From my friend Merle, January 2016 Safari-Goer
By Merle McKinley, June 13, 2017
From an article in her blog, after taking one of our safaris!
In his acclaimed and successful book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Robert Sapolsky claims that when we worry or experience stress, our bodies turn on the same physiological response that animals do. What’s different between us human animals and other animals is we do not resolve conflict in the same way animals do — fighting or fleeing. Instead, we brew and stew, replaying in our minds conversations or events we were dissatisfied with. Why this outcome and not that outcome, who is to blame…and on and on it goes.
It can take a long time to “let it go,” and these events often become additional fuel for our resentment and anger. Over time, those emotions have plenty of negative effects on ourselves and our relationships. Wild animals don’t die of stress-related illness. We humans, though, can certainly get very sick from stress.
Up close and personal
At midnight in January 2016 at the Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania, I introduced myself to three strangers and two tour guides. One guide was local, the other the tour organizer from Wisconsin.
Our intrepid conservation officer Donatus, from Ngorongoro Conservation Area just sent me this picture taken in the Ndutu/Southern Serengeti area.
It is highly unusual and very likely not to survive, but nature is certainly always changing and adapting to each unique situation.
You never know what you might see on one of our GenSafaris experiences... maybe even a leopard cub nursing a lion mama.
Multiple safaris are already in line for the next eight months. A few openings might be available for the January safari or plan your dream trip for fall/early winter of 2018.
Jamba world travelers,
We have now an opening for a woman traveler to join a group and share a double room with a woman from Mound, Mn. There might also open one more double (or single) room opening up as well and a waiting list has begun for that. Maximum number of travelers is twelve (ten if additional room does not open).
Short overview (attached itinerary with full details there):
- 30 September: Flight from USA if no stop overs or additional days added
- 1 October: Arrival (Rivertrees)
- 2-3: Tarangire (Tarangire Safari Lodge)
- 4-5: Lake Eyasi (Kisima Ngeda)
- 6: Karatu (Plantation Lodge)
- 7-9: Central Serengeti, Seronera area (Kiota Camp)
- 10-12: Northern Serengeti/Kogatende (Chaka Camp)
- 13: Fly to Arusha (Shanga & day room)
- Arrive into Europe and USA on 14th if no stop overs
It's a great time to see the migration. Come with us on this dream trip and experience Tanzania in all her fullness!
Most of us go on safari hoping to see our favorite animal, rare animals and those that are uniquely striking. Black Rhino's fit those categories and more. They seem to be shy, preferring to browse or occasionally graze by themselves or one other. Mothers are deeply protective and careful with their babies and often are quite challenging to see and spend time with. We had been disappointed to not find one on a long and careful drive through Lerai Forest in Ngorongoro Caldera. We even slowly back tracked through after lunch as we had a tip that two rhinos were grazing in the brush there. None were to be seen on the plains either. So, it was off to the Serengeti where I had not been able to see rhino due to the immense distances and few numbers.
We eventually made it up to the Northern areas, near the rivers famous for the wildebeest crossings on their migration towards the rains. As a traveler on safari with me once said, our eyes were "full". Our hearts too, yet we still wished to spend some time with the elusive rhino. Days passed with no luck, and as we were driving alongside a lush sunken creek, I saw her. She was magnificent and proud, trotting towards the plain on the other side, baby staying close by her side. We crossed and parked at a respectful distance to enjoy the feel of being in the presence of such ancient animals. I was wondering how many babies she had had and the number three came instantly, simultaneously, and as my thought arose. Having fun with this, I turned to the others in the vehicle, especially to Carol Gurney, our teacher in animal communication on this safari. Curious to find out what she might 'hear'. Without my information given to her, she also came up with this is the third baby for this mama. Engaging fully in the instinctual connection of all senses, or telepathy as some call it, is an interesting and exciting experience.
On the more scientific side, my friend, guide and conservation officer for Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Donatus Gadiye, has written extensively on the forty some rhinos in the Caldera environs. He's familiar with all of them by name and is now onto researching the elephant migratory paths in order to best direct the rangers for their protection. Click for some of his research on Ngorongoro's Black Rhino population. Donatus is dedicating this paper to all of our friends who helped through GenSafaris.
