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Safari Dazed: Feb/March in Northern Tanzania


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Just got back from Africa and I'm a bit dazed but I wanted to just post one picture to say....




.....I saw the Wild Dogs in Ndutu! Here is one of the greatly reduced pack (only 4 members left) chasing vultures and Marabou storks away from their kill: a baby wildebeest.


I was pretty blown away by the scale of it all.




and I'm still reeling.


Oh! I ran into "Mad About Cheetah" but we didn't get to chat long because he didn't join the group for dinner. That also means Fadhil (our guide from Wild Source and the best of the best, treasure of the Sierra Madre, prince among men, gentleman and scholar) got to see his dad, Deo, who was guiding M.A.C.!


I'm at work, but I will muddle through this report bit by bit by bit. BRB

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Wow! Can't wait for more!

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Game Warden

@@sugarpond Great stuff. Any chance of larger images as you continue with the report? And, what a sighting, the infamous MAC! Please do share your photo of him, including when and where taken, tech specs and any other pertinent details about the sighting... :)

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@@Game Warden Yes! I will put in bigger pictures! Slowly going through them.... here is a link to the larger migration pic
and to the wild dog pic
and @@madaboutcheetah was photo shy, but we met him at the campfire at Olakira, he is tall and laconic but his lack of chitchat might be because he was being introduced to me by my mom, which can be quite overwhelming! In true Deo/Wild Source style, his crew was leaving at 6 the next morning so it was a brief sighting!

My mom really really really wanted to go to Giraffe Manor in Nairobi and the only way we could fit it in our budget was to go first so instead of relaxing after our safari, we relaxed before. Sure, I had seen the pictures of giraffes putting their heads in the windows but come on! Could it be real?




Yes. It was real.


Here is Isaiah, the baby.



The first person to greet my mom and me upon our arrival, "Patience" was indeed very gentle and patient and helped me be patient, too, a necessity when traveling with one's mother..... He actually comes from Congo (DRC) and was at Giraffe Manor on an exchange.




While in Nairobi, we also visited the Sheldrick Elephant Orphange.... 3 times.




A mud bath is nice.



The Youngest Orphans March in for Their Milk




After Feeding the Babies, Keepers Sleep in the Stall with Them to Continue Feedings Every 3 Hours All Night




After Milk, a Blankie and Some Bark and Leaves




The Keepers Spend the Night With the Elephants, Feeding Them Every 3 Hours. Here Comes the keepers' Dinner!


And we stopped in with a donation of school supplies and super hero/princess underwear at Nyumbani Children's Home for HIV+ kids, actually a very cheerful place.




Godbless is the Youngest at Nyumbani




When Nyumbani first opened, it was more of a hospice. Today they have antiretroviral therapy and lots of healthy kids.


Back at Giraffe Manor, the dog Blukah (but I think she is actually Blücher, named after the Prussian General) was as fun to watch as the giraffes! She played with the wart hogs and fetched stones and was always ready for action!






You safari-talkers know this already, but beauty is on the inside.




Everyone at Giraffe Manor was so nice, it was hard to leave. After all, breakfasting with giraffes and wart hogs is pretty good. But this is not what we traveled to Africa for! Bring on the Safari!


Coming soon.... the one that got away in Tarangerie National Park......



Edited by sugarpond
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What a wonderful sighting the wild dogs must have been. Sad that their numbers are down. The last photo looks interesting, looking forward to more.

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Sugarpond, nice bumping into you all too briefly the other day at Olakira ........ Wow!!! The dogs in Ndutu ..... What day was this?

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A great start....Can't wait to read all about it and enjoy the pics! I love going to Sheldricks and visitng my adopted ellies.

Looking forward to the TZ report; I cant decide where to go next! Too many great reports coming in.!

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BTW @@sugarpond and @@madaboutcheetah I think it's fantastic that Safaritalk members get to meet up on Safari like this.


GW, had been talking about safaritalk (to those who hadn't heard of it) - people still rely on TripAdvisor a lot is my general feeling.

