Dearest Reader:

During the “big” trips I keep a diary for the entire group – what we did, what we saw, the jokes, the things that went wrong, the things that went right. I refuse to pretend that everything always goes smoothly on all of my trips, but we always learn and we always have a good time. Skim through this synopsis – blemishes and all – it isn’t sanitized but I think it will give you a flavor of my trips and the wonderful people who go on them.

Michael Ellis

ADVENTURES WITH MICHAEL IN TANZANIA

February 9 to 26, 2009

Featuring special guests Kumbi, Mustafa and Phanuel
Supporting cast – thousands of hairy and feathered beings

Sunday, February 8
I am in Amsterdam

Monday, February 9
The rest of you leave SFO and overnight 10 hour flight.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Arrive and fun in Amsterdam. Kind of cold, wet and miserable here. We are 52 degrees north..

Wednesday, February 11
We begin convening at Gate 43. We have a mini-orientation at 9 and we are off on time (more or less) for out 8 hr flight. There is 2 hr time difference in Tanzania and it is a world apart. We fly over the Alps, backbone of Italy, the Sahara, and the Sudd and arrive at JRO at 820 PM. Finally get through immigration with our bags (well actually Anne has someone else’s bag!). 86 = 30 Celsius. Kumbi, Phanuel and Mustafa waiting for us. Into our three land rovers (lrs) that will be our homes for the next two weeks. Head west toward Arusha town and turn right off the main road for the Arusha National Park. They now take Visa at the park entrance. We see several giraffes and a nighthawk on the way in. The gibbous waning moon lights up Meru and a bit of the snow on Kili. Upon arrival we get to our rooms then back out for a little snack and then some star gazing. Power off at midnight. Welcome to East Africa!

Thursday, February 12
Water being heated with wood for our morning showers. Up early to the new sounds and smells of Tanzania. Red winged starlings are our wake up call. Giraffes are waiting as promised. Mt. Meru is clear and Kilimanjaro is there; still with snow.. Baglaflect Weaver (subspecies Reichnows), red winged starling, speckled dove, palm swifts. We are at 1500 m, and Mt. Meru is higher than Mt Whitney. Mount Meru is an extinct volcano about 68 km (42 mi) west of Kilimanjaro. After Kilimanjaro, it is the second highest mountain in Tanzania at 4,565 m (14,900 ft).
Coffee is ready at 630 sort of! Breakfast at 700 er 730. We have a brief orientation and we are off. Fiscal shrikes. Stopping of course for the Twigas – the national animal of Tanzania. At the park we pick up our park ranger – Freddy – armed for our hike. I give the rangers warm wool hats I brought from knitted by the Happy Hookers – a church group. We see the entire side of Meru has been blown out, 8K years ago. I tell you about lahars. There was one Lahar that went north from Shasta.
Lahar is an Indonesian term that describes a hot or cold mixture of water and rock fragments flowing down the slopes of a volcano and (or) river valleys. When moving, a lahar looks like a mass of wet concrete that carries rock debris ranging in size from clay to boulders more than 10 m in diameter. Lahars vary in size and speed. Small lahars less than a few meters wide and several centimeters deep may flow a few meters per second. Large lahars hundreds of meters wide and tens of meters deep can flow several tens of meters per second–much too fast for people to outrun.

As a lahar rushes downstream from a volcano, its size, speed, and the amount of water and rock debris it carries constantly change. The beginning surge of water and rock debris often erodes rocks and vegetation from the side of a volcano and along the river valley it enters. This initial flow can also incorporate water from melting snow and ice (if present) and the river it overruns. By eroding rock debris and incorporating additional water, lahars can easily grow to more than 10 times their initial size. But as a lahar moves farther away from a volcano, it will eventually begin to lose its heavy load of sediment and decrease in size.

We are blessed it is not too hot. Today is a day of many firsts – Cape buffaloes, they are always in a bad mood, warthogs – naked swine of the savannas, giraffes, water bucks, baboons, augur buzzard (looks a red tailed hawk), plain martins, Sodom’s apple, jasmine bush, strangler fig, fever trees (AKA yellow barked acacia), variable sunbirds Male and Female. Sunbirds are the ecological equivalents of hummingbirds in Africa but they can’t fly backwards. We see the middens of dik diks and their scent markings as well. White fronted bee eaters and a wondrous look at a saddle billed stork. Banded mongoose and spotted hyena tracks. Tropical boubous dueting. Cisticola singing from the top of a tree.

Enjoy this walk; there will not be many of them. To the waterfall. Bracken fern, fig tree, roots and stems flat up against the rocks. Very cool and refreshing. More baboons and warthogs as we work our way back. At 1130 we say a big Asante Sana to our guide.

We head toward Mikindu Pt overlooking Ngurdtoto Crater and hope to see monkeys on the way and boy do we succeed. Bush buck male and female, a black kite carrying a snake. Very fine looks at the Black and White Colobus monkeys who fill the same ecological niche as the Howlers of the New World– eating nothing but leaves and move slowly, the cow-monkey. Skunks in the trees. Colobus means maimed because they have an underdeveloped thumb.

Most apes and monkeys eat a range of plant-based foods, but a few specialize in eating leaves. South American howler monkeys and African Colobus monkeys eat the leaves of many different trees, but the proboscis monkey on the island of Borneo is more selective, surviving largely on the leaves of mangroves. These leaf-eating monkeys have modified digestive systems, similar to cows, which enable them to break down food that few other monkeys can digest.

Blue monkeys are seen just as well. Long long non-prehensile tail. Both are unimale troops. Cicadas singing, many butterflies flitting through the forest. We see our first big dik diks (please do not call them little dik diks)… and then to the Crater er make that caldera for our lunch. Got it all to ourselves. A pair of crowned cranes below with the buffaloes and more baboons. An elusive look at Hartlaubs Turaco. African hawk eagle flies by. Off at 130 and we retrace our road and more blue monkeys on the ground feeding. Tres bien! As we head circle Momela Lakes we see fireball lilies (in Maasai called Laetoli), red duiker, bush bucks, common waterbucks, zebras, more warthogs, Egyptian geese, red billed and Cape teals, papyrus, little grebe, house martins down from Europe, black winged stilts, gray heron, more cape buffaloes, Bagleflect weavers. And we see our first hippo out there in the water. Giant euphorbias called candelabra trees. Charles is happy he likes succulents. We are all feeling kind of sleepy but happy and excited. On the way home we have more great and close giraffe looks and then back to lodge by 430 for recoup shower etc. Both big mountains have been in an out of clouds all day. Jetlag is hitting. The first dinner together, hasn’t this trip been going for a while??

