Saturday, February 19, 2011

Serengeti Critters


I really did go to Africa to work: On this trip I was visiting schools in Malawi and Tanzania that train non-physician clinicians who provide life-saving care to pregnant women and their newborns in the very isolated towns and villages. (There just aren’t enough docs who want to live and work in the rural towns and villages of Africa.) But, while in Tanzania, in order to get from the school in Kilimanjaro to the school in Mwanza (on the shores of Lake Victoria) I was lucky enough to travel right across the Serengeti Game Park! So, we rented a Range Rover and a driver and off we went.

This little guy greeted us at the entrance.DSCF0315

DSCF0234Descending from the rim of the Ngorogoro Crater, you drive through the beautiful Masai lands. The Masai are the fabled tribe of warriors turned herders when the wars were done.


They are also remarkable businessmen and women. These boys are painted as for puberty initiation rites and were by the roadside to sing and dance for tourists.DSCF0367But you dare not take a picture without being able to pay for the privilege!DSCF0366_2

After crossing the Masai territory, we descended onto the vast Serengeti plain… and it was amazing. First thing we saw was a herd of mama giraffes loping along with their babies. Their gait is really funny. They were clearly curious about us. What neat creatures!DSCF0241 These giraffes were feeling amorous I’m told.DSCF0283

We saw several hyena by the roadside. Bold as you like in broad daylight. I never expected to see them because I always thought they were nocturnal. They are powerful and fear-inspiring creatures. I was very glad to be in the vehicle.DSCF0255

It was early in the rainy season and the annual migration was on. There were thousands of wildebeest on the plains, clearly getting the hyena’s attention.DSCF0267

The ostriches were out there grazing too, with no fear of the predators only the egg hunters. Their eggs are huge and are collected and sold as tourist trinkets. I wouldn’t want to cross these parents though!DSCF0268 DSCF0365

Hippos were crowded in the newly flooded creeks.DSCF0276

The warthogs were out- so ugly they’re cute!DSCF0282 Often grazing along side the zebras or gazelles.

DSCF0287There are few animals more graceful than the antelope and gazelles. They are so beautiful, standing still or taking flight as the car gets too close.

The zebras weren’t nearly as shy. Aren’t they great? Apparently the females are white with black stripes and the males are black with white stripes. Hmmmm…..DSCF0342 DSCF0323 DSCF0340

I was lucky enough to see elephants, too! We also saw large herds grazing by the side of the road at dusk in a small game park we crossed going to visit a school in Mbeya, in the south.DSCF0389

And we  even saw Simba! This lioness was trotting along the roadside very determined to ignore us on her way to an important date.DSCF0354   

On our way back, climbing back up to the Ngorogoro crater rim, we passed these giraffes grazing at altitude, the plain spread out below them in the distance.DSCF0369 DSCF0371  I think that the giraffes were my favorite.

One can’t visit Africa and not think about the history of colonialism and the role of the Christian missionaries there. These are two old churches, one in rural Malawi that also has a hospital and school on its grounds the other stands on the water front in downtown Dar es Salam.



Last, but not least, are the Africans themselves. I am  privileged to be able to learn a little about the lives of the people I meet there. But it’s harder for me to get photos of people than of animals… it can feel intrusive. This young woman was selling roasted bugs (yech!) on the side of the road and thought it very funny that I wanted to photograph her goods before buying, but gave her permission. (I will eat many things, but I did not try this snack although I’m told it’s quite tasty.)   DSCF0227

Note the sleeping baby tied on her back… that makes me very happy and is what my work is all about- healthy mothers and healthy babies.



  1. Cool pix, Chris. I'd never expect to actually see all these critters in daylight and within photo distance of the road. Very cool indeed.

  2. Great pictures. I think I like the giraffes best. I'd love to come with you someday on your trip to Africa! We still miss you here, and are feeling even more abandoned now that Catherine & Thuy have left our program, also. But we're persevering! I have a blog if you'd like to read it: Take good care & travel safe! Kelly