Tanzania 2008: The Road to the Dik-Dik through Tarangire National Park

There was a bit of melancholy as we rolled out of bed at 5:15 this morning. Our trip that began with a puddle jumping flight into the heart of the Serengeti was feeling as if it was about to end. This was our final day outside of Arusha, and I could not help feeling a sense of sadness. Being a photographer in Tanzania is a truly unique experience. While countless others have lived the adventure that Tamy and I shared this June, it still felt so personal. Nine-thousand images later, we both feel so enriched by our experiences, with the people, the land, and the animals. Words, pictures and video could never convey the diverse emotions we felt throughout the trip.  

Tarangere National Park is a dry and dusty place. Red dust coats anything that travels through the park. Even the wildlife wear the park color on their fur and skin. Elephants painted in burnt-umber will grab a trunk full of the sand and blow it all over their bodies or roll around in a pool of red dry dust. Much like the other national parks we visited throughout the trip, the wildlife was plentiful and accessible from the road. While we continued to look for leopards and lions, we could only find the giants that roamed throughout Tarangire.

As nature photographers, we try to share nature without the hand of man. While we both know that much of our natural world is at the mercy of human decisions... should we kill it, eat it, destroy it, or develop it... we would like to believe that there are still a few places that cannot be threatened or altered by our presence or absence. This is what we hope to convey with some of the images shared from our travels. However, I must confess that this ethic and photographic style, to show nature without our human impact, has cost us some awesome photographic opportunities. For example... lunch at Tarangire...

Some time around 1:00 p.m. we found a picnic area to enjoy lunch. Michael prepared a great meal of spaeztel, vegetables, and cheese. As the food was being prepared, you would have to be dead to not realize what was about to transpire. The odors from Michael’s stove were beginning to attract visitors. Sure it began with only one vervet monkey, but like hyena smelling a fresh kill, the monkeys began to multiply. I started to get a nervous feeling when one bold fellow climbed a tree that was about 5 meters from our lunching spot. Here is where I wish the photographer in me would have said, "get the damn camera!" No sooner had I shook off the notion that pictures of animals near humans would be interesting, did I regret the thought. As I began to put a piece of bread in my mouth, I caught a glimpse of the vervet in a crouched position. Like a tightly compressed spring, the potential energy in the monkey’s legs suddenly became kinetic. I could see the animal in mid air diving for the center of our table. I thought to say "Oh Noooo!" but just backed off a bit to give him a bit of space. Sadly, most of the others were not as keen to the moment as I. As a few of us backed up, others experienced the force of the monkey's landing. They also experienced the mess as the plates bounced, and the sense of loss as their food was pillaged by the marauder. I imagined that the little bold monkey would be greeted like a hero by his peers that seemed to be laughing from a distance. My only thought was, "I wish I had the damn camera!"

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