I woke to animal noises, lots of them, outside my canvas cabin & when I looked out of the mosquito screen I could see the sun rising, tangerine behind the dust & cooking fires on the Masai steppe. An exciting way to start the day! After breakfast at the lodge we loaded into the safari car & headed for Tanangire National Park, about a half hour's drive.
Tanangire is an amazing place! The brochure states that it covers 2840 sq. km, which makes it the 5th largest park in Tanzania. It also informs that this park 'is home to more African elephants per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world'. There certainly were a LOT of elephants: elephants in groups, elephants alone, old ones, young ones, nursing babies, groups of females, groups of young bachelors. But we also saw impalas, baboons & other monkeys, gnu (lots of them), zebras, buffalo, ostriches, giraffes, warthogs, dik-diks, even a few lions, & a number of other species whose identity escapes me at the moment. The place was alive, crawling, fluid with wildlife. It was incredible.
Our guide had brought along a boxed lunch for each of us & I pondered, as I nibbled at a bun, just WHY it is so amazing to see African wildlife? Why, exactly, is this such a 'once in a lifetime' sort of experience? Partly, I'm thinking, it's because stories about these animals have spellbound us from childhood; picture books of lions & zebras have held for us the very quintessence of the exotic. Another reason may be related to the sheer volume of mammals you can see. In a place like Tanangire you see hundreds of animals altogether, a herd of gnu intermixed with a herd of zebra, down at the river with giraffes, baboons running alongside, elephants in the water bathing. We do seem to feel an affinity for other mammals & in the animalscapes of Tanangire, there is a lot of affinity to feel.
The only way the day could have been more marvellous is if we were feeling up to it. Both Doug & I were hit with some sort of intestinal bug (the usual thing) which made the travel uneasy, weakened our appetites, & sapped our energies. Doug has a cold on top of that.
So here we are at the end of the day, staying at the Bougainvillea Safari Lodge just outside the gates of Ngorogoro National park. At 1800 m altitude, it is very cool when the sun goes down & even with my fleece vest on, I'm shivering a little. No heater in the room of course but I do see an extra blanket as an option. The Bougainvillia lodge is ok, all basic needs are met, but nothing like the wonder of our place last night. Supper is included & it's ready now but I'm not sure I'm hungry enough to check it out. It's awfully early but the bed sure looks good...