Tag Archives: tanzania

On safari: Driving a 4×4 through the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Imagine driving a 4×4 through the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania on safari with Africa Expedition Support. Weaving your way through narrow tracks in search of African wildlife; without warning there is something moving through the grass in the distance. Thinking back to the wildlife documentaries about the Serengeti National Park you have watched over the years and remember the exhilaration as David Attenborough narrated in his deep calm voice “and ….in the distance ….… there she is …… oh how magnificent ……. Standing so tall and proud …..a lone lioness.” On safari in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is living up to all expectations.

Turning off the 4×4 engine you sit and wait, watching as she comes closer; this is nothing like a documentary. The Serengeti can only be truly experienced live, being there, being in the thick of animal activity. The lioness comes closer, she is totally undisturbed by your presence. After all, this is her territory, she is Queen. She wanders by, no less than 15m from the vehicle, crosses over the track and continues off into the distance. In the meantime you are trying to decide whether to sit and watch her or take hundreds of photos of this incredible human wildlife encounter. Deciding to watch her and take a few pictures as it is only early in the day and hopefully there will be more wildlife encounters to come.

A lone lioness

A lone lioness

 

Turning the 4×4 engine back on and driving slowly along the track through the Serengeti NP, alert and excited you immediately start looking for more wildlife. Around a corner you come across a watering hole complete with date palms reaching high into the clear bright blue sky. In the water there are a few hippos lazing in the cool water, a troop of Vervet monkeys play in the nearby trees and a herd of zebra nervously approach for a drink. With so much activity you don’t know where to look first. You sit and watch for 30 minutes or more, there is no hurry; in the meantime tourist vehicles arrive and leave allowing just enough time to take a picture. Realising you have made the right decision in booking a guided self drive safari and not opting for an organised tour being driven.

Eventually deciding to continue, it is not long before stumbling across a herd of elephants meandering across the plains with several newly born babies huddled in the middle of the herd, closely protected. A family of warthog run by, their little legs taking them at lightning speed as if they have an important mission to accomplish. Surrounded by herds of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra grazing peacefully complete the picture. A little later something flashes across the track and make its way up a tall tree. A leopard? Slowly making your way forward, hopes become a reality and there is a male leopard perched on a branch looking out across the plains. What a magnificent animal.

79-protecting-young

Feeling like the luckiest person in the World with so many animals and so much activity from unique birds, large and small, to countless plain animals, a lion and a leopard. On the lookout for more lions the decision is made to take a narrow 4×4 track toward a large rocky outcrop, as luck would have it you stumble upon several lions with cubs. The cubs play joyfully in the grass as mum and the other lionesses watch over them; noticing a bush move not far away and a large male lion rises from his well hidden spot. His mane is golden brown, flowing in the slight breeze, he moves a few metres and lies back down again; the cubs spot him and make a dash jumping on his mane and playfully trying to chew his paw. He is unperturbed and tries to sleep through the minor distraction. The cubs don’t give up, they desperately want daddy to play and continue trying to get his attention. Out of luck, the cubs bounce back to mum where she gently grooms them as they try to cheekily bite her leg and neck. You sit in awe of this family encounter and giggle as the cubs try desperately to get the adults to play with them, uncoordinated they fall off their mothers back and tumble to the ground only to bounce back up again. Before long 2 hours have past.

Lion cubs playing with mum

Lion cubs playing with mum

As it is getting late you decide to head back to camp to meet the rest of the group and share the day’s game driving experiences and stories. A couple of kilometres down the road there is a cheetah perched high on a rock overlooking the plains. By the looks of it he is looking for dinner! Gracefully he glides down from the rock and starts striding through the tall grass; not before taking several photos. He is not alone as he is joined by 2 more cheetahs and what looks like a cheetah cub. The four glide through the grass and then 3 drop to the ground out of sight. All that is visible is the little head of the cheetah cub. In the distance there are gazelles grazing and you soon realise the cheetahs are hunting. One of the cheetahs sits up and strikes the cheetah cub with her powerful paw and immediately the cheetah cub drops out of sight; mother is teaching the cub hunting techniques. The cheetahs are out of sight, all of a sudden the gazelle let out a cry and run in the opposite direction – they are aware of the cheetahs and that they are hungry. The cheetahs rise and continue on their way. Feeling a little disappointed for the cheetah but happy the gazelle got away!

This leopard looks rather comfortable from his position high in the tree.

This leopard looks rather comfortable from his position high in the tree.

Continuing back to the camp you spot impala, bushbuck, serval cat, dik dik and more.

Back at camp the crew greet with a cheese and fruit platter in hand and ask how the day was. Where to begin you ponder …… by now everyone in the group has returned to camp. Grazing away at the cheese and fruit platter the stories start to flow, everyone had an incredible day. The stories continue over a scrumptious dinner until it is time for bed. The crew smile ….. just another day in the Serengeti National Park.

For more information about Africa Expedition Support and this tour check out http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com/africa-overland-adventure/ or email Debs at info@africaexpeditionsupport.com

Anzac Day a day for rememberance.

Today is the 100th anniversary of Galipoli, it is a day when Aussies and Kiwis at home and abroad stop to remember those who died on the shores of Galipoli in Turkey during WW1. Debs and I were lucky enough to lead an overland trip to Galipoli for the 90th Anniversary; it was a pilgrimage that every Aussie and Kiwi have to do at least once in their life.

Although this little story has nothing to do with Galipoli as such, it is part of WWI and the war effort to defeat the axis powers namely Russia, the Ottoman Empire and Germany. Little is known about the war efforts in East Africa so on this day we would like to share this story based in Kenya.

