24 February 2015

Not everything in black and white makes sense

It's like watching the Abbey Road webcam, in the sky, possibly with diamonds.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, 2nd January, 2015
See, every now and then the stars align and you have your camera ready for what will truly be the most awesomest visual pun ever, but only for those of you who speak proper English, not the corrupted can't-deal-with-the-letter-U version our friends across the Atlantic foist upon the rest of the world with their default spell-checkers.

Yes, it's a ZEBRA CROSSING!!!

<drops mic>

Black and white and ridiculously cute all over. Like the Irish Times, except cute, and worth reading.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, 2nd January, 2015
So here's the thing about zebras, they look like they shouldn't be, as in they really shouldn't exist. While their colouring and stripes are apparently a natural insect repellant there is still something jarring about seeing a nearly monochromatic animal (their stripes have a brownish hue that gets darker as they age) in the middle of a lush, verdant landscape, that screams "hey, lions, I'm over here and I'm very, very tasty".

Unfortunately for lions they are also very, very fast and travel in herds. Large herds, accompanied by equally large numbers of wildebeest.

Zebras should be herd and not scene, um, seen in a herd, um, look, basically there were lots of them.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, 2nd January, 2015
It is difficult to understand what a real herd is when your greatest exposure to animals has been seeing a flock of 20 or so cows (I'm a city boy, rural nomenclature is not a key skill for me). We spent a few days in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Sernegeti National Park in north-western Tanzania, and a sight that will stay with me till the day I shuffle off my slightly-shop-soiled mortal coil will be barreling round a mountainside corner and seeing a valley unfold below with a Maasai boma (a walled village) surrounded by their flocks of goats interspersed with hundreds of wild zebra and wildebeest, just ambling around munching the grass and taking no notice whatsoever of the Maasai herders (who, to be fair, seemed pretty damn chilled themselves).

So, months from now when baby zebra photos on the internet are the new cat photos on the internet, remember where it started.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, 2nd January, 2015
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a 8,300 km protected area, set aside to preserve the wildlife, flora, peoples and culture of the region. The Maasai that live there can carry out their traditional semi-nomadic herding lifestyle, but development and any other human activity (mainly tourism) is strictly controlled.

At the heart of the region is the Ngorongoro Crater, a volcanic caldera that is home to a ridiculous range and number of beasties. Entry to the crater is even more tightly controlled, with a limited number of visitors per day, which means you camp on the rim of the crater (more about that in a future post) and travel down into the crater itself at dawn (in a Land Rover, no pedestrians allowed for obvious reasons) and then nip around for a few hours trying not to get too blasé about the wildlife you encounter (Oh, another Black Rhino? *stifles yawn* Well there are 26 of them here, Sweetie).

Oh, this one? Just some zebras hanging out with two Black Rhinos. Basically Africa is exactly like in Babar.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, 2nd January, 2015
We actually visited the Crater on the last day of a five day safari (which actually just means "journey" in Swahili, and "painfully poor browser" in OSX), and I'm not saying that people should bucket list things (because "to bucket list" isn't a verb and anyone who uses it as such should really be shuffled off ahead of schedule, certainly before they have time to do anything on the proposed list), but going on safari is something that is painfully impossible to describe and pictures are woefully inadequate at conveying the sheer damn majesty of it all.

Let me put it this way, to go on safari I willingly camped for four nights. In a tent. And didn't complain.

Those of you who know me in the Really Real World will know just how astonishing that is.

That's how amazing it is.

Also, zebras!

(still to come, more animals!)

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At 9:26 pm, Blogger Phil said...

Ok. So I have never used this before, nor will I ever again, but zebra crossing....lol.

Also, you happily camping is the biggest endorsement imaginable. (That said you have actually been very sporting in that respect in the past) .


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