We're a group of Western Washington University students traveling to Tanzania to ask big questions about geography, nature, and culture.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kwaheri Tanzania/Goodbye Tanzania

Our group is back in Moshi after an early morning start to Ngorongoro crater and a long and tiring drive afterwards. The general mood from our group in the crater was one of anticlimax, as we had some amazing animal sightings in Serengeti and things were cool and quiet in the crater today. However, looking at the photos from the day shows how exciting the previous days had been--we saw a good variety of interesting animals. What was probably missing the most was that the predators were mostly at rest and relatively far away from all but the longest of our camera lenses.

Rosemary, Brad, and Elizabeth brave the cold early morning temperatures of the crater rim to pop the top for the view of the caldera:

Male wildebeest engaging in territorial advertising and confrontation:

A Grey Crowned Crane:

A lone hyena considers whether he really wants to cross this particular patch of the crater floor, as

It's being surveilled by a particularly imposing force:

Rosemary managed to catch this shot of a lion cub taking a break from nursing:

And the parting shot goes to the under-appreciated wildebeest, also known as gnu:

Goodbye for now! Thanks for following along on our adventures and learning...more to come about what the students learned and wrote while preparing for and traveling in Tanzania.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Early Birds Catches the Worm - Guest Post by Rosemary Widenor

We started this morning bright and early on the Serengeti to try and catch some of the harder to spot animals.  Pulling out of camp at 6:30, we were able to see a beautiful sunrise over the savanna.  Our early departure proved to be worth it! On the morning game drive we saw two leopards, a few male lions, a huge line of elephants, and a lioness with her kill.  

After a quick breakfast, we drove out of Serengeti, heading towards Ngorongoro Crater.  Along the way we saw a lioness in the middle of the hunt, a secretary bird, and plenty of giraffes.  We made it to the Rhino Lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, and man, it is cold here.  We actually have to layer up, which is a welcome break from sticking to the seats of the safari cars with sweat.  We are getting up again early tomorrow to hopefully beat the crowds into the crater.  Tomorrow is our last night in Tanzania--AHH! 

Brother lions out just after sunrise
A giraffe, mowing down on an acacia tree
Just a couple leopard friends hanging

The gang on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In Serengeti - Guest Post by Kaylee Guetle

Tonight is our last night in the Serengeti and tomorrow we're off to Ngorongoro Crater. We've been able to see some great animals including some of the rarer spotted ones like cheetah and leopard. We were lucky enough to get up close with some lions - close to 20!

Our campsite is located right in the middle of Serengeti National Park so we have had some visitors in the middle of the night, lions and tigers and bears oh my! Except not tigers or bears.. but lions and hippos. We have camp staff escort us to and from our tents at night.

Tomorrow we're getting up early to go on a morning game drive, hoping to see some animals we wouldn't normally see. In just a few short days most of you - family members following this blog - will be reunited with these wonderful people I've had the privilege of knowing. But for Allison and I, it will be a little bit longer. We will be staying behind for ten days to go back to the MAD House and teach the Kilimanjaro kids about various alternatives to plastic burning and malaria awareness.


Stumbled upon 4 lion cubs and their mother.

Typical tourists.

Stopped by the hippo pool today and 

Baby baboon being helped down a tree by parents.

Camp at Halisi Serengeti.

Missing day update-August 17 at Lake Manyara

Oops! In my hurry to post updates I managed to miss most of our day that started at Lake Manyara--I had switched memory cards so I didn't think to go back and look for other photos.

We starting the morning with a walk to Lake Manyara, an alkaline (salty) lake in the Eastern Rift Valley. 

Here the crew prepares to set sail in a dugout boat used by local fishermen:

Lesser Flamingos are common at the lakeshore: 

A fisherman shows off some of his catch of tilapia and catfish:

After the lakeshore we visited the town of Mto wa Mbu (literally "Mosquito River" and had a chance to see some local artists at their craft. Here a man creates banana-leaf mosaic art:

Finally we had a chance to tour a Masai boma. Here are the fourteen children and grandchildren (by seven wives) of the ligwanan (chief) of the boma.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Two nights at Lake Natron-Part I

Greetings from the Serengeti!  We have returned to the land of Internet access (at least via cellular network) after being without for two nights. I'm running short on time as we're up early for safari tomorrow morning so here are a number of photos from the last two days, in chronological order:

(I'm skipping our visit to a Masai boma in the hopes that one of the students can do a guest post)

Sierra jumping for joy in the Eastern Rift Valley: 

The first giraffe sighting of our trip, pulling into Natron Halisi Camp:

Oldoinyo Lengai and the lounge tent at Natron Halisi Camp:

On our morning walk with our Masai guide:

At the shallow shore of Lake Natron, Ariane takes pictures of flamingo:

Our high point for the morning walk:

Pizza for lunch!

...part II coming soon!

Two nights at Lake Natron-Part II

Our afternoon started with a walk up a narrowing gorge, 

eventually wading through the stream

and scrambling along the rocky walls of the gorge

passing under the occasional waterfall

Until we reached the final destination where none of our cameras could venture: we had to swim/spash/scramble up the slippery cascade under a cold waterfall (cold because it is fed by a spring  erupting from the rock above). Behind the falls was a grotto with steep walls and a large waterfall. It was amazing!

Friday, August 16, 2013

On Safari-Lake Manyara

Hi everyone, we all did a great job of packing up before breakfast and loading the safari vehicles to make it through Arusha before traffic got bad! When I first visited Arusha it felt a lot smaller, much like Moshi today. But now Arusha is so large it even has traffic lights at major intersections!

After a box lunch along the way (both burgers and chicken for the non-vegetarian choice) we made it to Lake Manyara National Park by early afternoon. We saw a good deal of game though we missed one common animal, the giraffe, usually a common sight at Manyara and a popular favorite among our group. 

Here are a few animal & human highlights of our safari so far. Please note that we travel tomorrow to Lake Natron where there is not any cell service so we will be out of contact for the next two nights; the camp we stay at does have a satellite phone for emergencies but we won't be able to post any kind of updates until we are in Serengeti in three days. 

On the road to the parks, the Eastern Rift scarp in the distance:

The group at Lake Manyara National park with driver-guides Joseph and William:

A baboon up close: 

Some frisky zebra: 

A Grey-headed Kingfisher:

In competition for the "ugly five" of Tanzania animals, the Marabou Stork: 

A somewhat recently deceased hippo being picked over by vultures:

Animal babies are almost always cute but perhaps baby elephants are cuter than some:

And finally, our home for the night in Mto wa Mbu, Migunga Tented Camp:

Dinner tonight was a potato salad, pumpkin soup, choice of lamb stew or yellow lentils with rice and a passionfruit tart. Not bad at all! The students are taking these hardships in stride.

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