Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Tanzania Dreaming - Part 3: Arusha and surrounds

Feeding time
We had a couple of days planning and getting logistics ready for the road trip up north. The first part of the road trip would be on our own checking out some of the more accessible parks on the Northern circuit followed by a guided safari to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater and finally a couple of days in the hills of Lushoto.

Gas bottles, sleeping bags,chairs, axe, spade, dry rations, spares, lighting - all set to hit the road. 
An early morning start had us in Korogwe for a toilet stop and at Pangani River camp for lunch. The camp site is falling apart but it has a usable toilet and running cold showers and perfect for a packed lunch. Our destination was Marangu hotel in the village of Marangu on the slopes of Kili with the hopes of a view of Mount Kilimanjaro. 

Marangu hotel has neat campsite, good rooms and food and view of Kili.
Woke up next morning and looked out the tent to see an open blue sky which meant only one thing. Kili was out in all its glory and what an awesome sight it is with the snow capped top. The tallest free standing mountain the world and highest point in Africa showed up on our only morning set to check it out. 
We had a few car troubles to get fixed in Moshi and on our way to village of Mta Wa Mbu, which means river of mosquitoes and home to Lake Manyara National park. 
The Banana market in Mta Wa Mbu
After working out formalities, and finally working out that we could pay with a credit card, were off to check out the park. The park is famous for its tree climbing lions but we are not sure what its about as we are yet to see a lion in the park and seen lions on trees just about everywhere but Lake Manyara. 

TANAPA Banda's Lake Manyara Naional park is the best budget accommodation in town.
We saw nothing spectacular in terms of wildlife sightings but the drive through the ground water forest and lake’s edge was interesting with the usual suspects and plenty of interesting bird sightings.  The blue monkey was probably the highlight in that you get much of an opportunity to see this monkey in other than a few places and this is one.  

Blue monkey
Nubian woodpecker
Kili in its all its glory.

One of the best kept secrets of Lake Manyara is its self contained bandas and campsite, both set in the lush ground water forest. The campsite has a running water toilet while the bandas have a shared kitchen and clean serviced bandas. 
Red and yellow barbet
After a huge storm overnight, the next day after a game drive in the park which yielded little, we got a few things in the Mta Wa Mbu market and headed past Arusha to Usa River the turn off the Arusha National Park. Our accommodation was Colobus Mountain lodge which is right next to the National park. 
Colobus mountain lodge camp grounds
The lodge offers clean rooms and a nice campground with great views of mount Meru. We were self catering guests which meant we didn’t have to endure the service of the lodge which had horrible reviews. The staff seemed to be entertained by our cooking session and soon a storm saw all in the security guards hut with the gas burner! 

Hartlaubs Turaco - a high elevation special
Arusha national park is under rated due to the lack of big game numbers but it offers something unique. Its set on mountains in the shadow of mount Meru and home to high elevation specials such as black and white colobus monkeys and Taracos, spectacular birds that only occur over a certain elevation. 

Black and white colobus monkey 

Arusha national park has plenty of black and whites. 
Like most game in Tanzania, the Zebra in Lake Manyara were chilled. 
The park has two contrasting sections, the first, high montane forest on steep mountain slopes around Ngudota crater. The second is a short grass plains around lake Momella lake. The lakes are alkaline but home to heaps of Flamingos offering great sightings. 
Close up sightings of greater flamingos at Late Momella
Flamingo's flight are hard to shoot unless your close to the flock
The landing

There is one odd resident in Arusha National park, an albino Baboon which has been reasonably well documented. After getting the black and white monkeys and turaco under the belt, we were pleasantly surprised  to get a sighting of this odd baboon walking around in a troop of baboons. 
The Albino baboon of Arusha National park

Grey crested crown

<< Part 2: The beauty of Zanzibar                        Part 4: Seeing the Crater >>

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