Thursday, April 10, 2014

Safari Pictures - March- Experience a glimipse of God's amazing and beautiful creation

As we traveled through this national park where the animals are supposed to be protected and the plants are to be left undisturbed, I marvel at the handy-work of God.  I so look forward to seeing all the animals and plant in the earth-made-new.  Again the predators will eat grass like the bull as they did before the flood.  No animal will have to fear.  No animal or person will harm.  The landscape and plants will be magnificent without one dead leaf or branch.  My mind can't even comprehend it today, but my EYES will behold it someday. 
Why am I so confident?  Because I know and trust Jesus!  I have given my heart and life to Him.  I trust Him.  He is perfect, true, love, caring, powerful and so much more.  The devil's number one mission is to misrepresent God's true character.  To cause us to doubt, fear, even hate God because of false ideas, doctrines, theories, and more.  The devil confuses the mind to attribute to God, the devil's own character. 
Oh, what blessing and privilege to be God's child, to have complete trust in Him, to accept the pre-purchased (free to me) gift of salvation through Jesus (a true reflection of God the Father's character.)  God is Love.  Love is giving.  For God so loved He GAVE.  He has given everything for me.  Now I want to have His character and to be a giving, loving person as He lives in me through His Spirit.
I hope you will see a glimpse of God's beauty as you see some of these pictures, pictures of a few of His creature.  Even though 6000 years of sin and degradation have passed, there is still so much good and beauty to behold.  God has preserved so much beauty.
Heaven, living with GOD for eternity, beholding Jesus, face-to-face, experiencing His love and character without the blight of sin anymore - is worth EVERYTHING.  Heaven is cheap enough - even if costs EVERYTHING!

No camera can capture the magnificent beauty of the landscape!

The Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in all of East Africa (including Kenya and the other East Africa countries.)  They acquired another area in the last few years that made gave them this designation. 
Both times we went there last March, we saw elephant dung long before entering the official gates of the park and some of the wild animals in the few kilometers just before entering.  There are not fences to keep the animals in the park.

These pictures are from our second trip with Rita and Fletcher on the 30th of March.  (More pictures to follow if time and internet allows for the first trip.)
Our welcome committee at the entrance
Black-backed Jackal
This black-backed jackal is really pretty.
The Designer of this outfit is a lover of beauty!
This is one strange bird.  They run around like a kill-deer on the ground.  When I first saw them, I thought they were carrying something in their mouths.  When I zoomed in to take a picture and then looked at it, I see that it is just part of their anatomy!  They are quite fancy, indeed!
White-crowned Lapwing
There are many rivers in this park, including the Great Ruaha River.  In these rivers and along them we saw many hippos.  They are so HUGE!  They are second in weight for land mammals only to the elephant!  This one was directly below the bridge we crossed.  Joshua spotted it's back and said, "Is that a rock or a hippo?" 
I replied, "Hippo."  So we trained our cameras and waited.  Sure enough the head came up, but a lot further from the floating part that we expected.  So we re-aimed our cameras and zoomed out some and waited again to get the head and body in the photo.  WOW.  That is one big animal.  According to the books, they usually eat at night when it is cooler, but it was overcast a lot this day and we saw many a distance away eating grass along the river and into the fields.

This Fish Eagle didn't pay much attention to us.  He was very intent on watching the river for opportunities for breakfast.  He did fly a short distance up the river, but well within our view, still.  He was beautiful.  His colors are amazing.  I think he is even more beautiful than the bald eagle of North America.

African Fish Eagle
These less-than-quiet fowl are at home here in Africa.  Many people may not realize that Guinea come from Africa. 
Helmeted Guinea Fowl
As we were watching a crocodile and some hippos, we saw things floating in the water.  We realized they were weaver bird nests.  They must not have met the approval of the females, and they were quickly cut down to be replaced with higher standard workmanship.  I really enjoy the various woven nests we see throughout Tanzania.  I am unsure if this is the Black-headed Weaver or the Tanzanian Masked Weaver.  It almost appears between the two. 
Weaver bird and nests hanging over the river
We also saw many horn-bills, both perched and flying.  They are magnificent.
Pied Kingfisher

These Bare-faced Go-away-birds are relatives to turacos.  The females and male resemble.  They can be noisy from what others tell me, thus their name.
Bare-faced Go-away-bird
There were many impala and grant gazelle in the park.  They are beautiful.  This buck was with his ladies, keeping an eye on them, and keeping them in line.

African Pied Wagtail
Magnificent scenery.  God is so powerful and majestic.

Long-crested Eagle
From a distance we were unsure if we were seeing nests or parasite plants in this tree (and others.)  As we approached, the sound indicated nests.  There were many, many birds.  These were indeed nests.  It was amazing to behold.  It would have been a nice place for a picnic, I think.
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver nest colony - Huge tree, huge nests. 

