Thursday, July 31, 2014

African Adventure: Tanzania: Arusha And Lake Manyara

June 21st
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Eye to eye.
We left Amboseli National Park and headed for the border town of Namanga.  We arrived mid morning and went into the immigration office to fill out forms and to have our passports stamped.  This would also be where our super powers would activate.

The Wife's super power is to meet either someone she knows while traveling or someone with some sort of connection with home.  This time the super power rubbed off on me as well.  We got in line at the immigration office.  The Wife was ahead of me.  The Tanzanian border agent looked at the Wife's passport and asked if Marshalltown, IA was anywhere near Ames, IA.  When she said yes he said that he had gone to school at Iowa State University ... my alma mater.  We had a laugh while talking about the weather in Iowa and he asked how the corn crop was this year.  Small world.  We had one of the smoothest border crossings ever.

At the border we switched guides.  Our new guide/driver would be with us most of our time in Tanzania.  All our guides were knowledgeable and friendly.
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An Impala.
We drove to the nearest large town, Arusha, where we stopped for lunch.  While we ate at the excellent buffet we chatted with a couple guys from the U.S. (Mk and Tm) who were on safari as well.  We compared notes about where we had been and where we were going.  Most of the safaris in Kenya and Tanzania follow the same basic route between the same parks.  We finished our lunch, said our good byes to Mk and Tm and headed to our next stop, Lake Manyara National Park.

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Baboon Traffic Jam.
We would do only one safari drive in Lake Manyara national park.  The park felt smaller than Amboseli and the Maasai Mara but that might have been because of the jungle feel of the park.  The park definitely had a denser forest than what we had seen so far this trip.  I got pictures of more elephants, monkeys, and storks.

After a few hours driving around looking at wildlife we headed up to a ridge ... part of the Great Rift Valley ... where our lodge for the night was located.  As we pulled up they were lowering the Tanzanian flag for the night (the sun was setting).  Next to that flag was a red flag with stars ... the Chinese flag.

There are a lot of Chinese in Kenya and Tanzania.  Chinese companies are building roads, buildings, and other infrastructure.  I noticed that some buses on the city streets had Chinese writing on the side.  If you ask the locals you will most likely get a bad opinion of the Chinese.  Several guides noted the increases in poached elephant and rhinoceros after the arrival of the Chinese - a big market for ivory and rhinoceros horn.

We were shown to our rooms.  I noticed a tent with Tanzanian military troops nearby.  At dinner we saw Chinese military personnel at the buffet.  As we left I headed for the entrance.  A large man in military uniform ... with a riding crop ... coming in with what looked like two of his underlings in tow.  He reminded me of Idi Amin.  I stepped back to let him pass and nodded my head.  He did not acknowledge me at all ... I was one of the little people apparently.

June 22nd
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View from the lodge pool/bar area.
The next morning I got up and soaked in the views from the pool/bar area of the lodge.  You could see the lake and most of the park from here.  As we left the lodge for our next destination we noticed the Chinese flag was being flown upside down.  Knowing this might be an accident and that an upside down flag could be disrespectful, we pointed it out to our guide and suggested he should tell someone at the lodge.  He just smiled.  I think he knew and was amused.  He told us that the Vice-President of China was at the lodge.  That would explain all the security.

Next stop ... The Ngorongoro Caldera.

I took quite a few pictures here as I did most places but ... how many elephant pictures can you upload.  I picked a few pictures of the animals at Lake Manyara and our lodge and added them to my Tanzania 2014 Flickr album.

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