We awoke from a restful sleep to a cloudy, gray morning. Zal had mentioned that it had been very dry this year, so a little rain was welcome. We showered, packed, and had a nice buffet breakfast of banana fritters, a cheese omelet and bacon before picked us up and took us to a small airport for our flight to Lake Manyara.
The flight was short in a small, ten passenger, single engine plane. On arrival, the porters took our bags directly to Titus at the open topped Toyota Land Cruiser. He had a small camp table set up with coffee and tea and some cookies that he baked himself while he went over the details.
We waited for another couple, but they were delayed, so we had Titus all to ourselves. He took us to a store that featured local tribe made souvenirs so he could buy his daughter a graduation present.
We drove down the winding road 3000 feet to Lake Manyara. The terrain reminded me of Sequoia National Forest in California. We stopped by a 3000 year old baobab tree. They are known The Tree of Life because they provide shelter, water, and you can make things from the fibers.
We were met on arrival by the lodge staff singing a song of greeting and brought to lunch on the veranda, where a monkey promptly stole the roll I had just buttered. The lunch consisted of flamingo chops, which looked and tasted like lamb, with pasta, corn and green beans, and a fruit salad for dessert.
After lunch, Adam, our butler, showed to our secluded treehouse bungalow (#10).
After a short nap, we met up with Titus for another game drive before dark, and we got very lucky. We got to see a young leopard lazing on a tree, a male lion napping on a big rock, and a hippopotamus out of water. Seeing leopards is very rare in general, and hippos usually don’t come out on land until after dark.
When we returned to the lodge, it was already dark, and. Masai escort was waiting to take us back to out room. He carried a spear, and when I asked if he ever needed to use it, he gave an emphatic “yes.” He did not elaborate. We took a few minutes to charge batteries and freshen up a little, and at 7:30 he was back to escort us to dinner.
In the lounge we met Ben and Zoe, a retired couple from Australia who had the same itinerary as us, but were one day ahead of us. We had met them returning after a full day game drive as we were leaving. The four of us and one other couple were the only guests of the lodge.
Dinner was delicious. Starting with vegetable soup, the entree was filet of beef with roasted potatoes and fresh green beans. For dessert, they brought a birthday cake for Steph and sang a native celebration song. They also sang for Ben and Zoe, who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and the other couple, who were celebrating their honeymoon.
After dinner our escort brought us back to our room, where Steph had a romantic bubble bath by candlelight before we went to bed.