What can possibly top this day??? Well let us see Hillary fell into a cesspool, Sally and Ina tried to get in the wrong room and their key broke, Anne left her bag at the airport and took someone elses, there are bees in Charles bathroom, Momela tried to put 4 ladies and in a room with 2 beds. AHHH, well ….

We are bushed by the bush. Then actual hot showers for all of us! The movie Hatari (Kiswahili for ‘danger’) was filmed here. John Wayne is on the dining wall. Tomorrow the kids at the school, Arusha, Tarangire, elephants and baobabs.

Friday, February 13.
Woke up to another gorgeous day, good for going to a lower elevation at Tarangire. Kilimanjaro is visible again. The eggs were ordered in advance actually worked. Sunrise is 635. BFast 700!

We are off at 745. Kumbi and Anne head out to airport to retrieve the bag and see a leopard on their way out! We go back out through “Giraffic” Park. Drove out and stop at the gate to see the well done exhibits, friendly giraffes and use the toilet.

Down that bumpy road past bananas, coffee, rice, silver oaks (not a real oak but a Protea), back onto the hiway and right. Heading west again toward Arusha Town we turn left off the road and visit a school. Very high cute factor and very crowded. They sing us songs. A worthy stop and thanks for bringing the school supplies most appreciated. Please send me some photos.

Lrs stop for fuel. Arusha has grown exponentially in the past several years, up to a million and half souls now. We head west and then south on the great north road as it is called. Maasai land here full of bright red, purple, black, goats, cows and bomas.

We drop down a couple of thousand feet so it is hotter here. First baobabs. Tarangire is about 75 miles from Arusha. There is a great, fairly new visitor center helped by aid from the US. Yellow collared lovebirds seen well. I offer a beer for the first elephant (ellie). First impala, superb starlings, red billed hornbill, ostriches, cordon blues, helmeted guinea fowl. Magpie shrikes, white-headed buffalo weavers, white crowned shrike, banded mongooses, vervet monkeys, impalas, tawny eagle, waterbucks and ashy starlings (unique to this region). It is a bit warmer than Amsterdam but there is a nice breeze. .

Charles sees the first elephant. We arrive at 1225. Our rooms are on the right side mostly. Great African scene below ellies, twigas, waterbucks, impalas, marabou storks, vultures, tawny eagles!!!!! The river is not too big this year. The whole scene looks painted on. Eddie is our waiter for our stay – yummy food but be careful. Then to rest, bird or swim. Meet at 330 poolside for official introductions. Why this trip?? And what do we want? And who are we?? Dwarf mongooses, African ground squirrels, vervets, baboons and dik dik on the Lodge grounds. Off we go

Lilac Breasted ROLLERS (LBR’S), European rollers (a roller derby? asks (brown shoes) Hillary). More yellow collared lovebirds, red billed buffalo weavers, red necked and yellow throated spur fowl, white crowned shrike. Tarangire gets 27″ of rain a year and the Baobabs are leafed out. Two years ago the river was flooded, so we could not cross it. Our first ostriches.

White bellied go away bird looks like a huge jay and loud as well == we see it feeding two babies.Hammerkop nest. The clouds are puffy and white and big, the temperature pleasant. Sausage trees in full fruited glory. Our first hyraxes (rock of course). Three reed bucks. Greenshanks, black smith plovers. We watched a large family of ellies with many young pass right by us in the road. Our LR is very quiet and we hear the deep rumbling of the ellies and one small trumpet. Borassus palms against the blue sky. Palm swifts nest in them and we see many white backed vultures roosting in them. Gneiss is the underlying rock.

Gneiss is a high grade metamorphic rock. This means that gneiss has been subjected to more heat and pressure than schist. Gneiss is coarser than schist and has distinct banding. This banding has alternating layers that are composed of different minerals. The minerals that compose gneiss are the same as granite. Feldspar is the most important mineral that makes up gneiss along with mica and quartz. Gneiss can be formed from a sedimentary rock such as sandstone or shale, or it can be formed from the metamorphism of the igneous rock granite.
We are seeing many termite mounds and watch a large troop of baboons walk, eat, play, fight, nurse by us. Jesus rays at sunset. Back to the lodge for drinks, and a very good dinner. To our wonderful simple tents for sleep. Stars are out == this was a very nice day indeed…

Saturday, February 14
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY
An important communal Roman religious celebration was the Lupercalia, held annually on February 15. The ceremony took place at the Lupercal, a small cave on the slopes of Rome’s Palatine Hill, where the Romans believed that Romulus and Remus had been suckled by the she-wolf. During the ceremony, two groups of young men sacrificed goats and a dog and then cut the goatskins into strips. Clothed only in these strips, the young men then ran a race along a specified course, tapping female bystanders with the strips of their goatskin garments as they passed. This rowdy festival was so popular that it was not abandoned until AD 494, well into the Christian era, when Pope Gelasius I replaced it with the Christian Feast of the Purification of the Virgin. The same pope also made the day before the celebration (February 14) the feast day of two 3rd century Roman martyrs named Saint Valentine, creating the basis for Saint Valentine’s Day. The modern holiday retains some of the fertility aspects of the ancient Lupercalia by its association with romance and courtship.

In the early morning the hyenas, eagle owl and pearl spotted owlets (orgasm bird) were vocalizing. Coffee delivered. Wow. Off we go a half an hour late …oh well. 730. Highlights of the morning game drive — Jennifer spotted a cheetah, nice big male which we see very well. The two other land rovers went right past him. Steenboks, reed bucks, many dik diks, impalas, water bucks, Kongonis, We saw hundreds of elephants including many babies, our first Secretary Birds, yellow billed storks, Hammerkops!!! Yea for Hilary. woodland kingfisher wow what blue. Hornbill list – Van der Deckens, gray, red billed, yellow billed, ground. Three banded plover, spoonbills, striated heron, great egret, go away birds – white bellied and bare faced.

More elephants as we get close to Tarangire hill (the highest point around), red and yellow barbet. One termite mound with a family of dwarf mongooses. Back down by the river for a red chested cuckoo with a classic African savannah three note call. Sausage trees are very aptly named. We see both Brown and Orange bellied parrots= the largest parrots we will see.

Cloudy skies, not too hot. And few tsetses. An immature Bateleur eagles, rock hyraxes and then back to the lodge after 1230.

Rest and ….Meet at 330 for a little talk on elephants. Here are some notes for you.

Elephants:

Evolution- 24 mya – 5 mya modern ones and more than 600 sp. Mastodon, wooly mammoth to 10k lbs. Now 2 sp Afr and Asian.

