Friday, November 29, 2013

Tanzania Part 2: Olduvai gorge, Maasai village visit and the Serengeti

On November 2, we entered the Ngorongoro conservation area and visited Olduvai Gorge, a Maasai village and then an afternoon safari in the Serengeti. 

Baboons are everywhere

I really thought the baboon was going to attack us from up there

He's just yawning but still quite scary given how sharp those K9s are

We stopped to get a great view of the crater...really amazing! And then headed towards the gorge.

Ngorongoro Crater

I gave my phone to an Italian tourist and she took like 10 pics of us...

So I had to use at least 2. The background is unreal.

The scenery all seemed like a beautiful painting

Masai tribesmen herding cows

A tower of giraffes (that's what you call a group of giraffes!)

We made it to the Olduvai gorge and read all about the Leakey's and their work. The gorge is one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world. It is where Homo habilis (1.9 million years ago), Paranthropus boisei (1.8 million years ago), Homo erectus (1.2 million years ago) and Homo sapiens (17,000 years ago) are said to have occupied. Makes you feel like such a small part of the big picture.

The museum had plenty of fossils on display of extinct animals - as you can see, Paul is very intrigued

Skull of Ceratotherium simum, an ancestor of the present-day white rhino

Tooth and tusk of Deinotherium bozasi, an extinct relative of the elephants with
tusks in the lower jaw

Here is a rendering of what some of these extinct animals may have looked like

This is the Olduvai gorge, named after a plant that grows in the area

After the gorge, we got to visit a Maasai village. We were greeted by the chief's son of the Nasenya tribe, Paulo along with men and women of the tribe who sang us a traditional welcome song. The Maasai people are nomadic so they typically only stay in one place for about a year. This particular tribe included 120 people.

The men singing their part

The women sang their own part

Their jewelry was quite special

Before being asked to join the women, I snapped this photo of this happy tribesman

I had no idea what I was supposed to do with them but I was holding someone's hand

Being led away...

We went inside their village where I joined the women in more singing and jumping

See- I'm jumping- but I have no idea why

It was fun except it was just me and this woman jumping while the others (kind of) laughed

This is me looking at her asking with my eyes, "Why are we jumping?"

Clearly I didn't get an answer so continued to jump

After jumping for maybe 5 minutes, I was just pushed away

The men of the Nasenya tribe preparing to start the warrior dance (jumping)

While the group sings, each man goes into the center to jump

Interesting ear lobes

Jumping quite high!

Each man can have as many wives as he wants


Two guys jumping

After the performances, Paulo showed us a typical hut.

It takes about 5 days to build this hut

It was pretty cozy inside

That's Paulo and Paul

Arts and crafts for sale

We were told to browse and pick up items we might want to buy

Negotiating with the sales lady - we totally got ripped off

Cute kid

Playing some ball

I think this kid felt a little left out

He seemed interested in me taking photos

Tribesmen hanging out in the shade of the tree - it was really hot


School house

Children learn 3 languages - Maa (the Maasai language), Swahili, and English

They were all very friendly

Posing for me

Maasai tribesman

Paulo, the chief's son

We then headed into Serengeti National Park for the first of many safaris.

We stopped for lunch where we saw this strange bird

Yup, that's the Serengeti


A different view of the Serengeti

Male Mwanza flat-headed rock agama

Also known as Spider-Man Lizard

We finally headed into the park

The park covers an area of 5,700 square miles

A dazzle of zebras

Hideous hyena

Lazy leopard


Why did the giraffe cross the road?

To get to the trees

Giraffes are the tallest animal in the world

We spotted a pride of lions

All slowly heading somewhere

This kitty had an itch

Bye lions

I thought this one was going to attack the giraffes - it didn't


The Lilac-breasted Roller looks very pretty today

Just grazing

Flock of birds

After the long day, we finally made it to the Nyani public camp site to set up our tent and have some dinner.

Paul is helping our guide/driver set up the tent

Hooray - it's ready!

Checking out some buffalo skulls

Camping in the Serengeti means having nosy neighbors

Hey, there's a giraffe at our camp!

"Is there something behind me?"

Paul loves to point at things