In addition to this large population of endangered Black Rhinos, Ngorongoro holds some of the last huge male elephant 'tuskers'. They are inadvertently given more protection by the many tourist vehicles coming to this wonder of the world. Due to limited funds and vast spaces, it is currently impossible to protect them all. However, if more can be known about the numbers of elephants, their migratory and feeding routes, and therefore their daily locations, then funds and rangers may be allocated to protect them directly. It is important to visit and experience these living wonders of the world as well. If you can, please choose to give to support this endeavor. Funds from individuals and from my safari company (as a result of your tours), are given in this manner: Save the Tuskers of Ngorongoro
One final note: Good news from the Government of Tanzania. As of the first of January, the Tanzanian Government has banned all plastic carrier bags. This is to help protect the environment and to 'green' the environment more fully. Asante sana Tanzania and President John Magufuli!
Some days are for 'just' sitting by the waterhole. I say just, because some might think that I am not doing anything or that I am bored or lonely. Nothing is further from the truth, sitting in the wilds, by an active watering place is one of my greatest joys. I found a comfortable place to sit in the shade, looking over the bluff towards the river and sand flats below. It is a great location to experience full presence, as there can quite easily be animals coming from behind me as well, while my attention is on the those and their antics below.
On this particular day, many small elephant families came to drink and play, as well as large bulls who usually travel alone or in all male groups. There is an elephant sized mud puddle on the east bank of the river bed, sides worn smooth by many bodies rubbing. Today, one of the younger guys walks in and covers himself, rolling and using his trunk to splash dark grey mud all over his body. This is one of the ways for them to cool down, as well as to encase and rid themselves of pesky parasites. As the mud dries and shrinks, it pulls off the ticks or they might be rubbed off on a favorite tree down the path a ways. Although he is fully enjoying, a larger bull comes and he easily gives way for the elder. The bigger bull just strolls through, meandering calmly by, allowing the younger guy to return to his bath.
As the elder moves on, he meanders calmly, sniffing diff holes in the sandy soil next to the slow moving shallow water. He stops occasionally to pick up the white sand and spray it under his front legs. Soon coming to a stop below me, facing me and intent on the ground below. He begins digging in his two front legs, deeper and deeper into the sand, gaining good traction and a lower depth for a purpose that I was about to witness. Now his trunk stretches down, moving the sand away and excavating a hole in front of his feet. He digs deeper and forms a smaller vertical hole, lifting out and blowing out to the side a mixture of water, sand and mud slurry. This continues ten times, getting clearer and clearer and ending with only water.
Now it is his chance to drink the filtered, cooler water that was under the insulating sand. His pace is slow and sure, leisurely waiting for the water to refill his hole for his next sip. It is fascinating watching him turn the two tips at the end of his trunk under when reaching into the hole. Then his trunk stretches, elongating fully and smoothing on the outside while he sucks up many gallons. Then, reaching up into his mouth to expel the water, his outer trunk muscles contract, wrinkling the skin over them like an old well weathered face. His ears are held back when his head is lifted to take in water, and unfold out again as he lowers to extend his trunk deeply into the sand hole. He's an expert, taking long droughts into his mouth with no dripping or wasting of this precious commodity. He also has a favorite side, you could call him 'left trunked' as when he rests the tip of his trunk, he places it on his left tusk most often, and to the right only once. His left ear is also uniquely marked with two large holes and in between, one small pinpoint. Maybe we will meet again in the future.
It's been lovely sharing this space together. At one point, we hear a new sound and he and I both look up to check out a passing helicopter. All in all, it's been a magnificent few hours. I had previously heard about and seen these holes, but had not had the opportunity to watch them develop. The fresh water is now there for others to drink after the elephant leaves. During this day, I saw many come by to use this or other holes, drink or play by the river or just wander through. There were many elephants, mongoose, seven zebras, one limping zebra stallion, impala, reed buck, tawny eagles, hoopoe, storks, numerous water birds, sand grouse flocks, two giraffe males, dik dik, wildebeest, white crowned shrike, fish eagle, augar buzzard and grey heron to name just a few. Simply magnificent all.