Largest land mammal, Changes env more except for HB. Former paths now hiways. South of Sahara to n. Africa in historic times.

Males to 12′ 10K Fem to 7′-8′, 6500 lbs. 1 check tooth. . 6 sets of teeth. upper incisors (tusks) grow thru life. 4 nails in front, 3 hind. Genitalia opens downward in both sexes. Temporal glands in males to 3 kg. 2 teats between forelegs. 60yrs.
Eat anything- grasses, herbs, in rainy season.. trees in dry.
2 prs of molars- forward and back.. Can reach 20′. eats 4-6% of weight in a day.

Social:

Matriarch. 9-11 herd size. herds, bond groups, clans. Males in sep herds. Menopause. Next oldest takes over. Stay within 50 m of each other. Bond groups within 1 k of each other.

They aggregate in large grps 200+ may be assoc with mating bec males are with them.
Males leave at age 12-13, 2-14 typical male herd. Mustch.

Spend 16 hrs a day feeding. 3-5 dung bolas every 1.5 hrs- sleep 4-5 hrs. Can go without water for days, walk 80 k away.
Mineral licks
can outrun a man at 30 kph!

4 kind of vocalizations:
rumbling
trumpeting
squealing (distress from yg.)
screaming

Reproduction- conception at 10-11 yrs, 4-9 yrs between calves. 22 mo. gestation. Mustch. Weaning at 1-2 yrs as late as 4. Related cows suckle each other’s young.

Trunk is cojooined upper lip and snout w/ 2 nostrils running parallel. 2.7 gallons per siphon. 40K muscles. 150 K including small ones.

Predators lions and hyena on young

Maasai legend. the great one made 2 of every kind- big and little. Hyrax, sea cows and ellies related. 50 mya
teats between forelegs, placenta/womb simil. internal testes, penis recurves to rear, plantigrade with claws not hooves

Vocalizations at 14-35 hertz.(sim to volcanoes, e-quakes, weather, waves) can travel at least 2 1/2 miles. Fem in estrous “sing”

When some of the old matriarch were born there were 1.9 million in 1979 down to 400-600 K by 89 endangered, Ivory at $100/lb.

Off just after 415. WE stop for a little chat about those magnificent baobabs. Here are some of the things we saw as we drove in the northern part of the park on the other side of the river. Black faced and yellow throated sand grouse, giraffes with both red billed and yellow billed oxpeckers. Wonderful landscape, pleasant temperature and many birds. Back at 645 for showers, more good food and a heck of a lodge. The stars are out so I do a bit of star talking for you with my handy dandy fancy pantsy illegal laser pointer.

Sunday, February 15th
Hyena yelling right near our tents at about 3 am. Elevation here is about 3000’; this evening we will be at 5000. We gave Eddie his tip. Charles can’t find his bag!!!! oh yea here it is – in the Land Rover…. imagine that? Off at 8ish for our longest drive of the trip. Out of the park and back into the cultivated land. Recently there was a huge piece of land – the Lake Manyara ranch – which was purchased as a wildlife corridor and it seems to be working; the animals can move to Lake Manyara. We go through Mosquito Village; full of crops (esp rice) because of the water popping out at the base of the escarpment. Then up and up up up say goodbye to the baobabs. Moving up the 2000’ escarpment I give you a brief overview of the geology of East Africa rift zone. Iraqw people where Tanzania’s marathon runners come from. Go through corn, sorghum, beans, wheat, and sisal; actually the fields seem to be plowed and ready for planting. The rains did not come in November and the crops did not really get started. We get fueled up in Karatu; some quick shopping occurs. We will return here later to Gibbs Farm and it will have rained a lot.

Stop at gate and visitor center to Ngorongoro Conservation area. Where I give you an overview of the NCA and the Serengeti ecosystem and a bit about the geology and human history. And show you our upcoming route for the next 10 days.

The difference between the Park and the Conservation Area is that humans can be in the latter. The Maasai may be compatible with the wildlife. Are not supposed to farm but do.

Boundaries determ by wildebeest migration. Wind from the Indian Ocean brings the rains- monsoon.
Lake Victoria is 2 largest lake in world. Lake Superior is the largest. It influences the weather (local) Nov to May is rain
West side gets 2x due to L Vict. High mts. around craters block the rains
Volcanic ash rich in minerals good for soil and therefore grasses grow. gets wetter toward L Vict= WB, tommies, Zebra and Elands
Zebras only have one stomach
Wildebeest calf not to swamp predators but bc the best grass high in calcium and phosphorus for milk production
Ser. is where we all began 3 1/3 my. Man has been interacting with these animals long before lodges, clothing, guns.

First look at the crater I find two rhinitos out of 20 or so that are there. You will get a closer look, I am sure. Many cbs, gnus, zebras below. Incredible place 10 miles across, 2k’ deep. In Maasai country we see our first herds of cows and goats and the men dressed in red and black. Women carrying loads of firewood on their back. They do all the work..and the problem???

Lunch at Nyati (Kiswahili for Cape Buffalo) picnic site…watch out for the black kites. We eat in the lrs. Dropping down into the Malanja Depression for out first wildebeests (Wbs) and elands. Out into the Serengeti Ecosystem proper — Tommies, Grants, more wbs. The gnus have already dropped their babies. Herds of Thomson Gazelles and a few Grants, zebras. Kori bustards. Our first simbas – a male and female probably in courtship. Nubian vultures.

Our first but not last stop at Naabi Hill for official check in and fee payment. We walk up the hill to the overview. Good looks at tyrant agama lizards. I do some push ups and he loses a bit of his color. The rain is off to the west but mostly it is pretty dry. There are two lions with a kill right near the road after we leave Naabi. Our tops are down… The light and clouds are fantastic. Kongonis aka Cokes Hartebeests.

We turn left off the main road and head toward Moru. On our way to camp we find a very cute family of bat eared foxes. Just what Diane wanted to see.

We arrive at our camp – Moru #6. . No we aren’t in the pup tents. Mbesi aka Emmanuel is the camp manager. He gives us an orientation and introduces the staff. He mumbles but does a good job.

We can get used to this kind of camping. It costs more and worth it. Showers are had by all, campfire, peanuts, popcorn. Truly a beautiful panorama stretches out from us in all directions.

Then dinner… amazing what those guys can do in that outdoor kitchen. The night sky is perfect full of stars so I do a follow up star gazing lesson. We never know if we have another clear night. Followed by lala salama and night sounds of Hyenas, Scops owls and some toads. Zipperwills are also heard during the night.

