October 23, 2012 Ol Tukai Manyara Tent Camp
We decided to have a rest day from game drives today, giving our hard working guides and ourselves a break. Those of us who wanted to get up at sunrise could go on a walk with the Masai in the area where we are camped.
Masai moran (warriors) wearing their traditional shukas
we follow along
Jackie the tracker! The walk was interesting but we did not encounter any big game, probably a good thing, our only protection was the wooden bow carried by one of the morans.
Back in camp I drew this little ink sketch of a baboon from a photo on my netbook computer
Later in the afternoon our guides drove us to a nearby Masai village where we were had a fabulous time visiting with the friendly children, taking photos, and learning about the Masai culture.
Steve had given us a reading list prior to our safari and on it was a book titled BAREFOOT OVER THE SERENGETI by David Read. I highly recommend the book to anyone going on safari in Masai country as it is not only an interesting true story, but it explains the Masai culture in great detail. It really helped me to understand what we were seeing in the village.
We were invited to enter a couple of the round huts (constructed of tree limbs covered with dung with thatched roofs). The chief of the village had four wives and each one had a hut.
I visited one of the wife's hut but the chief was in another hut and I did not get to see him. I love these photos I took of the young wife and children in the hut.
Here are some fun photos of my friends mingling with the kids, who loved seeing themselves in our cameras.
Eddie from England and his new friends
Barbara shows a young girl the photo she took of her
Stephen our photography instructor, caused a rush when he pulls out his business cards with a painting of an Indian tiger on them and everybody wanted one.
Chris, James (our head guide) and a small child
Richard and Lyn and a Masai warrior
Christine did a watercolor in her journal and the kids were fascinated!
Cassie and a young photographer
The Aussies brought balloons and soccer balls and a pump to blow up the soccer balls, some of the kids had no idea what a balloon was.
Lazaro soccer star
October 24, 2012
From my journal…”Broke camp and took the long dusty dirt road to Tarangire National Park. Lazaro and Steve both have said this is their favorite of all the National Parks in Tanzania We quickly see why – many species of animals are all together and safari vehicles are few and far between.
We spotted a lioness, then saw a male lion, dark mane – very old. We watched the lioness chase some buzzards away from an earlier kill, then she came back and nuzzled the old male before lying back down in the shade.
Then a younger male walked down the ravine to the old male, he to nuzzled the old guy and then laid down beside him.
At the same time a family group of elephants were within camera range a couple of hundred yards away with cute babies.
I can swing my tail just like Mommy! From my journal…Later we watched elephants play in mud, a big boy scratched his bum on a rock and little ones leaped about.
Here are just a few of the many animals and birds we saw that afternoon.
3 and a half baboons
Warthog mom in a hurry as always, babies trying to keep up
Leopard that had just finished her lunch
Baby elephants are sooooo cute!
From my journal…”Drove up the horribly rutted dirt road to Boundary Hill Lodge, high on an escarpment over looking Tarangire National Park. Really clever cute bungalows, solar powered dim lighting, Joseph (the manager) charges up computers and camera batteries over night with a generator.”
October 25, 2012 Lemoot School
We visited a school near the Boundary Hill Lodge that serves a large area of Masai country.
Two classrooms like this serve 275 students. They sit 6 to a desk, and still many sit outside on the ground under trees.
Here (in blue) are the notes I wrote in my journal as Humphrey the principle of Lamoot school was talking about the school and answering our questions about the problems he faces running a school that serves the children of the Masai…”School started in 2001 in a mud building with 18 kids, 10 boys and 8 girls.” The school is run by the government of Tanzania and uses tests written by Cambridge. Students who pass the exams at this school which serves 7 – 15 year olds can then go to the government run secondary school. Students who do not pass can still go to private secondary school but their parents have to pay for their education there. Back to my journal again…”2009 11 boys and 11 girls passed the exam to go to secondary school. 2011 saw 14 boys and 8 girls make it to secondary school. The school now serves 275 students.”
“The major problem of this school and the area is lack of water. By afternoon kids are hungry, they have food donated by USAID but no water to cook it. So kids go home. Also a problem with attendance because Masai are nomads and move too far way. Lack “stationary” (paper, pencils, pens) balls and net for sports and not enough buildings for all the kids. They have 2 houses for teachers have only 6 teachers suppose to be 8. Teachers come from far away not local environment. The school is sorely lacking in desks.
