In brief...

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
My interests vary from conservation to education to heritage to Nature (biodiversity & wildlife) to outdoor activities to life in general.
They occupy most of my waking moment.
Do read my blogs, follow me on Twitter (@jocelynesze) and friend me on Facebook (subject to my discretion). Visit my Nature blog, Nature Rambles, at

UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit if you're interested in more recent writing.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sights of Tanzania: the Land of Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and the Serengeti

Two weeks flew by quickly, and it's soon time to depart Tanzania (and my parents, who will be heading home to Singapore).

Tanzania is amazing – the wildlife, the people, the culture, the history. I only wish I had more time (and money) to explore more of the rest of the country, as well as the rest of the continent. But I guess that will have to wait for another time. Nonetheless though, I had a wonderful time here, not least because I had my parents with me (:

:D to have my parents with me after not seeing them for more than half a year

Awesome cookies made by my younger bro <3

We spent 7 days covering Tarangire National Park, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park and visited the Maasai, the Hadzabe, and the Dotoga tribes. That's most of the major parks in the Northern Circuit, and I really wanna come back to check out the Western and Southern circuits.

The wildlife.

Snapshots of the wildlife spotted. Most of which can be found in the Singapore Zoo/Night Safari, but hey, it's always better to see them living their life free in the wild, no?

Dry season in Tanzania = brilliant blue skies, white fully clouds.

Let sleeping lions lay. This pride had just finished their meal; we didn't get to see them hunt their prey, but we did see them chase the hyenas/jackals away from their prize. Ngorongoro Crater.

Banded mongooses (mongeese?)! This family of about 16 are wild ones that often wander into the compounds of our tented camp. Migunga Permanent Tented Camp, near Lake Manyara.

Spiny orb weaver. Tons of them! Migunga Permanent Tented Camp, near Lake Manyara.

Vervet monkey. So cool to finally see the creature, after reading about studies on them in Evolution and Behaviour. Tarangire National Park

My parents are the most awesome for being game enough to come all the way here to go on a safari with me, and for making this my birthday treat (:

A real zebra crossing. Tarangire National Park.

Impala. This photo was taken through my binoculars – my telephoto lens. They work pretty well, I'm glad to say. Tarangire National Park.

Baby elephant and its mom. Herds of elephants everywhere (: Thankfully while poaching still is a problem in Tanzania, it's not as bad as in some of the other African countries. Serengeti National Park.

Von der Decken's hornbill. Serengeti National Park.

Some vulture, I can't really tell which. I'm terrible at identifying birds of prey as well, though I think my bird identification has improved somewhat at least. Serengeti National Park.

Sunset, as we drove back to our camp from Serengeti National Park.

Red-headed rock agama lizard. Found on the kopjes in the Serengeti National Park.

Giraffes! I wonder why no similar creatures have evolved on other continents. Serengeti National Park.

The baby hippo, estimated to be just a few days old at most, was given a helping hand by its mum. As our guide and driver, Abdul, explained to us the pinkish secretions of the hippo (as a form of sunscreen), I recall my times spent as a tram commentator in the Night Safari... Serengeti National Park.

Rock hyraxes! Tons of them, scurrying everywhere like little pesky rodents (but which I tediously explained to my parents were not) at the Visitor Centre of the Serengeti National Park.

Ostrich. It's just amazing to see these huge birds roaming the plains. Serengeti National Park.

Helmeted guineafowl. They remind me of miniature cassowaries. Serengeti National Park.

Cheetahs! A mum with two cubs. They were just chilling at a relatively ulu corner of the Serengeti, and didn't mind us taking tons of portraits of them (: Pity we didn't get to see any in action.

Secretary bird. Apparently their feathers used to be used as quills, or something along those lines. Serengeti National Park.

Cape buffaloes! There was a huge herd that was just moving, presumably in the direction of water. My parents were crushed to have missed the Great Migration (the wildebeest migration usually starts in July, but this year they apparently started in May), and insisted that the buffaloes were migrating. Serengeti National Park.
Thompson's gazelle. By far the most abundant animal in all the parks we went to. Serengeti National Park.

