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Posts Tagged ‘Tarangire Treetops Lodge’

“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a bit differently.” – Bill Watterson

Kim in a Maasai robe ready for our nighttime safari -- Photo by Pat bean

African Safari: Beneath the Stars

For our night-time drive, one of our Maasai guides sat on the front fender of the car with a spotlight to provide us an opportunity to see a few animals that are rarely seen during daylight hours.

It was a completely different experience from our earlier wildlife viewing. For one thing, there were 10 of us squeezed into the Land Rover and Kim and I couldn’t hop around from side to side as we were used to doing in our drives with Bilal.

So if an animal wasn’t on your side of the vehicle, given the darkness, you might not see it. Some animals froze when they were spotlighted but others quickly disappeared into the bush. We spotted many more glowing eyes than glimpses of entire animals.

Bat-eared fox -- Wikipedia photo

Even so, I was amazed at what we saw. My list included bat-eared fox, genet, large winged bat, steenbok, dik-dik, white-tailed mongoose, spring hare, bushbaby, kangaroo rat and a few zebra and impala wandering around in the dark.

I might have seen a few more things but the birder guy along for the ride and myself talked birds for much of the trip. We both admitted being frustrated with not being able to identify a lot of what we had seen.

 After awhile, however, I decided enough of that and began watching the sides of the roads intently for what I could see right now and possibly identify.

The warm lights of the Treetops Lodge was a welcome sight.

I truly don’t believe in what ifs, and here I was wallowing in it.

It was cool, with a clear sky painted with brilliant white sparks of light. I decided just being outdoors in an African landscape in the dark, with its sweet, earthy smells and background music of rustling animals and insect chirps, was as rewarding as any animals we happened to see.

After our hour-long drive in the dark, preceded by a very long day of exciting wildlife viewing in a bouncing vehicle, I must admit, however, that the warm lights of our lodge was a welcome sight.

I was eager to go to sleep among our suite’s tree branches.

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 “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” J. Lubbock

Kim and I on the deck of our tree-house suite drinking cognac and watching the sun go down. -- Photo taken with a timer by Kim Perrin

African Safari

I’ve always dreamed of living in a tree house, and have drooled over the Swiss Family Robinson’s home up among the branches many times. . Tonight a tiny taste of that dream would come true.

After a grand afternoon of game watching in Tarangire National Park, including our scary face off with a concerned mama elephant, followed by a long ride over one of the roughest roads you can imagine, we arrived at the Tarangire Treetops Lodge about 30 kilometers away. .

One of the tree-house suites for guests at the Tarangire Treetops Lodge.

A guide escorted us to our accommodations, which we accessed by a ladder up through a trap door. He said he would be back later to escort us down to dinner.

We immediately saw that our tree house home for the night was a lot bigger and grander than the ones dads build for their children in the backyard.

Our large room was airy with a long deck on one side that overlooked a wildlife viewing area. The room came complete with a shower, fluffy white robes and a set up of cognac and glasses on a small table before two deck chairs. .

Tarangire sunset -- Photo by Kim Perrin

We took advantage of all three, in that order, the latter as we watched yet another of Africa’s colorful sunsets before being escorted back to the main lodge for dinner.

This would be our last night with Bilal, and he reluctantly joined us for one pre-dinner Coke before hurrying off. We had tried to get him to have dinner with us several times, but it seems there were rules about guides and clients associating except during our wildlife drives together.

Meanwhile, so entranced had we been with our accommodations, and perhaps the cognac, that we had dressed for dinner, forgetting that we had planned to go on a night wildlife drive.

So we raced back to change into something more appropriate for the adventure, arriving back at the lodge just as dinner was being served on an outdoor patio. As it turned out we weren’t the only ones who had forgotten the night ride was supposed to begin immediately after dinner.

I wondered if the other forgetful couple had also taken advantage of the cognac hospitality. The wait for them to change, however, was pleasantly filled by conversation with our fellow tourists who would all squeeze into an open Land Rover with us for the night’s drive.

One of the guys was an avid birder like myself. What a relief it was, for both of us, to finally have someone who appreciated the finer points of whether a bird’s supercilium was white or brown and whether it had two or three wing bars.

But finally everyone was gathered, and dressed in warm Maasai robes provided by the lodge to ward of the night chill, and we were off for our first African night safari.

Tune in tomorrow for the “rest of the story,’ as columnist Paul Harvey was always so fond of saying.

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