James asked how much government donates to the school – government built roofs on buildings (parents built the buildings). Government gives some money for books, but not this year. Teachers are paid by government. Charity donations go to the district office then distributed to schools so may not go to this school.” It was suggested that donations be sent to Boundary Hill Lodge (where we are staying) and the owner will then bring the donation to the school.
Someone in our group asked what subjects are taught, I have noted in my journal…”math, science, history, geography, civics, domestic science, English, Swahili and sports.” No mention of art or music but the kids sang and danced for us and their voices were beautiful, so clearly they are musical.
From my journal…”No but we like!” (answer to whether there is electricity.)
Chairmen of villages in the area spoke and thanked us for coming such a long way (we gave them a map of the world and showed them the countries we came from). He said it is good for them to learn about us like it is good for us to learn about them. He spoke beautifully and seemed quite sincere about this.
Christine explained that the group on the safari before ours was donating a water tank to the school and our group was paying for it to be trucked in from Arusha and set up. They had two tanks but in dry season (like now) they run dry and Humphrey must fetch water from a reservoir. He has an old tractor, but when there is no money for diesel to drive there, he must go by donkey to fetch water. It is a long walk, takes all day, and looks like an impossible situation to us. The tanks are all rigged to catch rain water from the roofs, and the new one will do the same.
After the principle Humphrey, and the chairmen of the villages made their presentations and thanked us for coming Humphrey went outside and gathered the children to sing a welcome song for us.
The Aussies in our group knew we would be visiting the school and knew what the school needed so they brought with them pens, pencils and exercise books, the large map of the world, and balls and pumps to blow them up. Colleen and Christine are passing out pencils above.
The sports teacher with the new balls. Love that smile!
The Aussies also brought balloons, and the kids loved them. Some seemed never to have seen a balloon before, the big kids blew them up for the “littlies” (Ausie for little kids).
My camera got too hot and would not let me take videos, but Stephen Powell took some of the children singing and dancing and of the people dancing in a nearby village. Here is the link to Stephen’s website www.stephenpowell.com.au/ click on “Reference Gathering” in the green bar for photos of our trip. So far he has one video up on you tube, you can click on his you tube gallery from his website, but more will appear soon.
The kids love seeing themselves in the photos captured on our digital cameras.
Lyn directing the girls in a game of catch with their new ball. Later, while watching the sports teacher direct the older girls in a basketball passing exercise, Humphrey told me that they are working on team sports with the girls as a way to build their self confidence.
While the other kids played with their new balls, I found these kids carefully writing their names, ages, grade and village names on the front covers of their new exercise books we gave them. Their handwriting was beautiful. I spoke to them and the older girl (standing) replied shyly in hesitant English. When I complimented her on her English, she just smiled a shy smile.
An Australian, an American and three Tanzanians
I believe that every traveler should visit at least one third world country and leave something behind that makes life better for those who live there. I believe that we should do our best to understand their culture, and at the same time be positive representatives of our country and our culture.
October 26, 2012 Tarangire National Park
From my journal…”We are a bit like the movie stars that made the movies here in the 1940’s. Sitting in the shade of a tent with a porch type overhang on lovely iron lawn furniture with an ice chest full of beer and sodas (too bad there is no ice) and we just finished our picnic lunches. The “ACTION” we are waiting for is not to be started by some film director, but by an elephant. Our view overlooks the dry river bed where the elephants come on dry days like this to dig holes in the sand for water.”
How many men does it take to set up a tent?
Every job needs a supervisor!
Some of our group photographing the holes dug by the elephants in the sand to get water.
I painted this ink and watercolor in my little journal, note the room I left in the foreground to paint the elephants. The sketch is called “WAITING FOR THE ELEHANTS”, but they never came!
From my journal…”Four of us took the old Masai guy up on a night drive, told the others if there were any bits left, cremate them! Cool night air in open vehicle felt great, Masai guy searched the trees and ground with a spotlight as we drove. No scary animals but a mama giraffe with 4 to 6 month old twins was the highlight of our drive.”
October 27, 2012 Silale Plain
From my journal…”Today our guides took us on a full day game ride, following along the Silale Plain first, then the “swamp” (not very swampy right now) totally dried up mud – and then along the Silale River which at the moment is the size of a small stream.
A dust devil sneaks up on a herd of zebra.
From my journal…”Elephants – huge herd in the distance across the plain, Richard counted around 150 using the strongest binoculars. Zebra, impala, elephants in small family groups, a cheetah, more zebras everywhere then more family groups of elephants.
The pointy pile of dirt is a termite mound. Look at the size of it compared to the zebras. They are all over the place, I saw them in South Africa too. This is probably why they don’t build houses of wood here!
