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7-Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park Safari/Tanzania

Day 12-13 of Safari

"Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is the worst of all!"
--Brian Jackman

How true this is...my pocketbook may never be the same.

August 25, 2009
Depart:............Plantation Lodge
Arrive:.............Sanctuary Swala
Weather:..........Cloudy
Animals Seen:..Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Elephants, Giraffe, Hippos, Wildebeest, Zebra, Mongoose, Kudus, Jackal, Gazelle, Impala, Antelope, Buffalo

Highlights
[*]After a leisurely breakfast at the lodge, we leave for Lake Manyara at 7:30. It is sprinkling today. The roads are all paved from here on out. We pass a lot of souvenir shops and as usual, all the kids stop to wave whenever we pass by. The road becomes hilly and we are amazed at all the people who are on bicycles returning from the market, carrying sacks of flour and rice...somehow balancing all of it without falling
[*]We wonder how the vehicle gets so clean every now and then and we discover that our guide will wash it down when we arrive to camp and he gives a little wash down inside the vehicle as well. It's nice to have a clean car. :)
[*]Hemingway thought Lake Manyara was the most beautiful lake in Africa...not so sure I agree
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[*]Tons of blue monkeys in the trees at the Lake Manyara visitor center but they are rather shy
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[*]A lot of baby baboons nursing and grooming

Lake Manyara has the highest concentration of baboons in Africa. We watch a bunch of them climbing (and some falling from) the trees
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[*]Elephants nursing as well
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[*]Lake Manyara is famous for all the water life. Here's a hippo pool with a bunch of school kids visiting
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[*]We get to watch two hippos fighting

I didn't know they could open their mouths that wide!
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[*]I can't believe this is the first time on the entire trip that we've seen a fully developed, male vervet monkey. They are nicknamed Blue Balls
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[*]Finally, some blue monkeys that aren't incredibly shy...I manage to get a couple of photos that aren't too blurry or too far away
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[*]Elephants are plentiful here but most migrate to Tarangire. Interesting that most of the elephants we see have no, broken or short tusks...there are too many of them to have been losses in fights so they must just have bad genes.
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[*]Check out this big elephant coming our way. It is constantly dusting itself with dirt to keep off the flies
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[*]We lunch by the lake prepared for us by Plantation Lodge. As usual, it is too much food so we give some of it to the park attendant (who does an excellent job of keeping the toilets super clean). Why do they put yogurt in these lunch boxes? Our guide shows us nature's toothbrush from a nearby bush. They actually sell it in the markets.
[*]Next stop is Tarangire National Park, nicknamed Elephant Park due to its heavy population (3,000!). It seemed like it was just yesterday when we couldn't find any elephants in Arusha.
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[*]Elephants LOVE to eat moist bark and they often leave holes in baobob trees. Check out this hole...all the way through
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[*]There seems to be plenty of water in this park which is why it attracts so many animals
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[*]We finally get a close up view of the mongoose...this one is the banded mongoose
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[*]There really are elephants everywhere!! In the '80s, they were heavily poached in this park. So now there is a baby boom and most of the elephants are under 10 years. Here are two brothers fighting

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[*]A new animal! We got to see the rare and super elusive kudu...their ears are so colorful
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[*]These jackals are so cute
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[*]We are welcome by the staff at Swala...nice cold towel and drink. Feels good after a long day! At Swala, you still feel like you are in the bush because the animals are so close but you are surrounded by elegance. They have a beautiful reception area, their own water hole which is frequented by elephants and lions and the vervet monkeys are found everywhere. Good thing they have their own water hole. We heard about elephants approaching camps and destroying the swimming pools for fresh water
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[*]Even though it's a bit remote at the southern end of the park, I think this is my favorite place. It's stunning...the tents, the land, the wildlife. Our tent is next to a huge baobob tree
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We have great views and the tents are ultra contemporary, luxurious. On the left is or outdoor shower!
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This leads from our indoor shower to the outdoor one which has a view of the sunset!
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Our room is exquisite!
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[*]After our showers, we relax for a minute enjoying all the wildlife around us before heading out for cocktails and yummy pupus by the campfire. We meet the other families from ADS...a mother and daughter and then a family of four who speak fluent French and English. We exchange stories and keep our eye out for bushbabies because the other families have not seen them yet. Our hosts join us as well
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[*]We get a lovely table by the acacia lit up by lanterns. We are a little disappointed with the first course...I actually couldn't even finish it...peanut soup. But the main course and dessert are wonderful!
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[*]We love the beds. Even though we have to use mosquito nets, this place was smart enough to include the side tables and ample reading light within the netting! We are so glad we got to visit this place right after the extensive renovations. Lala Salama!

