African Safari - Lake Manyara
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
After our amazing & successful KILIMANJARO TREKKING ADVENTURE we continued on a six day safari tour. Freddy, from HOOPOE SAFARI TOURS arrived promptly at 8AM at Bristol Cottages to pick us up.
I loved seeing the hussle and bustle of every day life - my eyes constantly glued out of the window trying not to miss a thing.
We set off and about an hour later drove through the very busy town of Arusha. It was crazy going through the center core with the hustle and bustle of city life.
To make matters worse, there are no stop signs so everyone is trying to cross an intersection at the same time; cars, trucks, motorbikes, people, cyclists, people pushing loaded carts, even goats! It was amazing that there wasn’t an accident and it was a bit nerve-wracking for me.
Eventually we made our way through the city and out to the rural areas. I was glued to the window, watching and snapping the activity of daily life.
We had about a 150 kms to go until we arrived at Lake Manyara. It was a nice drive along a two lane paved highway. Along the way we got to see many Maasai going about their daily lives.
I love how people “hitch” a ride! There are 4 people hanging off the side of that van!
We saw women and children walking for miles getting their daily water quotas from the nearest watering hole or herding their goats and cattle.
I loved the effect of their bright red clothing standing out so vividly amongst the dry grasses of the plains.
These Maasai teenage boys are dressed in black as they had recently had their circumcision ceremony which initiates them as men. During this time, they are allowed to take 3 to 6 months off from school.
As we neared Lake Manyara wildlife park area, it became very plush and green with lots of big trees.
We drove up along the Rift Valley ridge and came back out onto the dry plains. The Baobab trees were magnificent.
We then took some very rough dusty back roads into a remote area, what seemed like in the middle of nowhere.
It made me question what our first lodge would be like. And wow, was I pleasantly surprised! We were greeted at Kirurumu Tented lodge with hot towels and cold juice.
And very friendly, English speaking staff where our luggage was immediately whisked away by a couple of staff members. We followed through cemented & lantern lit pathways but through what looked like the wilderness until we arrived to our lodge, numbered #23. I was absolutely stunned.
It was a two level stone cottage but on the back side it was completely open, facing Lake Manyara below us. The whole back wall was canvas, unzipped but with a wall of screens to protect against bugs. There was a huge outdoor deck with comfortable lawn chairs. Inside was a gorgeous oversized king bed with netting. There was a massive staircase on the one side where we discovered a full second floor below us with another massive deck outside, another lounge area with a bed and a massive washroom. The shower was made out of stone and it was like a little cave. The whole place was oozing with luxury and we were in complete disbelief. The only depressing part was knowing that we were scheduled to be here for only one night.
After an amazing lunch at the outdoor lodge restaurant, we were picked up by Freddy at 3pm for our first Safari experience. We went back down into the valley to the park entrance where Freddy paid for the park fees. The majority of the park is in the rain forest. I loved the massive trees & kept looking up in case we lucked in by seeing a leopard.
The first wildlife we saw were baboons. Tons of them! They were everywhere. It was amazing watching them, so very human. But the grooming process was especially hilarious to watch – they are very serious about their grooming!
Our jeep for 6 days and me with our driver Freddy. The top of the jeep opened up so that we could stand and get 360 degree views of anything around us.
I was very excited to see our first giraffes and elephants. Both such majestic creatures. Other animals that we saw today were: zebras, wildebeest, blue monkeys, velvet monkeys, female waterbuck, female land buck, gazelle, warthogs, and lots of birds and storks. We drove through the park until the 6pm closing time. It was a lot of fun but we did not get to see any of the cat family. Tomorrow we were heading out to Ngorongoro crater where our chances would be far greater for cat viewing.
Back at the lodge, we started the evening with a glass of wine on the patio enjoying the beautiful views and sounds of the wildlife below us, followed by fine dining dinner at the restaurant. After dinner we headed for the lounge area at the bar, again outdoors and overlooking the park area, sipping on our nightcaps. It all felt extremely surreal being here. Click here to read all about our continuation of African Safari at NgoroNgoro Park.