On our first day, we arrived in Kilimanjaro and then spent a relaxing evening at Karama Lodge near Arusha.
So the next morning, refreshed, we were itching to start on the safari and met guide Prim promptly at 08:00.
Our first destination was Arusha National Park, about 60km south of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the border with Kenya. Also, it is about halfway between the Serengeti National Park (west) and Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast (east).
The drive from our lodge to the park's southern entrance took just over 30 minutes. Arusha is known for Mt. Meru, the second highest mountain in Tanzania and fifth highest in all of Africa. Mt Meru and Little Meru are in the far west of the park. The trails to these volcanic peaks start at Momela gate in the center of the park and head west.
Arusha is mostly montane forest areas, with a group of alkaline lakes in the northeast, and grasslands around the lakes and the crater in the southeast. Wildlife is not as abundant here as in other Tanzania parks, and no lions live here. Wooded areas have blue monkeys and black & white colobus monkeys. Giraffe, water buffalo, and zebra roam through trees and plains. The lakes are home to hippos and waterfowl. Elephants are present, but rarely seen.
We entered the park from the south, with views of the crater and some open space, and saw zebras first:
As we drove through a more forested area on the way north to Momela Gate, we stopped to photograph some baboons and their babies along the side of the road. The lighting was challenging with the shadow of the trees vs the bright morning sun, but they were right there next to the car. (The sun would get even harsher later...)
At a stopping point, the babies climbed down from their mothers' backs, but never too far from mom's reach.
It was difficult to guess the number of baboons due to the woods. But these four came right into the sun for us.
Our guide drove on to Momela Gate and we pulled into the parking area. He immediately warned us about the blue monkeys. They are now too used to people, and approach every car looking for food. They climbed right up onto our Land Cruiser and we had to "shoo" them away, or they would have climbed down through the open roof!
Here, we waited while our guide registered with the park and found a ranger, who would be taking us on a walk. The starting point/sign is the same place where Herr J started on his climb of Mt. Meru a few years ago:
Mt. Meru was clearly visible in the west -- we see the plains, the outlying forest, and Meru's volcanic peaks:
Our guide walked us through the fields and told us about / showed us the flora and fauna in Arusha.
She had a rifle with her, just in case an animal got aggressive and needed to be scared off.
Frau A had a weapon of her own... her Nikon with a big zoom lens!
Far across the field we could see a large family of baboons moving about in the grass:
We ascended a bit into the foothills and had a look back at the path we took across the plain.
The sun was very hot (we both got a little burned this day) so we definitely took a pole-pole pace.
We entered a more wooded area, a stopped for a photo with a large tree and its unusual root system:
Then we arrived at the small waterfall. It felt nice to be in the shade, and splashed water on our faces.
(Note for photographers: the above is bracketed/HDR with Photomatix, whereas below is single shot.)
We continued walking downstream with the water from the fall, circling back towards Momela Gate.
After we made it back to the parking lot, we took off in the other direction, looking for giraffes.
We definitely found them! A group of almost 20 passed our position, and we took a lot of pics.
We tried to photograph each one as they walked by, or paused with an unobstructed view:
We were incredibly fortunate to see so many, and to have them pass by so closely. We just stood there!
They were quite cautious -- we were under constant surveillance (even though they could squash us):
We were in place for probably 40 minutes. More and more just kept coming and walking by, 50-100m away.
I panned a bit too quickly (vid quality is spotty) but here you can see 19 of them:
They finally passed our location and continued heading into the forest, to hide & feed in the trees:
This was a fantastic start to the trip -- to see so many giraffes, so closely. And this was all before lunch, Day 1.
Post #3 will be our lunch, and canoeing on one of the alkaline lakes in the afternoon!
And finally... this was our honeymoon. For the wedding, instead of registering for physical gifts (e.g., china, silverware, etc.), we registered different parts of this Tanzanian safari. For this blog post, we wish to heartfully thank:
- Mellie W, for the game drive through Arusha. We saw zebra, baboons, and monkeys. THANK YOU!
- Edie C, for the guided walk in Arusha. You made these giraffe photos possible. THANK YOU!
We hope our friends and family enjoy the pictures and story as much as we did living it.