Lake Manyara is relatively small, about 50km long, and it is so shallow that when it is warm and dry, it becomes a lot smaller, about a third smaller than in the rainy season. It is nestled against the escarpment along the Rift Valley so calling it a pretty sight is an understatement. The national park stretches along the lake but only on one side, so basically visitors follow one road with a number of loops. There is only one lodge inside the park so many visitors either skip the park all together, or only go in for a game drive of a couple of hours. The marketing posters for the park always feature the tree climbing lion or a huge flock of flamingo so it does happen that visitors do not see the lions or only see the flamingos from really far and are then disappointed. That is a pity because with numerous species of birds being attracted by the water, the eerie sight of the lake with an impressive backdrop of the escarpment, the hot spring with hippos, the forest close to the entrance of the national park, it is very much worth a visit.
Anyway. I love it. I have stayed at the one lodge inside the park (fantastic!). I have also driven in and out the park in one day. I have been mock attacked by a lone male buffalo in the park (serves me right for parking the vehicle between him and the water). I have seen giraffe laying down on the plains next to the lake (funny sight). I have seen the tree climbing lion here (I got lucky I guess).
This time around, I had to go for work because our driver-guides had their annual training on a special campsite within the park. So I was very lucky when the trainers suggested I stay at Wayo Green camp for the weekend. I was lucky in more ways than one… Despite the rain, we had the best game viewing I ever had in the park. (Or maybe because of the rain?) We saw a lot but we also saw it all really up close. Have you ever been able to count the creases in an elephants bum? This is all very comforting because it confirms there is no poaching inside the park. One of the elephants came so close to the vehicle that I got really nervous and then it lifted his trunk to smell and check out the kids who were up on the roof, that was a new experience. That is probably the coolest thing about going on safari, it is never the same, and it doesn’t get old.
But then, Wayo Green Camp.. That was something else. Right next to a wall of rock where a gigantic waterfall dropped off. And it being the rainy season, there was a risk of our tent flooding (adventure!) and the waterfall was as loud as thunder. It is quite a privilege to feel small between the elements being so big and overwhelming.
And if you are curious about an elephant up close..