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Wow, it is amazing how much time work, friends, pets and family can suck out of one! ANYWAY!!! Back to the trip report.....


We flew into K.I.A. and were met by Fadhil. Who was this person that we would be spending the next 16 or so days with? What was a safari like? I was nervous! Fadilio was very tall and calm, very quiet. He was surprised that we only had two little bags. We packed up the car and got on our way to Tarangerie and Oliver's camp. When we stopped to buy water, we met up with Fadhil's brother, Saucey. I think his real name was Saucepeter. Saucey is studying to be a guide!




I was looking out the window with big eyes at the kids on the roadside herding goats, cows, donkeys, at the city, the strange flowers, the birds, the dust. I said "look at the donkeys!" and Fadhil started to stop the car so I could take a pictures. He pointed out the coffee trees and named the birds. Told about the cheap Chinese motorcycles and answered our questions about what the flowers were called. My mom kept saying how hot she was. I started to get the idea of what this would be like.


We got to Tarangerie gate and it was time to do paperwork. We fended off the monkeys. When we got back in the Jeep Fadhil said we wouldn't have time to stop unless we saw something really special because it was late and Oliver's was a two hour drive. After a few minutes I saw something REALLY special and we had to stop.




Then, how lucky could we get? I saw something else totally special!!!!!




Then something else special!




Soon Fadhil said "on your first day, everything is special." It was after 7 when we got to the camp and dark. We saw Lilac Breasted Rollers, bat eared foxes, black backed jackals, elephants, giraffe, water bucks, impalas, gazelles, baboons, baobabs, sausage trees...... my head was spinning!





That night at dinner it seemed like we were the only paying guests at the camp. A strange sensation. But in the next couple of nights we met some cool people that we would continue to see here and there during our trip. The views in Tarangerie were amazing. I would go back in a heart beat. I especially loved the look of Silale Swamp.




We went on a waling safari with Alex and a night drive with Louis. There was a full moon so we didn't see much action, but we talked about the stars and the moon and enjoyed looking at the moon shadows and listening to the sounds of the night.




And I saw a night jar which I thought was pretty cool until I realized there were so many that it made driving difficult!




We saw a few lions and found what Fadhil thought were leopard foot prints. But no double rainbows. There was a bat hanging on the door of one of the "proper washrooms" in the park.




Time to move on to Ngorongoro and we would also get to stop in town to get gas. I asked if I might get my hair cut since the bushy bit at front was being shaped into strange sculptures by the wind in the jeep. My mom wanted to buy some fabric. Fadhil knew just the place.


I got a really great haircut.




Mom got her fabric.




And we were the first car to check in to our gate at Ngorongoro.




And the last to check out.




We saw a big old elephant.




And a lot of rhinos, but kind of too far away to shoot. (There are three in this picture.)




But there were a lot of cars.




Still, we had a wonderful day there and by 3PM it seemed like we had the place to ourselves.




The next morning, we were excited because Fadhil joined us for breakfast at 6! We didn't figure out until Olakira that our guide could join us for meals depending on room! Anyway, I'm sure Fadhil was happy to be spared all the socializing. He said his dad called him a "lazy talker." I know for me, it was tough having to constantly meet new people and socialize. But those are the "hardships" of safari!


Next up: The search for a wildebeest calving. Look! There is a placenta, we must be close!









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Game Warden

Haha @@sugarpond - I bet not many people have a haircut whilst on safari :)

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@@Game Warden The guy cutting my hair was so nervous he was shakier than a newborn wildebeest!

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@@sugarpond I love your writing style, you are cracking me up! And great pix too. Funny about the haircut and the shaky barber! More, please ...

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At Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage, did you got at the 11 a.m. general public time or 5 p.m.? Or Both? Did you have to reserve a time in advance? How does one do that? I am thinking I'd like to go if I go to Kenya.


Why do some babies have the blankets, do they get cold easily?

