Monkey Stole my Bun and Elephants dot Landscape like Cattle

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Africa » Tanzania » North » Tarangire National Park
September 13th 2018
Published: September 14th 2018
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Glyn asked me this morning about my feelings on people who brush their teeth whilst walking. No. I do not agree with it. Teeth cleaning only takes a few minutes, so why the need to go for a walk around the campsite? There's also been a severe case of socks and sandals where the lady in question was actually wearing fluffy socks with said sandals. Her companion started singing 'here comes the sun' as the sun rose, then found the actual track on her phone, subjecting all around to it. I can't wait to read Glyn's blog as I'm sure he will go into a lot of depth about this kind of thing.

We'd got up at 6.20am to see the sunrise at 6.40am. It was already light and the sky had been pale grey for some time. As mentioned, there were a few other people at the panoramic view area, waiting for the sun and in all honesty it wasn't that impressive.

Afterwards I showered and was not happy that the hook behind the door was far out of my reach, so I struggled to keep everything off the floor. Glyn's cubicle door was so low, he peered

over it to look into the sink mirror to shave whilst showering.

We were picked up after 8.30am, careful to avoid the many baboons crossing the road and taken to a jeep to meet our next ranger, Bori and two Polish tourists called Chris and Edyta The long, straight road to Tarangire National Park stretched out to infinity through a brown scrubland with a smattering of scrawny trees. We passed a few Massai villages that were encircled with fences that looked like dead bushes and huts of mud and sticks inside. A lot of cattle and goats were being herded in random directions, with the occasional donkey or dog. There was one zebra crossing which seemed odd on a road where you can see for miles in each direction. The only one I saw using a crossing was a baboon!

Further along we came across some adolescent Massai boys, all in black with thick white paint, like masks on their faces. They were similar to the ones I spotted yesterday. Bori explained that they will have been recently circumcised and would have to live away from the rest for the tribe for three months so that they could become warriors.

Arriving at Tarangire there was a sign warning us not to 'take liberty' with the animals; its a strange thing what some people might want to do with animals. I only want to photograph/observe them in case you were wondering. I'd love to cuddle some of the cats, but that kind of thing is regarded as not clever, so says Glyn.

First off we passed by a school and we wondered by a stool in the park? Turns out it is next to the park and no fences. How awesome must it be going to school as elephants and lions strut by?

Not far into the park we came across numerous impala, wildebeest and zebra. The sheer numbers were breath-taking after only having seen them in British wildlife parks. A nearby waterhole had enticed many zebra to go swimming, giving great reflections. I let out an 'ooh' and Chris wondered why I was so excited. "It's a photographer's ultimate dream', I informed him. Zebra and wildebeest hang out together as the former have good eyesight and the latter have a great sense of smell. Together they make a team to protect against predators.

What's also awesome, that you generally don't see in UK parks, is different animals hanging out together. The giraffe and warthogs soon put in an appearance; Glyn and I had a challenge to get at least three different animals in one shot and they all had to be identifiable, no wide angle lenses allowed!

Around a corner a bunch of elephants stood in a group under a tree, the biggest faced outwards and the babies were hidden in the middle. This was good because I got a shot of one particularly hard looking one staring me out. We were extremely close, so close that my 500mm lens was too big, but luckily I brought my old camera (such is the fear of one breaking and not getting photos, my memory cannot be trusted in all of this, hence the blogs!) and this had a standard kit lens (which is similar to the human eye) and I got some good shots or so I believe. The elephants were unconcerned by us, they must have sussed that we are not allowed to leave the roads long ago. There was a lot of ear flapping going on, I presume to keep cool.


Now we had seen a few jeeps here and there, but often we were alone. Come lunchtime when we got to the picnic area, there were quite a few jeeps parked up and we only just swiped the last available picnic table. There's a reason why it was the last one: it was by the fence looking over the panoramic view of the park and by some trees. On this fence and in the trees were vervet monkeys. Very cute, but they are thieving gits and extremely quick. They come close and you think they won't come any closer; then in a flash, something is missing. First I lost my banana and I tried to be careful. But as soon as I wasn't paying attention, (as Glyn was taking my photo near a mother and baby monkey) another one slipped in and stole my bun. One monkey stole a roll out of a woman's hand just as she was putting it in her mouth! The Rangers tried to put a stop to this, throwing stones near the monkeys as its not healthy for them. Any tourist caught willingly giving food got a right telling off and so they should!

Returning to the jeep, we were worried to see a door was open, but as we got closer, we could see Bori inside, fast asleep on a reclined seat. He woke to find himself surrounded by us discussing how to wake him. Glyn was going to sing! (Note from Glyn-I did sing, a Swahili song and Bori joined in!)

Now Tarangire has elephants that dot the landscape like cattle according to Glyn's book; leopards, cheetah and 700 lions. We saw loads of elephants so that was all good. But ask me how many cats? I will assume you just did and tell you: one. A young lion cub in the thickest of thick bushes. With my 500mm lens I just about saw her face, so don't be expecting any phone pictures here. Cats tend to be busier at night and spend the day sleeping, 'lazy' as Glyn calls it. The problem is where they sleep - always in hidey holes, no matter how uncomfortable looking. If Tarangire had an attic full of junk (like me) I can assure you all of the cats would be in there and you would not be able to see a single one, not even if you rearranged all of the junk, making a bigger mess. So I only saw one, just.

However I did see (as well as already mentioned): gazelle, ostrich, baboons (getting hassle off birds swooping in on them), buffalo and vultures. Plus quite a few birds (obvs).

We left the park at around 4pm, happy that we'd seen a lot but needing (not wanting), needing cats. Big cats and mediums cats, any wild cats. Or just a cat, I like a cat and apparently most people here have domestic cats, but again, they are hiding from me.

The journey back took us through a vast landscape stretching out to the distant horizon. We drove through small towns with colourful markets, where women carried over-sized loads on their head and young men hung out with very shiny motorcycles. Lots more goats, cattle and Massai herding them. Glyn and I were doing 'photography from a moving vehicle' which requires a camera and a moving vehicle. With a fast shutterspeed, the idea is to get interesting photos of the environment and people without passing cars blocking the view and in focus. Rarely works but we never stop trying!

The night ended with dinner (no meat woo hoo!) and a performance of traditional dancing and pretty amazing acrobatics.


14th September 2018

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14th September 2018

Camping companions
I'm not sure I'd like people walking around brushing their teeth and certanly wouldn't want to hear their music without them asking.... even though I like that song. They should use ear plugs.

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