Monday, February 16
Jambo jambo with some nice hot water to wash with. Nice clouds this am, going to keep it coolish today. We like that and so do the animals. Jennifer of the great eyes spots a rhino right near camp while brushing her teeth. Grand way to start the day. WE watch him spray a few bushes; this is his territory, certainly not ours.

Off at 800 heading south but first we take a better look at MAMA MORU. Laughing doves, rufous napped lark, augur buzzard, secretary birds, green pigeons, day flower. Toilet tissue flower. Then to Maasai paintings and next the Gong Rock show. We have 10 minutes of blessed silence before the other tour groups show up big time and it gets crowded and loud. Quite nice.

Gray backed shrikes, gorgeous pair of crowed cranes. Hippos jammed in the feeder stream to Lake Magadi. We cruise by the little river looking and thoroughly enjoying the Moru Kopje landscape. We see a predator jam because of 5 lion cubs, one male simba and a very frightened leopard high up in an acacia tree. The latter was very challenging to see but we finally manage. Even the scope does not help too much. Ellen is NOT counting that as her first leopard sighting. Don’t worry we will have plenty more. Then to Lake Magadi — we lead the way and the other two lrs get to watch a female lion poop – oh well we missed that. Shit happens.

At Lake Magadi (Soda in Maasai) we get out and stretch our legs and check the tires. Egyptian geese, Ruff with orange legs, Kittlitz plover, Hippo skeleton, Black winged stilts, little grebes (dabchicks). The clouds are really nice and dramatic. Good look a crowned cranes on the way back. Rufous napped larks singing away. Reedbuck. Kongonis, Giraffes, gray backed shrikes, white backed vultures, and buffalos. This is a good day to be alive I think.

Late lunch at 130. r and r. and it rains. A little talk at 345 on Cranes, what it means to be a species (an organism that is reproductively isolated from another) and Rock and Bush Hyraxes. The smaller Bush has a 6 cm penis, which is bigger than the larger Rocks wanger. That keeps them apart sexually though they seem to be very good friends. Off at 420. a bit of rain but it stops. We retrace our steps and have a very pleasant game drive. See 3 female lions and 2 cubs on a kopje right near some Cape Buffaloes.

A large troop of baboons 66+ up clamber up on a kopje to spend the night. They are very good climbers, scrambling right up the rock face. More LBRs, gray backed shrikes, Ruppells long tailed starlings are quite iridescent. At camp a baboon troop has moved up in the kopje above us. Dinner at 730 and more social bonding. Cloudy, glad we had the star talk last night.

Tuesday, February 17
The baboons were not so loud; they can be like a fraternity party at night. We heard hyenas and some lions in the am. There is a nice dawn chorus of all the birds waking up. We make our own lunch and are off at 745. OK I did say 8 but I changed my mind. IT is cool and nicely overcast at this 5000′ elevation. Our serrated terrapin is there in the little pond filled with floating duckweed. Later this afternoon there will be 6 of them stacked on top of each other and very wary.

Out onto the plain looking for cheetahs. We have an official bathroom stop on a small hill. Not so nice in the official one but the bushes are mighty fine. Ipomeas aka morning glory in full bloom and a composite called Aspilla mozambiqueus that is everywhere in flower right now. We see a pin tailed whydah male …why dah long tail. Yuck yuck yet another lame joke from your American guide.

Heading north toward the middle of the park at Serenera. WBacked Vultures and a few marabou storks (with an 11 1/2 foot wingspan!!!) Cruising by the Phoenix palms (WILD DATE PALMS) with giraffes, vervets, baboons, and mighty fine looks at ellie families very close. Black smith plovers, more warthogs. Continuing north toward Kenya at a fork in the road we go straight, left goes to Lake Victoria. Down that road a piece we do turn left toward the Retima Hippo Pool.

There are many impalas, some CB and Giraffes. It is not too hot here and very few other tour groups. In fact we havbe the place to ourselves for a while. I give a little overview of hippo sociology and Crocs. They have dung slinging on social inferiors. Social humans only do that metaphorically.

Then directly back to the Visitor Center for lunch. It is very very crowded here. Unbelievable. There are photo ops for the 2 kinds of hyrax – bush and rock, dwarf mongooses, and numerous little birdies. After lunch we guide ourselves through the very well done exhibits. Rock hyraxes in tree, bush hyraxes on rocks and no tree hyraxes. The candelabra tree, the termite fungus story, the hidden rock paintings, the CLOCKWISE migration route, hyraxes. These displays are very well done. In the final building we reach the human evolution section but it has all been changed because of fundamental Christians.

We head back toward Moru and then turn left on the highway. We have been told about some leopards by other guides and sure enough we all have great looks at a mom in the tree. The youngster is hidden down in the bushes. She comes down once and then back up the tree; very nice looks especially through the scope. The feline embodiment of stealth, strength and beauty according to Estes. We are in a minor leopard jam; Bohor reed bucks.

ON the way back we see the wonderful bat eared fox family again. Back for showers and our clean laundry. . Another mighty fine dinner and I tell you a bit about Crocs after dessert. Tomorrow to Kasini – a new place for me. … Sad to say good bye to camping however we shall return. ..

Wednesday, February 18
Hyenas whooping and lions roaring in the early am. Some of us go up on the big kopje a
A little tricky to climb. Bye bye to our camp staff. WE will see them in two days. Off at 9. and soon see 3 lionesses up on a kopje sleeping. We are heading more or less south toward Kasini (which means south in Maasai). Across the plain with very short grass and then into the Acacia/Commiphora woodland

We stop to watch 3 marabou storks and Ann R spies a leopard skulking in the bushes. Good looks as she runs quickly to the left and back into the thick bushes. Starting to see some of the gnus and zebras now. Past the new Simuyu Ranger post. Out into the plain to learn a bit about Termites and we see our first dung beetle that is rolling dung. I sing my song but I think you all are unimpressed. We have fun watching him fight with another male and try to bury his carefully rolled and perfectly round dung ball. We are easily entertained.

