Nothing Is More Beautiful
Who hasn’t dreamed in one’s youth or in one’s lifetime of going on safari? Who hasn’t dreamed of experiencing in real conditions the story of the “Lion King” that Walt Disney brought us, unless it was via its parody (Madagascar 2) or the not so famous Broadway show? Who has not dreamed about covering large expanses forever, where all kinds of big and small game cohabitate in infinite numbers? (version française en bas de page)
As far as I am concerned, there is only one country in the world that can satisfy such a craving for marvelous adventures – Tanzania, and more particularly its national parks in the northern region. Since the beginning of this new millennium, I have had the extraordinary chance of being able to cover those vast open spaces many times: Did I have enough? I don’t’ think so...
I have been lucky to discover these regions at different times in my life and you are mistaken if you think you’ll experience the same thing from one visit to the next.
At each of my visits, nature shows up differently, and you’ll be very disappointed if you believe that you’ll see a lion, a cheetah or a leopard at the same place as the last time you were there. Then again, those animals will suddenly surprise you at the bend in a path that you didn't explore during your last visit. However, there is one constant: their numbers...
What to say except repeat to everyone who cares to listen, that if you are patient long enough and have a real passion, you will, during your stay, see cheetahs and leopards, not to mention hundreds of lions who will inevitably come across your path. I won’t mention the countless quantity of zebras, wildebeest, antelopes, elephants, giraffes and others…
In order to appreciate the beauty and richness of the location, I would like to invite you to a photo display to do justice of the diversity, abundance of the fauna, scenery, and the unique light. Pictures are worth a thousand words.
Whereas the Swahili word “safari” simply means a “trip”, it is synonymous with a wild and adventurous Africa. The best way to make the most of it is to go as a hunter, but not any kind of hunter: a roving photographer with all that it includes - patience, an experienced eye, curiosity, getting up early in the morning, no hesitation to cover a large amount of kilometers of savannah and, of course, to have with you some adequate equipment. Lets say that iPhones should be banned there (don’t laugh as we saw a few here...) And if your travel guide is convinced, like ours was, that you are interested in his country and its richness, your stay will turn into a real treasure hunt and enable you to memorize unique scenes that will be forever engraved in your memory.
Our subject here is wild Tanzania, and more specifically its Northern part, the Arusha region, and four of the most grandiose natural parks in the world - they lie at an altitude between 1100 m and 1500 m. The Tarangire National Park is crossed by the Tarangire River which is the only water available for Africa’s largest antelopes; it is famous for its exceptional concentration of elephants and “fields” of baobab trees.
It covers an area of 2600 km² and is considered to this day as being one of the country’s most beautiful refuges for wildlife.
There, we were able to watch an unusual match of football. When we reached the resort, we heard singing, supporters’ shouts and the voice of a commentator over a loudspeaker. We were surprised to see a game being played by two local teams right in the heart of the Savannah on a laterite slope... We won’t mention the 22 players’ highly basic dress. And when by chance the ball was kicked off limits, a trumpet signaled a momentary stop to replace the lost ball. Indeed, it would have been very dangerous to try to retrieve it in the wilderness.
Lake Manyara National Park is modest in size – it covers only 325 km². There is only one road running along the lake.
The park is famous for its abundant and varied vegetation, and also for its “tree-climbing” lions that rest on the acacia trees.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the centerpiece of which is its famous crater – a “caldera” with an inner diameter of 16 to 19 km and an area of 265 km² - is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is home to numerous animal species, which are naturally protected by a 600 m-high rampart covered with forestland. The name alone of this crater brings back exceptional and unforgettable memories to those nature lovers who have been there; remembering the magnificent panorama one admires from the road that runs along the rim of the crater, and where lodges are located. At the bottom of the crater lies the Magadi salt lake. The crater’s floor is covered with rich pastureland and forest; it is home to roughly 30,000 large mammals that are permanent residents.
Every morning, Maasai shepherds take their cattle down the crater for grazing amidst wild cats and other game. The shepherds only have a stick, a spear and their courage to defend themselves against wild cats. But the latter do not attack them because they fear them.
Serengeti – the name of this park comes from the Maasai word “siringet”, meaning “endless plain”. It well depicts the emotion one feels when faced with the immensity of wildest Africa. The park extends over 14,800 km² and offers one of the most fascinating natural shows on Earth – the incredible and massive migration of wildebeest. It also has the highest concentration of wild cats in the world.
Actually, we had a surprise encounter. At morning coffee (6.30 am), we were surprised to find a young lioness quietly lying down on top step of the lodge.
