Entering the gates, we pause. A Baobab Tree. So thick and arms spread so wide, this tree is full of personality. We continue on, driving down a single dirt road deeper and deeper into Tarangire National Park, I now see why this is the dry season. It actually feels like there is no telling if rains will ever fall again for most nutrients are gone and few are in sight. Every color from oatmeal to coffee surrounds me, with small patches of dark and bright green that draw my eyes right to them.
There it is. The first sight. The African elephant. Although, too hidden in the bush to fully see, there is a bum, and there is a tail. There is a wild life. Said, the kindest friend but also the most spectacular guide there ever was, can quite literally feel my excitement because I can’t stop shaking. He pushes forward, we come to an opening with zebra and wildebeest spread about and in the center is a watering hole. I look to the left and there is a bed of water covered with lily pads and across the bank is a troop of baboons. I look to the right and there is a female ostrich strutting her stuff. We sit for a while. Around the bend we go. Oh boy are we in for a surprise. In the far right corner under a tree lay two lions. My heart is racing, these animals are 100% wild. My emotions take over and my eyes start to well up, my voice starts shaking and I can hardly speak. It’s moment for no words. All I can do is observe and appreciate all these incredible animals that Mother Nature has put on this continent. Their presence is so powerful and couldn’t be clearer that this is their home, and I am only a visitor.
In the middle of what once was a river walks a herd of elephants young and old, making their way to to different areas to find relief from the heat. Using their trunks to find water beneath the surface, they stand so peaceful, watching their ability to move their trunks so specifically, I can’t help but imagine myself with one. What it must feel like having that kind of strength with one single feature is unknown to us humans, but magnificent to watch. A booming noise. Is that coming from the Ellies? Of course it is, what else could make that kind of rumble? It’s so loud and so strong. I’m pretty sure I’m feeling the vibrations. Wow this is fascinating to hear, a form of communication I’ve never witnessed before now. It almost sounds like some huge industrial machine churning over and over but it’s just the power of one singular animal. Their ears gently flap as the glide along further and further down the dried up river soon to become small grey dots in the distance. What a sight that was. Before I even have time to process, a species so unique pops out from behind a tree, a friendly face to see. The elongated necks, horns, and the tongues are all features that make the giraffe so captivating. They chomp down on some Acacias. Looking me straight in the eye, not in a menacing way, but observing the 4×4 as closely as I am observing them. In and out their heads go filling their stomach with food many others can’t reach. A tiny Lilac-Breasted Roller lands on a giraffes back. The colors of this bird are absolutely striking from the green head to the pink chest that turns into to the deep blue back down to the teal tail feathers. This high flyer has lots of beauty. Scanning for insects on the ground, he takes off in defeat, I guess he lost this round. We continue on. Families of vervet monkeys chatter and groom each other while clinging tightly to their babies. Impalas graze. Gazelles play. Mighty warthogs kneel to munch on short grass and dig up roots. All while the sun starts to set and life keeps going here in the wild.
We make it up a small hill just in time to watch the sun disappear from the horizon, creating an unforgettable moment of admiration. We head back to camp to turn in for the night. Having had wonderful conversations, and learning so much all on the first day, with a gin and tonic in hand, I sit and and watch bush tv, reflecting on what was the start of my journey Into The Bush.
I feel so lucky to witness and experience life in a place that is so drastically different from the world I have been living in. Life in the bush isn’t a walk in the park for these creatures like it is for us humans back home.
Talk to you tomorrow!