Today’s safari was at the Tarangire National Park – this park is huge and is mainly composed of long grassland – as a result it makes it quite hard to see animals but when you do boy do you see them! Also it’s a less popular park so there are less people there.
We started off not seeing anything for ages except a few impalas when we suddenly came across a herd of 21 female giraffes eating the trees. We stopped by one female with her babies and watched them for ages. She was very wary of us as she doesn’t see vehicles very often. Beautiful creatures but very odd shaped – how on earth does their neck support their head? Apparently the way to tell the difference between the male and female giraffes (other than the enormous testicles!) is the females have hair on the top of their horns and the males don’t.
After leaving the giraffes we then came across a family of warthogs playing in a mud pool next to the path. We watched them for a while and the babies were quite sweet – in an ugly sort of way. On leaving the warthogs we didn’t see anything really for a while after and then it happened. We came over a hill and saw an elephant – as we rounded the bend we saw more and more elephants. I gave up counting after I got to 200 – we must have seen nearly a 1000 in total. Everywhere you could see were groups of elephants. It was truly amazing. We watched some standing in the shade for a while but they weren’t really moving so we moved spot and was next to a big female who was just eating and then after a while wondered off.
We headed down another track and came across a small group with some young babies close to the path. As we were watching, as if on cue, the mother decided to take her family down to the pond for a mud bath. We had prime viewing position watching them bathing, rolling in the mud and playing. The tiny baby had a real problem with staying on his feet in the mud and kept falling over. After it had got nicely muddy it decided to suckle from her mother directly in front of us. I thought it couldn’t get much better than that.
We moved round to another spot and just sat in the truck and watched as a group of 40 elephants crossed the river and ended up surrounding the jeep. They were so close I could have touched them. They weren’t at all threatening just munching away at the grass. We sat here and had our lunch in the jeep rather than move to the picnic spot a few km away. We were the only people around (when we looked down from the picnic spot a few hours later there were 8 jeeps there and hardly any elephants as they were all making their way back into the park). We stayed in that spot for nearly 2 hours and also watched a herd of zebra cantering down the river and two elephants mating. They make one hell of a noise when he mounts her – not a surprise when you see that his penis is like a 5th leg and it touches the ground!!!!
All in all an amazing days viewing. And it didn’t stop there – it got to the point after a while where elephants became the norm – everywhere you went was elephants. While we were watching a mother waking up her baby we saw a cheetah walking off. Sadly she was too far to get a photo of but I watched her through binoculars for ages. I thought I had lost her when I saw a few metres away a small reed buck – she was hunting! I was able to watch her creep though the long grass towards it. Sadly (or depending on your view point fortunately) the reed buck saw her before she was ready to pounce and took off up the bank and off into the bush. Cheetahs may be the fastest living creatures on the flat but she wasn’t so quick up the bank so it got away – no dinner for her. That was when the rains came down – very heavily so you can’t actually see anything out of the windows – by this point it was 5pm anyway so we called it a day and headed to the lodge for the night.