Monday, June 10, 2013

Manyara and more

Just an aside, I forgot to mention that I am traveling in a huge,newer, 7 passenger Landcruiser. It is great to have all of the extra room, especially as I see some travelers squished 5-6 people in smaller vehicles. Also, Crispin, my driver and guide is fantastic. He is flexible, helpful, and very knowledgable. It does go to show you that cheaper is not always worse.

Another aside, today I saw my first African mosquito- yes, only 1! And no tsetse flies yet.

Today we headed to Lake Manyara for safari. Just a comment, some people say that you should always stay in or near the parks, and never Karatu, but I am finding that the drives to the parks and other places can be just as interesting and informative as the parks themselves. You really get a feel of the people and their ways of life, and this enriches the whole experience of being here. As I stated in the beginning, the wildlife is only one of the reasons that I am here.

Some people counsel others to not bother with Manyara National Park, but I totally disagree. You can never get a full feel for Tanzania without seeing its different landscapes and ecosystems-they are so varied. Manyara has a totally different look from Tarangire. While Tarangire is known for its baobab trees and open areas, Manyara is more forest or junglelike. There is a large saltwater lake.They also have lizards and snakes here. The entrance is a bit of a mess, as they had a flood and rockslide there recently. One great diversion is to watch the antics of the large groups of baboons here. I also saw many eagles, cranes, and other birds to add to the checklist. Some of the same animals were seen with some new ones added-blue monkeys, wildebeest and gazelles in the distance, a large herd of buffaloes, and hippos that were fenced off and in the distance. The most interesting things today were the 2 large monitor lizards we watched for a long while. We saw many ALTs, which is Crispin's acronym for Animal Looking Things- many rocks and branches fool you into thinking you are sighting new animals.I was also interviewed by a local tv station that is doing a documentary on this park-I might be a Tanzanian celebrity now??? The exciting moment of the day was, as we were heading out, we saw a large bull elephant running down the road toward us. Not wanting to challenge him, we backed up quickly, and we took another path-a close call!

On the way back to the lodge, we stopped at a fancy gift shop and I learned about the rocks and minerals of Tanzania- an interest of mine. Then I stopped at Gibbs Farm, another lodging, to beg  to use their wireless, as my lodge has none. That is where I am typing this blog. More tomorrow.

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