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@@SafariChick We went to the 11AM viewing once and the 5PM viewing twice. For the evening viewing, you need to reserve a time and "adopt" an elephant. I would say both are worth it but the PM one is really special. The younger babies are used to being surrounded by adults and kept warm that way so they get a blanket tied around them, even in the "summer" and then at night they are covered by a quilt, like so: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sugarpond/8553315980/in/photostream/

You can reserve your time in advance by e-mail from the Sheldrick site or when you go to the 11AM viewing you can sign up for the pm viewing.

So much fun! The keepers are nice to chat with and they can answer all your questions.

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@@sugarpond aw they are so cute, thanks for the info. So it sounds like you don't have to reserve for the 11 AM. I will definitely adopt though but it would be nice to go to both.

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Awesome start to your report. Painted dogs - fantastic!! TZ was the first safari that we went on and in reading your report I had a nice sense of deja vu (all over again). I was grinning ear to ear as you described everything being special on the first day of your first safari. Sounds like a great trip - look forward to reading more.

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@@sugarpond aw they are so cute, thanks for the info. So it sounds like you don't have to reserve for the 11 AM. I will definitely adopt though but it would be nice to go to both.

That's right! The 11AM is totally open to the public and is about $7 or $9 or something and they take US $$ and T shillings and you can just arrive and walk down the the mud baths. First the babies come, drink their bottles and play in the mud, then the slightly biggers come and do the same. A keeper does a talk and takes questions. The 5PM "foster parents" visit is free but you need to reserve. You can also adopt an ele at the 5PM visit after meeting them all, take your pick.

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I should add that while at Ngorongoro, we met a German couple who was doing self-drive from Arusha. They had already visited Tarangerie and Ngorongoro and would then go on to Ndutu and other Serengeti places. They had met years earlier when they each independently booked a tour to Alaska and they fell in love there on the tundra and have been traveling ever since. They said it was tough to self-drive in Tanzania because there weren't many ways to rent a car and they had done it in other countries. Fadhil told the story of how his dad did the Cape to Cairo tour with Toyota back in the day and I spent the night wishing I had brought a hat (it's cold in them thar hills) and dreaming about sleeping on top of my Landrover under the stars in the Serengeti.


Another note: Back on the drive through Tarangerie we met a guide friend of Fadhil's and they had a chat. Fadhi then told us that we were in a rush but we had the chance to see something very special so we were going to follow this guy. He didn't say what, and we didn't ask. We did a u-ey and eventually came on an outbuilding near an airstrip (?) where the guides spoke to a woman. We turned again and got back on our way. Apparently there had been a wild dog sighting in the area but upon further inquiry, it had been 2 days ago and they can cover lots of ground.


The next morning on our very first honest to god real and true game drive, we left the camp at 6 and came upon some elephants in the mist. A bit later, we met up with a car and Fadhil and the other guide spoke and I kept hearing "meskio meskio." My swahili consists of jambo, asanti and caribu so afterward I said "not to be rude and listen in but what is meskio?" Here is what Fadhil answered. "Meskio is our word for elephant. It does not mean elephant. It means ears. But when guides speak to one another, they don't want their clients to hear "simba" and think they are promised a lion, so we use other words." I learned a lot about Fadhil from his open and straightforward and simple explanation.


Also, tsetse flies are not so bad!!!!!!! Like a wimpy deerfly. (And they give birth to a single, live baby so that is cool.)


At our last "proper washroom" I saw these remains of a mud wasp nest that I thought looked like a centipede.




(oh I also forgot to mention that Fadhil fed us baobab fruit and it was very good.)




Off we went to Umbuntu camp.




We drove through the beautiful countryside and stopped often to talk to Massai kids and look at birds and flowers. The landscape slowly changed from lush and green to dryer and scrubby. A kid herding goats on the road shouted "pole" and I thought he was apologizing for the goats but Fadhil explained that it was something you said to someone who was on a journey or when someone arrives from a journey. Then we bumped up onto the plains and Fadhil said "I think it is time that I show you something" and directed our attention the famous black dots that were our first glimpse of The Great Migration!