Downers
[*]While we have been on the road for a very long time, I am starting to get very sad that our journey is nearly coming to an end. I can't imagine getting up and not seeing wildlife; I start to think about all the things that I might be missing (elephants knocking down trees, etc.); Where are my morning tea biscuits? **sigh**
[*]So very sad but we see a vervet monkey up close who has miscarried and her baby just hangs from her as she jumps from limb to limb. Unless someone pulls it out, she will die.
[*]We did not get to see the infamous but elusive tree lions at Lake Manyara. It is very difficult to see any of the cats in this park.
[*]It is quite dusty here and there are a lot of tse tse flies. All the elephants are brown from the dirt.
[*]Wow, an entire day without seeing one lion! Or any other cat, for that matter!
[*]Hippos have been poached to extinction here.

August 26, 2009
Location:.........Sanctuary Swala
Weather:..........Cloudy
Animals Seen:..Impala, Gazelle, Elephants, Zebra, Vervet Monkeys, Flamingos, Giraffe, dik-dik, Lions, Leopards, Cheetah, Jackal, Birds, Buffalo

Highlights
[*]AMAZING breakfast. Immediately we are startled by all the wildlife. We see a battle ensue between two impala and watch the other animals staring intently. It's as if they are attending a boxing match. The fight is fierce and loud and we squirm every time the two hit really hard. The photo is blurry because the light is so low at 6:30 in the morning but I included it anyway. We couldn't believe this was all right in front of our table.
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The elephants are at their watering hole as usual. They start spraying water from their trunks everywhere!
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[*]Right off the bat we see elephants this morning. Here's a photo of an elephant using their tusk. They need it to help them cut the branches
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[*]The scenery is beautiful in this park with volcanic mountain ranges in the background
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[*]This elephant is enjoying his mud bath
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[*]More fields of elephants
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[*]Birds are plentiful in this park. An eagle and a stork
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[*]Our guide sees a leopard in the tree so we stop to check it out. He/She soon leaves but it moves too fast for us to track it
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[*]We drive a little further down and we can't believe there is another leopard in the tree. Pretty rare as they are solitary cats. They must be mating. Our guide drives right up to the tree and we get to look up towards the sleeping leopard. I'm not gonna lie but we were a little nervous that he might wake up and just drop into our vehicle
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[*]We get a call that a leopard has been spotted. To our surprise, we missed this leopard which was in a tree not far from our first spotting. 3 leopards near each other? Completely unheard of. We wonder if it is a family. This one looks like it just fed since it's still a little bloody
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[*]All three ADS cars meet for lunch at a picnic site. Swala has prepared a beautiful picnic meal.
[*]Returning to our game drive, our guide spots a lion...and a cheetah. They are territorial and do not coexist together. Lions will kill cheetahs to protect their territory but they won't eat them
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The lion starts chasing the cheetah away
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While the cheetah runs, it is almost toying with the lion as it knows it can outrun the lion any day.
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The cheetah spots something and starts running. I can now check off "see cheetah running."
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[*]The elephants are just covered in dirt. Look at all the babies!
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[*]Giraffes have the most amazing tongues.
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In action:

[*]We drove up and down the swamp to look for the tree pythons without success but we catch a herd of zebras drinking water instead
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[*]We stop at Poacher's Hide which is one of the largest baobob trees in Africa. Poachers would hide inside the tree for protection (from animals)
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[*]We take a scenic drive to the top of the mountain. No animals but it's like a scene out of a Halloween display...tons of scary, leafless baobob trees everywhere
[*]Returning at 5pm, we relax a bit before the evening ritual. This time, the bushbabies are present. It is our last night of the safari portion and we are really sad. This evening we are served a traditional Swahili buffet with all sorts of food from barbeque to curries. The kids from the French American family have made their own pizza and they throw it into the outdoor pizza oven. We are totally full when we get a second dessert from ADS which is a goodbye cake.
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[*]Matt is a bit nervous that our Masai escort is flashing his lights right, left...AND up. When he asked why, the Masai said, "Just in case there are any leopards in the trees." I thought it was funny but our tent is next to the biggest baobob tree on the property...nice, big, fat limbs for resting.
[*]As we turn in for bed, I notice a bunch of vervet monkeys on the tent's ceiling. I couldn't resist and poked one of their sinking butts...they are SO cute!

