Tarangire National Park
I was keen to explore some of the most famous grasslands in the world, particularly the savanna landscape. It supports such vibrant biological diversity, hence my efforts to write this blog post on International Biological Diversity Day (22 May).
Visiting Tarangire National Park in September was a real gem and is particularly spectacular during the dry season when many of the migratory animals move back to indulge in the permanent water supplies of the Tarangire River. There are two raining seasons twice a year, which are soon followed by long dry periods. This cyclic rhythm of rain and drought is what triggers animal movement in the Serengeti plains. I spotted a range of animals including wildebeests, zebras, warthogs, giraffes, baboons, gazelles, lions, and of course elephants. Probably the highlight of today was seeing the elephants quietly rummaging through the landscape chewing up to 65kg of vegetation a day. The landscape was a powerful blend of rivers, hills, rocky outcrops and trees.
Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area (NCA) was one of the most stunning scenic days during my time in Tanzania. This caldera was approximately 22km in diameter, in which some animals migrate around the crater rim. The caldera was a hidden treasure for animals to roam about; often spoilt for food and water. I saw a wide range of zebras, wildebeest and warthogs happily co-existing. I also saw impalas, gazelles, elephants, hippos, hyenas and lions. Looking beyond the lake the clouds appear to be hugging the mountain peaks, spilling down the caldera slopes like cotton wool.
I’d decided to join another group to travel to Serengeti National Park. We travelled some vast distances across the plains today before the animal action became a little more exciting. First of all we stopped at the Oldupai Gorge, an archeological wonder of the world. It provides some of the best evidence for human evolution, famously discovered by Louis and Mary Leakey. The museum was small, yet informative illustrating the main geological facts. Two million years of fossils tells the story of Australopithecus boisei followed by Homo habilus and Homo erectus. What was more fascinating was the oldest fossiled hominid (human) footprints discovered nearly four million years ago in Lactoli, were 45 kilometres away.
Serengeti National Park
A full day in the Serengeti and what a surprise this was. On first impressions you wonder how these dry savanna plains can support any wildlife. But on closer inspection the creatures are there – and in abundance! These plains support approximately 300 mammal and 500 bird species. My favourite animals for today were the giraffes and zebras. I just love how they stare at you with their inquisitive faces, probably trying to determine what kind or crazy animal we are. There were acacia trees scattered about, standing like umbrellas, with their flat tops and yellow bark. The sausage tree happens to be a favourite for the giraffes to munch on. The sea of grass stretched for miles and in some parts grew to a height that would help animals hide. It’s important given this Savannah wildlife is nomadic in nature, and moving constantly in search of food.
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