We woke up early from the Ngare Sero Lodge, too excited to sleep. Our first day on a safari has finally come!!! We couldn't contain our excitement. With our packed bags (as we were staying at a different lodge the next night) and lunch boxes made by the hotel - we jumped into the land cruiser and set off! (for the full itinerary, blog post here)
It was about an hour and a half drive from our hotel to Tarangire. Typically, this is when you would pass the time by scrolling through social media, listening to a podcast, or maybe taking a nap. But on the drives through Tanzania, I couldn't help but just stare out the window and watch. It was so unbelievable and eye opening to see how different this world was to ours.
The only cars on the roads are safari trucks like ours, or vans/motorbikes packed to the brim with people looking for a ride.
Otherwise... everyone walked. Everywhere.
Malaki, our driver, told us that he walks every day to his wifes store which was 5k one way. (and yes, his wife does the same). I immediately felt guilty that we used to have two cars in Boston... and we worked at the same company.
When looking out the window, we saw a mix of just about everything... people, children, stores, cows. At one point we passed by their weekly 'market' where they buy & sell just about everything (including cows & goats).
WE'VE ARRIVED @ TARANGIRE!
First, we learned at every park before driving in we must register. Aka, Malaki registers for us because Joris Africa Tours has everything taken care of! (to see how we booked the trip, see separate blog post) So we wait and check out the other safari trucks. (ours is the best of course).
Check out some of the Rules & Regulations signs! "shall not be responsible for any bodily injury or death to any visitor arising from any cause" - welp! let's do this!
THE GAME DRIVE AT TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
After registering, Malaki popped the top of our land cruiser open so we could stand. (this is how we would do all game drives - its easier to see the animals, and safer for us!)
Only 20 feet from the entrance we saw our first animal, an impala (i think...). As well as this beautiful bird! You will have to excuse me.. Malaki taught us the actual names of every animal and every bird, but now 2 months later I have forgotten most. :(
Its funny - when we first saw this impala, I think I took about 30 pictures! We were so in awe and didn't want to leave. Little did we know how many impalas as well as other animals we'd see over the next 6 days.
Within only 5 minutes we had spotted a leopard in a tree! He was quite far away, but thats what the binoculars (and long lens camera) was for.
ZEBRAS BY THE WATER
After a bit of driving and watching zebra and giraffes off in the distance, Malaki found us the most perfect little spot. It was a small pond where a grouping of zebras were drinking. You'll notice as I write more blog posts about this safari - zebras are my FAVORITE animals. They are just so happy, I love how they nod their heads almost like they're saying "yep!" (you'll see this in the video) and I love how they lie their heads on each other.
This was one of my most favorite moments of the safari.
Oddly, I enjoyed taking pictures of Andrew taking pictures just as much as the animals. For me, these pictures were a reminder that we were really there.
We had heard that Tarangire National Park was known as the "home of the elephants" and after this, we understood why. I will admit, I was always a bit nervous of seeing elephants in the park.
I was just ... respectfully scared of them. I know how powerful they are and that we are in their home, so I never wanted to anger them.
So... I had never expected to get THIS CLOSE to them. Malaki would turn the car engine off, and they would just walk right around us. One wrong move, or one angry elephant, and they could have easily tipped the truck! But luckily, we had wonderful and gentle elephants who just wanted to be with their families.
(there is actually a hilarious video - not the one below - where I didn't know an elephant was behind me, and it made a noise and which totally scared me, and I made the stupidest face). ... and no, I do not want to post that one on my blog!
We passed by some elephants that were playing in the water to cool themselves off. And what I thought were elephants in love - were actually elephants fighting.
On the second day we saw a massive elephant eating leaves off of a tree. And then another elephant just across the road with an ostrich right behind him! This place felt magical.
OTHER ANIMALS IN TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Although we did see an overwhelming amount of elephants & zebras... there were of course some other amazing animals in the park. Giraffes, monkeys, beautiful birds, thomson gazelle's, and 'pumbaa's' aka warthogs.
The first night we stayed at Maramboi Tented Camps (blog post here), and the second night we stayed at Rhotia Valley Lodge (blog post coming soon!).
With only 1.5 days at Tarangire National Park, we had seen enough animals for an entire safari trip... except of course... for Andrew's favorite animal. The lion. And he didn't want to see just any lion... he specifically wanted to see a male lion with a large mane. Luckily we were off to the Serengeti next!