Sunday, June 29, 2014

AFRICA Part 1: Manyara Ranch Conservancy

A week after my life-enhancing trip to Africa, I am still struggling to find the words to describe it, but there is one thing I know for sure, I am completely enamored with it & life in the bush.   

Africa now holds a piece of my heart.   

I want to begin by giving a huge shout out and thank you to Judy from Home To Roamwho not only invited me to join her and her family on this trip, but as always, planned an exceptional trip, from start to finish. It is truly a blessing to have friends that I am able to travel with, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity.  

In an attempt to share my trip, experience and thoughts, I am going to break it down into three parts, based on the three different places we stayed.  

Our safari was booked through Naipenda Safaris, Swahili for I love to travel. 

After spending a day in Arusha to relax and recovery from jet lag, we headed to the Manyara Ranch Conservancy , where we got our glamping on in their tented camp! 

Manyara Ranch Conservancy is a 35,000-acre private concession that lies between Tarangine and Lake Manyara National Parks.  Originally established as a cattle ranch during Tanzania's colonial period, Manyara Ranch remains an operating ranch with a relatively small herd of cattle and black-headed sheep.  It is location in the middle of the crucial Kwakuchinja wildlife corridor connecting Lake Natron, Ngorongoro, and Manyara wildlife areas to the Tarangire ecosystem and the Maasailands to the South.  During 2000, the African Wildlife Foundation {AWF} obtained management and conservation rights to the ranch to protect their community conservation projects and rehabilitating the ranch itself.  The ranch is held in Trust by the Tanzania Land Conservation Trust {TLCT} for the benefit of local communities and Tanzania.  

Amenities included: ensuite bathroom with hot & cold running water, showers and flushing toilet; large insect proof tents, electric lighting, wardrobe, chest {which acts as a safe}, desk, and a separate dining tent which includes a bar and small library.  

At nighttime, they had Maasai tribe members guard the camp and escort us to and from our tents.   They told us stories of cobra sitings and elephants visiting the camp, but all we experienced were hyenas howling at night. 

One of my favorite aspects of Manyara Ranch was that all meals were served family style; we dined with the ranch managers {Alan from Zambia and Greg from South Africa} and the other guests.  It was so neat to meet people form across the world {we met a wonderful couple from Spain who were on their honeymoon} and converse with both Alan and Greg, who have such a vast knowledge of the land, animals and history of Tanzania and all of Africa.

Des, the head waiter, took exceptional care of all of us; making an effort to remember all of our names, and always ensuring we had anything and everything we could possibly need or want.  

The food was spectacular.  Everyday we enjoyed a vegetarian lunch with the most amazing homemade bread and fresh ingredients.  

Every morning around 6am we would receive our wake-up call, which included coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies delivered to our tent. 




From the mating patterns, to the feeding/survival cycle, to the perfect stripes on the hind end of a zebra, God's perfect and divine plan is beyond evident in Africa.  Being one with God's creation, how God originally created it, without the humanization and hustle & bustle of our daily lives was extremely spiritual and rejuvenating.  


Even our Maasai spotter couldn't resist a photo opportunity

We had the privilege of visiting LaPapa's Maasai village.  It was fascinating to not only hear about life in the tribes, but to be able to see and experience it firsthand.  

The children were absolutely gorgeous.  

MG and the chief of the village

While at Manyara Ranch, we enjoyed a night game drive in an open 4x4 safari vehicle, 

game drives with our guide, Modi

and a daily afternoon game of cribbage.  

I was sad to leave Des, Alan, Greg and LaPapa, but next stop, Ngorongoro Exploreans Lodge...