Downers
[*]We looked for the famous tree pythons but couldn't find any
[*]I almost thought I would be able to check off "elephant knocking down a tree" from my wish list but he changed his mind at the last minute
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[*]Packing up our stuff.

August 27, 2009
Depart:...........Sanctuary Swala
Weather:..........Cloudy
Animals Seen:..Vervet Monkeys, Elephants, Impala, Gazelle, Waterbuck, Birds, Zebra, Kudu

Highlights
[*]Our last bush breakfast. We enjoyed the views for the last time. This time we see some of the smaller antelope mimicking yesterday's fight. A lot of play fighting among the young.
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[*]We are off at 7:30 because we need to catch the plane to Pemba. We rush through the park but we get our last views of the animals. For the first time, we clearly saw the trademark "toilet-seat rings" on the butts of waterbuck. They are funny looking when there's a lot of butts lined up next to each other. We say bye to the elephants, to the zebras, to the kudus.
[*]Driving through the town as we head to Arusha, there are vervet monkeys and baboons littered in the streets...some walking on their hind legs (Matt gets a kick out of that)
[*]Stopped due to traffic, we notice the guy in the street is trying to sell us a blanket...with Obama's face plastered all over
[*]More kids wave to us
[*]We enter Arusha which is lined with coffee plantations and jacaranda trees. The outskirt area is so much prettier than central downtown.
[*]We have plenty of time to shop in Arusha before our flight. But we couldn't find an ATM so we have to scrape up all the dollars we have. Our guide recommends the Cultural Heritage Center, particularly if we are buying tanzanite as they are reputable. It's a very modern looking structure with several stores. As we enter, we are lured into playing some of the traditional instruments.
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[*]We find some things but I am also worried about weight so I opted not to purchase the heavier wood carvings or bao game board. I also promised Julie that I would look for some tanzanite for her. It is an alluring, blue gem that can only be found in Mt. Kilimanjaro. It's quite beautiful and I am tempted myself but it is not a cheap stone. I picked out the darkest blue stone I could find for the budget I had...a bit difficult when you are shopping for under 1 carat. This is Africa so if you ask, they will give you a discount on what I thought was already a good price compared to the other souvenir shops we visited.
[*]We head for the airport and meet up with our ADS representative. We eat our box lunches, take care of some paperwork and he checked in for us. I give our driver his tip, we take a photo and then we waited for our plane. It's late. I feel bad that our guide and rep is just sitting and waiting with us but they don't want to leave in case something happens. But we finally get called and we get to sit and again wait at the "gate," the plastic seats set up near the runway. But we finally take off on our small plane and wave goodbye to the guys. I hope our guide one day finds the time and means to travel to the Sahara which is his dream.
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[*]This is our last chance to see Kili. It doesn't look promising but we do get a slight glimpse of the very top!
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[*]All in all, I got to check off most of my wish list...the big 5, elephants trumpeting, lions roaring, cheetah running, a kill, Mt. Kili, giraffes drinking water, a hippo out of the water, Serengeti sunset among the acacia trees. I know...it's a weird list. I am a little sad that I was not able to see any elephants knock down a tree, a crocodile making a kill, the wildebeest crossing a river, a tree lion or a python. But we saw so much more than I anticipated and our guide agreed that we witnessed things that many people don't ever see on safari. And, we knew we were lucky, particularly because the other tourists were jealous of us.
[*]Safari means journey and indeed we had a spectacular one! I fell in love with this country. Although, I have to admit, I am puzzled on the pronunciation of Tanzania. As a westerner, I grew up calling it Tan zuh NEE uh (which NO one pronounced it like this) but I heard other people call it Tahn ZAH nee uh OR Tan ZAAY nee uh. Either way, the wildlife is unbeatable, the landscape is beautiful, and the people are gracious. I learned so much in this far away land. I am glad I chose Tanzania which was based on a lot of research on the best country to visit if only given the chance to safari in one. Our guide said that we should visit in February where South Serengeti is just teeming with animals. I can't wait to come back!
[*]The people of Tanzania are very poor and while many of the outfitters are foreign owned, they must, by law, have a 50/50 partnership with Tanzanian owners as well. They also give back to the villages with their profits. So if you are considering a safari, I HIGHLY recommend Tanzania...and you'll feel good about giving back to the community as well! Here's hoping you get bit by the safari bug too.

Downers
[*]Rushing through Tarangire which ended up to be one of my favorite parks...so picturesque!
[*]The end of our safari!

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Posted by Sharon E 16:22 Archived in Tanzania

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