Lake Manyara & Serengeti National Park


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Africa » Tanzania » North » Serengeti National Park
October 15th 2019
Published: December 6th 2019
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Entrance to SerengetiEntrance to SerengetiEntrance to Serengeti

Finally made it!
After a great week in Kenya it was time for the next chapter in the adventure: Tanzania...three weeks here, jam-packed with safaris, Kili climb and some R&R on Zanzibar, but we'll start with the safaris...

Made our way overland from Nairobi to Arusha, a healthy day on the road but decent enough...border crossing was relatively quick and painless (our guide Moses knew what to do, where to line up etc.) and by late afternoon we had made it to our hotel for the evening...6pm get-together to meet the new folks joining us and go over the game plan for the week, followed by dinner and some pints, nothing too exciting as we were leaving town the following morning...

The next day we did a quick stop for supplies and then a 90 minute drive or so to our first destination, the village of Mto Wa Mbu, launch point to Lake Manyara National Park (Mto Wa Mbu actually translates to "River of Mosquitoes", yikes! Fortunately did not see any...). We arrived mid-morning and camp wasn't set up so went on a guided tour of the town and surroundings, including rice paddies, wood carving shop, outdoor gallery etc. Highlight was a traditional lunch prepared by some local women, all sorts of tasty dishes, a real treat...

Mid-afternoon it was back on safari in Lake Manyara National Park, where we saw the usual suspects: elephants, giraffes, baboons, and a sleepy lion...to be honest this was my least favourite park, I'm sure if this was our first safari it would have been more exciting (as some of the new folks that joined us would attest to), but there was no real wow-factor or new animals to be seen...still enjoyed it, and as we were only spending an afternoon there it was fine, was just really excited to get to our next stop: Serengeti!

Up bright and early the next morning, another opportunity to visit a nearby Maasai village to learn more about the culture and also see how some of our G Adventure money was being spent on a really cool initiative called the Clean Cookstove Project. With their non-profit partner Planeterra they subsidize a portion of the materials needed to build proper cook stoves in the Maasai's huts, drastically reducing the amount of smoke in them every time they cooked, and in turn reducing the massive health hazards associated with the constant exposure (cancer, heart and lung disease etc.). We visited huts both with and without a stove, and the difference between the two was obviously dramatic...could hardly breathe in the hut without the stove for all the smoke, and the one with the stove was much clearer, nice to see some of our money being put to good use...

After a great visit we were back on the road heading to the Serengeti, but first we had to pass by the Ngorongoro Crater, our first views! The vantage point was awesome, you could see pretty much the entire crater, and while it looked empty we realized that all these tiny tiny dots scattered around were actually animals, it was crazy...the walls themselves are about 600 meters high, so most of the animals and jeeps were kilometers away, couldn't wait to get down there in a few days...

Stopped for a picnic lunch along the crater, it was a beautiful day so hunkered down on some logs only to be dive-bombed by these huge hawk-like birds trying to get the pieces of chicken we each had...I looked up just in time to avoid sharing my lunch, and our guide warned us to keep our food as out-of-sight as we could...one gal that wasn't in our group was not so lucky, the bird nabbed what she was eating and it must have had sharp talons as I could see her rubbing her hand in discomfort after...then a huge stork came to check on the lunch spot, this thing is u-g-l-y and stood about 3 feet tall strolling around, came to check me out but I think I had finished my lunch by then so didn't stay long...one of the more stressful lunches I have had...haha...

I was really getting antsy now, seems like with all the stops we were never going to make it to the Serengeti but after a few hours on some horribly bumpy dirt roads there it was, the entrance sign to the park, we finally made it!

Snapped some pics of the sign and it was back onto the horribly bumpy roads, that was only the "ceremonial" entrance I guess as we then hit the main entrance where we would be stopped for an hour or so for the paperwork to be stamped in triplicate...it was mid-afternoon at this point so once we were on our way again we were back on safari, our first taste of the Serengeti itself...

Quite a change from the landscapes in the previous parks we visited: very wide open with the odd tree here and there, really beautiful...okay I guess it wasn't a big surprise considering all the wildlife shows I watch but to see it in person was absolutely breathtaking...the plains seemed to stretch out to the horizon, and it had this lonely/desolate feel to it, but also this underlying energy, hard to describe but very cool...

Great intro drive: saw a bunch of the favourites including cheetahs, gazelles, lions and giraffes, but with the sparseness of cover the animals seemed more spread out than the parks in Kenya...no matter, the magic to me was the Serengeti itself, I had long thought of visiting and just being there was a big thrill...

Finally made it to our camp for the next two nights, had a spot all to ourselves including kitchen and dining hall...tents were all set up and it was then we remembered that there were no fences around the site, we were literally camping on the Serengeti itself...the giraffe munching away
Maasai ChildrenMaasai ChildrenMaasai Children

Very curious and loved to look at the photos we took of them...
at the end of the tents was a bit of a giveaway, as was all the mounds of poop in and around the site...had a quick briefing on what to do if you encounter an animal at night (shine headlamp in eyes, slowly back up to tent and get back in...do not turn around or run...yikes), and then a great meal before retiring for the evening being gently lulled to sleep by the howls of the hyenas...crazy! More adventures to come the following day but will stop here and start up again in the next blog...


Additional photos below
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Crops...Crops...
Crops...

...and irrigation canal in Mto Wa Mbu
Banana trees...Banana trees...
Banana trees...

...learning about the local crops in Mto Wa Mbu...
Mmmmm...Mmmmm...
Mmmmm...

...fantastic lunch of local delicacies in Mto Wa Mbu...
ElephantElephant
Elephant

...at Lake Manyara
Maasai Hut...Maasai Hut...
Maasai Hut...

...with new cookstove from Clean Cookstove Project...
Coffee!Coffee!
Coffee!

Popular coffee stop in Mto Wa Mbu...


15th December 2019
Giraffe

Giraffe
One of our favorites.

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