We have come across this typical African story at various times from totally different sources. So there must be some truth to it.

In East Africa the British Empire enrolled hundreds of thousands of locals into the Kings African Rifles and the Carrier Corps. To this day there is a suburb in Nairobi called Kariakor which used to be their base.

Germany was in possession of German East Africa, now called Tanzania.

Since there were only a handful of German troops and settlers in German East Africa they also had to rely heavily on local recruits.

Germany had neither intentions nor resources to occupy the British Colony of Kenya but orders were given to keep the Brits busy by running small incursions across the border to sabotage the Uganda Railway by blowing up bridges and loosening tracks. The idea was to weaken the British on the main battle fields in Europe as they had to send reinforcements to Kenya and Uganda to protect their Colonies.

In the 1950s the British Government decided to compensate their now very old African soldiers who fought against the Germans in WWI and WWIΙ with a one off payment for their services.

Word was sent out that a British delegation would travel around Kenya visiting various locations for one day only to pay compensation in cash. Any claimant was required to present himself in his original uniform as proof he served during the war.

The turnout was bigger than expected. The paymaster was quite busy keeping up with his books, taking records and handing out the money one by one to a long queue of people.

On one occasion he looked up at the soldier he was just about to hand over the money and immediately burst out laughing.

The soldier in front of him was wearing a German uniform! “Oh well” he thought, “he still fought in the war, he probably had no idea who he was fighting for” ….. and handed over the compensation courtesy of the British Government.

So on this day, 25th April 2015, let us respectively remember everyone who fought ………..

Thiemo Ebersberger, a German is married to Debs, an Aussie, and together they run Africa Expedition Support based in Kenya.  Check out http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com for safaris and expeditions.

10 Random Facts You May Not Know About East Africa

East Africa is more than just about animals, land rovers, beaches, luxury safari tents and 5pm sundowners. Here are 10 interesting facts you may not know about East Africa.

1. Freddy Mercury, from the rock band Queen, was born Farokh Bulsara on 5 September 1946 on the spice island of Zanzibar, Tanzania. His father was a civil servant for the British Government. When Freddy was 8 years old he left Zanzibar to attend school in India returning in 1962 where he stayed until he migrated with his parents to England in 1964.

2. A common misconception is Lake Victoria is the source of Victoria Falls. Lake Victoria is one of the Great African Lakes mainly in Tanzania and Uganda but also bordering Kenya. It is the source of the White Nile. The lake was named after Queen Victoria by John Speke, the great explorer, who was the first known European to discover it in 1858.

Victoria Falls borders Zimbabwe and Zambia discovered by Dr David Livingstone in November 1855, its source is the Zambezi River. He was so overwhelmed by the falls he said “It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. He named the falls Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria.

Victoria Falls

Lake Victoria borders Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya

Lake Victoria borders Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya

3. East Africa is home to 4 of the 5 fastest land animals; the cheetah, the wildebeest, the lion and the Thomson’s gazelle. The none African top 5 fastest land animal is the Pronghorn which is native to North America.

Lions can run at great speeds but only for short distances

Lions can run at great speeds but only for short distances

4. The Kanga is a large cotton cloth worn by both men and women across East and Central Africa. The patterns and colours are often bright and elaborate with the most stunning Kangas along with matching head pieces being worn at weddings and other festivities. They originated in the 19th century in Zanzibar and Mombasa.

Kanga

5. On February 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth was staying at Treetops Hotel in Kenya when she learned about the news of her father, King George VI, death ascending her to the thrown as Queen Elizabeth.

6. In 1967 Ali Juuyawatu, a Masai warrior stumbled across a cluster of blue crystals in Northern Tanzania and showed them to Manuel De Souza who quickly applied for mining rights. These blue crystals were later called Tanzanite by Tiffany & Company who became the main distributor. Tanzanite is only found in Tanzania and is now seen as one of the most precious stones in the world .

Tanzanite is now one of the most sort after gems

Tanzanite is now one of the most sort after gems

7. Carissa, also known as the Natal Plum, is a wild berry growing all over East Africa. The small berries (the size of a large grape) are packed with vitamin C. The Masai have eaten these berries for centuries and the reason they do not suffer from scurvy despite their staple diet of meat, cow blood and milk.   It is not uncommon to see kids on their way home from school stop at a Carissa bush and pick the fruit as a snack hence Carissa is also known as the “Masai sweet”. They also make sensational jelly to accompany roast meat!

Carissa is found all over East Africa, the berries are poisonous until they turn dark purple when they make great eating!

Carissa is found all over East Africa, the berries are poisonous until they turn dark purple when they make great eating!

8. In colonial years Kenya was known as British East Africa, Tanzania was German East Africa, Malawi was Nyasaland, Zambia was Northern Rhodesia and Zimbabwe was Southern Rhodesia.

9. Lake Malawi has more fresh water fish than any other lake in the World including about 100 species of cichlids.

cichlid

10. Lake Malawi is also known as “Lake of Stars” as nicknamed by David Livingstone. He thought the light coming from the fishermens lanterns on their boats at night resembled stars in the sky.

Our heads are full of random anecdotes to entertain our clients, young and old,  on our safaris and guided self drive expeditions!

For details about our overland truck safaris and guided self drive expeditions contact Debs info@africaexpeditionsupport.com or peruse our website http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com

Working in partnership with The Born Free Foundation

Check out this short video of Africa Expedition Support and The Born Free Foundation working in partnership to save lions in Kenya.  This program gives students a rare and unique opportunity to work side by side Masai and to be involved in a project that is effective and sustainable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSmUQ2A5g3k

For more information about this project or how you can be involved contact Debs info@africaexpeditionsupport.com or have a look at http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com