AFRICA AT LAKE MANYARA – November 16th, 2009
We left the Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge right after breakfast, and were on the road at 7:30 a.m. We had only a short time to pack our stuff after breakfast before the hotel staff came to collect it. Our guide, Tony, runs a tight ship and we oblige him by being on time. I was rushing because I wanted to go into the gift shop before we boarded the van but I tripped over a cobblestone going up the steps and slid across the very rough cement. This time I was really embarrassed, and knew I would be late for the van call. A very nice man helped me up and asked if he should call my guide. I said I was fine and went into the bathroom to clean myself up. I could hear Tony giving his customary “Woo Woo” call for all to get on board because the van was leaving. I hurt more than my pride this time. I had a great big bruise on my hip, and my hands were scuffed. I was just thankful I did not break a hip, and praised God for watching out for a klutz like me. Yes, indeed, I think I am accident-prone!
The drive was packed with beautiful scenery that kept changing from flower filled mountains, to open plains, to very poor cities. We stopped for lunch and had sort of a picnic at an archeological site. The Serengeti Serena Hotel made us box lunches to go because we would not get to Lake Manyara until later in the afternoon. The town where our hotel was located was called “Mosquito Creek:” – Yikes! I hoped they gave out those packets of bug repellent, because I was all out. I didn’t feel too confident about staying in a place called “Mosquito Creek.” As it turned out Mosquito Creek was not as bad as the name conjured up. It was a busy town with paltry shops, fruits that were displayed on pieces of cloth upon the ground, children walking home from school, in their uniforms, cows being herded and goats milling about.
When we arrived at the hotel I wasn’t surprised it was another beautiful Lodge to lay our heads down. Each room had a private balcony with a panoramic view of the Great Rift Valley, below. The circular buildings were constructed in such a way that they complemented the indigenous architecture. Many of the Lodges had beautiful pools that were rimless so the water seemed to be level with the ground. At Lake Manyara the pool with its rimless boundaries overlooked the Great Rift Valley and gave the impression of a vanishing horizon. Next to the pool was a bar and a pool-viewing platform. It was a stunning view that melded the pool with the Great Rift Valley, and they were one.
The word Manyara comes from the Maa (language of the Maasai) it refers to the Euphorbia Tirucalli tree plant. The Maasai like it because it is resilient and long lasting. They use it to create pens for their cattle. The total size of Lake Manyara is 330 square kilometers. It is a relatively small park that can be traversed in a short period of time while viewing many different species of animals and birds.
The game drive was from 4-6 p.m as usual. We saw some very lazy hippos that just kept yawing which gave us a great photo op. The park is famous for its Acacia Tortilis tree-climbing lions. We saw a lot of baboons, monkeys, giraffe, impala, elephants, leopards, lions and a variety of different type of birds. There are three different types of scenery going through the park. First we went through an area of diverse vegetation with a thick forest of baobab trees. I first read about these trees that were referred to as the “upside down trees” in James Michener’s book “The Covenant.” I knew one day I would get to see them. The trunk is very thick at the top of the tree, and the branches actually resemble roots instead of branches. I read Michener’s book when I was in my twenties! I have waited a very long time to see these trees. I can’t believe we only have one more day of safari. I have had several bouts of being home sick, and now I’m already home sick for Africa. It is bitter sweet, indeed. MORE TO FOLLOW…