13 December 2009

lake manyara national park

Lake Manyara was my favorite for its landscape. Unlike Tarangire, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, Manyara was jungly and forested, with shade, dappling sunlight and streams. Here's a bushbuck:

The lake swells in the wet season, shrinks in the dry season and is home to millions of flamingos. There are so many that the lake actually shimmers a hazy pink.

I guess we got lucky, as we saw a blue monkey as soon as we entered the park. Blue monkeys are apparently quite difficult to see up close because they are very quick and very shy.

It was interesting to see how expressive some of the animals were. They sometimes seemed downright human. For better...

Or worse. Silly baboons.

I loved the impalas, especially the males with their graceful horns.

And we saw another vervet monkey with his famous bright blue scrotum. I found it interesting as most mammals don't exhibit such bright blue colors.

We saw our first hippos, for which Lake Manyara is also famous, and they seemed like a real lazy bunch-- but there are more hippo fatalities each year than by any other animal. When hippos feel their water source is cut off (i.e., some not-too-bright human gets between a hippo and its water), they will charge said human, often with unfortunate results.

It's funny that Lake Manyara is considered one of the lesser parks, as there are endless fields of roaming animals. Here, for example, are gazelles on the left and baboons on the right, each grazing peacefully.

Giraffes roamed the land with hundreds of meters between them. (And you can again see the hazy pink of the flamingos on Lake Manyara.)

We learned that giraffes drink with their front legs spread apart to protect themselves from lions and other predators. Not surprisingly, the most vulnerable part of a giraffe is its neck, and it's most vulnerable when it bends down to drink.

I loved seeing the different animals living peacefully together and watching the (huge) baby animals wobble around on unsteady legs.

Aside from all of the big animals, the birds in Manyara were impressive, too.

And the comical highlight of our day was an elephant scratching his belly and behind on a (huge) termite mound. Poor termites.

Next up: the famous Serengeti!

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