Lion camouflaging amidst the grass. My dad has a fantastic shot of it looking at the camera. The dry grass really allows for great camouflage for these plain animals. Serengeti National Park.
View of Oldupai Gorge, an important palaeoanthropological site, where discoveries of ancient hominid remains, and footprints! were made. Only researchers are allowed in the area now. 

Oldupai Gorge Museum. The museum, I feel, does not do its significance justice. And Olduvai is apparently a typo that is now fixed in almost everybody's head. 

Wildebeest. Looks like an old man with the beard. Ngorongoro crater.

From foreground to background: Yellow-billed stork, grey-crowned cranes, zebras and flamingoes. Ngorongoro crater.

Black kite. Apparently these birds will swoop down on your lunch and conveniently dispose of it for you. Ngorongoro crater.

Spotted hyena. Ngorongoro crater.

The eyes of this lion are probably why lions are considered king of all animals. Fearsome looking thing. I keep thinking of Aslan from Narnia when I see lions though. Ngorongoro crater. 

Baobab tree with its fruits. These massive trees can live for hundreds of years, its fruits eaten by the local people (and made into flour). Somewhere in the bush near Lake Eyasi.

Blue monkeys grooming each other. Lake Manyara National Park.

Red and yellow barbet. Lake Manyara National Park

A much more beautiful reminder than the usual, overused Leave nothing but footprints; Take nothing but photographs.
And there are tons more photographs that I haven't posted! All the uploading of photos will have to wait till I'm back home in Singapore, unfortunately. 

The people.

Tanzanians are really friendly people. Perhaps because we are obviously tourists, even random strangers on the streets will say "Jambo! (Hello!)" to you as you walk past.
In Arusha, during the safari trip, and in Zanzibar, they're quick to strike up a conversation and ask "Where are you from?", with some guesses of Japan, China or Korea. To which I valiantly try to explain where Singapore is and what it's like. (Half the size of Zanzibar; takes less than an hour to drive from the East to the West; home to 5 million + people; lots of tall buildings; not much forests/animals etc.) In the future, I will bring a pocket world map with me. And a map of Singapore, with some photos.
In Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital, it's a bit different. There seem to be fewer tourists here, and probably a lot more Chinese companies, cos street vendors and kids run up and call "Cheena!" and ask for money. The presumption that we're from China and pronouncing it as Cheena irks me, though I guess it's not really their fault, and makes me wish I were wearing some tacky touristy shirt proclaiming Singapore.

The Maasai market in Arusha, where you can get souvenirs at good prices, not cut-throat prices. The women sit there doing their beaded work. But as with all tourist markets, the items they sell are all the same, and I always wonder how on earth they earn any money at all.

All the women and men, young and old, are perfectly capable of balancing loads on their heads. My mom and I tried it, and it's no easy feat. Somewhere in Arusha town.

Slippers made from the inner tubes of tyres are all the fashion rage there. A local market somewhere along the way to Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

The Maasai are used to walking long distances. 172km in 2 days just to get to town! They're mostly cattle herders. Somewhere on the road to Serengeti National Park.
Little Maasai child, with their bomas (huts) in the background. A polygamous tribe, each village is a family. One man, twenty wives. Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

The Hadzabe men, warming themselves by the fire and preparing their tools. The Hadzabe are the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania, and only 500 of them remain. Somewhere near Lake Eyasi.

The two men, in their early 20s, and a little boy, about 10. Every morning they go off in search of their next meal, with their bow and arrows.

Bird kill hung on the belt.

Little Hadzabe girl plucking the feathers. The women go out to gather berries and fruits, as well as take care of the children, while the men hunt.

The Datoga tribe are blacksmith and livestock keepers. Scrap metals are turned into arrow and spear heads as well as assorted jewellery. The Hadzabe trade wild honey with the Datoga in exchange for the arrow heads. Somewhere near Lake Eyasi.

Datoga women look after the house and make corn flour. Thankfully my family does not rely on my to make corn flour, or they'll never get any. 

The moment a vehicle stops, it's swamped with street vendors hawking their goods. Some town on the way to Lake Manyara.

