We witnessed a heck of a stand-off on Day 6 between a mother buffalo and hyenas in the Ngorongoro Crater.
We first noticed the hyenas nosing around a herd of buffalos. It was then we noticed the unmoving small brown mound that the hyenas seemed laser focused on. The baby’s mother alternated between standing guard, charging the hyenas back and then walking away, thus letting the hyenas closer.
At one point, we thought the hyenas would win. The mother was walking off and we saw a hyena bite and pull on the baby. It was heartbreaking until, suddenly, the mother came rushing back with others from the herd. They stood guard and, then, the baby slowly stood. I’ll admit we screamed at that point. It was a happy, but completely unexpected turn of events.
The hyenas were, obviously, not happy and still tried to take the baby. But, other buffalo guided both mother and baby back into the herd and the hyenas slowly moved on.
The nights of March 9-10 were spent at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge where there were jaw-dropping views (see above). A group from a nearby community provided pre-dinner entertainment our first night there.
We slowly made our way from the Tarangire Safari Lodge toward the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
En route, we visited the Mao wa Abu village of about 18,000 people who represent all 120 tribes from Tanzania. A young married couple gave us a tour, including their banana plantation and the youth art project. We had lunch in the village before leaving. It was extremely interesting – I didn’t know there were so many varieties of bananas (the community grows more than 30 varieties) and I bought a painting of Maasai women that I love. However, there were men who approached as we loaded into our vehicles about buying random items from them and they did not like that we said no. They just griped about us and we were able to quickly drive off.
We finally arrived at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a UNESCO Mixed World Heritage Site. At the entrance, Gabi and James, our tour guides with #RegalAfricanSafaris (previously known as #MaasaiMagicSafaris), gave us a short presentation on the area during a break before entering the conservation area.
The real winners of the break were these naughty monkeys who stole my aunt’s bag of nuts and tauntedly finished them off while staring her down. They jumped into one vehicle, and stole a purse from another vehicle. While entertaining and frustrating at times, the experience reminded us to keep our doors looked and the windows up around these guys.
Then, there were the birds. I have no words about how amazing they are so I’ll just so you a few highlights.
Day 5 began with us preparing to leave Tarangire Safari Lodge where we stayed the last two nights. It was basically glamping and I can definitely say I didn’t expect it to be this wonderful but it was.
It was interesting that electricity was only on for certain hours each day, and we had to have a guide to go back to our cabin after dark due to presence of wild animals. And we definitely had visitors that included monkeys, Dik-diks and giraffes. Can you spot the giraffe in the below picture?
As we finished breakfast, one of the lodge workers asked if we’d seen the African Scops-Owl that sleeps in a tree just outside of the lodge’s front entrance. Naturally, I had to go find it and he was kind enough to point it out.
Day 3 began early as we left Arusha and headed to Tarangire National Park.
Our first stop on the road was at Shanga, a social enterprise in Arusha that employs people with disabilities to create handmade jewelry, glassware and home wares out of recycled materials. I bought several pieces of jewelry and other items there that I still enjoy today. The tour was very informative. I loved learning how they made the various items and the employees were friendly. They encouraged us to be hands-on in learning how they completed their work. Also, their final products were simply wonderful.
The journey itself from Arusha to Tarangire National Park was interesting. We passed groups of women headed to the airport to celebrate the return of an oppositional party leader after the courts threw out the criminal charges against him.
We also made a quick stop to tour a meat auction where our tour guides said cattle went for $500 to $800. We also stopped to look out at another local market to observe it.
We began to see more wildlife as we neared, then entered Tarangire National Park. I absolutely loved this park.
Tarangire is the third largest national park in Tanzania and is best known for its large herds of elephants. We quickly found on why.
One animal I really wanted to see was the Lilac-breasted Roller. As I was preparing for my trip, a coworker (who lived in Africa and knew that I loved birds) told me her favorite bird in Africa was the Lilac-breasted Roller. She said it was the prettiest bird she had ever seen. When I arrived in Tanzania, I told my tour guides how I really wanted to see one and asked what my chances were? They just laughed and see I would definitely see the Lilac-breasted Roller. In fact, they said I would see the bird so often that I would get tired of it. They were right I would see the bird often, but I never got tired of it.
While the Lilac-breasted Roller was a highlight, the bird was not the only one seen. Below’s a highlight of the birds spotted that day.
I arrived in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania a year ago for the start of an African wildlife safari and my first visit to Africa. The last 12 months have included several life changes with one result being I never shared my trip photos. I figured now’s a good time to do so.
I left Arkansas during the morning of March 4, 2022, for Amsterdam. A goal from 2022 that I am continuing this year is that I complete an eBird checklist each day. I actually completed that day’s checklist at the Amsterdam airport where I spotted a Carrion Crow.
It was also there that we met up with others in our group for our final flight to Mount Kilimanjaro. We arrived at 8:45 p.m. and completed our COVID-19 testing requirements and made our way through customs pretty quickly. By the time we got done, we were all pretty tired so we headed straight to Arusha Serena Hotel to get settled into our rooms. While we weren’t able to get a good picture of the hotel, we were happy with our rooms. My aunt Jodi also joined the group so we were roommates throughout the trip.
I visited the Stuttgart Municipal Airport recently with a group of birders with the hope of finding Short-eared Owls, Smith’s Longspurs, Lapland Longspurs and possibly even a Barn Owl. While we missed the Lapland Longspurs, we did get lucky on the bird front. Our checklist for the day included four Short-eared Owls, a juvenile Bald Eagle and 77 Smith’s Longspurs.
It actually turned out to be a great birding weekend. I traveled to Wynne to visit family and returned to Little Rock via Hwy. 64 through Bald Knob. The route had me stumbling across a birds such as the below Black Vulture, Fox Sparrow, Hooded Mergansers and Mallards. I even spotted a tree that had a hole that eerily looked like a face. What do you think – do you see the face?
I previously worked as a news and sports photographer. Recently I have been enjoying wildlife photography. My approach toward bird photos is similar to sports photography. I attempt to capture mostly action and hopefully a unique perspective.