We looked for a place to have lunch and found this:




and this:




(and I taught Fadhil the word "maggots")


And this:




that Fadhil said was an Eagle Owl pellet and witch doctors would pay a lot of money for it.


And saw what I thought was a placenta. I wanted to see a Wildebeest birth! The chances were good! (Spoiler alert, I never saw one but almost every other person we met did including the people who radioed us for help with a flat tire and a broken jack. When we found them in the featureless flat plains, they said "oh you just missed a calving! it was amazing," and someone else saw a Thompson's Gazelle have a baby and saw a Wildebeest have a baby! luck of the draw.)




So many wildebeest and so many babies!




It was only about 5PM but my mom wasn't feeling great so we drove the rest of the way to Umbuntu and had our bucket shower! The alkali water was a new feeling but Fadhil said that some people considered it good luck to bathe in it so.....


We had been in Africa for 8 days but I was still pretty dazed and don't tell anyone but sometimes when I was standing up in the jeep with my head through the roof looking all around me I was secretly crying because .... well ....




Coming up next .... the real photographer revealed and painted dogs!





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Well that night at the campfire (dread!) we met a so sweet English couple who talked about how they had hung out all day with a cheetah mom and her 4 cubs. In fact, one of the cubs had gone after a baby WB and the mom and broken the WB's legs and brought it back for the cubs to kill..... which they tried to do for 90 minutes right under the couple's jeep. Well. Up until now I had been very Zen about our sightings, whatever the day brought, that's cool, oh look another Cori Bustard. I turned to my mom. "Mom! Why didn't we see that?" "Thank god we didn't see that, right??!!!" she says to me. "No, mom! I want to see that!" "No," she says. Sigh.

Now we are at Umbuntu, what a cool spot! We are supposed to do a visit to the Massai village but they are at market and Mark the manager has not been able to get in touch with them. Plus, mom is not feeling well. In fact, the next day, she decides to rest. Poor mom! Mark promises to take care of her. Fadhil and I go off to the jeep with Kissea, a Massai spotter who is going to come with us. Apparently, a dead wild dog has been spotted by Fadhil's friend and we are going to try to find it.




Up and down, up and down the gullies we drive, circling and criss-crossing. I'm secretly looking for leopards because even though I'm trying to be very Zen about my first Africa experience, I really want to see a leopard. And a cheetah. And a baby wildebeest being born. And a double rainbow. Finally after an hour we give up but just them Faddi's friend radios to say they found something and we race off. It is the wild dogs! Not far away from where we checked out a baby zebra carcass the day before.




They have killed a baby WB and are resting and playing and chasing off the vultures.




They also chase off and hiena and bite it in the bottom.




We watch them for a long time and then they finally move off to hunt again. Just 4! It is heart-wrenching to see such a small group facing the giant African wilderness.




By now a third car has joined us. And they take off after the dogs. Fadhil is not pleased. He's going back and forth and the radio. Finally he takes off and he zooms up toward the other car and next to them and veers toward them, signaling them to stop. At this point I put my shoes on, feeling very much back in Brooklyn and getting ready for whatever comes! Later I learn it goes like this: the other car is chasing the dogs, keeping them from hunting. Faddi and his friend try to radio them but they won't answer. Fadhil goes after him and tells him not to chase the dogs. They guy shuts off his engine and makes to get out of the car saying the swahili equivilent of "you want a piece of me?" and Faddi shuts off our car and says stop chasing the dogs. The other "guide" stands up in the car and says "don't tell me how to do my job" and then his client (a Japanese videographer of some sort) grunts and tells him to get going and they go off. Later that night or the next, the same car is found camping with the dogs without a permit and the rangers are called. They ask the guides to go instead since the rangers are busy far off with a similar situation. All the Umbuntu guides pile into a jeep and go out to ask the guys to leave the dogs alone, which they do.