These elephants from a distance looked like great huge red rocks, until they moved.  On the previous safari, we saw MANY elephants, but this trip we probably only saw about 15.
pachyderm after a mud bath
Magpie Shrike
We saw many, many giraffe.  We saw groups and singles, babies and adults.  These are my favorite animal.  I have been fascinated with giraffes as long as I can remember.  When they run, it looks like they are going in slow motion.  They are so amazing to watch.
Here is a very young giraffe with an older one
We met many giraffes blocking the road at various times on our journey through the park.
Road blocked ahead AND...
The road is blocked to the right!  SHARE THE ROAD!

Another two roadblocks.  These guys are funny.
This male was a massive bull giraffe.  He was standing still as many workers attempted to relieve him of ticks and other parasites.
Do you see all the birds on the Giraffe? 
Here is a closer look - Yellow-billed oxpecker
I think this is a thick-knee.

The sandgrouse are abundant and beautiful.  They often are in the road ahead of us and prefer to walk instead of fly.  Often they will fly only a short distance.  They are beautiful.  Something about them speaks "humility" to me.  I don't know why exactly.
Black-faced Sandgrouse
We have been watching for lions since the first day of arriving in Africa, but, alas, we have yet to see one in the wild.  BUT WE DID SEE FRESH TRACKS!  So we are getting closer, perhaps.  These tracks were huge.  I am taking the picture standing up in the back of the pick-up truck.  The white you see is the truck bed edge.

Lion or leopard tracks.  BIG ONES.

These lilac-breasted rollers are more magnificent than the camera can capture.  When they fly - oh my!  They are a beautiful spectacle to behold.  They are a magnificent color blue in flight.  They are quite abundant in the national parks where they are protected.  They are easy to spot in flight and at the top of large bushes.
Lilac-breasted Roller

This monitor lizard was huge.  They can be over two meters in length, but they are also FAST.  Joshua and I spotted this one as he got off the road quickly.   We asked Doug to drive up to where we saw him leave the road.  In the tall grass close to the road, I could see there was something.  I was hoping it was him and not a big snake.  Joshua bravely (or naively) announced, "I'm not afraid of anything.  I will scare him out."  He said this as he climbed out of the back of the truck.  There was a sandy spot on the other side of the grass and Joshua went there and stomped the ground.  Nothing happened.  Then he found a small twig and threw it into the grass.  He thought that wasn't going to work, so he stooped to get the same stick and the lizard came alive.  The lizard had been facing where Joshua was standing, so that wasn't his first choice.  So he did a turnabout in such a fury that Joshua about had a heart-attack.  I think Joshua was more afraid than the lizard.  The lizard was lightening fast.  He turned his huge body around like a tornado, shot under the truck and was out and going across the road, and disappeared in seconds.  I only got ONE picture of him.  I should have been taking a video of Joshua.  It was SO FUNNY.  Joshua kept saying how much he was frightened by the lizard for the next hour!  Maybe he is afraid of some things.

The monitor lizard that scared Joshua
As beautiful as our trip was, the road was very rough in places.  There were puddles we dared not pass through.  The sun often was quite hot, and we even got stuck.  This place was dry looking until we drove into it.  We immediately sunk.  Just before this, we were following another vehicle and it stopped.  The man driving said, we should not take that road or we would sink.  He pointed to this road.  We backed up and went that direction only a few meters before we sunk.  It goes to show in this world that has been violated by sin there are many dangers and trials.  There is still much of God's character to be found in His creation, even with all the effects of sin.  So we can focus on the trials or we can focus on God and the beauty He shares with us.
Stuck in the mud
We got out, by the way.  Doug got the shovel out and we were moving in a few minutes.  Four-wheel drive is not "optional" on many roads around here.  It is necessary.  Sometimes a shovel is too!

I hope these pictures encourage those who have viewed them to see a glimpse of our Creator in that which He has created.  He is a marvelous designer.  I am amazed at His love for beauty and diversity!  We serve the mighty, awesome Creator God!


  1. Nice pics! How did you get the overhead shot of the hippo?

    1. It was the hippo that was directly under the bridge that we pass over.

  2. I love the "thick-knee" bird.

    1. I miss you Penny. Thank you for commenting. It is good to know that we are not forgotten by those we love so much.

  3. Especially love this post. Thank you for the beautiful reminder of God's character at the beginning! The photos are beautiful. The purple breast on that little bird is amazing. As is the beautiful design of the giraffes skin. I cant decide which pic is my favorite...they all just make me long for heaven! Wanna go on safari with me when we get to heaven? Can we ride giraffes? And race them? Not to compete...just race them across the plains and feel the wind in our faces? Yes, heaven will be cheap enough!!!