Day 12- MORNING in the CRATER, THEN OFF to TARANGIRE

Immediately after we hit the crater floor we find the “Lion King” resting in the grass.

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Around the corner we see why he’s taking a siesta.  During the night the pride made a zebra kill.  The females and playful cubs are still milling around, all with BIG full tummies.

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And now the second tier scavengers arrive.  A white-necked raven is on the kill.

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While hyenas wait in th weeds, biding their time until the lions move off.

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We drive a bit farther and have an amazing treat—watching a cheetah emerge from the grass.

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 Take off on a high-speed chase,

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And take down a Tommy (Thompson’s gazelle).

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She drags it away to protect her prey.

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Then she must gobble what she can as fast as she can.  Cheetahs are (70 mph) fast but are not top predators.  Lions, leopards and even hyenas can take the prey they have worked so hard to get.  This can make raising a family very difficult when mom has 4-5 mouths to feed.

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Back on the plain, we come across more herds.  They migrate to the water in the daytime then reverse the route at night.  

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A line of wildebeest head for the main herd.

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Catching the sun behind them, their mane positively glows.

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The zebras also migrate to water.  But these stopped for a “dust bath.” They roll around with all four feet in the air.  The dirt helps keep them free of insects.

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At the end of the morning we head toward the wetlands and the birds.  

 The little bee eater is beautiful.

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 We see trees decorated with hanging baskets—African Christmas Trees.  These are weaver nests.

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At the lake, we see the Rufous-tailed weaver pausing for a quick photo.

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And several little birds invade our car looking for goodies—they’re on the floor, the seats, the roof. 

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We pass a flock of crested cranes in the field. 

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And an Auger Buzzard (red-tailed hawk) by the side of the road as we leave.

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We exit the crater and head for the Sopa Lodge at Tarangire National Park.  This should be an awesome place.  Known for its elephants, it is also a chance to see the African Wild Dogs/Painted Wolves.  We’ll cross our fingers.

Our first stop is Mto Wa Mbu Kijiji – Swahili for Mosquito Creek.  As the name implies, mosquitos—and malaria—have reeked havoc here.  The Tanzania government brought in mosquito nets and the problem is now in hand.  The women walking to the shops are colorful.

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Their banking is unique.

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Roadside stands are full of life

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And color.

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Plus we are in town on the day of the monthly Maasai Open-Air Market.  Our guide quickly drove us through this event, but we needed to stay “in the shadows.”

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Leaving Mosquito Village, we passed more adolescent Maasai warriors in paint. 

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And a man transporting firewood on his bike.  Bicycles are used to transport huge quantities of goods.  This was a fairly small load.

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At last we reach Tarangire and take a quick drive at dusk, passing Marabou Stork with their “air bags.”  In adults, this reddish “balloon” hangs on the throat. It’s an air sack used for buoyancy during flight and an extension of it’s digestion system.  They are sometimes called “Undertaker Birds” because of their somber demeanor.

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We pass more African Christmas Trees, full of weaver nests hanging like decorations.

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And a waterbuck shows us the tell-take “toilet seat” markings on her backside.

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We also pass a herd of impala with a nursing calf.

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We are able to see the interactions of an elephant group.  First the group goes after a young male and forces him to leave—obviously an interloper.

Then another young male came up to the group.;  This one was welcomes with obvious joy–probably a recent member of he group.

This young male went on to “formally” greet the matriarch.  

The baobabs are beautiful in Tarangire. 

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Their shape make a sunset even more spectacular.

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The sunset stretches brilliantly over the plains.  

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Tomorrow we’ll set out early in search of the elusive wild dogs!

 

 

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