We are spending our last night in the "safari" area. Tomorrow we are heading to Mount Kilimanjaro to spend a few nights with the original Maasai tribe... Paul isn't looking forward to that but the boys can't wait to learn how to throw a spear and use a Maasai club.
If I am being honest, the boys have grown tired of watching the animals. Today we were about 10 feet away from a female lion crouching down to hunt. The boys were more into trying to get wifi on the phone for you tube than touch the lion... Disappointing but not surprising since we have been going non-stop since we left. The boys are super happy to play and jump on the beds at each new camp site.
Today we watched a female lion trying to hunt. These were my thoughts and feelings while watching her.
She has red dirt on her back paws, the wind and dust are bothering her eyes. She hears everything and is completely aware of her surroundings. She seems to have strong, labored breathing. Her ears move in different directions to hear the sound around her. Her forearms are strong and regal. She has a small black tip of hair on her tail. She yawns and then changes positions as the wind blows through her. She continues to look for something to eat. Nothing is in site. The Zebra have spotted her and other safari cars have scared away the wildebeest crossing the road. Another giant yawn and I could see her massive teeth. She's only 5 feet away from us but for her we are millions of miles away. She continues to search the savannah for an easy kill. Her nose is black, which means she's slightly older and wiser than other lions. I wonder if she has a family to feed? Are we blocking her? Is our giant safari car disrupting the pathway between her and her next meal? She has long white whiskers and is now licking her front paw as she watches the savannah. She's strong, beautiful, majestic and has the most golden eyes you could ever imagine. I feel like she has a deep, powerful soul and I'm so thankful to be able to have witnessed this beauty in action.
We have to leave this area and head back to camp. The boys are exhausted but have had an amazing time watching all the animals. As we get ready for bed, we can hear the rain (faintly pounding on the roofs - dry season here).
Dry and dusty! Our guide told us it has not rained here in over 3 months. The Tarangire River bed is completely dried out. The elephants are digging in the bottom of the sand to find what little water is left. Other animals will come after the elephants leave to drink. The elephants have a special sense that enables them to find water in places other animals can not. For example, this dry, dusty riverbed looks barren. The elephants use their tusk and trunks to dig, dig, dig and eventually find water buried down below. They also eat the bark from the Baobab tree because this "tree of life" stores water in its branches for the dry season.
As we were driving around exploring Tarangire National Park, we went to the swamp area. There was some water in this area and we watched the elephants swim! They were rolling and playing in the water. It was really cool watching them. Of course this area was filled with tons of other animals in search of water - zebra, wildebeest, waterbucks, hyenas, warthogs and of course, lions. As we were watching the elephants play in the water, we saw a lion chase a zebra. The zebra kicked its back legs and barely escaped the lion. This was the end of play time for the elephants and other animals at the waterhole.
The morning we left the park, we stopped at the poachers hideout. It was a giant hole inside the Baobab tree. Poachers would hide supplies and trophies inside the tree. The poachers would start a wildfire in an area of the park far away from their loot. Once the rangers were busy dealing with the fire, the poachers would escape with their trophies. Poachers not only hunt wildlife, they also enter the park to steal branches from the ebony trees. Ebony wood is used to make lots of beautiful decor and furniture. Poachers used these types of hideouts until the 1970's when Tarangire became a National Park. While poaching still occurs outside the National Parks, it has vastly improved thanks to the efforts of the Tanzania government to educate the local population and enforce strict punishment. For example, if you kill an elephant you will go to jail for 15 years.
Inside the baobab tree