PhotoPOSTcard: A Baobab Sunset

We were treated to a spectacular sunset on our last evening on safari in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park. One of the things that made this park unique from the others we had visited was not the animal life, but rather, the plant life – the baobab trees to be specific. The distinctly wide and bulbous shaped tree trunk stores water for the tree so that it can survive drought conditions, thereby its other name “Tree of Life”.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: Yes – It’s Hippo Porn

Sex in the jungle. Can’t say I really ever thought much about how hippos procreate – that is, until I saw it happen in the Ngrongoro crater in Tanzania. Hippos are mammals, but spend most of their time in the water so it seems natural that mating should occur there as well. This large group of hippos was hanging out in this, muddy, smelly, swampy watering hole, mostly submerged. All of a sudden, a big male lifted himself up, dragged himself on top of the nearby female, and grunted there for a few minutes, with the smaller female trying to keep her head above water the whole time. Our guide told us that the hippos can stay under water for up to six minutes, but that sometimes females can end up drowning during this “romantic” interlude. Eventually the male rolled off back into the murky mess, only to start all over again a few minutes later.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: A Nursing Zebra

We saw many zebras throughout our safari in the various East Africa parks, and many baby animals, but this was the first very young zebra that we saw on the whole 10 day trek. Mom waits patiently as he gets his fill nursing. This was inside the Ngorongoro crater, where the animals do not migrate and have to make do with whatever food is available year round.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: No Privacy in the Savanna

It’s World Lion Day today, so I have to share another lion photo from our African safari – this time in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This mating lion couple had gone off quite a distance from the rest of the pride to….well….mate. They were a couple of hundred yards away from the road, and even at that distance it was easy to see how much bigger the male was than his female companion. The lighter colored female blends into the surrounding grass well which makes hunting easier for her. The much darker and bigger male is an imposing sight for his job of protecting the pride.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: Here Kitty Kitty

Our game drive leaving the Serengeti National Park passed through Cheetah country. Once again, we were fortunate to see this beautiful cat, and to have a close encounter with this elegant creature. Actually, it ended up being a very, very close encounter. At one point, this cheetah climbed onto the spare tire on the back of our Land Cruiser. Since the top was up, she could just as easily have tried to climb into the car. But fortunately for us, she just continued on her way. With every step, you could see her grace and power. So beautiful.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: Our Special Leopard Sightings

Our game drive day in Tanzania’s Serengeti was capped off with a third leopard sighting. Most people count themselves fortunate to see just one leopard. But with luck and an extremely skilled and sharp eyed guide, we caught sight of three separate leopards as they rested in the crook of a tree. Seeing them definitely required sharp eyes and a knowledge of their preferred habitat because they blended in so well with their environment. Driving by a tree, I would easily have assumed that I was seeing a hanging branch and not the tail of a big cat. It was definitely the highlight of our day and one of the many incredible highlights of the whole trip.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: Can You Count to One Million?

I don’t know how many people have actually seen one million of anything. Counting one million seconds would take about 11.5 days. One million pennies lined up side by side would form a line 11.8 miles long. So how does one grasp the concept of 1.5 million wildebeests? That’s approximately how many take part in the migration in the savanna that straddles Tanzania and Kenya. For these grazers, the grass truly is greener on the other side. They constantly relocate in a never ending cycle as they look for edible greenery. We were fortunate to be able to see a small fraction of this migration during our game drive in Tanzania’s Serengeti. As far as the eye could see, lines of animals were moving, coming together, forming a mass that continued to move forward in an unending stream of bodies, driven by some instinct to keep going, and going, and going. An amazing sight to behold.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: Just “Lion” Around

We had seen a number of lion prides on our game drives in Kenya – but none of the sightings included males with big, full manes. I really wanted to see a big MGM lion. I got my wish in the Serengeti in Tanzania, with not just one big lion but two! We came across this pride, just “lion” around, taking it easy. Our guide told us that brothers often establish a pride together so that they can maintain and protect a larger territory. It turned out that by the end of our day in the Serengeti, we saw three lion prides and a total of 16 lions (plus three leopards – but that’s another story).

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: A Mother’s Love

We saw quite a few olive baboons on our trip in Africa. Many of the baboons that we saw were sitting on the side of the road, picking at the trash that collected  there. We also saw quite a few in the various National Parks and Reserves. We came across this mom and her very young baby in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. An infant baboon is born with black natal fur which eventually changes color as the baby matures.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: The African Saddle Billed Stork

I knew I would see many amazing mammals on our game drives in Africa. What I did not expect was to see so many unique and beautiful birds as well. We were fortunate to get a close up view of this beautiful African saddle billed stork as it was feeding in the wetlands of Amboseli National Park. With a height of about 5 feet, it is the tallest stork in the world. These stunning birds are territorial and do not migrate. A male and female mate for life, and unlike many other bird species, the male and female have similar coloring, except that the male has brown eyes and the female will have yellow eyes. As this female took off to fly away, we experienced its 8-9 foot wingspan first hand – a breathtaking sight.

Thanks for visiting.

Rose