East Africa, Part 16: Tarangire.

Remember how sad I was when I had to say goodbye to my gecko bff who lived behind the mask? I started my day with a new friend!

I’ve found whenever you eat outside in Africa you will have several companions gunning for some of your meal. This breakfast was no different.

A termite mound! They are big. I had The Moomins stand next to it for scale.

I got so excited at seeing this stork with a red beak or something. Spoiler: It’s a mop resting against a branch.

We had to stop at the gate to Tarangire Reserve and I saw a lilac-breasted roller. I love them. Even if the picture looks like an actual pile of crap (as this one does) I will always post it.

There were a different kind of sentient mango bird, this time they had black heads.

Daily dik-dik! Today focusing on that back end with those fabulous spindly legs.

See this bird? Isn’t it a pleasant-looking bird? Well, it’s called a butcherbird and that’s because it impales its food on thorn bushes and barbed wire for later. So sweet!

“Tarangire” means “River of warthogs” but the national park is most well-known for its elephants. I was there for one major thing and that is the baobabs. I had only seen one or two baobabs by themselves and this place is covered with them. They are a fantastic tree. Each one grows differently from the next. You know how when you see a whole grove of oak trees of the same age, they all look similar? Baobabs do not.

Fun facts about baobabs:

– BIG. Real big. Biggest, actually. Not tallest, those are California Redwoods. But biggest.

– OLD. Real old. These were over 1,000 years old. Baobabs can live to be 3,000 years old.

– SLOW. Real slow. There’s a picture coming up that illustrates how slowly they grow and mature.

The bottom parts are all chewed up because elephants come by and rip off bark and rub on the trees. There is a myth that baobabs have a lot of water in their trunks but they actually die and their hollow hulls collect rainwater which people and animals can drink. But the baobab itself doesn’t retain water.

To get a sense of scale, please note the monkey on that branch off to the upper left.

I mentioned the strangling fig in a previous post. Here’s one in action. It’s dropping roots down to the ground and building a whole structure around the baobab. In 100 years it will have killed the baobab and assumed its shape.

My favorite baobab pic.

Baobabs are thought to disappear overnight but what actually happens is they die and dry out from the inside and then one day they collapse.

Even though Tarangire is known for its elephants we didn’t see a ton of them. We did see this one. Our guide Augustine said the one without a tail had it ripped off as a child by a lion because they’re the only ones strong enough to pull that off (no pun intended).

Pile of herbivore dung with a slender mongoose. The poop gets rifled through by everyone because there’s always undigested seeds and edible treats to be found.

A yellow-necked spurfowl.

A Von der Decken’s Hornbill. The males and females are differently colored. This is a male or a female. One or the other, I’m sure of that.

Gnus going for a dip.

And then we saw it. The Moomins grew up in Africa, she organized tours, went on tours constantly, but she never saw the other thing Tarangire is known for – lions in trees. Lions don’t normally climb trees, that a leopard trait. Here they do, but only female lions because the males are too heavy. And we saw one.

I must warn you, I was so blown away by this that I took a ton of photos and I couldn’t decide which ones I liked best so I’m posting a bunch of them. Plus a tree that a woodpecker did some serious work on.

A solitary lioness hanging out in a tree. Doesn’t look like much, but it’s highly unusual.

Final pic for today is a cloudy sky with a pond.

Coming up: More Tarangire.

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