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.

Our 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 all.

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 rest.


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:

Banded mongoose
Vervet monkey
Ground squirrel
Kirk's dik-dik
Elephant (72)
Dwarf mongoose

Birds seen:

Marshal Eagle
Horn Bills
Crowned Plover
Tawny Eagle
Brown Parrot












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