DUNG BEETLE SONG (sung to Rawhide theme)

Roll em roll em roll em
Keep them dung balls rolling
And the gnus keep coming,
Raw dungggggggggggggg

Soil with sun its raining
Keeps the short grass growing
Zebras Tommies munching,
more dungggggg

Cut it out, roll it up, pack it down, lay an egg.
Roll it up, pack it down, lay an egg.
Keep it rolling, really rolling, never stop till its round,
never stop…..raw dunggggggggggggg

Now the ball is buried
Soon the egg is hatching
Big fat grub is eating raw dung
Then the grub transforming into pupa waiting,
now the bug is flying toward dungggggggggggggg

Cut it out, roll it up, pack it down, lay an egg.
Roll it up, pack it down, lay an egg.
Keep it rolling, really rolling, never stop till its round,
never stop…..raw dunggggggggggggg
We pass our turn to the camp and head out into the plain. We soon are into the “migration” there are quite a few gnus, zebras, and a few Grants. European or white storks are standing in the grassland. Many gnu new babies and mixed herds horizon to horizon animals!!! A few black winged terns fly by. There are Ruppell’s Griffons, white back vultures and the undertakers (Marabous) standing around. A cheetah and her female cub are found resting in the shade. The cub plays with a stick and tries to climb a tree.
Back track to Kasini Road and see some klipspringers well up on the rocks. Then to Kasini met by Mark and Cornelia. Check into our delightful tented rooms and remeet for lunch at 130. Free time until 345 when we meet for a short talk about rinderpest, human population explosion and why the very big animals in the Americas disappeared.
The idea that Clovis people were big-game hunters could help explain an unsolved puzzle of the Americas in the late Pleistocene: the catastrophic extinction of dozens of species of large animals. Across the Americas millions of large animals—known as mega fauna—disappeared. These animals included the mammoth, mastodon, and the giant ground sloth, as well as the horse, the camel, and many other herbivores. Some very large and formidable carnivores also died out, including the American lion, the saber-toothed tiger, and the giant short-faced bear. These extinctions were thought to coincide with the arrival of Clovis groups, a chronological coincidence that led University of Arizona ecologist Paul Martin to propose the hypothesis of Pleistocene overkill. This hypothesis, first put forward in 1967, contends that Clovis big-game hunters caused the extinctions. Martin suggested that overkill was especially likely—even inevitable—if Clovis groups were the first Americans. For if the mega fauna had never before faced human hunters, they would have been especially vulnerable prey to this new, dangerous, two-legged predator.
Clovis Point
Clovis spear points, such as this one from northeastern Utah, are among the oldest stone tools known in the Americas. The oldest Clovis spear points in North America date to about 11,500 years ago. Native Americans attached such points to shafts, making spears that could either be thrust directly at animal prey or thrown using atlatls (spear-throwers). Archaeologists believe the spear points were also used as multipurpose cutting tools.

Off at 415 heading out on the same road as this AM but farther out into the plain. WOW there are quite a few animals out here> Ho hum more lions – one male next to a wb kill another male sleeping and three females way the distance. One spotted hyena in the mud. And we see the same female and cub cheetah. A wattle on the wattled starling indicates breeding male. Just before camp we pass a very alert herd of ellies bunched close together. We are trumpeted at… they are nervous. Another smaller herd is also passed and they seem anxious as well. Back to Kasini for showers and nice camp fire.

Gnus are everywhere around us and it sounds like frogs croaking. Only 11 tents here; so we are the dominant group. Social bonding at dinner. Saturn rings seen nearly by all in my scopel. Stars are out. The kopje is available for us to walk up. Quite nice. Zebras barking. We like this place. Many animal sounds this evening – ellie trumpeting, lions roaring Cape buffalo snorting, zebras barking gnu gnuing. Tres bien

Thursday, February 19, 2009.
Coffee etc delivered to our tents.. we can adapt to this level of treatment easily. Very attentive staff and the postcards are already stamped- what a treat! Off at 730 right on time. Out out out onto the vast plain of the Serengeti… flatter than Kansas and has Montana’s big sky beat up and down. You can really imagine the ash falls creating such a flat landscape. Past the airstrip and then head toward Ndutu until we get to the park boundary and then we take the road parallel to the NCA and SNP marked by barrels until we get to the THREE TREES for lunch. Actually there are only two trees now.

Along that trip in the morning we saw (not in order) —- Steenbok ( a bit bigger than a dik dik with sharper horns), spotted thick knee, 3 lion cubs and a large male lion on a kopje (the female is there but hidden from us; the reserved or just plain rude Wisconsin photographers are there), little bee eater, a hunter sunbird nest, beautiful sunbird, nice cool weather, flies from the migration, yellow throated sand grouse, white winged terns flying about, many cattle egrets, our first big group of white or European storks. There are our first Abdim’s storks around and Eurasian Rollers. We stop witness a WB calf being born but she pulls him back in, female lion with kill and many vultures around several kills as we bounce along the road. A and K driving off road, our first golden jackals, Fred peeing off the lr. Nubian (aka lappet faced) is the big dominant one. Ruppells Griffon with the ivory beak and speckled back. The commonest vulture in the Serengeti is the white backed vulture. The plains are very green and there are animals as far as we can see. Picnic is well done… sets a high standard. Off at 130 and see a nice group of ostrich, more kills, returning the same route. Hilary finds us a crowned plover sitting on one egg. Back at 3 for R and R and gift shop invasion. Up on the Kopje at 630 for sundowners and a great sunset. Venus is a crescent just like the moon. Everyone sees it well through the scope. Much roaring from the lions early in the evening. Hard rain falls in the night. Good for all living things.

Friday, February 20
I am up early and see Jupiter bright in the eastern sky with crescent moon in Sagittarius. Blue sky. Late breakfast. The day is bright; since we don’t have far to go, we leave at nine. Heading the same direction as yesterday. Backtracking and we see a slender mongoose and its tan juvenile young. Long crested eagle and a stop for another dung beetle rolling and the whistling thorn acacia story. We do hear it.

Common Name: Whistling Thorn, Swollen Thorn Acacia
Genus: Acacia
Species: dreparalobium
The whistling thorn is an acacia tree commonly seen on the savannas of equatorial East Africa, particularly the Serengeti plain. This acacia can grow about 18 feet tall, but is often stunted in its growth. The whistling thorn acacia protects itself with pairs of long thorns up to 3 inches long. Interspersed with these are modified thorns, called stipular spines, which are joined at the base by hollow bulbous swellings about 1 inch in diameter. These are home to four different kinds of stinging ants who pierce these swollen thorns with tiny holes. When the wind blows it turns old and abandoned spines into tiny whistling flutes, which gives the tree its name. It isn’t clear yet whether the relationship
with ants is a symbiotic or parasitic one. This particular acacia doesn’t have the toxic chemicals that ward off insects and browsers like other species of acacias do. The stinging ants protect the tree by swarming out of their nests and attacking an intruder at the smallest movement. Giraffes and other browsers are thought to be able to detect the pheromones the ants give off, and leave the tree alone.
However, some ant species, like Crematogaster nigriceps , will prune the branches and flowers of their whistling thorn so that enemy ant colonies on other trees can’t get to their tree. This pruning stimulates the acacia to produce a sugary secretion at the ends of their leaflets which feeds the ants. Unfortunately, it also kills the tree’s growth tips and effectively sterilizes it so it can’t propagate itself.
It is believed that the ants have developed the habit of living in trees because the soil of the savanna turns spongy in the rainy season and dries out and cracks in the dry season. This makes it very difficult for ant to build nests under ground.
The whistling thorn acacia, like other acacias, has developed several ways to survive the severely hot and dry climate in which it lives. Because of the heat the tree must find ways to conserve moisture. Their leaves have evolved into many tiny leaflets (pinnae) which can turn to absorb sunlight, or avoid it and reduce transpiration. The many leaflets are also beneficial when animals graze on them. Some will be left behind to continue the vital task of photosynthesis.
During the dry season on the savanna, the whistling thorn acacia will drop its leaves to conserve water. At the beginning of the rainy season fragrant creamy-white flowers bloom before the leaves grow back. The flowers look like little puffballs and resemble those of the cultivated mimosa tree, which are in the same family. Long seed pods develop, whose seeds are very nutritious and a favorite of many animals, including humans.

