First, the mandatory pic of Liz and Dick in the truck – binoculars and camera ready; beer chilling and Felix doing his magic. We came to love the truck and have cherished bruises to remember it by
The Manyara reserve is relatively small, notable for its forest elephants, flamingos on the lake, hippo pool and other wildlife (plus lions in trees – which we didn’t see here, but stay tuned)
The elephants do not disappoint. Almost immediately we encounter a rare 5 legged Tanzanian elephant
Yes, Virginia, this is a male elephant and the 5th leg is what you think it is. A most spectacular organ. He can whirl it, twirl it, curl it and tie it in a bow. It is an aft version of his trunk and reduces mere primates to babbling envy.
After our penis envy display, we get down to the real game drive when Babar comes out of the bush – fast! Now Dickie has his brand new telephoto lens on his brand new camera so he can capture this moment – wrong. Babar is moving close – very fast – and Dickie manages to get to get a shot of Babar’s eye
He then brushes the truck and turns to laugh at us
And then takes a casual dust bath…..
There are large troops of Baboons in Manyara. Raising young, copulating, fighting, eating and drinking. Feeding them is forbidden so they don’t beg. Since they are very agile and have 3 inch fangs, having one in the truck with you could be unpleasant
A sad incident as we’re driving – a feral dog has had an unfortunate encounter with an African Porcupine. The quills are a foot long and the diameter of a pencil. Felix predicts the dog will die in a few days
The Hippo pool is at the edge of the lake – they're like like half submerged U-Boats, waiting for an unsuspecting convoy. The occasional male hierarchical wrestle provides a break in the torpor…..but then you remind yourself that hippos kill more people than any other animal in Africa…..more than crocs or lions or anything except that very tiny, little HIV virus.
There are numbers of black faced monkeys by the streams. They are like miniature humans in really nice fur coats. Safe within the park, they are losing their fear of humans and sit within feet of the truck. A lizard on a nearby tree goes uneaten, much to Felix’s surprise – they must be well fed or they would have quickly eaten it.
We’re bird nerds (hey – Liz can tell a Blue Jay from an Bald Eagle). Africa has a lot of aggressive ground birds – they can fly but basically they’re velociraptors with feathers. A favourite is the Ground Horn Bill – turkey sized, tough, and now increasingly rare.
The Veld ungulates are also at Manyara – Wildebeest, Zebra, Buffalo, various Antelopes and our favourite – Giraffes. We love giraffes…..the way they walk, their 11 inch tongues, males neck dueling, their incredibly cute young. We’ll cover other herd animals later, but following are some Manyara giraffe shots…and a few elephant memories, because we love 4 to 5 tons of potential disaster up very close!
Tomorrow – the Crater!