Fellow Travellers

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lake Manyara Tanzania 2009

Dec 19  – Lake Manyara

We transferred from Arusha a smaller city at the foot of Kilimanjaro to Lake Manyara at the outset of our safari with our capable and amiable driver guide John. This National Park is the most lush and mountainous of the 3 we visited in Tanzania.  It was established specifically to protect elephant herds but it also has a great wealth of diverse wildlife, thought not in the numbers we would encounter in the days coming.

Enroute to the lodge were our first sightings of the exotic animals through the trees that shrouded the road.  Our 4 wheel drive vehicle had a pop top roof allowing us to stand, while John was driving, to spot animals. G was an excellent spotter and brought many creatures to my attention.  Gazelle, impalas, dik dik, warthogs, baboons, giraffe, elephant and African buffalo. We were “gobsmacked” (thanks to Yvonne Segal I have the exact right word to describe this event) upon seeing a female lion lounging in a tree right above us!  All of this before lunch!

We had elected to stay inside the park itself at a magnificent lodge, the Manyara Lake Tree Lodge 50 km inside the park.  The Lodge was spectacular and was all that we anticipated of Africa.  Our romantic bungalow/room had a large veranda surrounded by the forest, a massive bed with requisite mosquito net, a clawfoot tub and an outdoor shower.   Along with the room, we also were blessed with very our own butler, Adam.  We were in heaven!

After a leisurely lunch of delicious chicken and fresh salads, we went out for another afternoon game drive.  Much to my delight John took us onto the plain near the lake to a mud hole full of hippos!  They were crammed in the mud hole all vying for space to protect their sensitive skin from the sun.  Hippos secrete a pink color liquid when in the sun, somewhat like sweating, to protect their skin from burning which is why hippos are pink!  As their skin is very sensitive, hippos usually feed at night when they can roam without risk of sun burn.

The lake supports an incredible array of bird life and that afternoon we saw hundreds of flamingos from distance, numerous breeds of cranes, eagles and many small colorful birds.  Birders must be all a “twitter” when they come to Africa!  The sun was setting and the park does not allow vehicles on the roads past 6 pm so we headed back to our lodge to rest before dinner.

At the lodge I was inspired to look for a wildlife guide as I had been unsuccessful in finding one in Amsterdam.  The small gift shop had several and it was the best purchase of our trip and I spent many hours checking off all the gorgeous creatures! 

Our evening was an absolute delight, dining under the stars in the courtyard of the lodge with a roaring bon fire in the center of the tables.   The lodge has ten bungalows which lends to a very personal experience as the staff all seems to know your name and preferences. Our delicious meal was Indian inspired coconut curry tilapia, basmati rice and perfectly prepared vegetable side finishing with a delicious homemade coconut ice cream for dessert.  We felt we were in a most special and unique place on the earth. A glorious beginning!

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