Lake Manyara

The stunning Lake Manyara National Park
The stunning Lake Manyara National Park
Broke camp and headed out of Tarangire after breakfast. We didn’t see a lot of interesting game on the way so got to the gate quite quickly. The road to Karatu was a great new tar road so it didn’t take us long to get there. I have never seen some many bananas, and different types of bananas as we did, driving through Mto Wa Mbu (which means River of Mosquitos), making a note of the entrance to Lake Manyara NP as we were passing so that we could estimate the length of the journey back in the morning as we will be spending two days exploring there. On the way up the escarpment from Mto Wa Mbu we stopped at the lookout over Lake Manyara , a breathtaking sight.

We were not sure where in Karatu Kudu Lodge was so hoping to find some obvious signs along the way. Drove all the way through the down which was a bustling place and the sign to Kudu Lodge was on the left side at the far end of town. Wow, what a place! I’ve outdone myself again with the organising of this trip. (If you want somebody to organise a safari trip for you – just let me know). We had the campsite completely to ourselves and Edward showed us around the facilities, reception, restaurant, bar, pool and darts room, curio shop and internet cafe as well as the self contained cottages which we will avail ourselves of later in the trip when we need a bit of luxury after a lot of camping. Will just need to get clean at some point. Had a very nice lunch in the bar and Dawson, the owner arranged for Edward to come with us to town afterwards to help us out with shopping for supplies. What a great guy!

Edward came with us to the market and showed us where we could get all our food supplies etc which one was the best vegetable stall in the vegetable market, and as for the butchers and his butchers block – I don’t think I could possibly begin to describe it really, the frozen meat shop (probably safer) and “Maffa Shop” where we got all our non perishable stuff. If there was something we needed which he didn’t have in his shop he sent one of his people out to buy it on our behalf. That’s what I call service. Wouldn’t get that back home – can you imagine going to the local shop in the UK and if they’re out of stock of something, they simply go next door to their competitor and get it for you – just wouldn’t happen.

Got some local gin, Konyagi, which cost TZS 5,000 for a bottle, what a bargain at £2.50. Didn’t taste bad either, so we finished the bottle over dinner back in camp.

Kudu Lodge is only some 20 or so kilometres from Lake Manyara so we had decided to stay there for the two days we were going to visit the national park.

Silverycheeked Hornbill at Lake Manyara
Silverycheeked Hornbill at Lake Manyara
What a beautiful park Lake Manyara is. Lush green forest with dappled sunlight coming through the canopy with baboons, sykes and colobus monkey as well as vervets in the trees. The park is also perfect for birders with more than 400 species recorded. The vast lake is home to thousands of flamingo as well as countless other waders and water birds. There were quite a number of vehicles at the top end of the park so we decided to head south to the hot springs, as recommended by Dawson at Kudu Lodge . We got there around lunchtime having seen neither hide nor hair or even so much as a pad mark in the sand of any predators. At the hot springs, and boy were they hot, could actually make a great cup of tea with that water, we met a group of South Africans who were having their picnic in the shade of a tree. The conversation between them and Lionel (our South African travel companion) and one of the ladies went something like this:
“You must be from Cape Town”
“How can you tell?”
“I bet I can also tell which part”
“Oh, yeah, where?”
“How the hell do you do that?”
“I’ve got a very good friend there”
“Charles xxx”
“My God, I know him well!”

I’m now convinced that Lionel knows absolutely everybody. After knowing Paul Sweet who we hired the vehicle from at Shaw Safaris and now this. Too funny! I wonder who we will meet tomorrow, considering neither of us have been to Tanzania before.

Baboon family grooming each other in the early morning light, Lake Manyara, Tanzania
Baboon family grooming each other in the early morning light, Lake Manyara, Tanzania
On our second day in Lake Manyara we had great fun watching a troop of baboons going about their daily routine in the morning, grooming each other, three kids having a play fight throwing each other off a rock. There’s quite a lot of giraffe and elephant in the park as well as bush buck, buffalo and hippo down by the lake. Really enjoyed the prolific bird life in the park with the different areas from lush riverine forest to lake side and acacia and fever trees. Absolutely stunning!