Saturday, July 11, 2009


Erdem Kutukoglu is a friend Text Colorof mine from my banking days. We worked together for a while in the 90's. While I have passed to a totally different life couple years ago, Erdem is still in the finance sector, succesfully dealinText Colorg with numbers. However, his real passion is photography and travelling. From time to time he shares his travels and photographs on my travel blog 'mavilimon'. This time he also wrote his trip to Tanzania in English and kindly accepted to be my first guest at the 'turquoise diaries'. Thank you, Erdem'cim...

A brief profile / Erdem Kutukoglu

My enthusiasm for photography intensified during my university education. There were two main drivers then: A photography course I frequented in Istanbul, and my membership of the Photography Club at the university. But my experience in black & white was proved to be short-lived, as I was quickly seduced by the vivid world of color slides. For years, I’ve organized slide shows for my close entourage and more recently, I began sharing my pictures on the web thru critique sites such as Fotokritik and PhotoSIG. My encounter with the digital world is rather recent though, and the pictures you’ll be seeing on these pages are the first products of my digital experience.

You may observe a historical framework in my pictures: that’s rather expected from someone who inherited the DNAs of a family of historians. I always try to bring forward what seems interesting or striking to me, often spending efforts to build bridges between various periods and cultures. A professional tour guide career I developed during my higher education seems to be paying-off along the way.

Apart from photography, I have another forthcoming zeal: traveling. But they have been so inter-connected in the past 20 years that, I frankly don’t know whether I travel to take pictures, or vice versa.

Eyes of Africa – Tanzania
“Once you put your foot down in Africa, your life will change for ever…”
Frankly speaking, I’ve always seen these kinds of statements with some deep scepticism. Nonetheless, when I landed in the oldest of the continents, I was so fascinated by its people, its nature and its distinct atmosphere which made me forget the stress of daily life within hours.... that, I began to wonder whether there was truth in that saying...
Tanzania is located in Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean. Please don’t go as far as to confusing it with Tasmania : if we assume the African Continent is a chubby “T” letter, then Tanzania is at the upper end of the stick, on the right. It is slightly bigger than Turkey, whereas its population of 40 million is almost half of Turkey’s. With a GNP per capita hovering around USD450, it is the land of Kilimanjaro and the poor, but strikingly beautiful people.

A mother waiting for a bus in an open bazaar, on the Arusha-Kilimanjaro road...

Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar, two regions who were British colonies until the mid-20th century, declared independence in the 1960s, and finally merged in 1964 under the United Republic of “Tan-zania”: “Jamhuri Ya Muno Wa Tanzaniaunga”...

Islam and Christianity are the two leading religions in Tanzania, with each capturing 1/3 of the population. That said, the monotheist religions are so intertwined with the local traditional beliefs that, it is not unlikely to meet a Christian prophet among a crowd you come across on the road, where people line up to ask the prophet in writing for forgiveness, healing, a handsome husband or financial fortune.

Markets in Africa are always colorful. Sometimes it is a woman headgear, sometimes it is a blanket full of rich patterns and colors.

“Swahili” is the local African language spoken in East Africa, most notably in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. During the reign of the Arabs in the coastal area, Swahili came under the direct influence of the Arabic, which explains why the name of the language is also derived from an Arabic word, i.e., the equivalent of “coastal”. Thanks to the existence of Arabic-originated words also in Turkish, it is possible for us to come across to familiar words such as “selam” (hello), “şükran” (thanks), etc.

Toilettes at Ngorongoro National Park.

While driving thru single-storey shanty towns, our eyes were always on the colorful people in the streets. Thus, we were tempted to stop over and walk among them. Except a few Blue-Mosque type youngsters, no one seemed to care about our existence.

A village between Arusha and the Ngorongoro Crater. A few yards away, a crowd had gathered to watch a bulldozer demolishing a building for road construction. Not a single protest, no one crying, no TV live-broadcasting teams, no one being arrested. Just some 100 young and old people watching in peace...

A girl posing on the road to Arusha...

Maasais in Tanzania.

The Ngorongoro Crater

Located in the north of the country, the Ngorongoro Crater spreads around 102 square miles, at an altitude of 7,500 feet above the sea level. Being the world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera, this crater which is 2,000 ft deep, offers an unprecedented variety of species for the visitors.

Students from a local school visiting the park. An elephant family on a Sunday stroll.

Ngorongoro is estimated to host some 25,000 animals, including the “big five”, i.e., rhinoceros, lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo. Another common mammal is the Thomson’s gazelle, which is named after explorer Joseph Thomson and is often referred to as the "Tommy". 24-35 inch tall and weighing 29-40lb, Tommy has a distinctive black stripe.

Thomson’s gazelles get along well with zebras and wildebeests. They run as fast as 50mph, which may seem not sufficient to evade big cats such as cheetahs, which are able to attain higher speeds up to 60mph. But Thomson's Gazelles can outlast cheetahs in long chases and are able to make turns more speedily. This comparative advantage doesn’t change the fact that half of the new-born is lost to predators before reaching adulthood.
Zebras communicate with each other with high pitched barks and whinnying. A female zebra may give birth to one foal every twelve months. She nurses the foal for up to a year. The babies are able to stand and run 20 minutes after their birth.

Sunset from the western terrace of the Ngorongoro Crater. The moon had started to show its face towards the end of this spectacular event.


  1. These are such beautiful images. I doubt I will ever see these in real life...thanks so much for sharing them and the history of this wonderful land. Your friend has a real talent! Smiles, Kim

  2. These are great pictures. They look like they belong in National Geographic! How lucky to be able to visit these special places!

  3. Fascinating narrative and the photos are beautiful! What a treat!



Blog Widget by LinkWithin