The Netherlands and East Africa 2009

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The Netherlands

 

To break the long journey, we stopped in the Netherlands. It was perfect weather for a canal tour in Amsterdam.
 

 

Zaanse Schans, a day trip from Amsterdam, is renowed for its operating windmills.  
 
 

Rwanda

 

Upon our arrival in Kigali we paid a sombre visit to the Genocide Memorial. We stayed in a lodge near Kinigi the night before treking to see the gorillas.
 

A group from the local orphanage performed traditional song and dance for us. Evenings were cool in the mountains.
 

In the morning we treked into Parc National des Volcans. The park rangers led us to the Kwitonda group of mountain gorillas.
 

Here we see the group's Silverback, Kwitonda, which means 'humble one'.
 

 

 

 

 

     
 
 

On Safari in Tanzania

 

On safari we stayed in both permanent campsites and lodges. Our favourite was Tarangire River Camp. Our tent had wooden floors and an ensuite bathroom. Elephants and other animals were our neighbours by night, so after dark, for our protection, Masai escorted us between our tent and the dining area. In contrast, Ngorongoro Farmhouse was less about creatures and more about comforts. Ndutu Lodge delivered on its namesake, the ndutu, a type of genet.
 

Mapito tented camp was truly in the middle of nowhere. Our game drives took us into Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti national parks. Ngorongoro's crater wall made a scenic backdrop. Herds of zebra and other animals live in the crater.
 

There is a wide variety of grazing animals in all of the parks, including Wildebeest. Wildebeest are also known as gnu. African buffalo.
 

Reedbuck. Impala. Topi.
 

Waterbuck. Hartebeest. Grant's gazelle. Thomson's gazelle.
 

We encountered many elephants.
 

Giraffe. Hippopotami have to be smelled to be believed!
 

Possibly the only creature that smells better dead than alive.
 

There were many prides of lion.
 

The lions spend most of their days resting. Lion cubs are adorable.
 

Lioness returning to yesterday's buffalo for a snack. Blue monkey. Primates are so funny.
 

Vervet monkeys. Baboons. Spotted hyena. This one protecting its pup.
 

Jackal. Zebras rest their heads on each other's backs.
 

If you are a grazer, it's good to have someone watching your back. A zebra crossing. Warthog.
 

Elusive leopard.
 

Cheetah.
 

The fastest land animal in the Serengeti. The slowest land animal in the Serengeti.
 

Nile crocodile. Male ostrich. Female ostrich. There are also many smaller birds in the parks, including vultures.
 

Eagle. Superb starling. Ground hornbill, which is what Zazu was in Disney's The Lion King.
 

Serengeti stork. Crowned cranes. We had a great time on our safaris.
 

 

 

Boab tree at sunrise.    
 
 

The Circle of Life: A Vignette from our Safari

 

In Ngorongoro Crater we encountered this family of warthogs. Let's call the littlest, Pumbah. Two minutes later, we spotted this lioness, but her attention was on the warthog family, still some distance away. Using our vehicle for cover, she entered the long grass of a gully. Watching from the cover of the gully, she edged along as the family of warthogs neared the water.
 

Suddely, the lioness exploded out from her cover and bore down upon Pumbah. No matter how much Pumbah struggled or squealed he could not wrestle free of her grasp. The lioness's two adolescent male cubs emerged from the dry grass. With great urgency they rushed to their mother. Given that the hunt was over, we felt them to be Johnny-come-latelies...
 

 

 

... until they reached Pumbah, when, much to our horror, Pumbah's plaintive squealing resumed: the lioness had left the coup de gras for her young. So goes the circle of life in Ngorongoro Crater.    
 
 

Zanzibar

 

This is your co-pilot speaking. We stayed in Stonetown, the old city of Zanzibar. The inside of Stonetown's old fort is now an arts and craft market. Fish, meat, fruit, vegetables and of course spices are available fresh, daily at the Darajani markets.
 

Many of Stonetown's houses have ornate carved doors, this one an example of the Indian style. We couldn't pass up an opportunity to dive. Map puffer. Diver Meg.
 

Soft coral. Brain coral. Nudibranch.
 

Lunch was on a deserted sandbar. After the UK abolished slavery, Mangapwani cave was still used for many years to hide slaves. One of Zanzibar's many picturesque beaches.
 

 

Sunset over Stonetown's busy harbour.  
 
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