Thousands of wbeess and zebras moving through the woodland. We watch them all crossing the litte stream in a great line. The little ones keeping up. NO crocs to eat them here. Pretty durn cool. We stop and listen to the sounds of the wooded savannah full of thousands of animals. IT does not get better than this. A little sparrowhawk or immature pale chanting goshawk. Not sure. What do you think, Kumbi??

Topis out on the plain and Phanuel spies a tree full of lions. 6 lionesses, one juvenile and a little bitty baby in the crotch of the tree. We arrive at the familiar green tents and our guys are waiting at 1245. It is hot here. We have had very good weather on this trip so far but now you see how it could be.
At 330 the mammal and ungulate talk and a bit about the gnus. Then we are off for a fairly quiet game drive. Juvenile martial eagle sitting mighty pretty, white crowned shrikes, African cuckoos, impala, guinea hens, dik dik, Montague harriers, larks singing, pin tailed whydah, red billed buffalo weavers, speckled fronted weavers, Drongo, isabelline shrike, Fishers love birds, giraffes. Many birds seen overcast and a bit cool.

Home for showers and our usual social dinner. It really is great to be alive. Today was the day Janice shared her colonoscopy story with the whole table. Now I know how to get a group to quiet down!

Saturday, February 21
Off at 8 retracing our path toward Serenera. There are hundreds of lesser kestrels hunting over the plain. Find some topis with a young one on the left side of the road – they have blue jeans on and in the same family as WBs and Kongonis. Cruise around a marshy drainage to the right – Red billed and Hottentot teals. Our game drive starts off peaceful-like. But by the river near Serenera we see a leopard up in a sausage tree at 1010. Nice looks and not too many lrs. Head on down the road and in a short distance Sally spots a second leopard; this one eating a reed buck. We can hear some crunching== way cool. Phanuel notes that we have seen 5 leopards – 6 if you count the one that Anne saw in Arusha. Some trips do not have a single leopard sighting!!

A fuel stop and then slowly make our way back through the empty plain full of termite mounds but not much else. The Sea of grass goes on forever. Back for lunch rest and then the Homo talk. .

Here are some notes from previous talks.

Human Origin
Primate order:
1) Prosimians (almost monkeys eg bushbaby, lemurs)
2) New world monkeys
3) Old world monkeys
4) homonoids

They may be an ancient group, around since 65 mya. Most live in the trees in the tropic very few have moved down into the savannah. Only man and gorillas sleep on the ground, the rest depend on cliffs or trees for protection.

Hominoids =apes and early humanlike. 20 mya were apes. Split into 4 grps – gorillas, chimps, bonobos, humans.
6 mya humans, gorillas and chimps split. Share 98% of our genome. . All great apes need at least 8 yrs of parental education.

Connected all the way back into time with all the mothers and fathers that weren’t like humans but apes and all the way back to the beginning of time.

6 my ago we split from Chimps. Not direct line from chimps.

Hominoid = standing upright
Why did they stand upright and where? Stood upright in the forest not necessarily only in the savannah. Maybe stand up to have your hands free. Man – manipulate.

First one had little brain with long arms. Forward facing eyes and hands.

Hominids- fireball lily Laoetil. 3.6 mya. footprints. upright! = Lucy
Australopithecine= southern ape 2 mya at bottom of gorge is basalt.

At Oldv are 2 hominids – big guy= Zin (Australpith)) man. = nutcracker man. ate roots and nuts and hard things with big teeth.
Took them 27 yrs to find the first bones.

Much more like us with smaller face and bigger brain- Homo habilis = handy man
then came H. erectus one and half million migrated out of Africa to Asia and then Europe. Pretty much people by now. = Cro-Magnon, Neanderthal and Java man. No voice box, no bows or spears. But had fire and then could cook things that kept them from disease and could make rough things easier to digest. Might have started hunting more to feed bigger brain.

The ones left behind in Africa evolved into Homo sapiens 150-200,000 yrs ago. Used rock shelters, burial sites, rock tools.

50 k great leap forward out of Africa. May have only been 100-500 people spread all over Europe and Asia, Indonesia wiping out erectus and large animals of all sorts.

What did sapiens have that erectus didn’t have? Language may have been the key.
Could have used language in mate selection may have caused the great leap forward.
All 4 language groups still exist in Tanz at Lake Eyasi.

The genetic and languages differences are greater within Africa that any other place on earth. People have been here longer.

People in modern Ethiopia apparently were returned Africans.
Evolved white skin the northern latitudes to get more sun to make Vit. d 3 (used for absorbing calcium for our skeleton) and k but too much sun causes lose of foliate (vit b complex). Dark skin evolved 1.5 mya in Africa. Zone 1 is tropical, dark skin. Zone 2 moderately pigmented skin can alter their skin tone increase melanin to prevent foliate loss and lighten in winter to create Vit d. Zone 3 Eat Vit d rich food.

Language is substitute for group grooming therefore can create and maintain stability in numbers greater than 50 (the upper limit in Chimp and Gorilla groups)

Light skin folic acid- high UV destroys. VIt d e. tanning etc.

Off to the rhino post = there are 20 now in the area. Very good news indeed. We all donate a bit of $$ for the rangers. Back for showers and some of us get to go up on the kopje again. No baboons or leopards only a mighty fine view and some squawking hyraxes. Many stars out tonight. Southern Cross will rise later.

Sunday, February 22
Lions in the distance and hyenas as well. Our last morning at Moru. The morning sky is very clear with Jupiter and Venus in the east, the big and little dipper in the north and the Southern Cross and Alpha Centauri in the south. The dawn chorus loud.

