Yes! Even though we're on the road for 14 months, and our budget by necessity can't be all champagne and caviar and massages and porters and drivers, we still totally managed to go on safari. This is mostly due to the awesomeness and assistance of my aunt Jenny, who was able to set up relatively inexpensive outings through Twiga Campsite and Lodge. Here we are next to a pop-top safari vehicle - these things are great for photos!
I am standing awkwardly because I may or may not be being tickled. Also, I am awkward.
We spent a whole day at Lake Manyara park. It's known for its tree-climbing lions... which we didn't see. Stupid hide-y lions. But we did see...
Vervet sure can breed!
Dikdiks! Which are tiny and very very cute, until you notice their weird little twitchy nose. Still, though, I'd snuggle one. Until it stabbed me with those little horns.
Hippos! Scarily, Lake Manyara is MUCH drier than normal at this time of year, and the marshy pond where the hippos like to congregate is therefore smaller as well. If it gets too much smaller, there won't be room for the hippos. Lake Manyara, like much of the rest of Africa, needs rain. A lot of it.
Fat baby hippo sure could run.
Lake Manyara is also famous for its giraffes, which we were successful at seeing. Here they are on the shores of the almost nonexistent lake.
Like the British, giraffes are good at queueing.
Whatchoo lookin' at?
We also, at one point, got a bit close too a baby elephant. Mamma was NOT HAPPY and charged the car, leaving me trying to remember how to identify a fake charge versus a real one while trying to muffle my high-pitched shrieks. (It has to do with how they hold their trunk.)
We also took an overnight trip to Ngorongoro Crater, which is a wildebeest paradise and great place to spot animals. It's in a crater, which you knew, and has very few trees due to the makeup of the soil. This means that animals are visible quite far off.
Early morning water buffaloes, before we dipped down into the crater:
Also, Ngorongoro Crater has lions, which we were very excited about since we hadn't seen any up trees at Lake Manyara. Our first clue that there might be something interesting happening was a cluster of 15 or so safari vehicles, all bristling with $3000 zoom lenses.
Turns out lions have very effective camoflauge, though it's ruined somewhat when they're surrounded by trucks. Spot the lions:
This was the pack of 8 or 10 lionesses and cubs. The big boys were away, but while we were there staring at the ladies and babies, the menfolk began to make their stately way across the grasses towards us. We were between them and the lionesses. Uh oh...
Kevin, our guide, kept us back a bit because he didn't want to "pressure the animals" (a precaution I was all for) but other drivers had no such compunctions.
There were warthogs, trotting through the fields with tails held high or kneeling on their front wrists to get their long heads closer to the ground.
Wildebeests were indeed all over the place, though this isn't during the big migration, when there can be millions.
Zebras, both acting the dust-bathing fool
And not getting eaten by crocodiles, thank goodness.
Jackals! Coming out, poking around, not finding anything of interest.
Who knew they lived in underground tunnel systems?
And hyenas. I thought this one was really cute, even though its jaws could crush through my bones as if they were cheese. But lookit the ears! (Maybe I'm just really, really missing our cats.)
And that was our safari! No gory deaths (for which I'm secretly relieved), no leopards, no rhinos... but lots and lots of zebra and wildebeest and hyena and appreciation for African wildlife. I'm so glad we got to go! When I win the lottery, we're all going to the Serengeti. You can hold me to that.
Check out the crater from above. Very inviting.