Thursday, April 03, 2008

Off to London - Trip over.

Today we are flying back to London for the night. The trip is over! I'll be in Flagstaff (with luck) on Friday night. Keep looking here for other blogs from Arizona. Thanks for reading.


Colorful Uganda! What a welcome we received. This woman was part of a colorful dance troop that greeted us at the airport. Each African country has its own flavor and the people of Uganda seem very easy going and happy. Contrast that with what most of us know of the country, a certain person named Idi Amin. Strange how such tiny bits of information tend to keep us from really knowing the depth and breadth of things.

Check out this hippopotamus in its very own private pool! We traveled to the far western end of Uganda to Queen Elizabeth National Park to see the wildlife here. Unfortunately, we learned that these hippo's are subjected to poaching by some of the locals and there are guards of rangers that patrol these pools at night.

A close-up view. They are amazing!

At another location we saw this encounter when one male tried to get in the water with the harem of the dominant male. The dominate male would have no part of it and came out the water to chase down the interloper. A fast paced chase ensued. The hippo is considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa and people die all the time from their encounters with them. They are extremely fast for large animals.

Wildlife and People in Tanzania and Ngorongoro Crater

Next on the trip was a stop in one of my favorite countries, Tanzania. The people are very friendly and I love learning words in the Swahili language (surprisingly easy).

This first view is of the East African Rift during a rain storm. This faulted rift is hugely responsible for the drying out of east Africa in the last few million years, a geologic event that caused a certain species of primate to adapt and change - the cradle of humanity exists here.

Zebra in Ngorongoro Crater.

A warthog.


A lion on the hunt. I always encourage my friends who have pre-teen children to come on safari in Africa. It is so amazing to see this wildlife in its native habitat. Despite fears in the US, Africa is a friendly and easy continent to visit. Seeing this splendor is a life altering experience and one that children can keep as a memory forever!

Next we visited a Maasai village and saw these colorfully dressed women in a dance.

The maasai men and known worldwide as tremendous jumpers and during the dance we saw them perform. Amazing!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Victoria Falls!

This is truly one of the remarkable places on Earth! (I guess that's why it is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World). By the way, the others are: Grand Canyon; Paricutin Volcano; the Northern Lights; Great Barrier Reef; the harbor at Rio de Janeiro; and Mt. Everest. I have been to them all except that tiny volcano in Mexico.

Here's a view from the helicopter looking downstream. The vapor, or "the Smoke that Thunders" is clearly visible.

Another view that shows some previous geologic locations of the falls. Each gorge (on the right) is an old lip of the falls. You may be able to detect the location of the next falls by the way the water shimmers in a line just above the present falls (left). Fantastic eh!

We visited the falls at the end of a very wet rainy season and the amount of water flowing down was stupendous.

Look at how wide the Zambesi River is above the falls and then how narrow and engorged it becomes below the falls. We took a scenic boat cruise on the upstream section and saw many wading hippo's in the water.

Here's a closer view from the ground of the Eastern Cataract on the Zambian side of the border (the river is the international boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe). In the dry season, this section of the falls is often completely dry.

Madagascar's Spiny Desert and Lemurs

My trip continued into Madagascar, truly one of the most unique places on earth. I learned in previous visits that most people here practice a form of ancestor worship. On this trip it was told that in some tribes all material possessions upon death are placed within the hut and burned! There is no descendency of wealth to the children. This was a completely foreign concept to some of my fellow travelers, who saw it only as a waste of resources. It did make some sense to me since I commonly witness people in my culture who's experiences cause them to have a complete lack of appreciation for money won with hard work. The Malagasy culture never ceases to surprise me. The lemurs were great too. Here's a few pictures of the unique desert and the lemurs.

Madagascar's Spiny Desert

One of the dominant plants is Didera, something akin to our ocotillo but different.

Madagascar has received a lot rain recently and the Didera was leafed out big time.

The ringtail lemur!

Here's another one with its young nearby.

This ringtail lemur loved eating the pads of the prickly pear cactus (introduced).

This lemur is called a Sifaka and truly is a gem to watch on the trees. However.....

They do come down to the ground to cross an open patch in the forest and they do this lovely little waltz on only two legs!