Lions, leopards, and elephants - oh my!!

Trip Start Sep 14, 2013
Trip End Oct 05, 2013

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day one of our safari was incredible! Aaron from Good Earth Tours picked us up at Planet Lodge.  We arrived at Tanagire National Park midday after a 3 plus hour drive from Arusha on very bumpy roads with lots of diversions (detours).   Within a few minutes of entering the park, we encountered zebras and wildebeests. I had no idea that they hang out together.  It was explained that the wildebeest are not that smart and they depend on the zebras to get them to the water. In Tanzania, if someone calls you a nyumbu (swahili for wildebeest) it is not exactly a compliment.

Impalas, gazelles and impalas were quickly followed by a large number of elephants. What a thrill to see these incredible creatures up close and personal. Gary and I had not dxpected to see them so close- within just a few feet of our vehicle. We were on a roll as we got to see the 2nd of the big five on our first day with a leopard (chui). It was napping in an Acacia tree and was not about to be disturbed.

Our first safari night was spent at Lake Burange Tented Camp. A beautiful place with the dining
 facilities on a gorgeous deck overlooking the lake. The next morning we returned to Tanagire and were even more impressed than yesterday. After the usual masses of elephants, zebras, baboons, and wildebeest, we hit the jackpot. Aaron spotted a sleeping lioness and strategically parked between her and a herd of wildebeest. Our patience paid off and sure enough, she woke hungry for lunch. In a heart stopping moment (for me), she came straight our vehicle. We watched the attempted ambush for about 30 minutes which was fascinating to watch her strategic maneuvers on the wildebeest - hiding and stalking. Finally the wildebeest decided to end the standoff and make a run for it. The ambush failed for the lion, who is the smart one now?? I have a new respect for the wildebeest.

An incredible morning but we have a wedding vow renewal ceremony to get to. We head towards Ngorongoro Crater and stop at the Masai village where the arrangements have been made. Gary and I have no idea what this is going to look like and thankfully we have Aaron to get the details. Both Gary and I were dressed in traditional Masai attire (so much for Gary's wedding shirt but they insisted). They also insisted that I be taken to the womans village to be dressed and then brought to the mens village where Gary and his entourage (see pics) would meet us half way. They were in all dressed in their celebratory attire and did incredible singing and dancing for us. We were blessed during the ceremony and I only know that one was for more cattle, goats and sheep. We may be in trouble. It was great and Gary gave me a beautiful tanzanite ring (way better than goats). The big question remains where will our next renewal ceremony take place??

The new swahili phrase we learned today is Lala salama or Sleep Well. So for tonight that is all.  Gary sends his love to all.

Talk soon,
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Denise & Steve on

Bora anataka katika harusi yako mpya. Hongera. (Best wishes in your new wedding. Congratulations). I hope a book comes from these adventures. What an incredible, unforgettable trip. Wow. I love the new ring, the happy faces, the traditional clothing and the animals. Incredible. Thank you and Lala Salama to you both.

Kerstin on

Congratulations to both of you! I love the ceremony photos. The safari shots are so cool, too. I love the baby elephants.

Michelle on

I'm so happy for you two! It looks like a great adventure!

Mike (not Margo) on

Your pics are great and tell the story of your great trip. Asked Margo to incorporate the dinning deck and tent into our house. Elephants and especially Zebras are beautiful. Highlight has to be wedding vows renewal. You guys look great in the traditional Masai attire, but what I really want to know is how was Gary's bachelor party?

Catherine on

Love the pics of the Lion. Glad you are having a good time. we are in Denali and doing a park tour today. Beautiful scenery but had a little snow yesterday
Much love.

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