ruppell's long-tailed starlings, grey-backed fiscal shrikes, Hildabrant's starling etc..

Further on we could see a lot of vehicles beside the road  and arriving got some of the best leopard views I've ever had, right next to the road!

It turned around and started to walk right along the sides of the vehicles - always amazes me that they don't register that we are all looking at them!

I took so many photos this is just a small sample

So close.

Southern Ground Hornbill - just this one on its own, usually small groups.

Northern White-crowned Shrike - these were very common on the Serengeti, sometimes 3 to 4 in a bush. Continuing on we saw more hippos, 4 sets of lions plus the everyday impala, dik dik, elephants and giraffes. Finally, arriving at 1.45 still in time for lunch and drink. Talking about drink, a guy was wearing a Tee shirt emblazoned, 'Kilimanjaro, if you can't climb it, drink it', which we did everyday, a really nice beer.

 See the altitude 4,859 ft. - comfortable temperatures.

Pleasant rooms, all fitted with mosquito nets but we never saw any mossies, as usual.

View from the veranda. Dik diks roam around outside and guards told us buffalo and the odd lion visit in the night!  After settling in to our rondelle and a very brief rest we  were out on a late pm. game drive again.

Three banded plover, never got a good shot, always on mud!

The extensive grasslands as we went out in the afternoon.

Bare-faced Go-away Bird - quite a large turraco and common.

It was getting late and a party of arrow-marked babblers were hiding in an acacia bush. Other birds seen were; square-tailed drongo, grey breasted spurfowl, blue-naped mousebird, beautiful sunbird, green wood hoopoe, pin-tailed whydah, laughing doves, a huge flock of wattled starlings c.300, green sandpipers, silverbird, grey-capped camaroptera and two-banded courser.

A few red-billed hornbills

Grey-breasted Spurfowl; A Tanzanian special, only found in a few parts of the Serengeti, looks like a red-necked spurfowl but the lack of red legs is the obvious difference.

African Mourning Dove; Supposed to be common but not for me.

Finishing off at a hippo pool we saw this martial eagle on the top of a tree, as usual, couldn't get a clear shot. Waited a while but it didn't move so continued onto the pool to see the hippos but returning it was still there!

You wouldn't want to be in there, such a huge mouth for a vegetarian!

On our way back a quick stop in the fading light revealed this Brown parrot - needed a bit of Photoshop to bring out the colours. Back for some Kilimanjaro and getting some rest for our full day safari tomorrow.

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