20 January 2007

Safari Post V

We'd spent half our time at Lake Manyara already, and seen a lot of different animals. One thing we had not seen, however, was the horizon. It kept disappearing into the haze, so that mountains at the south end of the lake appeared to just float in the middle of nowhere.

But there was one direction in which we could very clearly see a horizon. That is in fact not the real "horizon," for you sticklers. It's a line of flamingos standing at the edge of the water on the east side of the lake. You can see a bit of water in front of them. If you're extremely creative, you can pick out individual flamingos. Or, maybe it's better if you're drunk.

Wild poultry is always an amusing sight. Africa is swarming with the local version of pheasants or whatever, known as "guineafowl." They have funny blue heads and speckled bodies and they're shaped vaguely like boxes. These particular guineafowl are accompanied by a grey vervet monkey hanging out in the shade of a particularly tall weed.

Later we were driving along and saw two giraffes. One of them was taller than the other. They ambled along together, and then we realized that the little one and the big one were related. Now what's most interesting is that this nursing baby had been happily browsing on acacia leaves moments before this picture was taken. But it never hurts to get a little supplemental snack in... and after all, those acacias are covered in thorns and can't possibly taste good.

Then we came upon a family of elephants. I don't generally think of November as the time for babies... but then, we were south of the equator, so November is more like May, and babies come in the spring, so... okay. Babies in November. Africa is cool like that. Isn't he a cutie?

Now, Africa has large birds to go along with the large animals. You know all about the ostriches. These birds are much more interesting. These are ground hornbills. They form lifelong mating couples (like the dik-diks from yesterday), but live in groups of a dozen or so. This pair look very loving, don't they? Note the youngsters over there under the log on the left.

Unfortunately, our day at Lake Manyara eventually drew to a close. The last place we visited was the Hippo Pool. It's a pool. With hippos. Hippopotamuses, to be exact; hippopotami is also an acceptable pluralization, but if you've ever heard the silly Christmas "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" you know the only appropriate word is 'hippopotamuses', if not 'hippopotamussesses'. In any event, this pool is formed where the Msasa River runs into Lake Manyara. This picture has at least 27 hippos here, and maybe more. See if you can spot them all.

On our way out of the park, leaving the hippo pool, we drove right through the middle of this herd of elephants. There are at least a dozen here, including a baby. They were just enjoying the late afternoon sun at the edge of the forest. It was a nice note to end the day.

Safari Post I (Introduction)
Safari Post II (Nairobi)
Safari Post III (Arusha – The Safari Begins)
Safari Post IV - Lake Manyara A
Safari Post V - Lake Manyara B
Safari Post VI - Lake Manyara Lodge
Safari Post VII - Off to Serengeti!

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