ANYWAY! I never thought I would get a chance to see wild dogs. I couldn't believe it! (But where was my double rainbow?)


After seeing the dogs and meting out our frontier justice, Fadhil says he want to drive over to the big lake. We do and then take a hike through the hills to look at the view.




Then we go back to check on my mom. She's feeling better but still resting. Mark has gotten in touch with the Massai. An Italian young man whose grandfather is too tired to go on a PM game drive asks if he can tag along so we set out, Philippe, Fadhil, Kissea and me.



Whatever was supposed to happen at the Massai boma, I don't know. All we do is play with the kids. We hold hands with them, sing, look at each other, laugh, pet the goats, hold the babies in our arms and take pictures of each other. Somehow it is suddenly almost dark.












As we're driving back to Umbuntu, we see a bunch more kids heading back to the boma. They sing to us.







The next day mom is cured and we go out early, we have to move on to Olakira. Fadhil says he will look for a cheetah.


Next up:

we find the Cheetah! (but where is my double rainbow?)



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Thanks for the info about the elephant orphanage and continuing to love this report! So glad you got to see the wild dogs - they were the focus of my recent trip and I'm totally in love with them, even though I also love all the other animals! I am interested in the concept there that one shouldn't follow the dogs while they hunt, as in Botswana that is not the philosophy. The kids are adorable! Glad your Mom felt better, it stinks to be on a trip like that and not be well. Looking forward to more!

Edited by SafariChick
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Love the Maasai walking down the road, and your wild dog sighting is just what I wanted in the same area last year so am very envious. Not sure that I'd bother with the village trip but love the landscape with Ngorongoro highlands in the background, I would have loved to have taken that shot.

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@@SafariChick yes the dogs were a total surprise and such a pleasure! I don't think the following was a problem, I think it was more that the other car was cutting the dogs off and preventing them from hunting, crowding them and kind of harassing them. I am a total novice, and I don't really know but Fadhil was upset by how they were acting. We often followed animals and tracked them and --spoiler alert!!!!-- even tracked some cheetahs to try and predict where best to be to watch a kill.


@@twaffle yes the sky and light were cooperating in that shot! I did not know what to expect from the Massai visit and I know it probably seems hokey but I would go again!!! I love kids (goat and human) so I'm a sucker for that set up!!

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Game Warden

Later I learn it goes like this: the other car is chasing the dogs, keeping them from hunting. Faddi and his friend try to radio them but they won't answer. Fadhil goes after him and tells him not to chase the dogs. They guy shuts off his engine and makes to get out of the car saying the swahili equivilent of "you want a piece of me?"

This hacks me off...

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I forgot to mention that the manager of Lamai Camp at the crater apologized to my mom and I as we were leaving and he said it was just terrible, terrible and he hoped we weren't too upset. My mom said "don't worry, we are used to it!" but for my part I was totally confused. When we got in the jeep, I asked what was going on and she and Fadhil said he was apologizing for the German couple kissing at the campfire the night before. I still think that can't be right, but, when in Rome!


I'm going to bang the rest of this report out today between gigs at work, so get ready!


So we began our drive from Umbuntu to Ndutu. It was migration city and we saw hare, jackals, vultures, WB's and Zebras galore! No babies being born but lots of little ones who were still dark and had probably been born that morning. We stopped for lunch under an mteemojia (single tree) and Fadhil drove the truck back and forth and then got out to check for snakes. Sadly, one had not gotten out of the way fast enough and we had run over its tail. It was suffering terribly. My mom asked Fadhil to put it out of its misery. Faddi said he "took pity on it."


After lunch we set off again and the clouds began to gather. Our first rain in Africa? I was excited! Maybe we would have to "get out the shovel" as one guide we met was often saying about the state of roads after the rain! But it was just a light shower and soon over.




Then we saw an albino zebra! Or at least one with a strange color morph.




Then we saw the cheetahs!


These were my first cheetahs and I was very excited. We were really close and I mostly started at them through the binoculars but I did snap a few pictures.




