Saturday, September 27, 2014

Africa 37: The Spirit of Africa is Alive and Well, cont.

I have shared a lot of photographs with you on this trip.  Maybe too many.  Still, I have only been able to convey to you a tiny portion of all the wondrous things we saw and experienced
Boyd, driver guide.

But it wasn't the things we saw that will stick with me nearly as much as it was the people we were privileged to meet.
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Africa 36: Interesting Facts About Elephants.

Even though the poaching of elephants is a huge problem in Africa, we were lucky enough to see lots of elephants on this trip.

Park police have begun arresting anyone in possession of a high powered rifle in the national parks.  This has caused poachers to change tactics.

Poachers have begun poisoning entire watering holes, killing not only elephants, but other animals who happen to drink there as well.
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Africa 35: We Happen Upon a Lion.

I've mentioned before about how competent our African guides were.  This is another example.  We were driving down the road after lunch when our guide, Abram, stopped the truck.  Lion, he said, pointing.

We looked out over the horizon and, even with binoculars, saw nothing but termite mounds.  But, sure enough, a few moments later the lion came into view.
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Africa 34:We Get Up Close and Personal with a Leopard.

Experienced guides will tell you that seeing animals on safari is a lot about luck.  It's about being in the right place at the right time.

Driving down the road in the Serengeti, one sees a lot of Acacia trees.  This one, however, was different.  In this one, a leopard happened to be sleeping. 
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Africa 33: We see the Famous Serengeti

The Sarengeti National Part abuts the Ngorongoro National Wildlife Sanctuary.

Combined, the two areas make a huge, 8,900 square mile, habitat for the animals to live and roam.

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Africa 32: Lions in the Crater

Shortly after lunch, we came upon a lioness lying in the middle of the road.

She and a companion had just made a kill.  She was clearly winded from the exertion.
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Africa 31: Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is the world's largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater, is 2,000 feet deep and its floor covers 100 square miles.

We descend down into the crater via a steep, winding road.
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Africa 30: A Maasai Village Tries to Balance Tradition with Modern Realities

The Maasai are a nomadic people who live in what is called East Africa's Great Rift Valley, an area that borders Kenya and Tanzania.  Large chunks of that area are now national wildlife refuge parks.

Maasai warriors are well known for their fearlessness and ferocity, especially when it comes to protecting their precious cattle.

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Africa 29: Have You Ever Seen Where They Actually Grow Starbucks Coffee?

It turns out the area around Karatu Village has soil that is perfect for growing coffee.

Large coffee plantations, mostly owned by foreigners, dot the landscape here.
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Africa 28: We Explore Village Life in Karatu, Tanzania

We spent the night at Karatu Village in Tanzania.  Karatu Village is roughly half way between Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater.

Karatu Village has a thriving market and shopping district.
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Africa 27: Elephants Block the Road

We were driving north along the shore of Lake Manyara, looking at birds.

Literally, millions of birds, like these Flamingos.
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Africa 26: Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Amboseli National Park is quite a bit south of Lake Nakuru, near the Tanzanian border.

On our way to Amboseli National Park, we encountered others using the same back roads as us.
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Africa 25: Kenya's Nakuru National Park

We first visited Lake Nakuru National Park, where we saw our first Rhino up close in the wild.

He was grazing in a huge grassy plain, about 100 feet from the road.  Of course, we stopped.
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Africa 24: We Visit African Schools

We were privileged to visit three schools on our trip.  What impressed me the most is how much they accomplish with so little.

None of the schools we visited had electricity in the classrooms, for example, or indoor plumbing.  Large windows allowed light into classrooms. 
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Africa 23: Modern World Lives Side By Side with the Traditional.

We arrived at our first camp in Kenya, Sentrim Elementaita Lodge.  It was a lovely place on a lake's edge.

It was a comfortable as any hotel we've stayed at, anywhere.
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Africa 22: On the Road in Kenya.

Kenya has a few paved highways, but not nearly enough for it's population.  Traffic is heavy and crashes are numerous.

But traveling along those highways gives one a picture not normally seen of everyday life in Kenya.  The first word that comes to mind is poverty.

Poverty on a scale that is hard to comprehend for those of us who live in the west.
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Africa 21: We Feed Giraffes and See Jewelry Being Made

After watching the bungee jumpers, we flew to Nairobi, Kenya via Johannesburg.  One of our first stops on the road in Kenya was the Giraffe Center.

Opened in 1974 as a way of saving nearly extinct Rothschild giraffes, the center has created an safe environment where the Rothschilds have thrived and multiplied.
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Africa 20: Bungee Jumping Off Victoria Falls Bridge - They Actually Do This

Look very, very closely at the photo below and you will see a thin, white line extending down from the middle of the bridge's arch.

That white line is attached to a young woman woman who just jumped off the bridge.

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Africa 19: We visit Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is considered one of the wonders of the world.  It is considered the largest sheet of falling water in the world.

We're standing at the west end of the falls, here, looking straight down the roughly 350 foot wide gorge into which the water drops.

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Africa 18: Close Encounters with Rinos and Elephants

Rinos have been poached nearly into extinction.  Why? A single Rhino horn can fetch upwards of $50,000 or more.

On our last day in Zimbabwe we visited a Rhino reserve.  This is a five square mile, fenced and guarded sanctuary where Rinos can hopefully live in peace.
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Africa 17: We visit a Zimbabwean Village

Zimbabwean bush villages largely consist of a series of huts in a large open area.

Although the huts may look crude, they have been carefully engineered to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
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Africa 16: Fun with Termites

Termites and their distinctive mounds are found all over the African areas we visited.

Termites are basically scavengers who clean up left over cellulose created by dead and dying  plants.
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Africa 15: Challenges in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is home to Hwange National Park, the largest game reserve in the country.  It has many diverse habitats and hosts over 100 mammal and 400 bird species.
Herd of Cape Buffalo grazing late in the afternoon.
But Zimbabwe is also home to a political system that is rife with corruption and the abuse of power on a scale that is hard to imagine in the west.

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Africa 14: River Safaris in Zambia

Our next camp was situated at the confluence of the Kafue and Lufupa Rivers in Zambia.

This area is in the middle of a huge game reserve.  We spent a leisurely day in these boats exploring the rivers.

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Africa 13: Eagle and Cheetah

We first saw this Martial Eagle flying.  Then we noticed he was carrying something in his claws.
Then he landed on top of a termite mound right in front of us.
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Africa 12: Animals Among Us

I think I mentioned that camps in game reserves are not allowed to build fences designed to keep animals out.
As a result, animals are free to roam anywhere they want in and around the camps.
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Africa 11: What is it Like to be on a Safari

A safari defined is an expedition to observe or hunt animals in their natural habitat.
Plains Zebras.  Look carefully and you can see brown "shadow" stripes.
Expedition today means staying in comfortable bush camps and venturing out into game reserves and parks in 4WD vehicles searching for animals.
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Africa 10: Lion Watches Plane Take Off. We Watch the Lion.

We climbed into the Land Rovers and headed down the runway to leave the airport.  Toward the end of the gravel runway, we saw this lion sitting comfortably in the grass, watching the plane we came on take off again.

We stopped and watched him. 
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Africa 9: Flying in Bush Planes

There are no roads that directly connected the camps where we were staying.  So we traveled to our next destination, the Okavango Delta, via bush plane.

We showed up bright and early at the Kasane airport and were surprised to find that we were about to board a "scheduled" flight.

Turns out, there are enough tourists visiting the area to keep a small airline, consisting of Cessna Caravans, busy.
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