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Monday, February 14, 2011

Back to Arusha National Park

I promised this post would be about a walk around Lake Duluti where we saw Nile Monitor Lizards and African Fish Eagles. I changed my mind! I made this trip to Arusha National Park first, and once I uploaded all the pictures, it turns out to be too long to pair it with the walk around Lake Duluti. So, here's Arusha National Park, and Lake Duluti and the monitor lizards will be next!

K2, on a rare day off, offered to be my guide in Arusha National Park, about a one-hour drive from town. We used the Suzuki as our safari vehicle. With the sun roof open, and our shoes off, one of us at a time could stand on the seat and pop our head out through the roof, just like with a real safari truck. And it was a lot cheaper.

We got a late start because we didn't plan ahead, but woke up and said, "Hey, let's go to Arusha National Park today. And what about a picnic lunch?"

We missed the morning active hours for the animals. By the time we arrived, they were all hiding in the shade somewhere. But we did see this colobus monkey at the park entrance.

K2 suggested we drive to Kitoto Point, a scenic overlook close to the trailhead for climbers going up Mt. Meru. We passed a ranger post near the bottom of the road and K2 checked that it was permitted for us to drive up. The ranger said yes, but gave the Suzuki a doubtful look and asked if our car could make it. K2 said, "Hamna shida" ( "No problem"). And then we drove up to this...

I begged him not to cross, but to back up and turn around. He scoffed, saying, "This is a very good car. Why did you buy it if you're afraid to use it?" 

Then he refused to use four-wheel-drive because we didn't need it and it would waste petrol, and we plunged in and drove across with no problem. Hamna shida.

And I'm so happy that we did, because the road to Kitoto Point passes through lovely rain forest. He actually did shift into four-wheel-drive for a few steep sections of the road, but only after the wheels slipped a bit first to prove the need.

See that small tree on the right whose branches are cinnamon colored?

It's hosting a colony of ferns.

We saw this bushbuck...

...and this tiny dik-dik.

Approaching the famous Big Fig (famous at least amongst the Park Rangers, who all asked if that's where we were going). Any other middle-aged Americans out there remember that old TV commercial with the song and dance, "Doin' the Big Fig Newton"?

It really is big!

Here's the view from Kitoto Point. Beautiful!

Just one more of the dozen places where K2 has told me, "You can see Kilimanjaro from here on a clear day. But it's cloudy today. Sorry."

He also told me that one night he was in the Park after dark, usually not allowed, because he was picking up a group of climbers who came back down to the trail head in late evening. As they drove out in the dark they saw a big leopard running through the night. At that point he'd been considering asking the driver to stop the car so he could get out and pee by the road, but quickly decided he'd hold it for awhile longer. Anyway, I demanded to see a leopard, because he was my guide and should know where to find this leopard again. And I demanded to see lions, although there aren't any in this park. And I said if we didn't see some colobus monkeys, I was not going to tip the guide. He said I was a very difficult tourist.

Nope...still nothing! I've always wondered if tour guides lie to their clients.

The summit of Mt. Meru from Kitoto Point.

After a leisurely picnic lunch, punctuated by cold wind, a bit of rain, and K2 warning of lurking buffalo every time a twig snapped, we headed back downhill.

We saw another bushbuck...

...and some baboons.

By the time we made it down the hill and back across the stream, it was late afternoon and a few animals were stirring again. We drove loops on various roads, then headed for the area known as Little Serengeti, where animals usually gather.

We found a few giraffes.

So elegant! But if you look too closely...


Oops! Sorry! I didn't think you could hear that.

One more bushbuck.

A warthog.

African Wagtail sitting on top of the tree and Cape Buffalo standing under the tree.

Yellow-billed Oxpecker sitting on top of Cape Buffalo.

By then, we had only 15 minutes to reach the park gate and be out by 6:00 pm, a rule aimed at reducing poaching. K2 drove fast through the place we saw colobus monkeys on our last visit. So I didn't tip the guide, because we saw no colobus. Funny thing, although we had a really fun day in the park, I came away thinking we'd barely seen any animals at all. Now, sorting through the pictures, I'm wondering how I can be so jaded about African wildlife sightings! I mean, giraffes and buffalo! Anyway, if you'd like to see more pictures of the wildlife in Arusha National Park, go to the right side bar and click on the picture of the colobus monkey labeled, "Arusha National Park." It will take you to my Snapfish album from a previous visit. Or revisit my earlier post about that previous visit to the park.

One day I have to visit this souvenir shop right outside the park gate. Love the paint job, but haven't seen what's inside.


  1. hi Barbara

    i would like to use your picture "one more bushbuck" in a figure i am producing for a scientific manuscript about bushbucks. please contact me via email for more information.


    1. Hi, Yoshan,
      You didn't leave your email address...but feel free to use the photo in your manuscript. Please credit me, though!