Did you know there are over 1100 bird species in the country and some of our groups have counted over 330 on their short safari?! We enjoyed magnificent sightings of our feathered friends this time, including an eagle with a baby warthog on a branch directly above us! The pictures speak for themselves and for more information, this is a great Tanzania birding web site.
Dusk was gathering as we drove south on the dirt road, shadows lengthening over the land, turning from savannah to brush land, ancient Baobab trees connecting earth and sky. As I rode with watering eyes from the intensity of the wind blowing over them, suddenly a complete lanky image flashed by me. Head, eyes, rosettes, supple, strong body perfectly draped over the tree, with tail dropping below... Leopard! Passing the message quickly forward to the driver, we stopped, reversing slowly, seeking through the darkening light for her magnificence.
She waited, seemingly as curious as we were. Perfectly relaxed, unconcerned about our eight pairs of eyes asking to know more about her. Languidly she looked us over, only moving for privacy when a loud group arrived behind us, seeking to know who we were sharing space with. We stayed quiet, calm, waiting. Their beeps came with frustration, thinking we were looking at a downed log and not willing to wait for the hidden beauty. What a lesson for me to remember that when the time is ripe, simply wait and be patient. Then the reward of the unseen may become seen.
The low branching log hid her small yet powerful frame. Moments after they drove off in a cloud of dust, she came out, scent marked and slowly, assuredly walked behind our Land Cruiser. Pausing there to fully take us in, she rolled over in the sand, strong, playful, completely relaxed. As she stood to move on, it was plain that food for the evening was now on her mind. Leaving us, she leapt gracefully to a lookout tree, her piercing gaze scanning for unaware food on the hoof while we continued on to our refreshments at camp.
"The Free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it - basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them." Charles Bukowski, German-born American writer
Greetings fellow travelers and marafiki (friends), GenSafaris traveled recently with Carol Gurney to Tanzania for an Animal Connection & Communication safari.
Over the years, I've taken a few courses in 'animal communication'/connection skills, experiencing good results and a desire to continue to learn more. Carol eagerly agreed to accompany us in Tanzania as the teacher and off we went with our excited and motivated group. Since she had most experience with teaching through domestic animals and often through photographs, this was a new experience for all. She led us daily through exercises as we came across animals in their natural environment, guiding us with unique and detailed questions and ways to get past our emotional or mental 'blocks'.
One of the lessons (and one of her favorites) is 'Animals as Mirrors'. We did a mini activity of discussing the animal that we are most drawn to on safari. The reflections back to us through this experience were so interesting and spot on. It was easiest to see and understand when hearing the others in the group talk about their experience. The patterns and similar flows between them and their chosen animal blaring through as obvious commonalities.
Although verbal communication (especially about the indescribable undercurrent of all Life) is not my forte, Carol found ways to help me connect and replay back to the group what was felt with the female lioness. She was open and gracious no matter what level we were at, in a non judging, accepting and encouraging way.
The lions and lionesses showed up on safari in magnificent ways. We sat for a time with different hunting prides, with mating pairs and drove slowly with young ones hunting along the roadside. On my final day in the bush, two males and a female had walked by my tent with only their clear tracks to inform me on my walk in the early dawn light. Tracking can be one of the more unusual and interesting ways to expand the experience of safari and imprint it in your senses. We do so at every opportunity and I'm constantly learning more. Join us next time?
Each GenSafaris journey financially supports the local schools and various tribes. There are about 125 unique tribes (unique language and culture) in the country. Yesterday we stopped at the secondary school and then at Daniels house (an Iraqw elder) to learn more about Tanzanian history. He is a diverse storyteller and weaves his tales together with how it relates to USA history and politics. We had a lot of laughter, including some of us attempting the difficult feat of balancing a pail of water on our heads.