WHOA!!! Whatta morning for Charles and Hilary with Safari ants all over their tent. Next door Janice is laughing at their misery. But soon there was some “ROUGH JUSTICE” to quote Hilary and the ants invaded Janice’s bed! Yeech. Meanwhile May and Fred just let the safari ants pass through and undisturbed. A lesson??

We pack our lunches and say our thanks to the great crew and give them their well deserved tip. Cyncium aka Kleenex plant is in full bloom everywhere. Kumbi has a flat tire which the guides fix very quickly – they have done this before. Taking the same route back to the main highway that we took when we came in to Moru on our first day so long ago in the Serengeti. There is an elephant group that just happens to cross the main road when we do. A very nice encounter for us. And the littlest baby we have yet seen. Giraffes again we have seen them every day so far. Beginning to see Tommies, Grants, kongonis, topis, Montague harriers, Kori bustards, BB bustard,

Crossing into the NCA we now see assorted Maasai goats, sheep and cows. We turn off to the left and head on a very rough road to Olduvai. The visitor center is mighty improved thanks to the Getty’s. There are quite a few vehicles there. We have our boxed lunch while looking at the bright yellow Speke’s weaver, Vitelline masked weaver, speckle fronted weaver, yellow vented bulbul, variable sunbird, beautiful sunbird, slate colored boubou, social weaver, English sparrow. We have a brief overview at the overlook by our official archeological tour guide, Joseph a Maasai. Rrrrroling his r’s. We visit the museum which Hillary and Chelsea visited in March 97. Personally I can relate to the footprints, better than a bone. I walk upright therefore I am HOMO. HUMANS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE! We all (Asian, Caucasian, Negro) go back to our roots in the Serengeti. Sally also feels that powerful response to the footprints.

Up we go leaving the Serengeti and the rain begins a bit. Goodbye Serengeti… Passing the Malanja depression; Cooler and cooler, in fact it is right cold. We can see rain down in the crater as we go down the Descent Road. ON the crater floor at 230. Tops go up. I appreciate that many of you appreciate the diverse bird life in Northern Tanzania and no has regretted the cost of good binoculars. Maasai cattle in crater, only in day for watering twice per week. 5200′ on floor, 7200′ on rim. There are four animals that are NOT found in the crater – Topi, Impala, Giraffe and female elephants and their young.

So what did we see?? Beautiful flamingos, Kittlitz banded plover, golden jackals, a female rhino and baby (20 adults + 2 babies now), many elands. The ox in antelope clothing. One ton and the young ones can jump 10′ high. Good to eat and heavily poached. Abdim’s storks and many sacred ibis. Spur winged geese, many crowned cranes in a group, .Now it is actually hot and the clouds are only above the rim. Nice cumulus. Warthogs and not shy. I told you things would be close in the crater. The zebras and even the black smith plovers just stay right buy the LR. 6 lions, 5 black backed jackals, a passel of vultures and a lion killed wildebeest. As we meander toward our new camp we pass thousands (?) of new born gnus. They are everywhere.

Then up the Sopa Road though the flat topped acacia forest. Then to Tembo A camp. . In the acacia trees and very different than where we have been. There are 6 other people here Cooler here and we have a Maasai guard who stays all night and guards us against other Maasai according to previous guides I have had here.

Safire is the camp manager and we really do like our new tents. They are upscale; the toilet and shower right in the cabin. Solar lights that work all the time. This camp is a semi-permanent one that Thomson puts up for the season here so it can be a bit better for us. Close together though (not good for honeymooners) and they are out of gin and Vodka!!!
Monday, February 23
Lions roaring down by the Munge River nearly all night. A fantastic rain storm pounded us. Word from my wife in CA is that it is raining there as well. Up early at 5, breakfast is ready, we are loaded and ready to roll at 555. TO gate in a short time but have to wait until 608 for the rangers but (TA DA!!!) we are the first down. Down we go into the crater (more properly, a caldera).
Dawn broke on us and here is what we saw by 815. 2 hyenas kill and eat a baby wb. A family of jackals chases a poor little African wildcat as does a hyena. Tens of elands. A pride of lions – 2 females and 5 cubs playing with last nights kill. Dawn light on breeding herd of wbs all clumped together. Fog rising on the rim and sitting over Lake Magadi. Hundreds of crowned cranes flying in. spur winged geese, hyenas galore, jackals, nice male ellie with dripping urine (in mustch), birthday girl May, many cbs with attendant cattle egrets. Fred and I pee too far from the lr and get Kumbi in trouble. Oh brother!!! Friendly warthogs and zebras, some jackals harassing a young hyena (no doubt a male- they are the lowest of the low in the hyena social structure). Flamingoes in the background really add to the scene. Zebras – the original bar code animal of GOD. Many Kori Bustards. And black bellied bustards are displaying but alas not a female to be seen.

Hundreds of Abdim’s storks. See why you do not come to the crater first?? Everything is easy to photograph. I am surprised that there are so few vehicles here but maybe because of the economy. We cut across the plain and see the first of 7 rhinos in this day. Spur winged geese- Africa’s heaviest waterfowl. There are yellow wagtails about the feet of many of the hoofed animals today. They eat the insects disturbed by the movement through the grass. The white flowers of Cyncium are in full glory stretching out across the grassland in all directions.

A baby hippo and mom out of the water but alas we must rush past because someone in our lr really needs to pee. I will not tell you who it is but she is really cute and the youngest member of our little tribe. We enter the Lerai forest (means yellow barked acacia in Maasai) it is strikingly beautiful. It is one of only two forests in the crater because there is permanent water here. We pass into it and stop at one of the two official areas for bathroom breaks. This is the place I got attacked by a male Vervet monkey while taking his photo 3 years and broke my lens on his nose. We see another pair of rhinos and maybe two more large solitary ones or the same one twice. They are consummate browsers and usually do not graze. Ellies are all around munching on the yellow barked acacias. Vervets are here but eating way up in the tree and do not bother us. White headed barbet, olive pigeons, Cisticola singing, yellow bishops, Marabou stork in the scope, tawny eagles seem to be everywhere this am. We sing May happy birthday. One bull ellie stands up on his hind legs to reach some high leaves. Was it worth it>?

Off continuing through the Lerai Forest past families of vervets and troops of baboons. A mighty fine DeFassa’s waterbuck male poses right near our lrs. Out of the forest we find some more lions with some babies stashed under the culvert. The light is great on the flamingoes.

