Monday, September 19, 2011


In November, 2010, Kit and went to Tanzania. I'd been there last in the 70s, when it had no tourist infrastructure to speak of, but lots of animals. Sadly, although it now has the tourist infrastructure, it has far fewer animals. Still, it was a worthwhile trip and they seem, belatedly, to be trying hard to do something about the decline in the wild animal populations.

Remember you can click any photo to see it larger, and at the bottom of each page, keep clicking "Older Posts" to see the remaining photos of the trip.

First stop in Arusha, the capital city, was the Shanga Shangaa (, which provides work opportunities for disabled people. I was interested in going because they make beads from recycled bottle glass, but they do much more, including making sewn goods, metalwork, and even run a restaurant along the stream that borders the property.

Bad photo, I know; I was having camera problems, but here you can see woman sewing on pedal-operated machines, backed by strings of wine bottles.
Old bicycle parts run some of the glass grinding operations.

Arusha's sparkling modern cultural heritage center, which has a wonderful art gallery and a shop selling anything and everything a tourist to East Africa might want (including, of course, tanzanite)

A friendly card game among the local critters:

Tangarire National Park

Tangarire is a large park quite near Arusha, although we stayed at a tented lodge nearby instead of in town, which was much more fun. Here's a view of Lake Burunge from the front deck of our tent:

Can't say they don't have a sense of humor at the park:

One of the major attractions of Tangarire is the wonderful baobob trees, which look like they were ripped out of the ground, then stuck back in the hole upside down. And yes, that's the first animal you'll see standing in its shade, but you won't see many again in this blog for a while. I've decided that instead of being strictly chronological, as I usually am, nobody probably cares which park this or that elephant or zebra is in, so I'm clustering all the animal photos at the end by species.

Strangely, baobob do actually flower:

My favorite African tree, though, are these beautiful flat-topped acacia, which the weaver birds love, too, as you can see from all the nests festooning this one:

Great shaggy things (although some weaver species are tidier), but they must do the job.

Tangarire continues

A nice picnic site, esp. if you are an elephant or a vervet monkey:

Sausage tree (Kigelia africana), and you can certainly see where it gets that name:

The area is dotted with Maasai villages and one morning we visited one. All the huts are mud daub over sticks with grass roofs, every last one of them built by the women.

Here's the headman and a couple of his kids, with our guide Godloving on the right (and no, I did not make that name up):

The kids are cute as they get:

Maasai women

Beautiful, aren't they?

The came out to dance and sing for us:

Maasai men

The men's major duty, it appears, is to tap a vein in one of the cattle in the morning and drain off a little blood for breakfast:

Oh, and dance a little when the tourists come 'round...

The tourists get to "help" with thatching a new roof for a new wife:

A roadside market on our way east toward Ngorongoro Crater; I love this woman's outfit!
Tanzania is famous for its Makonde carvings, but the Makonde tribe lives in the south, where there is little tourism. They've taken to sending young men to the tourist areas in the north to work and send money home. You can see they produce their beautiful works with the simplest of tools in the crudest of workshops.
For our trip to Ngorongoro, we stayed at the beautiful Tloma Lodge near the Crater. The grounds are exquisitely landscaped with flowering plants, as you can see here. The Lodge also grows most of the produce it serves in a huge market garden on the property.

Ngorongoro Crater

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Ngorongoro is a volcanic crater some 2000 feet deep and 100 square miles in area. Although animals do pass in and out of the crater, it takes some doing, so most of the animals here are born and die in the Crater. It gets quite a bit of rainfall annually, although we were there in the dry season, so you can't see much evidence of the water from these photos. When I was here in the 70s, you could see huge herds of animals spread across the floor of the crater from high up on the rim, but not nowadays.


Serengeti, a name to conjure with! It covers 12,000 square miles in the northwest part of Tanzania, extending up into Kenya (where it's called Maasai Mara National Park). Its name is well-derived from a Maasai word meaning 'endless plain.' Our tented camp is quite luxurious; each tent has a flush toilet and hot showers, the latter fed by camp employees hoisting water to the rooftop cistern via buckets filled from large cauldrons heated over wood and available only after we return from our game drives.

The camp backs up onto a magnificent kopje, an Africaans word for the many rock outcroppings found all over Serengeti.
The camp is on a site favored by the late documentary filmmaker Alan Root, who also did a lot of work for National Geographic. Below is a thatch-roof open platform where he used to live when he was working in Serengeti.

And you can see from the view why he picked that spot:

Serengeti kopjes

Kopjes are common in the Serengeti, especially in the area of our camp, and they provide microclimates that harbor all kind of plant and animal life.

Several kopje we saw provided habitat for the magnificent Euphorbia candelabrum you see on the right in this photo: