31.01.2014 - 09.02.2014 25 °C
This morning we went in search of crocodiles and hippos out of the water. We had seen a hippo yesterday morning but Dad had taken a morning off and so hadn’t seen him. We were successful on both accounts, although the hippo out of water photos are currently hiding from me so I’ll add those later. An unusual sighting that we saw most days at Grummeti was a Serval cat- a small, nocturnal cat the size of a small dog. Don spotted him the first time and Joseph the second. He was very skittish and we were incredibly lucky to see him. We followed him to a small patch of grass and you would have sworn that he somehow got away. Suddenly, he sprung up from somewhere in this foot high patch of grass and high tailed it into deeper cover. We saw giraffe everywhere here and below are just a few of the many photos. We got a great look at a family of mongoose- the slender mongoose I believe.
We said goodbye to the lovely staff and headed to the airstrip for our flight to Lake Manyara. Don got some great photos while at the airstrip- there are animals absolutely everywhere here!
We flew into what felt like a fairly large airport, Lake Manyara International Airport, and met our guide Emme. We knew the drive into Camp was long because you drive the entire length of the park, and so wanted to get going. We later realized that when Emme had been suggesting lunch before we headed down into the lowlands where the park is situated was probably to wait until the incoming storm had passed. We didn’t want to stop for lunch and were therefore, possibly avoidably, hit with a huge rain storm at the gate of the park. The open air vehicles are wonderful for game viewing, but as we learned at Klein’s not very good for keeping out the weather. We had lunch about half way into the park at a lookout and this allowed us a chance to dry out a bit, and for Don to get some more bird photos.
Manyara is again very different from the other camps and parks we had visited on this trip. It receives much more water and is in fact a huge water catchment area. It is a relatively narrow park, bordered on one side along its length by Lake Manyara, and the animals are therefore not bothered by vehicles because they come up against them often. On our drive in we saw many different types of monkeys, including baboons and the Green Vervet Monkey who has bright blue testicles. We also saw a regular 'old fashioned North American deer', or what looked like one, which we hadn't yet seen on this trip. We thought at first it was perhaps a female antelope but I think we've now settled on deer.
Later in the drive we passed close by to Lake Manyara and got a quick look at the flamingoes. We carried on a few minutes and then stopped in the road and had an elephant come right up to the side of the vehicle. You could have reached out and touched him. I don’t think I have ever been as close to elephants as we were in Manyara! I included one of the ‘throw away’ photos so you can see how close the elephants were, and in fact they got much, much closer than this..!
Lake Manyara Lodge is absolutely stunning. I have really enjoyed ending these safari trips at a lodge because you really appreciate their luxuries, especially after a few days of safari. We did the same in Botswana, ending at Xudum Lodge after starting at Nxabera lodge and then visiting two tented camps, and really enjoyed that trip order. Manyara lodge has old dugout canoes as decoration at various spots, a huge open two story lounge area, and a sandy area out front where they set up the dinner tables. The lodges are on stilts and built in and around large trees, hence the name Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. You could easily spend the day sitting on your balcony listening to the sounds of the forest and drinking coffee.
We didn’t do a night drive today, since we had spent most of the afternoon doing a game drive and were all ready for some down time. We met a couple that were on a self drive safari and were next headed to do a boat tour of the river Gambia. Unusual trip combination in my opinion, especially considering how far away Gambia is, and how much there is to see close to Tanzania and the surrounding counties. I guess I now always think Gambia is a strange trip destination because I feel Southern and Eastern Africa are so much more beautiful than Western Africa. But of course this is only my personal opinion.