17 October 2017 Tuesday - Tarangire National Park, Tanzania ~ Day 8

It was another amazing day in Tanzania. Our cabin faces the lake, and sunrise over the lake was incredible.

We got up at 5:30am, ate breakfast at the main lodge and we were out the door by 6:45 for another day of game drive.

We reentered Tarangire National Park at a different entrance this time, noting the animal skulls collected from the ground.

The first thing we saw were a small group of impalas; the McDonald’s of the bush. The young males were play-fighting with their antlers, which was fun to see.

Next, we saw some black-backed jackyls.

I always thought of jackyls as fierce, but from what I can tell, they’re just glorified foxes.

Because it’s so dry, the animals seemed a bit scarce, but we did see a waterbuck:

We drove down toward the river. On the way, we saw a really big bull elephant. We knew the elephant was old by the size of its tusks, which reached almost to the ground. Our guides seemed impressed that he had survived: he was probably almost 50 years old, and no poachers had ever found him. Good for him; I hope they never do. He was pretty shy and tried to stay hidden, so we only got a couple photos worth keeping.

We drove around, waiting for some exotic big game, but all we seemed to find were birds.

A dik-dik. Aren’t they cute? They’re about the size of a dog.

We saw a flying wildebeest! Well, actually, he was just running fast when I took this photo. They do a lot of that.

We saw a pair of ostriches.

And a group of cape buffalo trying to stay cool under the shade of a tree.

Then we came across some giraffes. They strolled up leisurely to get some water from the river. How to they do that? Not easily, it turns out.

They didn’t seem to trust us. They stood around and watched us before trying to take a drink of water.

Then finally they drank, but it was awkward.

Next, we came across another group of elephants.

There was a mama with her baby, and her baby wanted to nurse. It was cute.

We spent a lot of time taking photos of the elephants.

As we drove away, we saw some strange looking rodents. They looked like maybe groundhogs, but they were hiding in the rocks.

We drove up to an overlook where there was a picnic area. We didn’t have a picnic, but we got out and took a few photos of the valley below. It was a great view.

Then we drove back down into the river valley where we saw some waterfowl.

This saddle-billed stork was a surprise.

Next, we came across a group of lions, including a male.

Next, we saw another group of elephants.

I guess we’ll never get tired of taking elephant photos.

At one point we stopped, a group of elephants were drinking from the river. When they were done, they started splashing and playing in the water. They were so cute, especially the young ones. They sure looked awkward trying to get up again. They were smart enough to drink the water first before getting it all muddy.

They weren’t very good at lifting their legs, so they looked kind of klutzy getting up the river bank.

A little later on, we saw another male lion who came out of the brush.

He actually looked a little scary as he walked right toward us.

Then he decided to just lay down by a tree. Nice kitty!

He was soon joined by a lioness.

She came up to the same tree to lie down nearby.

The lioness yawned. It’s funny how they look fierce, even when they yawn. I guess it’s those huge fangs.

We saw more antelopes, but now they seem boring compared to the elephants, giraffes, and lions we’ve been seeing. I guess we’re spoiled.

We saw another elephant skull. They’re so weird.

On our way back to the lodge, we saw another one of those massive baobab trees.

We stopped at a roadside area where a woman was selling hand-woven goods. She was working on making more goods, so we know she wasn’t a re-seller. Kathy bought a cute basket. One of our group bought a pretty large woven rug with the intent of giving it to a family in need.

We headed back to the lodge by the lake.

After our meal, we went for a walk down to the lake. A bunch of large marabou storks hung around the lodge because they had a few large cement water vats to attract some of the wildlife, since the lake was all dried up.

As a learning experience, Eki picked up a tiny insect on a spear he brought with. The insect had massive jaws. I forget what he called it.

We walked down to the middle of the lake. As I said before, the lake was totally dry. The ground was all dry and cracked.

Ordinarily, Eki said, there would be millions of flamingos hanging around. But without water, all we found was dried up flamingo feathers.

There were a bunch of zebras hanging around.

Two of them were running back and forth. Eki said it was a father teaching his son endurance training for when a predators attack.

We could see rain in the distance, but Kathy was not intimidated. She was having too much fun for that.

A large group of about a hundred wildebeest had gathered at the lake, in the hopes of finding water. But having found none, they had no choice but to keep walking to the next likely place that might have water.

Where there are wildebeest, there are usually zebras.

They were running pretty fast. I caught this one in mid-air and he was really moving fast.

Down in the middle of the dried up lake, we were hit by a dust storm. It didn’t last long, however, and there wasn’t any danger. I was worried about lightning, but it never appeared. I even brought an umbrella, but we didn’t get any rain. We could see rain off in the distance, though, so that’s where all the wildebeest were walking.

When we were done with our lake-walk, it was almost dark. The semi-stormy skies made the sunset beautiful behind the lodge.

When we got back to the lodge it was still oppressively hot. I sat down without a shirt to cool off, and Kathy snapped my photo.

I call that incentive to diet!