There was a commotion when we informed the staff about it… The young lioness became scared and left slowly. Our guide explained to us that young cats that are wounded or sick do not hesitate to come near human beings because they feel safe. The funny thing was a nearby sign telling human beings “please, do not walk beyond this point”.
Later on when coming back from the game, we suddenly noticed a lion on the horizon, then two, then three, then finally a whole family of 17 lions of all sizes and ages.
They were quietly coming toward us in the savannah, like the “seven mercenaries”. We watched that grandiose show for over two hours. The lions gathered on some rocks (kopje) to spend a peaceful day there. It was an unforgettable experience, bearing in mind that we were the only vehicle around to enjoy this unique show. The Olduvai (or Oldupai) Gorge lies between those two parks. The history of mankind can be read in the stone in this part of the giant Rift Valley (a rift that opened when the Red Sea was formed).
This spot of Africa could well be the cradle of mankind, after the discovery of the 1,750,000 year-old skull of an Australopithecus in 1959 and two series of footprints dating back 3.6 million years, found in 1976 by Mary Leakey. The area is the elected land of a mythical people, the Maasai.
Maasai culture is based on disregard for physical pain, mastering one’s body and soul, controlling one’s instincts and a rare courage for confronting the wild animals that share their habitat. How amazing it is for us, tourists, to see a party of Maasai walk quietly across the savannah, armed only with a spear and a club. Our guide explained to us that any lion that had fought Maasai remembers their silhouettes perfectly well and will not take the risk of attacking them again.
The Maasai raison d’être, the base of their culture, their wealth, what rules their life, is cattle. Indeed, they are first and foremost shepherds since God – Engai – made them owners of all the cattle of the world.
Therefore, they consider legal to go and raid the herds of other tribes from time to time, to get back what “belongs to them”. That’s the reason why these semi-nomad pastors are also warriors, and two antagonist symbols cohabit in their traditions: the shepherd, symbol of peace, and the warrior which reminds me of something else.
At the end of our journey, we overtook a lorry whose driver flashed his headlights insistently. Our guide then decided to wait for him. After a brief conversation in Swahili, we went back to where we had overtaken him.
Our guide asked us to take our cameras out again. This beautiful cheetah was lying down on the roadside in a “civilized” area... But it looked worried and was watching the horizon – a young Maasai shepherd started running towards it to chase it off. We were very surprised to see the cheetah run away, scared by this twelve-year old child.
The Maasai live in complete harmony with nature. They adapt to their land’s climatic conditions: biting cold, intense heat, drought or pouring rain, and find their food and everything they need to survive on their highest mountain with an altitude of 5895 m – topped with snow and a very popular trekking destination, also the white sandy beaches along the coast, Zanzibar island etc.
Tanzania is probably one of the oldest known inhabited areas on Earth; fossil remains of humans and pre-human hominids have been found dating back over two million years. More recently, Tanzania is believed to have been populated by hunter-gatherer communities, probably Cushitic and Khoisan speaking people. About 2,000 years ago, Bantu-speaking people began to arrive from western Africa in a series of migrations. After the Zanzibar Revolution overthrew the Arab dynasty in neighboring Zanzibar, which had become independent in 1963, the island merged with mainland Tanganyika to form the nation of Tanzania on 26 April 1964.
A population of approximately 25,000 large animals, largely ungulates along with reputedly the highest density of mammalian predators in Africa, lives in the crater. Large animals in the crater include the black rhinoceros, the local population of which declined from about 108 in 1964-66 to between 11-14 in 1995, and the hippopotamus, which is very uncommon in the area. There also are many other ungulates: the wildebeest (7,000 estimated in 1994), the zebra (4,000), the eland, and Grant's and Thompson's gazelles (3,000).
The crater has the densest known population of lions, numbering 62 in 2001. On the crater rim are leopards, elephants - numbering 42 in 1987 but only 29 in 1992 - mountain reedbuck, and buffalo (4,000 in 1994).
Tanzania is the home of the world-famous Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in Africa. She has dozens of beautiful beaches such as those found in Zanzibar and breathtaking national parks like the world-famous Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which generate tourism income that plays a vital part in the economy. The economy is mostly based on agriculture. The nation has many natural resources including minerals, natural gas and tourism. (source: Wikipedia)
I say "Hakuna"
I say "Matata"
Yeah. It's our motto!
What's a motto?
Nothing. What's a-motto with you?
Those two words will solve all your problems
(Music by Elton John, The Lion King lyrics by Tim Rice)
La Nature En Beauté : Version Française
Editor : François Elziere - Photographer : Marie-Andrée Simon
For your next vacation, do not hesitate to contact our friends at: "Antilope & Predator'
SAFARINA MUZIKI: P.O. box 2428, Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255787030806 - www.safarinamuziki.com
Emails: email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org