I wanted to stay all day but mom was still slightly under the weather and it was close to 6 so we drove the rest of the way to Olakira.


So many birds at Olakira! Cool tents.




Nice sunrise.




And a very different landscape with the big and little marsh, the alkaline and regular lake and the savana right on the border of Serengeti National Park. The next morning we decided to go out just in the AM and come back for lunch in case mom needed to rest.


In the marsh we saw some ground hornbills, long-lived birds with a very strong family structure.




We found some lions sleeping.




One fell out of a tree:












with a big POOF! of dust.


A bloody-faced jackal was feeding on a baby zebra.




Right before lunch we found some cheetah chasing away a jackal.




After lunch, mom was raring to go so we went back out to see the cheetah. They were under a tree in the shade, watching the migration.




We hung out with them for a while. Finally! I was sitting around waiting for them to do something for hours! Sounds boring, but that was always my fantasy of a safari so I was really happy. And then they went off to hunt.




There were a lot of cars and mom and I were worried that we were cramping their style so we went off.


The next day mom insisted she was up for a full day so we had an early bite and packed our lunch. We started off. We saw a cute family of dikdik jumping and running in circles, it seemed for our benefit! They kept it up for quite some time. I tried and tried to get a good picture. It was like a video game!




We saw bat eared foxes and spent a long time with the migration.




We set off to find this pride of lions that Fadhil said hung out in this spot called "hidden valley" but before we got very far we got a call from the Olakira resident guide that he had a flat tire and a broken jack. Off we went to the rescue! That was something I really liked about Fadhil. He was always ready to help and went out of his way to do the right thing which always made my mom and me feel good. Right when we got to the stranded vehicle they said "oh, you just missed a baby WB being born!" Drat.




Then we turned around and went back to look for the lions. On the way we saw a hiena cooling off in a little watering hole.




Then he dug out an old bone and started chewing it.




We saw some buffalo. I love those guys.




Then we saw in the distance a car that looked like it had its hood up. Could they be in trouble? We drove toward them. Indeed, their battery was dead! We gave them a push for a rolling start and they gave us three beers! Finally we got to hidden valley which was a sudden depression like a little valley or empty lake bed. There was a single tree on one side and a big bush on our side. What was that yellow shape? A young male lion was walking purposefully toward us.




He leaned up against the car.




And hung out for a long time.




When we started the engine he walked away a bit. We went to look in the bush because we saw some shapes in there and counted 11 more lions inside the bush!


8557937175_61449bfea8_b.jpg" width="1024" height="683" alt="there were 11 lions in this bush"></a>


That was a really special time on our last day with mom and Fadhil and the lions. The next day we woke up and drove to the airstrip. Yes everyone, I was crying tears to say goodbye to our guide. Future, one of the guys from Olakira, was there, too. We all said goodbye. I tried to keep it together but it was seriously sad to say goodbye to Fadhil who had show us Africa for the first time in real life. We still had three more days in Sayari but it felt like the end of our trip.


Sayari in Northern Serengetti was beautiful but it just wasn't the same without Fadhil. As cool as our new guide was, it didn't seem like staying out all day was the way they did stuff. And there had been a controlled burn so there was not as much to see, so much had been burnt and the grass hadn't grown back yet. The long grass was really cool.




And we saw lots of cool animals.


Like this bat that hung out by our tent every night.




And all the beautiful topi that I hadn't really seen up until then.




And more great lions.




And a black rhino.




The landscape was gorgeous.




We got to see the young ele with the cut off trunk. Apparently he got stuck in a snare a while back.




And a tiny elephant, maybe 3 days old, who was getting a little shove from her older sister....




Klipsrpinger were so cute!!!! With their little rubber feet.




And even without migration, the Mara River was beautiful.




But we missed Fadhil and our jeep.




Sorry to rush through in the end!!!! If I ever get lucky enough to go back to Africa, I think I would do an all-migration trip and sleep on top of my jeep under the stars. With my mom. And Fadhil of course! Goodbye for now!











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