Lake Manyara

Our last day on the Tanzanian mainland saw us take in Lake Manyara National Park in the Rift Valley. We’d already seen the vast lake from a viewpoint on the edge of the rift’s steep escarpment, but now we were set to enter.

The park was so, so different to those already visited on this trip, there were no big plains across which to cast one’s view and see a stream of herbivores. Here much of the vegetation was dense forest, with dappled light making it harder to see the very things we came for. Here, you could have been a few feet away from a good sized mammal and not even know it. It was more of a challenge to see the wildlife, but almost more exciting when an animal was sighted.

First there were vervet monkeys, then the rarer blue monkey and baboons. We thought we had hit the jackpot; three or four forest elephants, not right next to the track, but half hidden through the bushes and trees.

A Forest Elephant in the bushes of Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania
Forest Elephant

The famed residents of the park were the tree-climbing lions and we stared through the undergrowth to get a glimpse of a reported lion. A swish of a tail gave away the location and a male lion could be distinguished lying by a fallen tree. No climbing of trees mind.

A massive baboon troop then kept us entertained for a while as they foraged, fought, and made plenty of noise.

Exiting the forest we stopped by another jeep – a leopard could be seen in the grass, sheltering beneath a bush. Drawing more attention, the leopard made a move for it, taking with it a young vervet monkey, the result of a successful kill.

The journey continued to the marshes by the shores of the lake and we saw more and more. We only had two hours here, but it left us wanting longer as we had to head for the exit.

So going back into the forest we looked to complete our week of safari. After a short while we had to give way to a couple of elephants passing through the forest. Then some more, and they just kept on coming. All of a sudden one just appeared by the side of the jeep. What a way to seal the week.

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