Tanzania – villages and safari

Monday 3 October

We were up early to drive to the Tanzinian border. First we caught a very hazy sight of Mount Kilimanjaro as the sun was coming up. We drove through the Ambesoli reserve again without stopping. We never did see a lion here but we saw a pair of cheetahs (no leopards in this park) plus the usual wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, elephants, ostriches and numerous birds. No time to stop, we covered the journey along dirt roads in two hours.

Immigration was relatively easy, checked our health certificates and passports in Kenya and passports in Tanzania. Yellow Fever vaccination is a requirement to travel in Kenya.

Our new driver Soali brought us into Arusha in a relatively comfortable mini van on an exceptionally well made tarmac surfaced road. Quite a relief after two hours of ‘African Massage’

There was a noticeable difference between Kenya and Tanzania. The roads were in far better condition. Roadside shops were more substantially built. Shops had more realistic names rather than ‘In God we hope Butchery’. We did not see the litter blown around. Nor did we see 6 to 12 signs promoting various churches at the edge of each village. And yet the same Masai tribe of people live here.

In Arusha we were transferred to a Toyota 4-WD with our new driver/guide Chris. And just before we left we found coffee – real double shot Tanzanian coffee.

We stopped to see a Masai Market Day at Mbuyuni. Our driver asked one of the local ladies to show us around. She had an elderly friend who could only mumble, but they looked after us, quickly showing us through the various sections of the market including the maize grinding factory (no photo) and the BBQ, sneaked a quick photo. We then stopped for lunch on the side of the road.

I am not quite sure what happened to our readjusted itinerary because we are not even following that.

After getting a Tanzanian SIM card, we took off to visit Lake Manyara. A drive through the jungle to see some animals we are now quite familiar with. We enjoyed watching the young baboons and young Vervet Monkeys frolicking around in the late afternoon sun. As well as giraffes, elephants, zebras, wildebeests, warthogs and buffalo, we caught sight of a beautiful kingfisher.

In a swamp there were the usual water birds, Egyptian Geese, Black ibis and Maribou Storks As well as thousands of Pelicans who were settling down for the night. They were flapping their wings and squabbling. They had formed a large pack beside the swamp. And of course the smell was pungent.

As we drove back through the forest the aroma coming from the native frangipanis neutralised other forest aromas left by various animals – it was lovely.

Our final stop was to see the edge of Lake Manyara. It is another inland lake, fed by fresh water but with no outlet. It is not too salty to support fish.

Rather than two separate hotels at the end of our safari, we had been booked into a single camp and lodge resort near Lake Manyara in a village called Mto Wa Mbu. Our room was basic, not matching the description of the other two hotels. Once again we felt perhaps our safari arrangements had been compromised by Mr Otieno of Kenya Walking Survivor Tours and his lack of cash flow. We would recommend not using him.