Tuesday, June 8
Paula: Today we drove from Gibbs Farm to the Tarangire National Park.
Tarangire is best known for its elephants, and we saw over 70 over the course
of just a few hours. Although we thoroughly enjoyed our time with the Hadzas,
we were glad to be viewing the wildlife again instead of hunting it.
Altough this is our 18th day in Tanzania, we are still surprised to find
that each time we head out with Nassibu, something new and special awaits
us. Today in addition to seeing many elephants, we also spotted another leopard,
watched giraffes drinking in a river and observed a cute family of dwarf mongoose
living in a termite mound.
first elephant spotting occurred shortly after lunch. We are staying at the
Tarangire Safari Lodge, a permanent safari camp within the park. Our tents
are located on a ridge overlooking the Tarangire River, and today we had a
great view of a herd of 14 elephants as they approached the river to drink
and cool off. Little did we know that this was just the beginning of a great
day of elephant viewing!
After lunch we also enjoyed watching the vervet monkeys that hang out in
the trees surrounding the campsite. We have been warned to keep our tent flaps
closed to prevent unwanted visitors (and they aren't referring to insects).
The bird life around the camp is also abundant and we especially like watching
hornbills which look a bit like toucans.
We left the lodge mid-afternoon and explored the northern sections of the
park. We followed the river and saw many zebra, ostrich, and impalas. We stopped
at one point to watch a large group of zebras crossing the river in single
file. The cue was very orderly and went quite a distance - the group took
15-20 minutes to cross.
Near the river, we also spotted our second leopard. He was lounging high
up in a baobab tree, too far away for pictures but clearly visible in our
binoculars. Leopards are nocturnal so we feel fortunate to have seen any at
David and Katie have wanted to see a mongoose since seeing a National Geographic
Program on them several months ago. Unfortunately, they are often difficult
to spot because they are small and hide in the tall grasses. Nassibu told
them on our very first day to be patient and he would find mongoose in the
Tarangire. Sure enough, we saw two varieties today, the banded mongoose and
the dwarf mongoose. We spent time actually sitting next to a large termite
mound which they use as homes and observed a small clan of at least six (four
adults and two tiny babies). They were actually very cute and kept peaking
out of the mound holes with their pink noses. One of the adults eventually
climbed to the top of the mound and seemed to be serving as a lookout for
The elephants stole the show today. We saw 72 in all and were able to observe
many very closely. It was great to watch them drink in the river and use the
trees to scratch their sides. We heard the mothers calling the small ones
to come along and watched them file across the grasslands in their family
groups of 8-15. One family group was comprised of 5 females and 5 very small
babies. We saw large bulls as well, though they usually were solitary. We
already knew that the elephants eat at least 300 pounds a day and drink 20
gallons of water, and today we saw much evidence of this - they always seem
to be either eating or drinking.
Tomorrow we plan to spend a full day in the park exploring the southern region.
We will take a picnic lunch so that we won't miss any opportunities to see
the wonderful wildlife.
Animals seen today: