Monday, March 6, 2017

Africa- Tanzania: Tarangire National Park (To Tanzania we go!!!)

So, it was time to get into an undiscovered continent...South American and Australia were a bit too far for the given timeframe, and Antartica is a little too cold for my taste, so that left us with Africa. That being said, it had been really high on our "travel" list to experience a true safari, but we know (thank you National Geographic and Discovery Channels!!!) that you only have certain periods of time to achieve the best experience, which is during the migration. So, we had waited...and waited...and were now done waiting!

Really, there isn't going to be a lot to "say" in these Africa blog posts, as everything is seen in the pictures. I will try to describe how it felt, and looked, and smelled, to share the experience, but it will not do it justice. This was a "once in a lifetime" trip that was incredible, and perfect, and something I think/wish that everyone should/could experience. Also, Africa is completely NOT what I expected it to be, in an absolutely wonderful way.

Sampling the local brew while passing time during our layover

Final leg of the journey into Africa! Only traveling with a backpack each.

For our first and last night in Africa, we stayed in the city of Arusha. Not much to the city itself, as it is small but busy, but we did venture to this place for both dinners at the recommendation of one the locals: Africafe. Nope, it is not local food, and it is a cafe, but is does serve full meals along with the cafe atmosphere and the food was REALLY well done.

You *MUST* have a safari guide to access the parks. You cannot rent a car, you cannot go in "unattended", as a protective measure for yourself, the animals, and the environment itself. Through careful reviews, we decided on Benson Safaris Tanzania. Honestly, we narrowed it down to 5, and then choose based on: responsiveness, cost, and feedback. Benson far surpassed the other 4, and we did not regret this choice at any single point during the trip. Actually, they were incredible, and provided some of the most thorough and attentive customer service that we have ever experienced. And, of note, we received praise and thanks from places that we stayed, about Benson, because they are so easy and reputable to work with. I found that interesting and reaffirming. We opted for "private tour" for the days, as to have others (strangers) in the car would have only saved a negligible amount of money spread out of over the time there. And let's not lie, it's nice to not have to worry about others being "in your space" or have to "consider them".

Our personal carriage for the trip! My new favorite vehicle (barebones Land Cruiser), and I seriously want one!

Tarangire National Park:

Besides the time that it took to drive there, we spent THE ENTIRE DAY in the park. We even enjoyed lunch there, watching monkeys try to steal food from others. It was great. Just sitting there at lunch, high on our morning, looking around at the very full SUVs and forced groups, we were VERY glad to have gone the private route for this one.

Ridiculously excited to safari!!!!

Do you see the lizard!??! (Hint: Top left corner!)

My position for 5-6 hours a day, all 8 days (minus the time driving and Jeff required the roof to be down)


Warthog and her babies <3 !!!!!

Aptly called a blue-ball monkey, if you squint, you can see why. And the penis is BRIGHT red. For all to see

Just enjoying the view: Green leaves and a crisp blue sky. 

View across the Park

View across the Park

ELEPHANTS!!!! Riculously cute elephant babies!!! Seriously....lost my mind!!!!

It's baby elephant season

Elephants and baobab trees

Yeah, you tell me that is not an amazing view!

T'was also baby zebra season!

One of my favorite pictures of the trip. They only wanted butts!

And baby monkey season <3

Lion feasting on a large bird as his lady rests

AND baby lion season!!!

The view from our accommodations for the night

We stayed at the Maramboi Tented Camp and it was awesome. Think "glamping". Yes, technically it was a tent, because it's walls were canvas. But that is where the similaries ended. It was polished wooden floors with rugs, a giant four-poster bed draped with mosquito netting, and full-size and full functional bathroom with all of the amenities (with solar heating, so the water was HOTter than you would ever achieve at home!), and comfortable furniture.

The view from our accommodations for the night

The view from our accommodations for the night

The view from our accommodations for the night

We enjoyed a glass of wine out on the deck, to unwind a bit, and enjoyed our view.

MY view from our accommodations for the night


The place that we stayed was close to the lake, but you were not allowed to venture around the propety by yourself, due to the animals being freely able to go where they please. So for your safety, and the animals' protection, you were to have a guide. The carry a spear and a gun, and make you feel better about yourself by giving you a stick to defend yourself.

Took a tour with a local Masai guide around the grounds and Lake Manyara

Absolutely took my breath away

When you ask someone to take the pict for you, you can't expect it to be straight, or focused.

See the pink streak? Squint. See it? THOUSANDS OF FLAMINGOS! Not kidding.

Here is a few thousand more. Unfortunately the ground was too soft to get any closer. I tried. I got yelled at. 

Learning from the local Masai guide

And then our evening ended on the pool deck, just watching the beautiful day come to a close. Enjoying a few more glasses of wine, of course.

Colorful birds (center if the pict on the branch)

Oh, it was such an amazing first day of exploration, and we were exhilarated and exhausted. The best part was that the guide just kept saying how this was nothing compared to the Serengeti or Ngorogoro Crater, which we still had to look forward to....and I couldn't imagine it getting any more awesome. Oh, how I was wrong, so very, very (happily) wrong!

The stars that night....brilliant. The night sounds...noisy with various animals. My mind....quiet and peaceful. My soul...quelled and quenches.