I took no photos today. Today was a day of goodbyes. Patrick had already said goodbye last night as he had a 4am flight out to Madagascar (luck guy!). Mostly today was about food, writing, and goodbyes. Over the day, by ones and twos, the TGL Tanzania 2017 team went their ways back to home or whatever was next. In the end after dinner it was just Michael and I left. We were flying out tomorrow to Zanzibar on the same flight although to different destinations on Zanzibar. Michael, Sara, and some new volunteers headed out some where for more entertainment. I hit the sack for more rest. I managed to get some blog posts up. The writing helped and still helps.
I already miss the team. So many interesting people and all good photographers as well. Continue reading Day 10 – Moshi – Goodbyes
Got up early again and finished packing – everything. We were leaving Karatu after breakfast headed back to Twiga House in Moshi for our goodbye dinner.
Breakfast scene in our Lodge Continue reading Day 9 – Karatu to Moshi
Tanzania Blog Start
Today would be our last day on the Serengeti and the last day of our Safari. For me though, the day began at 3am when I got up to relieve myself. It was dark of course, I noticed a small pair of glowing eyes nearby in my head lamp as I walk to the bathrooms some 150 feet away from camp. No problem is seemed to be a small animal. What I did notice was that the night noises here were different than I’m used to at home in the woods. As I exited the bathroom, a strange high pitched loud whoop, sounded behind me. Not close enough to see but to definitely hear. I bit of a chill went up my spine as once again I reminded myself that the camp is on the open Serengeti and critters were here first. I felt a sudden need to GET BACK to my tent – oh yeah that’s stop ‘em…which I did. Whatever it was, then came through the camp knocking over a few things. I suspected it was a baboon but thought that it might be a hyena as well. Of course, I had to report it on Facebook right then. In talking with the guides in the morning, the felt it was a hyena that was passing through camp. Personally, I think it was laughing at me. Took a while to get back to sleep at that point.
Once again, got up around 5:30am to finish packing and have breakfast. Most of us were ready early and spent the time chatting over a second cup of tea or coffee. Everything packed into the Land Cruisers we hit the road again for our second set of sunrise shots. Same tree, similar results. Still can’t decide which was the better sunrise of the two.
Continue reading Day 8 – Safari 3 – Serengeti – Ngorongoro – Karatu
The plan for the day was to get up before breakfast and catch – we hoped – a classic Serengeti sunrise. Michael said to bring your long lenses as this helps make the already big African sun bigger. Me being smarter than that, left my really big lens home and sort of regretted it later. Managed a dawn shot of the moon before everyone jumped in the vehicles.
Continue reading Day 7 – A Full Day on the Serengeti
Today is the beginning of the real Safari. Up at 3:30 sorta out of bed by 4:30 for more packing. We were told to pack light coming here, we were told to pack even lighter for Safari, it still wasn’t easy as most of us really weren’t sure what we’d need or what to expect. Somehow, I got the camera gear into my ThinkTank hip bags and rest of my stuff into my small bag. Felt like I should have more but I realized I’d have to make do regardless.
Breakfast, noticed that I’ve come to be excited about what we will be having each meal. The cooks put a lot of it in these stainless-steel pots with lids, it makes each meal service an interesting and tasty surprise. Breakfast at 6am on the road by 7ish. We are told that we have a schedule to meet including about 4 hours of driving to the Serengeti. So many questions in my mind about what’s coming and expectations of the animals and things we might see. Seems though that everyone has similar expectations.
By now we had gotten used to each other in our Land Cruiser on the drive to Karatu and the Masai village, it just felt right to be with this same group as we headed west to the Serengeti. (Daniel had told us that we might be switched around between cars and guides but it never happened on the trip as we just sorta bonded. Very cool.) As we headed out of town the terrain began to rise and turn greener. In what seemed like a long time we got to the gate to Ngorongoro Crater park.
Godlove had to deal with the usual paper work and we got out and walked around. First off there were (?) 20-30 similar Land Cruisers and their customers milling around. We were entertained by the small visitor’s center and well, toilets (the often repeated phrase on this trip was ‘never pass up the opportunity to use a toilet,’ very true, very true), and our first real bigger animals – baboons.
Daniel had said that he didn’t like them but they were so cute and so CLOSE. Being a newbie at this wild animal photography deal we…well I…shot lots of images of them. After all they were so close.
