A few months ago I wrote about climbing Kilimanjaro and last month shared my adventures in Slovenia. Today we return to Africa and what happened after we spent the week on the highest mountain on that continent. There isn’t time here for our entire adventure but we’ll start at the beginning…
There were 10 of us in the group, including myself, my husband and father-in-law. There was a core group with whom we’d hiked with in the North Georgia Mountains plus as few other people someone else knew and invited to join us. We had less than 24 hours before we left our lodge and got in the two white vehicles to head out to the Serengeti. Our gear was piled on top, we had a driver and an assistant, and off we went.
Our first stop was Lake Manyara. We stopped at our campsite to unload the gear and extra personnel then jumped back in our vehicles. The tops popped up so the people in the back could stand and see out over the landscape. There was only room for four and there were five of us in each vehicle, so I volunteered to sit in the front next to the driver. The people in the other Land Rover rotated in and out of the back but since I’m so short, I decided that one good bump would result in my decapitation so I was happy in the front the remainder of the trip.
We reached Lake Manyara National Park and immediately there were monkeys in the trees and baboons crossing the road. Our vehicles went separate ways but no one cared. Soon we saw a huge tortoise in the road and the driver pulled up next to it so the people in the back could take pictures. I couldn’t see it from where I was sitting, but that was okay. There were monkeys in the trees, plants I had never seen, and sounds I had never heard so it was all good.
Then a nearby bush started moving; just a rustle at first, but then with more energy. I watched a moment and wondered if I should roll up the window. Soon the bush was thrashing back and forth as if a giant hand was shaking it, but I couldn’t see anything. Panicked now, I started hitting the driver’s arm and when he turned to me, I pointed at the bush.
“Oh, elephants,” he said.
No sooner were the words out of his mouth when the bush was pulled out by the roots and there, less than 30 yards away, stood two adult elephants and a little baby one. The largest animal was eating the now-missing bush while the others grazed on other greenery. My friends in the back of the vehicle were still taking pictures of the tortoise so I hit them on their knees, the only part of them I could reach, and said over and over, “elephants, elephants, elephants.” Finally they turned and saw the three elephants and began taking pictures. The big gray beasts, and the little one, moved away so we continued toward the lake.
We had to stop several times while small groups of giraffes or baboons crossed the road. I still remember the long tongues of the giraffes slithering through the three inch thorns on the thorn bushes to grab the leaves. Lake Manyara was breathtaking and we had our first glimpse of hippos and the flamingos that inhabit the shoreline.
We returned to the campsite for dinner in the small lodge that had lizards climbing the wall. A few of us played cards before returning to our tents and resting before the long drive to the Serengeti the next day. This is all the room I have for this part of our adventure or this will become a short story rather than a blog. I’ll share some more of our journey soon.
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