Safari: Day 1 – Bananas

Sun. 7th July 2013

Ready for game viewingThis morning starts with the thirteen of us piling into two Landcruisers. There is a Danish family of four and my extended family of four as well as two couples and one American gentleman so it takes a while to find a division between the two vehicles which works. The first stop is the only reasonably sized supermarket in town to buy last minute provisions for our four nights camping This includes ensuring we have enough water to drink. For the four of us we load up with two boxes, each containing twelve 1.5 litre water bottles . The next stop is our camp site at Mto Wa Mbu, which means Mosquito River and gives us a clue to spray with insect repellent! Our tents have already been erected and equipped with thick mattresses and pillows, luxury.

CarvingThe inhabitants of the village of Mto Wa Mbu are from many African tribes and once we have moved our bags into our tent we head off on foot for our “cultural visit”. The first stop is to see the rice fields of which I have already seen many on our travels, but is new to some. Nearby are men sat around carving statues of local tribesmen and also animals, especially the big five and, of course, we get the opportunity to buy.

Kids are kids everywhereWe then begin wandering around the village past houses which are mainly small mud huts with metal roofs,  surrounded by hens and goats and laundry drying. We walk past the village church where an Evangelical Service is being held, confirming my view that this is not a religion for me, as we watch the congregation start crying as they sing and shout out.

Making banana beerThe village children come to see us once they stop playing with the wheels on a large lorry, spinning the set which are not on the ground. Children all over Africa are always curious to come and see the tourists walking through their village and are as cheeky here as kids anywhere.

nottWe have heard they make banana beer and our group are keen to see how it is made and hopefully get a taste. We are shown a pot of boiling bananas which are slowly turning red. After a brief description of the brewing process a plastic cup full of the beer is passed around for us to all try and it was quite tasty but first you need to blow away the hops floating on the top.

Typical paintingThe final stop before lunch is to view the local paintings, many of which are quite striking but on closer inspection the white canvas is quite dirty from all the dust. There are no takers to buy any so we head off to lunch which has been prepared by the locals and consists of many tasty local delicacies. I avoid the Tanzanian equivalent to pap made from maize meal but the beans and the beef curry are very tasty. There is also a savoury dish with bananas as well as bananas for dessert, which I avoid. One of the staples seems to be bananas which grow everywhere but luckily there are often alternatives. The pineapple and mango is always tasty but I fear it will not taste the same back home.

Good local feastOnce we have had our fill of lunch and the locals have finished anything we left, it is back in our 4x4s and off on our first safari drive which is in Lake Manyara National Park. Everyone is very excited as we see many baboons and blue monkeys. We catch glimpses of elephants, warthogs and giraffes hidden in the trees which are difficult to photograph. I am confident we will see more and at close quarters so do not bother to take many photos, whereas Chris with Dave’s Nikon is clicking away.

Flamigoes on Lake ManyaraThe scenery overlooking the lake is very impressive but again difficult to capture in a photo as it is just so vast. We are allowed out of the vehicles to admire the views but the pink flamingos are too far away to make out clearly without binoculars.

As cute as baboons getIt is a short trip back to the campsite where tea and coffee are served in the dining area for campers. There is also a restaurant and bar with a TV, sadly showing an African version of Big Brother (not sure if it is the same as we were watching in Zimbabwe) rather than the Wimbledon final with Andy Murray. I kept everyone updated on the tennis score from the internet on my phone using a Tanzanian SIM and we all gave a good cheer when he won, such a good match and a shame not to be able to watch it.

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One Response to Safari: Day 1 – Bananas

  1. Finally getting our act together to finish our blog. Safari and Kilo climb are on their way this week and hopefully Zanzibar will follow soon after. Sorry it has taken so long. The reason? None really just the same old routine we were in before our travels has set back in and at times our travels seem like a dream! A brilliant dream and unforgettable. This time last year we were heading for the Inca trail with a great set of new friends…….

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