Continue reading Day 6 – Safari
Night thoughts…For me, waking up after 6 hours sleep in a boma was not really an incredible experience, it was more like 5th or 6th on my worst nights I ever spent outside but we weren’t outside, we were inside. We entered the boma just after midnight through a single door then a sharp turn to the right and into darkness of the interior space. A small u-shaped fire pit with ashes was in the exact middle of the round boma. I’m guessing they are about 15 feet in diameter. The women make them we learned and saw one under construction. The walls are built of branches and held together by long vines. Mud covers the walls and a thatched (or so it looks to me) roof covers the boma. Two sleeping spaces more like low racks were available, I took the single one, while Jason and Patrick shared the double one. Daniel and Michael had space on the floor on a flat cowhide. Come to think about it, I had a cowhide for the cover of my rack which was formed by more or less straight branches. Of course, there was a lump in the middle. As I removed my sleeping bag from its cover, I noticed a number of ‘apparently’ dead cockroach bodies laying around. Then I remembered that our support team had ‘prepared’ the boma for us. This apparently consisted of perhaps cleaning it up but also involved killing or reducing the number of bugs. No problem. The odor inside the boma was a mix of smokey smells and some other stuff, I couldn’t identify. Again, no problem, even though it was very warm inside, I got into my bag and as I was really tired, went out in seconds. I do remember the sensation of something crawling on me but honestly, I think is was more my imagination.
Continue reading Day 5 – Night and Morning with the Maasai – Karatu Recovery
Tanzania Blog Start
Karatu – Had a really good sleep best one of the trip. However, upon waking I remember that packing for our day and night at the Maasai village needed to happen – I kept asking myself, how can I possibly bring all the things / clothes I will need for a stay in a Maasai village? Wasn’t easy but I got it all into my small bag. I mean, how can you pack for a sort of unknown, known? Anyway, I did it. As I tend to always say, ‘if you don’t have it, you don’t need it.’
At breakfast later today as we had a more relaxed start. We headed back east again seeing what we didn’t see in the dark. Stopped in one spot for a few shots of the first baboons we saw. Stopped again at an overlook to Lake Manyara and got assaulted by the trinket sales guys. I made a mistake and didn’t bring any money, very dumb on my part.
Continue reading Day 4 – Karatu, shopping, and the Maasai Village
Our day started with the usual wake ups and breakfast at the big table in Twiga House – the plan for the morning was our final visit to the school and then visits to several homes of our EEF students. The clear point was to enable us to better understand the issues faced by our kids. We arrived back at school to say goodbyes to the teachers and headmaster.
Continue reading Day 3 – TGL Tanzania – Home visits and Ride to Karatu
On Monday evening we had another lovely meal of simple food (some of which I’m never really sure what it is but rice and beans of some kind seem to be involved), It’s always good. Then – as I predicted more or less – it rained for quite a while.
Tuesday morning – Seems like 4am is the dog barking / call to prayer / rooster crowing hour. Could not sleep so I got up about and did my blog. My mind went back to Monday and those kids. As we were going to be at the school basically all day, there was a lot of doubt in my mind about how it would go. Elizabeth was also having sleeping issues and we both worked on images for about a hour and a half until nearly breakfast. After breakfast Michael our leader broke out the 20 donated point and shoot cameras for today’s teaching shoot with the school kids.
Continue reading Day 2 – TGL Tanzania
Tuesday Morning – Spent the bulk of Sunday getting acquainted with Daniel (he has quite a background and currently lives in Granada, Spain – how cool is that!) of the Giving Lens (TGL) and each of the members of our group as they slowly trickled in all day. Michael the co-team leader surfaced after 12 hours in the rack from travel later in afternoon. He was a nut! To our great surprise we realized that although 30 years apart, we both went to Redwood High School! Cool. At dinner our leaders began the orientation process for this trip. I was struck that both our leaders were very clearly engaged in the mission of TGL and how their experiences here and elsewhere were deep and very rewarding. Similarly, in meeting our American, Canadian, Singaporean, and Australian team members, how they all came from a background of travel and interest in helping learning about cultures. Not surprising really but, I feel the definite lightweight here in this area.
Monday morning we were greeted with an almost clear view from our house of the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro! Wow, that’s a big mountain, going to have to consider what it might take to climb that sucker.
Continue reading Day 1 of the TGL Tanzania Experience