In February of 2017, a Naturalist Journeys group embarked on a spectacular 13-day Tanzania safari. Here are the highlights.
Naturalist Journeys‘ owner, Peg Abbott, is just wrapping up her trip in Botswana, and it got us thinking about this past February’s Tanzania safari … what a treat! East Africa is the ULTIMATE wildlife watching destination, and Peg is known to say that if she had just one more trip left in her lifetime, it would be to East Africa. What follows are the highlights, by location, from our 2017 Tanzania safari. Enjoy!
1. Arusha National Park
This is where our Tanzania safari kicked off. Troops of Black-and-white Colobus Monkeys top the list. Electric-colored kingfishers. Young zebra stallions at play. The first giraffe sighting.
2. Lake Manyara National Park
The Yellow-billed Stork colony at the park entrance amazed us … over 1000 strong with birds in total prime plumage. We watched African Jacana ride about on the backs of Hippos. An African Fish Eagle at close range, gleaming in the sun. More species of waterfowl than one can imagine. Secretive crakes, rails, and snipe. Our camp with a view of the Rift Valley. Paradise Flycatchers at the bird bath! Sleeping, cuddled Silvery-cheeked Hornbills and a huge Verreaux’s Eagle Owl and African Porcupine on a night drive.
3. Tarangire National Park
Elephant families belly high in grass, feeding, calling, watching a greeting frenzy as a new group entered, seeing Elephants weep. Massive and multiple eagles, Martials perched up one after another, mixed with Tawny, Lesser Spotted, and Long-crested Eagles as well. Finding two male lions sunning as they ignored us; a Kentish Plover walking right up to the snout of one, intent on finding bugs. Yellow-collared Lovebirds posing in a flowering Baobab tree, lined up and preening each other. Chestnut-bellied, and also Black-faced Sandgrouse, elegant in their perfect arid-land adaptation. The rainbow colors of Red-and-yellow Barbet on a termite mound. Electric hues of European Bee-eaters, a dozen or more swirled together. Giraffes higher than our vehicle, striding. Sunlit Waterbuck and Impala.
4. Serengeti National Park
A pride of Lions lounging atop a kopje, alert Zebra just below. Seeing my first-ever Serval right next to the road, hunting. Lines and lines of Zebra, some up to their bellies frolicking in a water hole. Big Lappet-faced Vultures. Three Hammerkop with perfect reflections in a small pool. Hartlaub’s Bustard strutting through the grass, a poignant injured hyena, three species of jackals in one morning, and the totally remarkable sighting of a baby Caracal right by the road. And who can forget the view of a sea of wildebeest from the hill above the park entrance!
5. Ngorongoro Crater
Watching five lionesses hunt what we thought were Zebra and turned out to be a Warthog (and it got away…). A Kori Bustard in full display, absolutely remarkable! Five Black Rhino, a big herd of Eland, African Goshawk and Long-crested Eagles, both offering close views. The Hippo that came out of the pool at a rest stop, sending us all scattering! Baby Zebra on wobbly legs discovering they could run.
Linda spotting the twitching tail of a Leopard at dawn, pink light framing its silhouette high in a barren tree. Seeing more baby Wildebeest than one could imagine, watching the massive herds run, spiral, splash across rivers, rest, feed – all the while grunting and calling – something else! “Sleeping Beauty,” a most relaxed female Cheetah posing in the shrubs, a Brown Snake Eagle being harassed by a Drongo, and so many birds!
We travel to Tanzania again in February 2018, right at the peak of Wildebeest calving season. It will be incredible, and we invite you to join us.