Monday morning, we said goodbye to a majority of our travel companions after breakfast. They would be flying home later in the afternoon. As for the remaining 10 of us, we loaded into two safari land rovers at 9 AM to begin our 5-day safari. We were driven for 4.5 hours on two lane roads lined with corn fields and sunflower fields. We often saw people herding livestock. We passed through several small towns. There seemed to be police checkpoints every half-hour but our driver was not required to stop at all of them.
ready for our 5-day safari
We made a stop at a large souvenir shop. Some of the common items were wood carvings, jewelry made from tanzanite, coffee, and tea. We then continued to our first destination of our safari - Lake Manyara National Park. We waited at the entrance while our drivers paid the necessary fees and obtained the required permits for entering the park. We were then driven a short distance inside the park to a scenic picnic area overlooking the lake. We dined on the box lunches that the Lutheran Uhuru Hotel had prepared for us. It consisted of food like fried chicken, a boiled egg, bread, pastry, and juice. Each hotel at which we stayed during our 5-day journey prepared similar lunches for us.
typical box lunch during our safari
We spent a few hours riding on the dusty, bumpy roads of Lake Manyara National Park. We saw many animals such as baboons, monkeys, flamingos, Cape buffalo, hippos, giraffes, wildebeests, zebra, cranes, etc... Most of the animals with the exception of the monkeys, giraffes, and elephants were quite far away. The wildlife is accustomed to safari vehicles so they tend to ignore them. The most memorable sighting of the day for me was the elephants. They were so close to our vehicle that it seemed like we could reach out and touch them. Obviously, that would not have been a good idea to do so.
We left Lake Manyara National Park in the early evening. We eventually made it to the town of Karatu where we would be spending the night. We often saw Maasai dressed in their distinctive robes herding their livestock. Additionally, along the hilly road, there were shops crowded together on dirt parking lots. Judging by the amount of paintings propped in front of the shops, I guess the town also caters to tourists. We were used to seeing motorcycles but it was not until we were in Karatu that I noticed there was also an abundance of small vehicles called tuk-tuks that serve as taxis. The other thing I discovered in Karatu is that you can put just about anything on a bicycle - from three people to huge piles of firewood!
Our driver turned off the main road and onto a network of bumpy dirt roads that were lined with well-worn buildings. By the time I began to wonder if we were lost, we turned into the dirt parking lot of the Crater Rim View Inn where we would be spending a night. This was the most charming motel. The staff was a big factor in the charming experience. They seemed so genuinely happy that we were their guests. They greeted us with smiles, warm damp wash cloths, and watermelon juice (skipped it because I don't like watermelon). I don't know if the staff was related but they seemed like one big happy family.
Our room was rather spacious. The shower was the largest I've ever seen. We had a king-sized bed with a mosquito net. We had a cozy patio surrounded by beautiful plants. There was free Wi-Fi. The only thing I missed about the room other than wash cloths was a television. This was no big deal. I am not that much of a TV watcher. If I really had an urge to watch television, there was one in the bar area. However, we did not have that much downtime on this trip.
As was normally the case while we were in Tanzania, dinner was served at 7 PM. The motel had a semi-outdoor dining area where the ten of us sat at a large table. The same lady who greeted us when we first arrived, politely announced when each of the two courses of the meal was ready. We would then line up at the buffet table where the staff would serve us. The first course was soup. The main course was similar to other meals we had in Tanzania consisting of vegetables, chicken, beef, noodles, and rice.
I never saw it but I believe the Crater Rim View Inn is near a mosque. The call to prayer seemed loud from this motel. Continue...
You might also like: