Archive for the 'Budget Travel' Category

08
Nov
10

Landscapes of Africa – Best Photos

Nothing is as evocative of Africa as the  landscape: the physical territory with lots of long shots, sunsets, sunrises, oceans and deserts. Why it should be so, evocative that is, is a bit of a mystery. But when  I  look at these photos, they cry out, “Africa!” and no other place on earth that I’ve been.

Red soil, red sand, champagne glass shaped trees form the setting for the furry creatures most people go there for: but the most evocative, single thing about the continent for me is the land, ancient and worn, new and untested, puzzling and yet strangely familiar. Hope you enjoy them!

Sunset over Serengeti waterhole

 

To be included in this “best-of” there should not be animals or people or at least not the focus of the shot. Getting hoards of people, usually kids, out of the photo is an issue for  being included in this post but not for taking pictures.  In Africa,taking photos, I hardly ever thought, “wait till that kid gets out of the shot”.

On the other hand, if there were a tubby tourist with a blue and cream flowered Hawaiian shirt and skin tight, orange Bermuda shorts wearing new silvered Nike’s on the feet, I’d have no trouble waiting. Anybody wearing cameras and/or snapping photos (yes, like I was) also meant I waited or pointed the lens in another direction.

Here’s  what I found in the photo folder one year later thinking “landscapes, yes, they were striking”.

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08
Nov
10

Reptiles, Plants & Miscellaneous of Africa – Best Photos

This is a catchall post from our Oct. to Nov. 2009 southern Africa trip:  those photos that didn’t belong in one of the big 4 categories.  Where do you put a spitting cobra, e.g.?  Or a tse-tse fly or a termite mound or Mr. and Mrs. Dung Beetle? Well, they just don’t belong with mammals or bird or landscapes, I can tell you that!

Still these are pictures worth looking at (IMO). Hope you enjoy them.

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08
Nov
10

People of Africa – Best Photos

Aside from the furry, nursing, large and small mammals, we went to Africa to meet and see Africans at home and at work. With varying degrees of success, we did just that between Oct. and Nov. of 2009. Here are the (IMO) best photos of the people we traveled with and the people we encountered. Enjoy!

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08
Nov
10

Mammals of Africa – Best Photos

Mammals: big and small, furry and nurse their young, our close relatives in the animal kingdom. Unless I miss my guess, mammals are the reason people travel to Africa. Here are the best (IMO) of the previously blogged mammals of Africa taken between October and November of 2009. Hope you enjoy them!

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05
Sep
10

Olduvai Gorge and Serengeti National Park Day 1 – Tanzania

We spent half a day driving from Endoro lodge after a blissful night in a king size bed with real sheets. Up over and through Ngorogoro crater and a long dusty road to Serengeti.

Olduvai Gorge is a name that is magical to natural scientists and amateurs like me: Mary and Louis Leaky-land. I knew it was near our path to Serengeti but was gobstopped when we pulled into the small museum for lunch. The Laetoli footprints (I won’t explain but they were almost lost by man’s help) or their fiberglass cast along with numerous early flint tools, fossils and bones to make your heart beat quicker. Lunch and then onward past the gorge where humanity may have arisen 1.3 million years ago. Photos below.

We spent three days in Serengeti National Park, a huge area that I’m told is the half the area of Albania or the size of Connecticut just in case you’re familiar with those place. 14,700 sq. km or 5700 sq. miles. Suffice it to say it’s large enough to get lost in or in which to be eaten by a pride of lions.

John Timothy of Tanzania Travel is a fantastic guide. Ask for him if you get the chance. John had many chances to prove himself, finding animals where other guides came up empty. One guide we’d come upon was actually lost, asking John’s directions. John was a ranger in Serengeti for many, many years before becoming a guide and was disgusted with the poor guide.

Another example: on day two of our Serengeti mini-safari, we’d been out looking after a lioness and her cub (you can see the pictures on day 2) and were coming back to camp having seen tons and tons of animals, stopping where we wished, having John point out the nearly invisible creatures lurking in the bush. We’d been back to visit the beautiful leopard we’d seen on day 1 – he was hiding nearly invisible up in the tree where we’d left him. We saw herds of animals, unusual birds, all kinds of wildlife: a cheetah hunting, lions, a serval! and more.

Anyway, we came upon a Land Rover of tourists who were transfixed by a lioness sleeping under a tree. One measly lioness. The way you watch is to raise the roof, stand up inside the Rover and peer over the edge of the vehicle, completely safe. As we pulled up to see what was interesting, there’s a guy inside who’s quite excited and silently jabbing his hand frantically toward a shape in the shade: the sleeping lioness. We could hardly keep from laughing that this was the high point of their morning. I nodded serious assent and tried to look interested for 30 seconds before we drove on.

On the first afternoon we got a very nice game drive and watched the nearly full moon rise over our tent facilities. The tent was a bit of a let down, culture shock or readjustment to the reality of a cot. Still, nice dinner served by John and Mr. Anthony (of Tanzania Travel and our cook).

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05
Sep
10

Tarangire National Park/Endoro Lodge – Tanzania

You can see Tanzania on the map just south of Kenya, nearly on the dashed equator on the east coast of the African continent. We’ve come a long way in six weeks by Africa in Focus bus, starting out in Cape Town, South Africa, winding our way up the west coast of Namibia, going east through Botswana and Zambia, turning north through densely populated Malawi and nearly to the end of our journey in Arusha, Tanzania.

We change tour companies here in Arusha, leaving Africa in Focus and picking up a custom safari with the highly rated Tanzania Travel Company. That private safari is just the cook, John (our driver and guide), Chiyemi and me. Left to see are four of the great game parks of Tanzania: Tarangire, Serengeti, Ngorogoro and Lake Manyara.


First the satellite photo of Tarangire National Park. This makes the park look harsh, forbidding and barren but it is not that as the pictures below will show. We parked for lunch overlooking a river canyon with animals, elephants, antelopes and whatnot far below us, birds in the sky and a very peaceful and beutiful setting.

We spent the night in Endoro Lodge which must have been just opening or had a special relationship with Tanzania Travel because the low season, cheapest room I could find was $349. We had a package and didn’t care what the rate was, but just check those pictures of the room, suite really. All dark wood, iron sculptured accessories (like over those white window covers) shaped to form animals. Yards and yards of white fabric and stunningly beautiful.

I kept expecting someone to come through and say, “there’s been a mistake, you’re in the hovel down the hill.” But they didn’t. Almost no one else was there, maybe one couple in the twenty or so chalets perched on a green hillside overlooking the forest. Certainly one of the two or three fanciest digs we’ve been privileged to stay. Clearly a mistake in our itinerary or the most fortunate of chances because we’d impressed upon Tanzania Travel the need for economy.

They said “Are you sure?” and we said “Yes, yes. Keep the costs down!” Check the bush camp in Serengeti and get an idea of what we’d actually paid for. Tent, cot, sleeping bag. Nice but not the Endoro lodge!

We spend a bare afternoon in the park, not enough but too much to see. John Timothy, our guide was insistent on the schedule. John knew best and Serengeti and Lake Manyara exceeded expectations.

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04
Sep
10

Ngorogoro or Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area

Ngorogoro Crater wiki

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