The people here never fail to amaze with their industriousness. 

And they sell their goods anywhere and everywhere. I really have no idea how they earn money.

Sunset at the Serengeti; view from Ikoma Safari Camp.

Thus concluded the Northern Circuit, and below, a smattering of photos from Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, cos I've got a plane to catch in a couple of hours and I've not slept.

The view of the ground when leaving Kilimanjaro International Airport.

The view of the ground when arriving at Zanzibar International Airport. Note the contrast.

Zanzibar is a port town, lots of fishing boats and large ships. Those boats are more of passenger ferries though.

The house in which Freddie Mercury from Queen was born in. Pretty cool.

This is what they call their speakers' corner, in Stone Town.

Jaws corner, Stone Town, Zanzibar.

Iron cuffs for slaves in the slave chambers. Zanzibar was the centre of the East African slave trade, back in the 1700s. The slave trade in Zanzibar only ended in the 1873. Hearing about it made me rather emotional; I cannot fathom how in the past, it was perfectly acceptable to treat people as though they were not humans.

Memorial of the slave trade. The former slave market is the current site of the Anglican Cathedral.

Their local wet market.

Night street food market. My parents say it's like the Satay Club in Singapore of the past, open air barbeque, and dining with a sea front view. Food there was great, Zanzibar pizza is like prata/murtabuk, there was sugar cane juice and even durian! 

Aldabra giant tortoise on Changuu Island. We thought we were going to see wild tortoises; turns out they're housed on the island in a sanctuary, descendants of a gift from the Seychelles many years ago.

Striped lizard on the coral rocks on Changuu Island (also known as Prison island)

Sea stars! Of colourful varieties; no idea what their IDs are, unfortunately.

Visited their museum of natural history. It leaves much to be desired, it was in a complete mess and the specimens were badly taken care of. But the security/care taker said they were undergoing renovation, so hopefully it'll get better!

Zanzibar Butterfly Centre; an eco-tourism, local community project.  Local villagers breed caterpillars and hand them over to the centre staff as pupae for some cash; the pupae are then sold overseas (to the UK).

Rows of pupae of various species of local butterflies. Reminds me of the times when I was doing Behind-the-Scenes tours for kids at the Fragile Forest in the Singapore Zoo.

Red Colobus monkeys near Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park. These monkeys are so used to human presence, they completely ignore us even when we come really close to them. Definitely not aggressive, people should stop associating monkeys with aggression. It's only when people keep feeding them, that they start to approach humans for food (what else would you expect...)  
Mangrove swamp! Pretty much like ours, though we seem to have more crabs and mudskippers and the like. 

Sunset along the beach of the Northern coast.

Fishing boat.

The sea is impossibly blue here, no filters or effects used!

We went snorkelling at Mnemba atoll, their sole marine protected area. It was rather a disappointment, their "many fishes" weren't that many really. If this was what they called "many", I dread to see what their surrounding coast is like (supposedly overfished).

Rather barren and devoid of colours. Something seems wrong at this coral reef :/

Full moon. My parents and I decided to venture out of our hotel in search of dinner – a huge mistake, cos it's so under developed that outside your hotel/resort, there's really nothing. No shops or restaurants, and barely any buildings. We walked for an hour before we came across another hotel that would allow public visitors to dine in their restaurant. I guess it's good that it's left to be relatively pristine and untouched?
Man selling fish? Or fish tank? Along the streets of Dar es Salaam.

My parents said that Dar reminded them of Singapore in the 60s. 

The queue for the buses was immensely long; it stretched along the entire street. The buses also reminded my dad of the old public buses in Singapore, not air-conditioned and relatively packed.

These people truly amaze me with their ability to carry things on their heads.

Singapore dollars! 

Street hawkers selling assorted fruits. My parents in the foreground discussing how much to buy coconuts for.

Sunset at Zanzibar
And this is the end of my really long post. It's been a most awesome first visit to the African continent, and I look forward to going to Balule Reserve and Sodwana Bay in South Africa for the next month as part of an Operation Wallacea expedition :D Ahsante sana (thanks!) if you've read to the very end of this post!

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