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One of the iconic symbols of Africa is the baobob tree (although a species of it also grows in Australia). Shaped somewhat like a bottle, with a broad trunk and sharply narrowed top, the trees can reach up to 30 meters (100′) in height and can hold lots of water — a distinctive advantage in the dry season. They are said to be long-lived, perhaps even thousands of years old if left undisturbed (although they are not that well studied and rarely survive to old age in continental Africa). Baobob trees have a short leaf season and most often you’ll see the trees without any leaves.
It’s a bit of a thrill to see these trees, not unlike seeing a …
One of the pleasures of going on safari is being out in the field when the sun rises. The soft light is magical and, of course, at this time of day there’s lots of game about.
That’s when this photo was taken. A beautiful young impala buck in the soft light of dawn! A perfect African moment.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance)
Victoria Falls is one of the Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spanning 1700 meters (1 mile) between two countries, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the falls represents a 100 m (330 foot) drop of the Zambezi River into its gorge.
The appearance of the waterfall differs greatly from season to season. During the rainy season, the Zambian side is the preferred place to watch the falls as you really can`t see much then in Zimbabwe (high flow kicks up so much mist you get drenched and obscures the falls — hence the nickname,`The Smoke that Thunders`). During the dry season, the Zambian side literally dries up, with little more than bare rocks visible, but Zimbabwe …
Giraffes are almost as entertaining as elephants. Seemly awkward with their thin spindly legs, halting gait and l-o-n-g necks, they have a gentle nature that I find appealing. A few interesting facts about giraffes:
– They are the tallest terrestrial mammal, standing 5-6 m. (16-20′), with males weighing up to 1500 kg (3500 pounds). Baby giraffes are born almost 2 meters (6′) tall!
– They have long purple tongues — long enough with which to touch their ears. Scientists think their tongue is colored to help protect it from sunburn. Giraffes eat 35 kg of vegetation a day, virtually all torn off by their purplish tongues.
– They sleep only 30 minutes a day! If they were lawyers, that would leave them almost 24 hours …
There are two types of places I enjoy visiting in my urban travels — aquariums and libraries. I love libraries because of their architecture, the thousands of wonderful books, and I find the quality of a library tells me a lot about the values of a city’s citizens and government. I like to visit aquariums because they’re so much fun! Where else for a few bucks can you be transported to a different world? I can easily lose myself for most of a day in a good aquarium.
The Maasai are a distinguished tribe residing in eastern Africa (Tanzania and Kenya). Tall, with handsome features, Maasai people can often be recognized at a distance by their brightly colored (mostly red) garments. They are herders, raising cattle, and have a semi-nomadic life.
While on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, we spent an hour visiting a Maasai village near the Olduvai Gorge. We were invited into their homes and treated with kindness. The village consisted of a series of small huts constructed of sticks and cow dung, surrounded by a tall thorny fence — a rather primitive and dismal place. Still, they seemed quite content. A highlight of our visit was when the Massai entertained us. The …
I love being in the mountains! One of my greatest travel experiences was a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Mt. Kilimanjaro is a massive free-standing extinct volcano (actually a fusion of 3 volcanoes) in Tanzania, just south of Kenya and near the equator. It’s the highest peak in Africa (5,895 m or 19,341 ft) and, as such, one of the Seven Summits (highest mountain on each of the seven continents). Its summit can be reached without technical climbing gear but it’s a long walk up.
Our camp before the night of our ascent to Uhuru Peak was at around 18,000′ (5500 m) above sea level, right beside the glaciers of the Western Icefields. The light at …
There’s something special about elephants! They’ve a complex social structure, care for each other, are curious, intelligent and fun to watch. They’re at the top of the life pyramid in Africa and know little fear (except for man). African elephants can be distinguished from Asian elephants by the size of the ears — African elephants have huge ears shaped like the African continent, while Asian elephants have ears less than half this size.
Botswana has a very healthy population of elephants, so pachyderms are commonly seen on safari. It appears the tough anti-pouching laws have been effective because they’re extremely punitive (e.g. years in prison for just possessing an elephant tusk, even if the animal died of natural causes).
This photo …