2011 Fall Africa Esther Needham External Programs Tanzania

Safari!

Bad News! Our fall break trip to Zanzibar that was coming up after mid-terms next week was cancelled. Apparently there’s a heightened threat of attacking and kidnapping by Somalian Pirates there. Heres’ a link to a news article about it: http://www.netglobers.com/africa/tanzania-heightened-kidnapping-threat-in-zanzibar-22067.html . We’re still going to take a trip somewhere but we don’t know where yet, either way we’re all pretty bummed out about it. I never thought pirates would ever interrupt my plans for anything…ever. This really makes me rethink my love for Pirates of the Caribbean, haha. But seriously, Zanzibar looks awesome and we were going to stay a couple extra days at a bungalow resort on the beach and swim with dolphins…We’re all in mourning at the moment.

On a lighter note, we went on the Safari this weekend! It was awesome. The first day, Friday, we went to Lake Manyara. I enjoyed it there because we got really close to a lot of animals because the terrain was woods and brush for the most part. We’d come around a bend and there would be a herd of elephants eating the trees or baboons running everywhere across the road. The weird thing about Lake Manyara is that most of the lake is dried up now but when you look out over the dry lake bed it looks like water because of a mirage. I’ll post a picture below where you can see it.

Mirage at Lake Manyare, and a Lionness walking over to a dead Wildebeast

All the animals were so awesome! We saw giraffes having sex, which was the most awkward, hilarious, and fast thing I’ve seen in awhile. And by fast, I mean lightening fast, youtube it, they’re crazy! We also saw a lot of elephants really close up which was amazing. Their skin is a lot wrinklier than I thought, even the babies’. I think the coolest thing though was a face-off between a lioness and a group of wildebeest. The lions had already killed one and clearly weren’t interested in the rest, but the herd definitely deliberated for a long time before making a huge arc around the lions.

The second day we went to Ngorongoro Crater which, although most of the animals were farther away, was a lot cooler and more dramatic. It literally is a crater at the top of the mountain; I think it’s a collapsed volcano. The view from the ridge was so breathtaking and even the drive up to the top was dramatic. It was really foggy but we stopped and saw a herd of giraffe through the mist, they looked like dinosaurs. We also saw a giraffe running, it looked like it was in slow motion because its so tall.

View Looking Down into the Ngorongoro Crater

The crater was amazing because of the range of animals there, tons of zebras, hyenas, crazy birds, ostriches (doing a mating dance), elephants, buffalo, rhinos, hippos, wildebeest, gazelle, and LIONS! We saw two male lions sleeping in the road, we got sooo close to them! It was unreal. I used my zoom lens for the whole trip (it’s a Nikkor 70-300mm) and I got some really great pictures, but especially good ones of the lions.

Giraffe at Lake Manyara
Lion Laying on the Road
Velvet Monkey

It was surreal and almost unbelievable that animals and nature still exist in such a raw form. Eat or be eaten. Survival of the fittest is definitely at work. It reassures anything I’ve ever heard about micro and macro evolution. The baboons especially struck me this way. The babies would ride on the mother’s backs, the way we ride a horse. It was so human looking. That’s the first thing I said when I saw them.

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