Today started with a drive through the city of Arusha. We were headed for Lake Manyara to see the wildlife in the mountains and plains of Tanzania. On the way there, our amazing driver, Ernest, told us stories about how the rift
came about. When Pangaea split into pieces 200 million years ago it created the rift that was around the area we were about to safari through. Learning about the history of the rift’s occurrence and then seeing the vegetation and animals that made up the mountains and plains was a rare treat.
On the way Ernest shared many stories about the culture of the Masai, their religion and their migration. Masai are warriors, a group of people that are constantly moving dependent on the lands’ continued resources. The are (for the most part) dressed in formal robes and carry herding sticks. They are distinguished by the scars on their faces that they receive at four and the front missing tooth to protect the from starvation should they get lockjaw. Learning about the culture first-hand, from a resident of Arusha gave us much more insight than we ever could have through a textbook.
Upon arrival at the lake we saw baboons, more baboons, and then more baboons, and later we saw elephants, giraffes, warthogs, zebras, rare birds and bushbuck. While there a few of us experienced how the local restrooms are operated. There is a hole in the ground surrounded by walls. In our experience, there was a hose that could be used to spray the waste (though this may not always be available).
Allison, Prof. Wofford and Ligali, a Maasai Warrior, after an interview at the lodge. (And yes, he has killed a lion)
After a full day of learning about Tanzanian culture, wildlife, and seeing Africa in all its beauty we headed up a bumpy dirt road that seemed to last for hours and that some might compare to a terrifying roller coaster. The ride was WELL worth the wait, we were greeted by Masai and the lodge owner who welcomed us into a lodge that was filled with furniture that looked like something in an expensive catalog but was made by the locals. The Oldeane Safari Lodge took 1 1/2 years to build and great care was taken to give us an amazing view of the country-side of Karatu and the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater. After settling in we experienced a traditional home-cooked Tanzanian meal and enjoyed the company of the lodge owner, Earnest, Earnest’s adorable little girl, and each other. Before retiring until morning we sat around a campfire guarded by Masai (from whatever might be lurking in the nearby bush) admiring the stars in their full exposure. Earnest explained to us Masai belief that if a certain cluster of stars dropped below the horizon of clouds, then after seven days it would rain. Fortunately for us, the Masai predicted beautiful weather for our exploration tomorrow.
The Ngorongoro crater we will experience tomorrow, and update accordingly. What we can tell you from the history (given to us by Ernest) by the split of the continents and what used to be a mountain the size of Kilimanjaro sunk into the earth to create this crater that now supports a myriad of wildlife in a fully functioning ecosystem. Pictures to come of both today and tomorrow momentarily (please forgive our slight technical difficulties, we look forward to sharing the photos with you very soon)
Prof. Buske, Ashley and Salome (Ernest's daughter) in the Safari Truck
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