Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania

Lemala Camp

The little single engine plane stops three times, picking up or dropping off a few people, on the way to the Lake Manyara airstrip in Tanzania.  The runway is a very bumpy dirt strip right on the edge of the “escarpment”  - aka “steep cliff”.  We overhear a pilot telling a passenger waiting for another flight “if the plane doesn’t take off by the end of the runway, it will be airborne - at least for a little bit... “.  We will be taking off from here in a few days. 

Lake Manyara National Park is in the midst of the East African Rift.  The park is home to lovely and varied trees and shrubbery.  While worth a one-day drive through, this will be our home for two nights.   Our camp tonight is deep in the park.  Actually it is a one-hour drive into the park.  We are in the bush again in “luxury” tents.   And even though billed as lakeside, we cannot see any water or lake from our campsite.

The people at this camp are all incredibly nice and helpful and want so much to make our stay enjoyable.  All of the personnel are either Masai or natives from local villages.  Everyone in Tanzania is so darned pleasant and friendly.  I feel so horrible even thinking these thoughts about the rustic nature of these camps.   I must say the safari showers do work well.   You just let them know about what time you want to take a shower and they bring the 20 liters or so of hot water, pour it in the water bag, hoist it up above the shower head and you have at least 2 to 3 minutes of hot water. 

We see lots of monkeys, baboons, elephants, giraffes, impalas, flamingos, Acacia trees, and sisal trees.   Dinner tonight is superb.  There are 13 in camp tonight and we dine of course al fresco by candle and lantern light.   And the chef prepares it all in a bush oven or on a gas grill in a little tent.  We start with a delicious vegetable soup, followed by a perfectly done beef filet with rice, which is beautifully presented, and end with an apple crisp with cream for dessert.   The bread, which is freshly baked each morning and evening, is amazing. 

I must mention again how friendly and personable and lovely are the people here in our camp.  

Conundrum #3:  The Masai are an interesting people.  Their traditional diet is chiefly meat, milk and cow’s blood.  They will bleed the cow for the blood and then staunch the wound with cow dung.  Cattle herds are most important to the Masai.  Lions, leopards and other big game are a threat to these herds and so they are often at cross hairs with animal conservationists.  But the cow herds are the Masai’s livelihood.


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