Africa Redux: Lake Manyara

1 Jan. 2009

Lake Manyara, Tanzania


Woohoo!  SAFARI!  OMG!  REAL SAFARI!  I mean, the San Diego Wild Animal Park was freakin’ fantastic while growing up, but it’s not like you could easily get EATEN!  So exciting!  We could totally be on the menu — awesome!  :D

Anyway, we left Moshi in the morning with our driver/guide, Fabian.  Well, eventually.  He had to stop and run an errand while we wazungu stayed in the car and gave out the inaudible “come hither and sell trinkets to me” vibe to which local salesfolk are so attuned.  I gave in and bought a necklace.  I’m actually pretty good at saying no and sticking to it when I want to — but it was a GECKO!  Aww, I love geckos!  One of my favorite necklaces to this day.  :D

We eventually did leave Moshi and set out on the next phase of our adventure.  We stopped in Arusha and experienced the wonders of Tanzanian grocery stores.  Later we had lunch at a rest stop/tourist trap and discovered that our packed lunches were… odd.  FINALLY we made it to Lake Manyara for an afternoon of Ooos and Ahhhs and the incessant clickety-click of our cameras.  Fun!


Note: In order to get full value out of your TourAbsurd viewing time, I STRONGLY suggest checking out the hyperlinks in the descriptions.  Even if you don’t actually click the link, at LEAST hold your mouse over it to experience the occasionally awesome cleverness of the captions. Thank you.  – The Management

Mt. Meru, another stratovolcano near Kilimanjaro.

Some Kili climbing outfitters offer Meru as a training or additional hike before the big trek.  I suppose if I was really hardcore, I’d be excited by this.  But even in the most hardcore period of my hardcore-edness, I had a love of things comfortable and efficient.  Seriously, why are there no donkeys and llamas?  The porters are nice (and freakin’ impressive, wow!), but you can’t really ride a porter up the mountain.  Well…  naw.  You can’t.


Arusha Santa.  Deliciously out of place, fur-covered mzungu.




Umm…  bread, bread, juice, orange, hard boiled egg, stringy-greasy piece o’ fried chicken and pineapple (yeah, it’s not a big block o’ cheese, it’s pineapple).


Rest stop kitteh.

Omg, it’s a wild ca— ! Oh, you just want some of my chicken, don’t you?  (It’s a lesson in gratitude, I guess.  :)


Wild drive-by shot of Maasai and cattle.

Since a lot of our time was spent going from one animal-watching location to another, I ended up taking a lot of pictures from the jeep.  Every once in a while, they would even turn out!


A real cow town.

After living in a bustling metropolis for over a year at this point, I missed seeing farms and critters and such.  Even back in WA state, however, there were rarely livestock drives through the middle of downtown.  Silly, some of the stuff that makes you smile!  :D


Woohoo! Flush toilet!


VERY fast baboon, about 2 feet from me. Wow, we were all really startled. Didn’t know if they were people-aggressive or not as 2 of them came thundering out of the underbrush at us at the visitor’s center. Turns out they were just having a territorial dispute, whew!


Masks at the Lake Manyara visitor’s center (Dario pic).


Fascinating stones along the path. Need to show pics to someone who knows rocks. How were they formed?


Closeup of one of the stones, held by Sean.

See, they are all multilayered and wrinkly.  …elephant rocks?


OMG, SAUSAGE TREE! Is there a bacon tree, too?!?!  Tanzania really is the promised land.

We didn’t notice or simply couldn’t see through the canopy at the visitor’s center, but there is a reason they are called that.  Photographic evidence at near the end of the post.  :D


Vervet monkey.


Warthog!  Our first wildlife spotted outside of the visitor’s center, so it’s like, EXTRA wild or something.  YEAH!


More baboons.

I love this picture.  It’s just so…  Legend of Greystoke-ish.


Dario, the resident videographer.  I love perspective pics with Dario taking pictures.  I dunno why!


Ok, while were talking perspective, here’s a look at the road.  

We didn’t see too many other vehicles at Lake Manyara, actually, which we came to realize was not the norm for tourist safaris.  But that’s not why I’m showing this to you.  It’s to get a sense of the scenery and also to introduce you to just how used to vehicles all these critters are.  Seriously, there was a HUGE troop of baboons there and the babies were sitting in the road, playing, right in front of the vehicles, not a care in the world.  Elephants, lions, giraffes…  they all pretty much reacted the same way.  Wow.


Holy crap, it’s a real, live giraffe! (ps: see?  ;)


Lake Manyara sits along one of the branches of The Great Rift Valley.  Continental action, woo!


OMGAGAIN! A young, male elephant — right next to the road! Ignored us, didn’t care, kept eating, WOW!

The “tear” ducts on the side of the face, when active, are said to indicate great emotion in elephants.  He seemed pretty content just eating, but I have to say he seemed a bit young compared to the other bachelor bulls we saw.  I wonder if he was recently kicked out of the herd.  Poor lil’ guy.  :(


Hippo pool!

This was the first hippo pool we got to see, so it was pretty exciting.


*squinting*  Is that…  naw!


Oh!  Maybe it is!  A strange and beautiful sculpture made of giraffes!




Running giraffe!


Ostrich mit bebes!




Lovely jewel set in the middle of the woods.  :D


Impala. Much nicer than the Chevy.


Clever, too!  Notice they are all in the strip o’ shade.



This is the only semi-decent shot I got of a dik-dik the whole time we were there.  They are like leetle deer fairies, looking adorable for half a second, then disappearing into the bush.


If you look closely, there is a pink horizontal line in the center of the pic — it’s made of flamingos!


Woohoo, sausage tree!

Baboons can eat the fruit, humans can use it for medicine. Alas, not an accompaniment to ostrich egg omelette!

Goodbye, Lake Manyara!


Dario relaxes on our HUGE triple king sized bed at the Highview Hotel after a hard day of safari-ing.


Original comments from Photoblog:


Tomorrow, Oldupai, Maasai, and the SERENGETI!

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