In October 2010, my Dad and I went on an unforgettable wildlife viewing safari in Tanzania. Our group of 14 new friends, aged 11-83, toured in a 3-vehicle caravan. Beginning in Arusha, we completed a loop that, over 12 days, included the Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, and 4 blissful days in a tented camp in the Serengeti. I brought my Zeiss Victory 7×42 bins and a Nikon D40 camera. Here are a few of the over 100 species of birds seen on the trip.
The first bird of our safari was this Superb Starling: so striking and colorful with its iridescent feathers, we asked our guide to stop so we could get a better look. As the days went on, I realized this bird was as common in Tanzania as the American Robin is at home. (Still, I never got tired of seeing it.) Below, I caught this handsome Ruppell’s Long-Tailed Starling along the path that connected the tents in our Serengeti camp.
As we maneuvered over the bumpy roads of Tarangire National Park, we heard the loud, monotone call of this adult male Von der Decken’s Hornbill before we spotted it foraging on the ground near some elephant dung. I loved his posture, enormous beak, upright tail, and distinct coloration. He just made me smile.
This gallant, gracious Egyptian Goose posed cooperatively on a rock as we passed a stream.
The Kori Bustard (below) was one of my personal favorites and I tried to photograph them as often as I could. We spotted this one shortly after our vehicles entered the incredible Ngorongoro Crater. I wasn’t even sure what I was seeing at first. These birds are huge! The males average about forty pounds.
When our group stopped for lunch near a lake, we were cautioned to eat inside the vehicles because the clever Black Kites, which soared overhead, might swoop down and steal our food. According to our guides, who had their box lunches out of sight under the vehicle (below), the kites were swift and agile, and did not execute these thefts politely. However, the curious, more humble Helmeted Guineafowl, who strolled between the vehicles looking for crumbs, were ever so endearing.
On a morning when we were exploring the kopjes (rock formations that sprung up in the Serengeti plains), I was lucky to capture this photo of a Dark Chanting Goshawk, perched regally atop a thorny Acacia tree. Its gray coloration, dark eyes, striped pantaloons, and contrasting bright orange beak and legs made for a stunning visage.
East Africa, and Tanzania in particular, is amazing in so many ways. It was fascinating to see the variety of birds there. The most unusual bird, for me, was the Secretary Bird. Tall and stately, its long, projecting tail feathers and drooping head plumes bobbed with each step as it surveyed the ground for prey. I wouldn’t want to be a snake or rodent in its path, but observing it was completely mesmerizing.
If you’re lucky enough to go to Tanzania, expect the trip of a lifetime, and bring a good quality binocular to optimize your experience. You’ll never regret it!
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.