Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 5: Lake Manyara and the road to Ndutu

-The best nights sleep so far thanks to Tylenol PM. On the safari at 6:30AM. Not as many animals here as Tarangiri but they are very pretty in the jungle setting. Several elephant herds. One elephant stuck his trunk right at me. We watched a lioness sleeping awhile on a dried out riverbed off in the distance for awhile. Our patience paid off as 3 cubs showed up to play! Beautiful.

We then drove to see the enormous Lake Manyara. It was covered with tens of thousands of flamingo's though we couldn't get close enough to get detailed shots of them (the photo's posted were shot at 800mm f5.6). Some giraffes gave a great pose with the lake behind them in the distance.

I thought my stomach problem was a thing of the past but as soon as we got back to camp it reared its ugly head again. We have a 5 hour drive to Serengeti ahead of us today and I am very concerned about a repeat.

Breakfast consisted of toast, mangos and bananas. I love the fresh fruit here.

-I have the most popular driver/guide in the world. Everyone knows Nixon everywhere. He is clearly very well liked. We are stopped on the side of the road getting supplies from another truck. 2 Masaai children are standing by me begging. The supply man gave them a huge fruit. I gave them some crayons and felt silly doing so.

-We are on route to Lake Ndutu and driving through the rim of Ngorongoro. The drive is brutal. Sharp turns, soft red dirt, huge bumps/holes and deep fog. While driving a kubwa tembo (big elephant) was on the side of the road. I happened to have my Canon 16-35 f2.8L II lens on my camera which was perfect as he was so close. Maybe the largest elephant I have ever seen. It was a great photo moment as he was in thick, tropical foliage with a deep blanket of fog behind him. Beautiful.


-Meat, blood and milk. The Maasai diet. It is hard to imagine living here.

-So sad driving past children begging for food and water.

-Off road driving now! (my writing is pretty much illegible in the journal at this point :)

-Stopped at Oldupai Gorge where the first remains of prehistoric man ever found were discovered. There were five visible layers of earth in the gorge. The layers range in age from 5 million years at the lowest level to 10,000 years ago! Many amazing archeological discoveries have been made here including the bones and tools of early man. Here is another good link with information about it...Oldupai not Olduvai. For a hundred years it's been called Olduvai because an explorer couldn't understand the thick accent of the Maasai man he asked. Only recently has the name been switched back to the correct word Oldupai.

I'm can't be sure of course, but I am guessing that the bathroom at Oldupai was made by some of those prehistoric men millions of years ago. Yikes.


-OK, 1 hour later. The trailer flipped off. Everything!

-I'll elaborate now that the ride is over :) I think I might have mentioned it was a brutal drive. I was thrilled to see the Ndutu Lodge sign. Then deflated when I realized it was another 30km or so from the sign. It was barren from there and an extremely rough road. Some areas you couldn't be sure you were on a road at all. About halfway down, Nixon realized we were no longer pulling the trailer. This was about 6 hours after we left Manyara mind you so I wasn't jumping for joy when we flipped a U-turn to search for the trailer.

It wasn't far back, but devastating news. It was upside down and appeared irrepairable. We flipped it right side up and found all of our food crushed on the ground and in bad shape as well as all our camping gear..everything. The hitch had split with one piece remaining on the Land Cruiser, the other on the trailer. All hope appeared lost when in the vast distance we saw dust from a vehicle approaching. I don't think we were even on the road so this was no small miracle. Wouldn't you know it...Nixon knew them! They stopped to help and loaned us some tools to bang some bolts back straight. They got the trailer reattached somehow. We loaded it back up and off we went. It is a necessity nothing goes to waste out here so I'm sure we will be able to salvage the food and supplies.

-Outside of Oldupai gorge there were many Maasai. Shortly after leaving we found two vehicles stuck in the deep, soft sand (did I mention the brutal road?). We stopped to help and I was immediately surrounded by Masaai women asking me to take their picture for money. I couldn't resist though I knew Nixon disapproved I not as the money goes right in their pocket and isn't shared. Some Maasai villages welcome toursists into their village and the money they charge for this is shared with all of the Maasai. The life these people live is incomprehensible to me. It is so hot and incredibly dusty everywhere.

-So here I am in the Ndutu Lodge bar. It is nice to be around other tourists as I'm reminded of how trivial my "normal life" complaints are by listening to some teenagers interacting with their parents.

I just met a nice family from Holland and have begun my 2nd Safari brand beer. We stopped at a liquor store en route where I purchased two 6 packs of Kilimanjaro beer (It's Kili time!) for $20! I can't help but think they charge residents less.

Quite honestly, I love this lodge! It is rustic, quiet, clean and there is hot water. They turn off the generator at 11:30 and my phone is charging in the bar (no power in the room). There are Genet cats (though not really cats, closer relation to a mongoose I am told) lounging on a ledge inside. They are a little larger than a house cat but colored like cheetah's with very long tails. I am feeling too lazy to walk to my room to fetch my camera. At this moment I am thinking of my beautiful wife Lea and my amazing daughters Savannah and Sophie. I miss them so much even writing their names is making my eyes tear up. I am proud to be on the adventure but at the moment I am sad to be alone.

-We arrived at the lodge too late to do laundry which sucks royally. My clothes are foul (massive understatement). I've already changed into my last set of clothes after my blessedly hot shower and was counting on being able to do laundry before the next round of camping begins. Dinner is be continued.

-I just spilled beer on my new clean shirt...aaaargh!

-I'm debating on whether I should be writing personal thoughts here because my plan is to blog this journal (you can tell I opted to go for it anyway.)

-Hani Baja. A man tells me Nixon is Hani Baja during dinner. He told me to look it up when I get home(anyone know what it means?). Nixon knows everyone!

The next post is due by Saturday...stay tuned and thanks for visiting the blog!

3 awesome giraffes posing in front of Lake Manyara for me.
Impala Momma
One of the adorable little lion cubs. I would've loved to have picked him up and gave him a pet. I think his Mom may have objected however so I left well enough alone.
Thousands of Pink Flamingo's on Lake Manyara.
More Flamingo's. I sure would've liked to have gotten closer.
Didn't matter where we found them or what time of day it was...all the Cape Buffalo looked ticked off!
This elephant amazed me. He just appeared out of the fog and watched us watch him. I wish I would've asked to stay longer.

Some cool trees buried under a layer of red dirt and masked by the deep fog.
The dust and dirt on the rim of the crater made everything nearby appear red.
My first look at Ngorongoro Crater. We will spend the last day on Safari down there.
it was heartbreaking to drive past children in this harsh environment of dust and heat.
It could be argued that Africa possesses some of the worst bathrooms in the world. I believe it could be argued that this is one of the worst in Africa. Therefor, my claim is that this is the worst bathroom in the world! :)
Oldupai gorge..way off in the distance there was a team digging for bones.
An old Maasai woman near Oldupai gorge
The Maasai woman thought I was nuts when I dropped down low to shoot her beautiful feet!
I was so happy to see this sign! Little did I know...
On the bright side of least it's a unique photo op!


Ms. 122 said...

wow, your photographs just get better and better!! it is amazing!

Meg said...

That elephant is amazing, how wild that must have been to be so close to him.

Anonymous said...

OMG what a bathroom!! The flamingos are wonderful. Great story
Deb (photobug)