Heading toward Ngoitokitok – the lunch spot- on the way we do see two more rhinos (the scope views are nice) and three lionesses on our left sleeping in the grass. What ELSE do they do? There are not as many vehicles for lunch here as usual. I am pleasantly surprised. Black kites diving for food. We pass friendly guinea fowl (Kiswahili word is Kanga which also refers to the beautiful cloth that the TZ women wear). But we continue past and take a winding muddy road into the other forest of yellow barked acacia and see that the Serena Lodge has set up an entire lunch in the bush just for us!! We like it!! The kites cannot get the necessary space to dive bomb here and steal the food. Well they have been learning since last year. This lunch and this crater and this group and our guides are definitely mambo poa (Kiswahili for cool). About the time of dessert the skies open up and POUR on us. Ina is stuck in toilet but rescued by her good friend Sally. Janice was concerned for us and I have a picture to prove it. That was a short but very powerful storm as we flee into the lrs. One vehicle stays back for coffee and reports the kites got pretty aggressive.

Widow birds, Africa jacanas, pied kingfishers. Off across to the opposite side – perfect light for photos of tommies and grants and cbs. A rhino and baby seen. We find a golden jackal family with a tiny baby – sooooo cuteeeee.

To the other hippo pool. Great birds – Hottentot teals, moorhens, Jackson widow birds, Squacco heron, Black crowned night heroin, cattle egrets, long toed plovers, BS plovers, northern shoveler female… and more hippos with some babies. Meandering back toward our ascent road and a lion jam with 12 vehicles or so. A courting lion pair but no action. This is the same pride we saw in the am. Close to the same spot. We see both males of this group. Then up we go through some rain and back to our camp and very nice hot showers.

May gets a real; fine birthday cake and the staff come out and sing and dance for her. Kumbi gets right up and joins in. It was a right nice event. Hearts are beginning to turn toward home.

Tuesday, February 24
We had a heck of a rain storm all night long. IT was intense and the tents held up! Off at 755 after giving the staff their well deserved tip. Along the perimeter road we go in the fog and clouds. The road is in good shape mostly and I think we shall not be able to see down the crater but lo and behold it clears. We stop and have one last look at the crater. This is at the first place we saw it 10 days ago. A stop at the NCA VC to review all the places and things we saw. And then it is back out into the world of the cultivators and paved road. We get to civilized Gibbs farm (1700 meters). Ah bliss. Rick and Judy Thomson owned this since 2004 and Dale from Washington State is the manager.

The walk is delayed due to the slippery trails so we wait around and have some tea and coffee and shop and watch birds. Lunch is simply amazing. We can eat everything and a lot of it!! .And then to our very nice accommodations. There has been quite a remodeling job for the last three years and all of us are quite pleased with our rooms. If only they were a bit bigger!!! Outdoor and indoor shower, large bathtub etc.

Then we gather in the very relaxed and peaceful garden for our closing circle. This is a good way for all of us to remember the trip and the highlights and have a forum to share with others some thoughts and feelings. WE all had sweet things to say about the trip, the guides, the people of Tanzania, the wildlife sightings we had and each other. My thanks and appreciation to all of you; this was a great safari.

Serengeti by Mary Oliver

When he comes
walking under the baobab
awash with sun, or flecked
with patches of shadows–

his curled lip, under the long hair
as rough as a crib of hay,
dappled with black flies–
when he comes,

at night, floating along the edges
of the waterholes–
when he snuffles the ground, and opens
the wet tunnel of his throat, and roars–

I think of the heavy-browed, crouched fishermen
how they stood at dusk
at the rim of the cave and listened
until it came to them

for the first time–
the teror and the awe
of the swinging, golden foot
that waits in the darkness.

Can anyone doubt that the lion of the Serengeti
is part of the idea of God?
Can anyone doubt that, for those first, almost-upright bodies
in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro,

In the lush gardens of Africa
in the continuatiion of everything beyond each individual thing,
the lion
was both the flower of life and the winch of death–

the bone-breaker
and the agent of transformation?
No doubt, in the beginning,
he rose out of the grass

like a fire–
as now he rises out of the grass,
like a fire,
gleaming and unapproachable,

and notices me,
and fixes me with his large,
almost fatherly eyes,
and flexes his shoulders.

I don’t know
anything so beautiful as the sunlight
in his rough hair
I don’t know

where I have seen such power before —
except perhaps in the chapel
where Michelangelo’s God,
tawny and muscular,

tears the land from the firmament
and places the sun in the sky
so that we may live
on the earth,

among the amazements ,
and the lion
runs softly through the dust,
and his eyes, under the thick, animal lashes,

are almost tender,
and I don’t know when I have been
so frightened,
or so happy.

Mary Oliver
House of Light

Leonard aka Mr. Tanzanite shows his wares in Sally and Ina’s room. Too pricey for most of us.

At 315 half of us take the long walk to the Elephant Cave and Waterfall and the other half takes a nice tour of the gardens. Pascalie is the leader to the waterfall and is knowledgeable and speaks English very well.

Great birds here (Paradise flycatcher). The ambiance and peace of Gibbs Farm is good preparation for our journey home.

We gather around the feeding platform around 7 for the welfare fed greater bush babies. They appear and we get some good looks . Dinner is great as usual. Charles gets his birthday cake and a song (not quite as good as the Thomson staff). Bush babies crying and avocados falling with a loud bang on the tin roofs. There a powerful rain storm that hits and the power goes on and off. Epilated fruit bats call all night.

Wednesday, February 25th
Rain last night. The power went off intermittedly I had avocados dropping on my roof all night. The bush babies also cried a little bit.

Today will be a very long day indeed. It ends tomorrow in the USA for all of us but me. Off at 830 first stop is at the T shirt shack. Good buys. Then on retracing our path dropping down into the rift valley (one last look) and back to baobabs. Stop at the Maasai Gallery to shop shop shop. Then lunch at the River House. Lala is our hostess at the place for the blind and the deaf to make handicrafts for sale. The food is good and better shopping. One lr heads to Kia Lodge by the airport and the rest of you to the Cultural Heritage mega-mall.

Back through Arusha Town and out due east, just before the airport a left turn to Kia Lodge. It was exactly two weeks ago when we first arrived. A lot can happen in a fortnight huh? A small amount of free time to repack. An early dinner at 530 and then we tip our great guides. They did a mighty fine job. I say goodbye and you are off to the airport I will head there a bit later to meet Carolyn. Asante sana..that was a good safari. You are off to Dar; stop for an hour and then north to Europe through the night most try to sleep.…

Thursday, February 26

to Amsterdam. Then Home Sweet Home. See you later….

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Skills

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August 4, 2009