A couple of impalas duke it out, fun to watch!
From my journal…”A brother and sister lion cubs right by the road, still with some spots. Innocent said they were about 9 or 10 months old, had probably just eaten because they looked sleepy. (Note the yawn)They are so use to vehicles they did bot move even though the male was less than 20 feet from our Land Rover. Our 3 Land Rovers watched them for at least 10 minutes, had only seen a couple other safari vehicles all day so had them all to ourselves.”
“A baby zebra a little over 2 weeks old entertained us by leaping a bucking and running, clearly loving life.”
“We came across a male elephant, alone, scratching his butt on a tree beside the road and we stopped right beside him. This meant he had to walk forward to cross the road as we were blocking his path. This was clearly beneath his dignity. He strode forward about 20 big steps, turned, walked into the road, and stopped. He then flared out his ears, stared at us and with a great show of attitude turned and walked away.
Elephant with attitude!
“We watched a beautiful cheetah with 2 babies, again close to the road, later two wonderfully fun groups of elephants – Mom’s and babies. One group had two very small babies and as they slept the Mom’s blocked our view with their legs and fanned the two of them with their tales.”
“The second group was a couple of Moms with four babies older than the two sleeping ones. A couple of others crossed the road too and one in the group let out a very low rumble sound. So fun to be so close and watch them interact as a group.”
October 28, 2012 our last game drive day
Tarangeri National Park
More impalas with a difference of opinion
We spotted a pair of rare Elans climbing the side of a bank while we were parked eating our breakfasts. The were quite far away, but I managed to get this shot with my 300mm lens.
“As I write the Land Rover is parked approximately 50 feet from seven lion, and four more are behind us about the same distance, all resting now. We spotted some of them from across the ravine where we parked to eat our breakfasts. We drove across the ravine and up over a rise and there was a young lion – male- pacing and letting out low moaning sounds calling his pride. Innocent maneuvered around other safari vehicles both forward and in reverse, getting us the best shots as the lion walked and trotted around. Then one by one females began to appear and he greeted the first and second with nozzles. Innocent pointed out that they still had spots and were probably young brother and sister lions. A very large female appeared and other females, we counted 11 total”
Baobab trees are really really big, really really old, and we did not see any new little ones growing up. I wonder if they will go extinct…
I could hang out and watch elephant families all day. They are intelligent emotional creatures and I enjoy watching them interact with one another.
From my journal…”Driving home from our last game drive provided more treats – huge herds of zebra and wildebeest taking up a half mile of river, galloping down the riverbank to the water to drink.”
”The finale of the trip was a family group of females and baby elephants and the matriarch got some attitude and did a fabulous bluff charge on our third vehicle. After the bluff charge she crossed into the road and blocked them for 10 minutes.”
I took these photos of her bluff charging the other vehicle which was behind ours. It happened so fast I did not have time to turn on my video, just held my finger down and got these continues still shots.
What a way to end the last game drive! (Especially for our friends in the Land Rover behind us!)
October 29, 2012 the long drive from Boundary Hill Lodge, Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya
This woman was herding her goats along side the dirt road we took back to the main paved road. Once we got on the paved road shooting photos from the window of the Land Rover only worked when we had to stop for one of the hundreds of speed bumps put in to slow traffic in villages.
Speed bump photos…
It is goat market day in this village
One of only two paved roads we have driven on, this one has attracted many roadside businesses like this.
The border crossing into Kenya was as this bumper sticker proclaims…no problem.
October 30, 2012 Nairobi, Kenya David Sheldrick Wildlife Trusts’ Orphans’ Project
Since most of us are on flights that depart after 11:00pm we spent the day relaxing at the hotel. Someone suggested we hire the drivers that drove us from the Kenyan border to the hotel to take us to an elephant orphanage in Nairobi.
From my journal…”The phone rang at quarter to 10:00 am (the drivers are early) so I had no time to change batteries in the big camera so I grabbed the little digital and ran, forgetting to grab a back up battery for it. Of course the battery went dead part way in to elephant feeding time.
These babies are all rescued from the wild because they were orphaned and brought here to be raised until they are over 3 years old when they are re-introduced to life in the wild with an elephant herd in a National Park.
The babies had hairs about 1” long that was really surprisingly soft.”
The really young ones are in danger of contracting pneumonia, so they were blankets to help protect their fragile little lungs.
From my journal…
Hope you enjoyed your virtual trip with all of us Artists in Africa. Sandy
Links to see photos and videos my friends are posting from our trip: